Wera Kraftform Kompakt VDE- All the Drivers Needed?

Aimed at:-Fitters, maintenance/electronics engineers and anoyne who needs an easily portable set of general fixing tools. 

Pros:-Brilliant small kit in a new nylon case. The kit is amazingly verstatile and very well made.

Sometimes the right tools are just the ones needed for the job in hand – the fewer the better. And sometimes the right tools are the ones that you thought you might not need, but thankfully you have them there anyway. The Wera Kraftform Kompakt VDE sent up for review belongs to the latter category. With seventeen pieces in all it is probably everything an electrician would need in the way of screwdrivers for most, if not all jobs.

I should note first of all the black nylon wallet into which the kit is all carefully arranged. It is as compact as it can be as well as being compatible with ensuring easy use on site.

When folded up via the strong hook and loop closures, it could easily fit onto a waist belt. Indeed, there is a strong belt loop provided on the back of the case.

If used this way, all the tools are made to hang down so that they can be easily accessed from above.

I am not one for carrying stuff on a belt, so I found it equally easy to simple lay the opened case out flat on the floor or a flattish surface. In this position, there are two Wera Kraftform Kompakt handles at each end of the wallet. Wera has listened to some end users who said that sometimes they use more than one driver tip on a job so needed another handle for speed and convenience.

These Kraftform handles are famous for having been tested under very arduous conditions – under crushing loads and right down to -40 degrees Celsius where some plastics can become brittle and hence non-insulating. I guess that electricians working in London boroughs might be well reassured!

But the thing I most like about them is the ease with which it is possible to change driver tips. Simply push back the locking collar between forefinger and thumb, which releases the lock, pull out the driver tip and replace it with another which slides in and locks into place as it is pushed home. Literally a matter of seconds.

The handles themselves are the standard bright yellow and red VDE colours, with the yellow parts of the moulding having a slightly rubberized feel for easy grip.

The driver tips are arranged into four sections in two groups of four tips and one group of seven tips. It helps end users to keep the whole case as compact as possible if they replace the tips after use in the same order and orientation in which they arrive from Wera. In this way the more bulky hex ends are balanced by the less bulky shanks and they kind of fit into each other more compactly. This works for me only because I just get used to replacing a driver tip in the opposite orientation as the one it is next to.

The first section of four driver tips is the straight screwdriver. These go from a small 2.5mm wide tip right up to a more robust 5.5mm wide blade tip. Each one is 154mm long, and as we would expect, the 1000v rated insulation goes all the way down the shaft leaving only 15mm of the working end exposed.

The next section of four tips is the Torx section. Much more commonly used now, Torx screws are found in all sorts of appliances and junction boxes nowadays. In the past, whenever I occasionally took apart a power tool, a simple Phillips or Pozi would do it, but Torx and other patterns are common now. Perhaps to keep the unqualified and incompetent out? – like the ones who wouldn’t buy a full set of Wera VDE screwdrivers?

The Torx drivers are arranged in order as a 10, a 15, a 20 and a 25 – which again is a pretty comprehensive coverage of common Torx sizes. The insulation also goes all the way down the tips leaving only the last 15mm as the working tip.

The last seven tips kind of open out together and they are arranged alternately as Phillips and Pozi drivers and a standard straight driver. There are four Pozi drivers in all – PZ2, PZ1, PZ1/S and PZ2/S and Phillips PH2 and PH1. The straight driver is a 6.5mm width for those bigger screws in casings.

And of course, there is the extra handle at the end to bring the set to completion.

I liked the fact that the driver bits are all held in place by an elastic strip that is stretchy enough to hold the bits firmly, but also flexible enough to make them easy to pull out or replace. This arrangement means that the user can see all the tips easily and can select visually. But in usual thorough Wera fashion, all the bits have the sizes and types of bit printed in black on the hex shanks. I doubt whether end users will take the trouble to arrange the bits print side up like the way in which the set arrived out of the packaging, but it is very easy to twist them around to see the printed sizes if needed. 

Confirmed Wera fans will know that damaged bits in a set can be replaced individually and that different sizes and types of bits can be bought to substitute others in the set. However, I think that this set is pretty well comprehensive so I guess there won’t be too much of that going on.

The plus points of such a comprehensive set are really a big bonus for busy electricians – you get easy changing of a wide range of bits as well as a pair of handles for those jobs where more than one fixing is used, plus all the advantages of quick-change handles and the peace of mind of a well tested VDE range.

To read further about Wera Hand Tools such as the Tehnicans kit, which includes the Kraftform Kompakt SH1 Plumbkit and the Wera W1 Maintenance Kit, and other products, click here.

For more information on Wera Tools, please visit www.wera-tools.co.uk

Wera Tool-Check PLUS – Now Even Better

Aimed at:- Professionals who need a high quality and versatile kit with pretty well all the combinations you need to solve fitting dilemmas.

I am sitting at my desk looking at one of the classic black cotton Wera carry bags given out at toolshows. On it are the words “Werkzaug aus Ideen”. As far as I can translate it means, “tools developed from ideas”. In my view it reflects exactly the Wera way, with innovation and new products in a regular stream, and many happy customers willing to integrate the resulting products into their work practices.

