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Wiha wins Red Dot award with new slimBit boxes

HAND tool manufacturer Wiha has been honoured with a Red Dot Award: Product Design 2019. Its new slimBit boxes have earned the prestigious Red Dot, which the meticulous jury awards exclusively to products displaying excellent design.

Wiha has created a compact transport, removal and storage option with its new slimBit boxes for 6 or 12 slimBits. The product has been developed to provide users with a significant advantage in handling slimBits during their day-to-day professional life.

In the large sets, 12 slimBits with different profiles are stored in two boxes containing six bits each. This allows users to carry slimBits around safely, neatly arranged in a box. When open, the box offers users an optimum view of screw profiles, enabling users to select and remove profiles quickly. Users can handle profiles with a single hand thanks to the practical belt clip.

Wiha slimBits excel due to their slender shape and protection against electric shock, making them particularly advantageous for use in the electrician's trade. They have been developed based on new market knowledge and user surveys to offer a functional solution with added value.

"Being awarded the Red Dot affirms the high design quality behind the product. We are immensely proud that the special features in the product's design have been recognised and honoured with the Red Dot," said a pleased Ronny Lindskog, Wiha's Director of Sales and Marketing.

Professor Peter Zec, the Red Dot initiator and CEO, also praised the winner: "I congratulate the award winners warmly on their great success. The fact that their products were able to hold their ground during the jury's strict assessment is a testament to their exceptional design quality. This allows the winners to set influential trends in the design sector and point the way to where things may lead in the future."

The Red Dot Award: Product Design is one of the world's largest design competitions. Designers and manufacturers from 55 countries submitted more than 5,500 products to the competition in 2019. The international jury, composed of acknowledged experts from different fields, have been coming together for over 60 years to seek out the best designs. During the assessment process over several days, they attach great importance to criteria such as degree of innovation, form quality, functionality, durability and ergonomic design.

www.wiha.com

C.K Tools Introduces Gripping New Pliers Range

Leading hand tool brand, C.K tools, has launched an enhanced range of one of its most popular products, the C.K Waterpump Pliers.

Already regarded by tradesmen as one of the most durable plier options on the market, the improved range consists of three sizes: 175mm, 250mm and 300mm. With each size offering extra wide jaw capacities of 38mm, 57mm and 58mm, the new C.K Water Pump Pliers are up to 80 per cent greater than DIN standard to assure the highest quality and durability for electricians.

Featuring a box joint design for extra stability and long, slim profile jaws for easy access in confined spaces, the upgraded pliers are more versatile than ever. Manufactured from special alloy drop forged steel, which is hardened and tempered, the jaws offer exceptional strength and durability.

Graham Godfrey, Brand Manager at C.K tools, commented: “Although our vast selection of pliers continue to be a hit with tradesmen, the launch of our enhanced range offers professionals an even greater level of usability, functionality and ease.

“Evolving our products on a regular basis is what makes C.K tools stand out from our competitors. Expanding the C.K Waterpump Pliers range to continually meet the needs of our customers, while maintaining the quality we have become known for, is just one of the many goals we want to achieve through our innovative launches this year and beyond.”

Industry-leading products launched by C.K tools so far this year include the world’s first fixed blade stubby insulated screwdriver, the C.K Stubby VDE Slim Screwdriver and Europe’s first 100% splinterproof cable rods, the C.K MightyRods PRO.

Prices for the C.K Waterpump Pliers will range from £22.99 to £39.09 ex VAT.

 

For more information visit www.ck-tools.com.

Take it Easy with Wera Tool Sets

Aimed at: Proffesional fitters and mechanics. 

Pros: Easy to locate and identify the tools in their wallets or in a crowded toolbox. Pro spec means they are tough and help achieve a good job.

Wera users are familiar with the incremental approach to development that their new products have. Sometimes not so revolutionary but evolutionary, these tools develop and change, but never leave their past behind. So my ten-year-old Rapidaptor still fits the most modern Wera hex bit set, even though it may have lost some of its original purpose due to the increased use of impact drivers and the specialist bits needed for impact work.