This month I was sent the new Tool-Check PLUS kit to look at. I am already converted to the Tool-Check concept and to be honest it is a staple of my toolkit both in the workshop and out.

The Tool-Check PLUS has just one main addition that has been cleverly attached to the side of the Tool-Check case. The holder is made of a flexible rubberized plastic that holds a miniature version of the trademark Wera Kraftform handle - at a stroke adding a whole new range of potential uses to the Tool-Check concept.

On the business end of the handle is a standard hexagon-shaped socket that will accept hex-socketed accessories. The accessories are held in place by a powerful magnet in the handle, so they will be secure while in use.

But to go back a step – the Tool-Check PLUS now shares the high quality black box packaging of all of the new Wera products. In time, all products will be similarly boxed. As a potential user (dealers take note here) the image that the packaging creates is of a super high quality, modern product. Seriously, the packaging would not be out of place on a brand new, top of the range, mobile phone. Users have the message reinforced that if the packaging is this slick then the goods inside must be very good indeed.

The graphics on the box are subtle - to reinforce the message - with a picture of the product on the top of the box picked out in shiny ink against the matte finish of the box. Along the bottom of the lid a few symbols in white ink with brief descriptions, tell the user the highlights of the product in the box.

The Tool-Check PLUS is a good handful that feels weighty, but not too heavy to slip into a work trouser pocket or toolbag. Users familiar with the Tool-Check concept will know that the tools contained in it are held securely while the case is closed, but are revealed when a sliding catch is pushed. Each piece has its place – hence you are able to “check” if you have everything at the start and end of a job.

In the middle of the Tool-Check PLUS, once opened, are two rows of bits. The back row is hinged to open up so that they can be easily accessed with thumb and forefinger. There are 28 bits and a socket adaptor held in the two rows and they provide a huge flexibility for the intended users. Think maintenance engineers, fitters and computer hardware engineers.

Apart from the usual range of Philips and Pozi drivers, there are 6 Torx bits and 5 Hex-Plus bits that are commonly used in more high-tech applications and appliances these days. These bits drive from the flats not on the points, so wear more slowly on bit and screwhead.

Some people might be a bit sarky about the range of bits saying that the Torx and Hex-Plus bits are there just to bulk up the set and the price. The answer is simpler than that – the Tool-Check PLUS set is designed to offer a bit and driver selection for all of the most common applications, hence the wide range of profiles in the set. Most users will have a solution, literally, at their fingertips should they invest in a Tool-Check PLUS.

To help users, all the bits have the size and configuration of the bit laser etched onto the hex shank – a great help for me, especially if I remember my glasses.

Along the bottom of the Tool-Check PLUS is a row of seven sockets. Handily, each one has its size imprinted on the case above for easy selection. The sockets are held securely and it would take quite a knock to dislodge them. The sockets themselves are the usual high quality Wera sockets with a ball bearing retention lock and sizes etched onto the barrel. These were the first production quality sockets to be certified for hand and power tool use. With a size range from 5.5mm to 13mm the sockets cover most common applications, in my experience.

In my view, the real genius of the Bit-Check PLUS lies along the top of the case. Held securely by a sliding sleeve is the Zyklop Mini bit Ratchet and Rapidaptor.

The Zyklop Mini-bit Ratchet is small, just short of 90mm long, but is perfect in every detail –even down to the Kraftform shape of the handle. With its slim head and 6-degree pawl, the Bit Ratchet is capable of working in very confined spaces, such as you might find in a computer installations. Being of all steel construction, the Bit Ratchet is very strong and would be able to withstand a lot of torque pressure – a lot more than will ever be needed in its usual applications.

Changing from clockwise to anti-clockwise movement is achieved via the tiny switch on the head of the ratchet. Despite its size it is easy to use and positive in operation – aiding speed in use as well as being ergonomically comfortable. A black milled steel ring on top of the ratchet can be held between thumb and forefinger and moved quickly to speed up loosening and tightening to fingertight

The Rapidaptor is familiar to Wera users and remains a very useful piece of kit. Attached to the Kraftform handle it provides a bit of welcome extension as well as a quick-change facility for bits and sockets. It also aids the speed at which fixings can be tightened and loosened.

The thing that I most like about this Wera Tool-Check PLUS kit is its versatility. Wera designers have managed to make every piece complement the others so that the configurations achievable are so flexible that it is possible to find a solution for pretty well most small fixing dilemmas. I am told that the total number of combinations possible with drivers and bits is a staggering 162, so users should never be without options. And it will do this speedily and efficiently too – aiding productivity and ease. There is nothing not to like about this set – and it fits into a pocket too. 

For more information on Wera Tools, please visit www.wera-tools.co.uk

Wera Zyklop Full Steel Mini-Delights for Engineers

Aimed at:- Fitters, maintenance/ electronics, engineers and anyone who needs an easily portable set of general fixing tools. 

Pros:- Brilliant small kit in a new nylon case. The kit is amazingly versatile and very well made.