On review this month are two of the smaller sets from Wera that really reflect how the tools are developed in order to improve the end user experience and make their lives “simpler, safer and full of joy”, the essence of the Wera mission statement.

I will start with the smaller of the two – the Kraftform Kompakt Zyklop Mini 2. It is packed into the dramatic black Wera packaging that says “quality and high value” to anyone who looks at it or handles it. Inside the box is the rigid-sided nylon wallet with a hook and loop closure to keep the contents secure. Underneath the wallet closure are two small ratchets moulded in plastic that can be used to identify the set by sight or by touch if the set is in the bottom of a toolbox for example. A subtle detail, but an interesting example of where the Wera mission statement is really applied – no detail is too small to be included.

Inside are 27 pieces all neatly attached into rows where they can easily be seen and accessed.

On the “lid” of the wallet is a row of 15 hex shanked drivers. The line starts with a square socket drive that will fit into the driving tools and it has a ballbearing socket retainer so that the sockets can be held securely. It is followed by a Pozi 1 and 2 bit, Phillips 1 and 2 bits, six Torx bits from size 40 to 10, and four hex bits from 6 to 3. Each is identified by its laser markings and is easy to replace in the flexible rubber loops. If you are a careful worker, they all get replaced correctly each time in their allotted spots, which will save you time searching. I am only as organised as that sometimes….

On the “side “of the wallet is a row of nine mini-sockets with popular sizes from 13mm to 4mm. They are mini-sockets since they are just 18mm deep and are designed that way to be as slim and as compact as possible. Intended users are fitters who often operate on small apparatus in limited spaces – think computer fitting technicians, specialist electronics etc. The sockets are firmly held in place on square plastic pegs and will not move in transit, and the laser etched identification marks are also echoed in the white stitching of the sizes on the wallet itself – no real excuse to be disorganised with the sockets.

On the other “side” of the wallet is a small Kraftform Kompakt driver handle. Obviously not intended for applying higher torque, it is small enough to be used in fingertips for delicate operations. The highly magnet hex socket will hold all standard size 6mm hex bits and with the ¼ inch square driver bit in the set, the sockets can be used as well. 

Finally we come to the mini-Zyklop ratchets – Zyklop Mini 1 and Zyklop Mini 2. I can always understand how people might want to fidget with these ratchets because they are so smoothly finished and well made that they are just very tactile. But that is to miss the point somewhat because they are also fully functioning ratchet tools with a fine tooth ratchet giving 6 degrees of turn for use in tiny spaces. The extra slim heads on the ratchets mean that they will fit almost anywhere and be able to function as intended.

Zyklop Mini 1 is just 85mm long and the ratchet head itself is just 12mm thick. Even with a driver bit in, it is only 28mm thick.

The more meaty Zyklop Mini 2 is 105mm long with an 11mm hex drive socket on the end. The sockets fit snugly into this and are retained securely by a sprung ring, so no need to worry that they are going to fall into the machinery and cause havoc.

Moving to the less romantically named 8740 c HF 1 we find a similar story in the packaging and presentation, but this time there is a hex drive socket on the front of the wallet for identification.

Inside are just nine tools – hex drivers intended for use in heavy duty mechanical engineering and automotive industries. You can really see and feel the difference between the delicate sockets in the Zyklop Mini set and these ones. They would be perfectly at home even on the extended version of the big Zyklop ratchet reviewed last month.

But even here amongst the toughies, Wera has managed to introduce a bit of sophistication to make users’ lives easier. The ½ inch drive sockets all have a deep ring around them into which are baked different colours that serve to identify them visually by colour. They are also laser etched in large letters (I didn’t need my glasses) on the drivers and to aid replacement in the wallet, white nylon stitching marks their positions as well. It could be as simple as telling the assistant to “pass me a red”  (the 6mm driver).

Because these are heavy duty tools, Wera has not simply relied on a friction fit to keep the tools secure in their wallet. The new release and retaining system uses a quick half twist on the anchors to release or retain them.

Another little bit of sophistication and usefulness is that the hex driver ends have been tweaked to serve as a holder function for the fastenings that they will be used to drive. This involves a spring – loaded ball bearing right on the tip of the driver where it will fit into the socket of the hex bolt and this will hold the bolt well enough so that it can be fitted into place before it is tightened.

 

For those lucky enough to have a workbench or mobile trolley to hold their tools Wera has also included a strong strip of self-adhesive hook and loop material that can be fixed to a smooth surface.  This enables workers to have a favoured kit on hand nearby.

These kits are aimed at different ends of the technicians’ market and yet still have the common thread of innovation and developmental improvement that Wera lavishes on its products. I think that is the reason why Wera continues to enjoy a loyal following of tool users and dare I say, “Tool Rebels.” 

Three Driver Sets from Wera - Spoilt for Choice-Again!

Aimed at:Pro users who need just that something different to solve some screw driving dilemnas.

Pros: Professional quality kit that is always well designed to be part of a comprehensive Wera System. It helps solve problems everyday.

Just when you think that there is nothing more to be developed (after all, a screwdriver is a screwdriver, is it not?)  along comes Wera with tools that just seem to go that little bit further along the road and solve a few more fixing puzzles.  For some, these tools themselves might seem to be unnecessary, but as I have found, they can often be the solution for a difficult fixing dilemma or a get-out-of-trouble-tool that leaves you wondering why no-one except Wera seems to have thought of the idea before now.

The Wera KK Pistol RA is a classic example of this. There have been pistol shaped drivers on the market before now, but I suspect (know?) that none has been as good as this one. To start at the beginning…

For classy presentation it is hard to beat the black Wera presentation boxes that simply ooze quality – great for both retailers and purchasers. The KK Pistol RA box can be stood on a counter or hung on a toolbar. On the back of the box are clear illustrations to show the basics of operation, as well as a list of contents. Open the box and there is the pistol held in a neat black nylon holster complete with belt hook - ready to be added to a technician’s on-the-go toolkit straightaway. And my guess is that this is largely how it will be used – namely as a first call tool, ready in an instant without the need for the bulky toolbox with all the other tools that might be needed later.

My first instinct on getting hold of the pistol was to find the best grip on it for maximum twisting power. The handle is cleverly designed using the Wera Kraftorm handle design so that users can choose their own grip according to taste or circumstances. But the one that I liked best was using my last three fingers on the handle and allowing my forefinger to point along the axis of the driver bit. Then, when I wished to change the direction of the ratchet I could simply do it by gripping the ratchet collar between thumb and forefinger and giving it a twist. Three ratchet positions, left, right and lock, can be selected and the resulting handling is so quick and simple that you may even start to think that Wera engineers had designed it that way…

The driver bits are hidden, but a quick push on the green button on the end of the pistol handle causes it to spring open to reveal a cartridge of six driver bits – two Torx, two Pozi and two Philips – the most commonly used bits for most users. The bits are fitted to a Rapidaptor-type mini-chuck by simply pushing them in to fix and pulling on the revolving collar to release. It will be second nature to regular users of Wera drivers, ewcomers will take thirty seconds to learn just how easy it is.

I found the pistol helped me out of a particular jam when I had to remove some woodwork done by someone else who thought that an impact driver was meant to drive the screwhead 20mm deep into the wood. The result was that the thread on the screw had chewed up the wood and could not be removed with a cordless driver. With the pistol I was able to reach the head, and put a bit of an angle on the screw to get enough bite on the thread to slowly twist the screw out. Result. In my view, the pistol is another simple but great tool to add to the well thought out Wera System.

Perhaps not as conceptually sophisticated concept is the 60RA, another Kraftform Kompakt set. It too has a black nylon wallet with a belt loop. The wallet contains the Kraftform Kompakt handle and sixteen 89mm long driver bits. – five hex bits (6mm to 3mm) five Torx bits, three Pozi bits, three Philips bits and a slot screw bit. Again, all commonly used bits that are easy to replace or customize as required, and also all following the very useful Wera tradition that all Wera bits are laser marked for easy identification.