One thing I have learned over the years of doing reviews is:- Never, ever underestimate the amount of innovation of which Wera is capable. Just when you think that they have launched the final answer to a product range, the Wera engineers come up with something new and startling that is packed with surprises.

The kit in question that was sent for review is the Wera Zyklop Metal 1/4 inch set that I first saw in Cologne in March. It garnered enough attention then, and will surely be a hit on retailers’ shelves already. The important thing for users to understand before purchase is that the ratchet come with two options- the Metal Push version and the Metal Switch version – so make sure which one you want to buy. The ratchets are also available to buy individually should you want to update an existing set.

We all know by now that the Wera name is associated with top quality, but if an end user ever wanted to be convinced, the style of packaging for the new Wera products is very convincing. This kit is presented in a neat, crisply folded, black cardboard box that has an image of the product shinily overprinted on it. In truth, it looks like something in which a high-end computer company might present its goods and certainly aids initial “consumer interest”.  

Slide off the lid of the box and you are confronted with an embossed black nylon structured fabric case that holds all the 28 pieces of the kit. By pulling apart the hook and loop closure, the kit is revealed so that it stands proud ready to be placed on a flat surface for use. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the wallet alone –it adds so much to the usability of the kit that it would be inconceivable for it to be any other way. The structured fabric case is lightweight and compact and of course, will not dent or bend like a metal case if it is dropped. It also provides excellent protection for the contents. Once again, Wera scores on innovation and design not merely for its own sake, but to add value to an already good idea.

The key pieces of the kit are the ratchets. The clues are in the names Metal Push and Metal Switch as they are full steel handled, exactly 140mm long with laser engraving and a clever nod at the trademark Wera Kraftform shape handle – very simple and very strong.

On the “Metal Push” version, left and right rotation is selected by simply pushing the ¼ inch drive through the head. The arrows engraved on the head show the directions for loosening and tightening. The spring-loaded socket lock function serves to hold the socket onto the drive, but these are released by pushing the top of the drive. There is no danger that the square drive will fall out, unlike some square drives. As I said, Wera seems to have thought of everything.

The Metal Switch version of the ratchet looks exactly the same, but it has a small and very well engineered switch on the head that is flicked easily into left or right-handed mode with a thumb or forefinger. I prefer this for my own use because I find that when I am working in confined spaces selecting clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation is achievable without removing the socket from the head of the bolt.

Both wrenches are as deliberately slimline as they can be without sacrificing strength, the new fine-tooth, double pawl 38-tooth ratchet design has a throw of only 4.7 degrees, so that working in confined spaces as small as 35mm wide or so, is possible. Fitters and engineers in a wide range of modern industries will find this a very useful feature.

The 150mm long extension although slim, is clearly strong, and the addition of a rotating spin sleeve on the shaft ensures that a speedy work-rate is possible when the bolts or nuts are not yet at the stage of being tightened. For those occasions when it is not possible to attack a nut or bolt head at right angles, the smaller extension (55mm long) has a square drive on it that has been angled. Thus the user can angle the wrench at about 10 to 12 degrees off right angles and this provides even greater flexibility in tight situations. I did use this feature quite a lot recently when I was assembling a metal stand for my bandsaw. The nuts were placed close to the edges and corners of the steel frame and the ratchet saved me from having to have double-jointed wrists in the very tight corners I was confronted with.

Lastly, there is a quick-release hex bit holder that will accept standard hex fittings. This too has a rotating spin sleeve that allows the user to support the work with a second hand.

Next in line are the nine sockets from 5mm to 13mm – the most commonly used sizes. These sockets stand as straight as a Buckingham Palace Guardsman because they are attached to the wallet via plastic holders. We have all wrestled with sockets stuck into elasticated pockets where they are largely concealed and difficult to pull out. This solution means that the sockets are instantly available, won’t fall out in transit or if the case is dropped. To cap it all, each socket is recognized by its size embroidered into the nylon case. For me, an ideal solution, as it forces me to be organized, rather than simply allowing the sockets to roam freely in the wallet.

Finally, with the points sticking out over the edge of the wallet for easy access, is the range of nickel plated hexagon drive screwdriver bits. This particular kit had six Torx drivers, four hex, two Pozi and three Phillips. This range covers pretty well all major fixing groups, but I suspect that many users will slowly drop the ones they don’t use and replace them with multiples of others that they use most.

The structured case itself folds up into a cuboid shape that has endpieces to ensure that any loose pieces will not escape. It is also just about pocket size and is therefore the “go-to” tool for fitters, without having to drag the toolbox along.

The arrival of this kit coincided with some major issues with the internals of my bandsaw, and after using it to carry out repairs and examinations I could clearly see all the virtues of it. Such is the flexibility and versatility of the kit I didn’t have to use any other tools apart from a pair of circlip pliers and a straight screwdriver.Being able to work flexibly in confined spaces is a huge plus, and knowing that no matter how much force I needed to apply to the ratchets, they would be able to take it, was comforting. The usual rule applies though – encourage others to buy their own version of this Wera kit, because if they borrow yours, it might take a long time to come back.

 

For more information on Wera Tools, please visit www.wera-tools.co.uk

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