The Kraftform Kompakt handle has a Rapidaptor style hex chuck for easy placement and removal of the bits and the rotating collar is a great help for smooth and accurate work.

The ratchet on the handle has a fine toothed ratchet so screws can be tightened or loosened with precision even in very tight spacesand the neutral lock position means that fine adjustments can be carried out quickly. However don’t let all this precision stuff fool you – the 60 RA can exert torque of up to 50Nm if needed!

In my toolbox I like having the 60 RA as a screwdriver set. I like the robust, non-roll handle design as well as the fact that I can simply swap driver bits to fit the screwheads I come up against. I also save a lot of space by not having the usual half dozen or so screwdrivers to accommodate.

The “traditional looking” KK 27 RA screwdriver completes the trio. This looks like a meaty, old-fashioned screwdriver with a hex bit holder on the end. But it has some of the sophistication of the tools above in the sense that its handle conceals a cartridge of six driver bits (2 Pozi, 2 Philips and 2 slottted) and it also has the excellent ratchet system of the other two tools above. Again, with left, right and lock positions the ratchet can be used with precision, but also has a lot of torque strength to drive big screws if necessary.

The hex socket end has a powerful magnet so there is no danger of losing any driver bit slipped into it. With a 100mm long hex shank it is clear that this tool could be a bit of a ruffian if required to be. And, it is another space saver for the toolbox that is always welcome.

For me, Wera drivers of whatever type and design always have two common themes. Firstly they are very well thought out and designed as part of the greater Wera system, and they are a great way to solve screwdriving dilemmas. These three tools have once again proved this point. 

For more Wera reviews, visit our Wera Section, and more general information, please visit www.wera-tools.co.uk

Wera Kraftform Kompakt Kits-Giving Trades the Tools They Want +Wera Kraftform Competition!

Aimed at: Pros who value convience and space saving, but also a comprehensive range of combinations of tools.

Pros: Neatly packed, high quality kits with all the Wera Virtues.

Wera are in continuous dialogue with UK tradespeople, and have found many create their own customised kits from the wide Wera range. To begin with they would buy the nearest Kompakt kit to the one required - meaning they sometimes had items they didn’t need, but also couldn’t fit other products that they did need into the pouch. 

So Wera took on the challenge of creating kits specifically tailored to end-users. The PlumbKit, was first, and was soon followed by kits designed for those working with metal and wood, and those are the two I am reviewing today.

Both of the kits in this review are presented in the new style of black card boxes that ooze quality and style to end-users. The usual Wera attention to detail is noted by the fact that the boxes have a pull out plastic tab so that they can be hung on a standard display stand.

The new style nylon wallets have rigid sides and each tool has a place. Users can therefore easily keep track of their tools and ensure that they don’t get left behind or lost. The wallets fold flat and are kept tightly closed with a hook and loop strip, so are handy to carry onto site and lay out flat when in use.

Time to examine the Kompakt Woodwork and Metalworking kits in detail, in order to fully appreciate their features.

The Metalworking kit has a smart little logo of an RSJ on the front to identify it and consists of 40 individual pieces that are logically grouped for easy location.

Right on the edge of the kit by the hook and loop strip is the useful voltage tester screwdriver. This has its own set of instruction attached to the removable pocket clip and is a useful safety item for metal workers working on electrical installations.

In my view the key piece of the kit is the now famous Zyklop Speed ratchet. It is so versatile and I can remember how many times it has got me out of trouble. It has a tiny 5-degree ratchet so it is possible to tighten up nuts in tiny spaces, the head can be angled and also used at 90 degrees like a screwdriver, AND it even has a rotating plastic screwsleeve on the shaft. I appreciate its virtues almost every time I use it.

To complement the Zyklop there are a long (150mm) and short (55mm) extensions and eight sockets ranging from 5.5mm to 13mm that cover the range of most commonly used sizes. A Rapidaptor bit holder accessory with a hex end can be fitted to the Zyklop so that screwdriving bits can be used.

On the other side of the wallet is a range of thirteen 90mm long screwdriving bits. There are 5 Torx bits, 3 Phillips bits, 4 hex bits and a slot screwdriver. Useful too, and I use mine often, is the screwholder. This slides over the shaft of a driver and the two flexible wings are used to hold screws in place as you manoeuvre them into position in tight spaces using only one hand. To drive the bits, the classic Kraftform screwdriver handle is supplied. This has a quick release Rapidaptor chuck that Wera users are familiar with.

However, to really underline that this is a metalworker’s kit the last pieces of this kit are 6 drill bits and 6 screw taps designed to complement each other in sizes. They are quite short and are clearly meant for use in thinnish sheet material. They can also be used to clear and redefine worn screw threads in rather overworn installations and can be driven with a cordless drill, the Zyklop or the Kraftform handle.  

I really like the way that each bit or socket has been etched with its size and designation and diameter where needed. It really helps keep track of the pieces as well as allowing you to keep order in the kit.

The Woodworking kit is identified by a logo of a plank of wood on the front and it consists of 41 pieces. Inevitably there is the electrical current tester that seems to be a reminder to woodworkers that they too need to be aware of electrical current where they might be working. The screwholder is a useful addition too.  

The kit concentrates largely on screwdriving and drilling, as we would expect. So there is a choice of sixteen 90mm long driver bits. There are 5 Torx bits – now very commonly used as a way of driving woodscrews and a necessary inclusion in my view. Four hex bits are also needed because they are often used in window installations. Of course you will also use the three Pozi bits (1,2 and 3) and the three Phillips bits (1,2 and 3) as well as a slotted driver bit almost every day.

 A set of 5 brad pointed drill bits has hex shanks that will fit a Rapidaptor or a drill chuck. They are genuinely sharp and cut nicely defined holes in wood very quickly.

On the other flap of the kit is a large Kraftform handle with a difference – it has a ratchet on the bottom of the handle as well as the customary Rapidaptor chuck. I like this handle because it is big enough to provide a solid grip for a maximum torque drive and the ratchet is easy to operate between thumb and forefinger.

Further driving flexibility is provided by a set of six smaller 25mm long drivers, and an extension holder. 

A set of seven sockets is placed along the spine of the wallet and these can be driven either by the Zyklop Mini bit ratchet and its 75mm long extension or the small 25mm long extension that will fit into the Kraftform handle. I never cease to be amazed at just how flexibly all these components can be made to work together and they will surely add versatility to the kit of any tradesperson.

I’ve always liked Wera Kompakt sets, both for use in the workshop and on site. They save on toolbox space, are easy to carry to the job and I can personally vouch for how many times the kit combinations have got me out of trouble. So taking these to the next level, with these tailored Trade Kits including a wider range of Wera products, is a welcome development.

For a chance to win any one of the four Wera kits reviewed in December/ January and February editions of ToolBusiness and Hire, send us an email  saying which kit you would like and why. The editor’s choice is final and your reasons may be published! 

To find out more about Wera Products, please visit www.wera-tools.co.uk

Wera Technicians’ Kits – All the Necessary?

Aimed at: Pro specialist technicians,  electricians and fitters.

Pros: Well- chosen key tools in a handy to use kit. Easy to take on site for diagnostics and repairs. 

I recently overheard a comment at a tool show by someone who was clearly a tradesman, to his mate about his Wera tools. The comment was along the lines of how “joined up” all his Wera tools were, because they were “designed that way”.

Clearly an appreciative and perceptive end-user, and I am sure that Wera should collectively pat itself on the back. As an end user it is comforting to think that a system that you might have bought into years ago is still expanding (sensibly and quite rightly driven by design, innovation and end user requirements) and is therefore still useful, compatible and up to date.

The two kits Wera have sent for review illustrate the above very nicely. Aimed at plumbing and heating engineers and maintenance technicians respectively, they are a kind of “first call” toolkit that is easy to carry to site and, in many cases, will be all the tools that are needed to fix a problem.

The first kit I opened was the Kraftform Kompakt SH1 PlumbKit. Handsomely presented in a black nylon folding wallet, the set consists of 25 assorted tools, essentially divided into two parts on each side of the wallet. All the pieces are familiar as they are part of the wider Wera range, but as a combination they are pretty comprehensive.

Firstly there are two VDE screwdrivers and a voltage tester for the electrical element of a plumbers’ job. The small screwdriver is a Kraftform Plus VDE Extra Slim with integrated insulation, which is useful for sunken and spring elements, while the bigger one is the Kraftform Plus VDE Lasertip. The tip of this screwdriver is roughly laser engraved with lines that bite into screwheads, preventing slips.

Next in line is one of the most useful tools that Wera produces in my view – the Kraftform Plus Chiseldriver. With its hex section blade it can of course simply tackle large slotted screws, but can also be hammered directly onto, thanks to the integrated impact cap on top of the handle and twisted with a 10mm spanner via the hex holster under the handle  - ideal for those really tight screws!!! It is also great for chasing out in plaster walls, and stays useable as a screwdriver after even long chisel use.

Two large handled Kraftform Plus HQ Nutdrivers in 10mm and 13mm complete that side of the wallet. These two socket sizes are the most commonly used in electrical and plumbing apparatus.

The other side holds a more mixed selection. The 10mm and 13mm Joker combination ratchet wrenches are some of the best I have ever used, simply because they solve a whole lot of problems in one tool. The reversible fine ratchet is strong and has a tiny 30 degree throw for confined spaces, while the open-ended spanner not only grips the nuts well, it will hold a bolt head or nut so that it can be brought to the corresponding part without the user having to hold it in place. They can be used in confined spaces and are also VERY strong when it comes to applying torque to them.

In my view the key piece on this side of the wallet is the small Zyklop Speed ratchet. This is incredibly easy to use, the angle of the head can be changed, sockets ejected etc etc. It is a great piece of engineering and I have heard so many positive comments from end users about it that it has truly become a classic. The Zyklop can be used as a screwdriver by attaching the Rapidaptor bit holder adaptor and using one of the twelve driving bits in the kit. A bronze-coloured set of 6 Torx driver bits (TX sizes 10 to 40) have a “holding function” that hold Torx screws tightly so that they can be presented to their positions before they are tightened.

The set of three sockets (7mm, 10mm and 13mm) fit the Zyklop and the last set of longer shank driver bits are a mixture of four hex and two Pozi bits.

All the pieces are laser marked with sizes and designations so that they are easy to identify and of course, for users who need to customize their kits, all the components are available from the Wera range individually.

The Wera W1 Maintenance Kit comes in the new style of textile box with rigid sections. These sections make for a container that is very robust and durable, and can even be stood up on its end for easy shelf storage. It also means that if any individual pieces somehow come loose, they would find it very hard to escape once the large hook and loop closure is pressed shut.

This 35-piece set has quite a VDE presence with twelve interchangeable Kompakt VDE screwdriver blades in Pozi, Phillips and Torx configurations and a detachable Kraftform Kompakt VDE handle. Despite this handy detachable blade format this, like all Wera VDE kit, is guaranteed for safe working up to 1,000V (as per EN60900:2012).

Another nice touch is the red plastic Screwgripper that is used on the end of a screwdriver blade to hold screws firmly when needed. Think of having to place a tiny screw at the back of a casing that would be a pain to find if you dropped it while trying to screw it in.

There is also a small voltage tester screwdriver – still one of those safety essentials for maintenance operators.

Gathered round the essential Zyklop Speed ratchet is a set of eight sockets. These range in size from 5.5mm to 13mm – an essential range for maintenance. To make life easier there is also a small extension bar (also with a plastic rotating collar for speedy work – the attention to detail is amazing, and totally Wera) and a Rapidaptor adaptor to hold the selection of seven driver bits. These cover four sizes of hex, one Torx and two sizes of Pozi. There is also a slimline standard hex magnetic bit holder that would fit an appropriate Kraftform handle or cordless driver.

Finally there is a double-open jaw Joker wrench with popular 10mm and 13mm ends. This has the holding function and limit stop so that the user can’t push the bolt or nut past the spanner jaws. With its smart jaw design the Joker has a small return angle – ideal for use in confined spaces.

I expected the trades to which I showed the kits to be either sceptical or to tell me that the kits were too similar. In fact, I got neither of these reactions. The favourite seemed to be the maintenance kit, but that was maybe due to the preponderance of electricians in my sample audience!! For these end users, quality and design is now so firmly established as a Wera selling point that it becomes purely a question of how much it costs and whether they need it now or next month.

Read more Wera Reviews, such as the Kraftform Kompact VDE and the Wera Joker

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

Draper Tools Redline Launch Reveals Britain’s Home-Improvement Skills

To support the launch of its Redline range of tools, Draper Tools has commissioned a study into the state of the nation’s home-improvement skills and attitudes.

The research revealed a national lack of confidence in many areas of home improvement, with one in five Brits having tried and failed to put up flat-pack furniture and a quarter of people admitting they’d damaged walls trying to put a picture up.

Designed to tackle a wide range of home repairs including gardening jobs, car and bike maintenance, decorating, furniture assembly and much more, the Redline launch has come at the right time with over  a third of people saying that an affordable range of tools they liked, would help them to have a go at home improvements.

Home-Improvement Hang-Ups

It seems some home-improvement help is definitely needed. The study of 2,000 people found three in ten have tackled dangerous electrical or plumbing jobs with the wrong tools and confessed to having ‘no idea’ how to do the task. Half of those surveyed said they would be unable to change a tyre on their car if called on to do so, while less than a fifth were confident they could even keep a household plant alive based on previous failures.

Doing the decorating is a challenge for many Brits with four in ten struggling with painting walls or applying wallpaper, while the thought of bleeding a radiator or removing it from the wall is a fearsome prospect and features high on the list of jobs Brits are stumped about.

Age of Handiness

There is hope though; the study found the average person does start to get the hang of home improvements at the age of 29. This might be thanks to the internet, which is, by far, the place Brits will most likely turn to for home-improvement advice. Fifty per cent of people said they turn to tutorial videos on the web in order to get by, while a fifth admit their dad is still the first person they call if they need something done.

Tom Draper, Director at Draper Tools commented on the findings:

“There have been so many changes in recent years such as the recession, the rise in renting and of course the upsurge in online tutorials, how-to guides and help-videos, all of which may have impacted the nation’s handy skills. Ahead of our Redline launch, we wanted to try and get a better picture of Britain’s handy skills and abilities when it comes to household maintenance and repair jobs.  

We were also keen to understand the nation’s feelings towards home improvements. What the research showed us is that despite there being some insecurities surrounding tackling these kinds of tasks, Brits do want to make their mark and have a go at home improvements. A fresh coat of paint throughout the home, better storage and new flooring were found to be among the most desired improvements for homes today.”

Redline to the Rescue

Featuring quality hand-tools, motoring essentials, decorating tools and more, the comprehensive Redline range offers a fantastic, affordable solution for consumers looking to tackle their home-improvement hang-ups. And there are plenty of repairs that need doing, with 16% of Brits admitting they currently have at least two unfinished home-improvement projects around the house.

What’s more with so many consumers turning to the internet for help with home improvements, Draper Tools has also created a number of handy how-to videos online at www.drapertools.com.

To find out more about the Redline range of tools visit www.drapertools.com or contact your Draper Tools sales representative for copies of the range brochure. Keep an eye on the Draper Tools social media channels for more statistics and findings from the handiness survey.

 

Vargus Deburring Set – One Stop Shop

Vargus deburring tools are widely used in engineering and manufacturing processes and there are many specialist tools provided by Vargus that I have looked at over the last few months. But I got a bit of a treat when the Mango II Kit arrived for review – this 23 piece kit is an excellent all-rounder because it contains pretty well all you will need for the general workshop that routinely handles a range of metals and other materials like plastics too.Vargus tells me that the kit has all the tools needed to handle over a thousand applications. At first I was a predictably sceptical, but the more applications I tried it on the more the applications mounted up, so I am sure that users more expert than I would easily pass the thousand mark.

To quote just a few applications from the blurb: - “deburring straight edge, hole-edge, hole-back edge, cross-hole both edges, sheet metal, flat surfaces and hole inner surface. The tools inside will cover a range of materials that includes steel, aluminium, copper, brass, cast iron, stainless steel and plastics”. The fact that it is all beautifully contained in a small but robust plastic case with decent catches, so it won’t open up accidentally in transit, makes it also an ideal kit for the fitter on the move. Maybe someone who doesn’t necessarily know exactly what materials or challenges they are going to be handling each day, so needs a bit of flexibility in the toolkit department.

The case is neatly divided into separate compartments to hold each section of tools, handles etc and the lid is lined with triangular-formed foam so that when the lid is snapped shut, the tools inside don’t move around and get confused with each other. 

I started by looking at the handle provided with the kit – this is made of a hard plastic with inset grippy rubber moulding and a strong spring-loaded collar on the base. The handle can hold the five blade holders supplied with the kit so that they can be each be used with the tools that fit them and also can be adjusted for length if necessary. Simply find the arrow on the collar and line up the milled part of the blade holder with it. Pull back the collar and insert the blade holder to the depth you want and you are nearly ready to go.

The five blade holders are needed because each type of deburring tool needs to be held in a different way for maximum performance.

A closer examination of the blade holders shows that they are well made with a few little details on them proving they were designed by people who knew what they were doing. For example, the hand countersink tool has a pair of parallel flats milled on it so that it can be removed easily with a small spanner, as the action of use will inevitably tighten the countersink onto the blade holder.

The other four blade holders are designed to hold various deburrers and so vary in detail.There are two bladeholders with steel spring-loaded collars that hold the deburring tools that need to move freely on the edge of the work to work effectively. A small ballbearing holds the tool firmly so that it won’t come out of the holder, while also allowing it to move freely.

The two toolholders are needed because the shanks of the deburrers are two different lengths to allow flexibility when doing different tasks.

The toolholder that fits the triangular carbide tool used for scraping surfaces and deburring sheet material has a small screw to hold the tool in place. The hex key needed to tighten the cutter in place is provided and the small lugs on the toolholder prevent the cutter from moving around in use – another example of thoughtful design that makes the Vargus tools easier to use and very practical.

The tools that I hadn’t used before were a pair of triangular file-shaped High Speed Steel scrapers. With their triangular pointed shape they were easy to insert into small cavities to scrape away residues etc and the toolholder designed to fit them is a model of simple practicality – the scrapers are simply screwed into the end of it and they are ready to be used.

The kit contains nine hook deburrers that can be used on straight or curved edges and also used clockwise or counterclockwise. A couple of the hooks have an offset and are a bit extended so that they can reach odd places and there is also a tool with a sharp hook that will deburr both sides of a hole simultaneously.While I tried as many of the tools in as many situations and as many materials as I could find in my workshop I knew I would never be able to reach the limits of this kit.  All the tools worked as I expected, and the more I practiced the better I got at using them – there are a couple of techniques that pretty well ensure a good result every time – like not stopping in the middle of a stretch for example. However, an expert would, I am sure, appreciate the range and flexibility of the kit.

At a push there is room in the case for another Mango handle so that users can simply put down one tool and pick up another. Of course, expert users would also be able to buy other cutters as needed for different applications, and there is also plenty of room in the case for those too. With a list price of £121.42 it’s a lot of kit for the money. Remembering also that it will only be the deburrers needing replacement, depending on how much use they are subjected to.

There is also a slightly smaller and cheaper version of the kit called the Top 3 Mango II starter kit that contains only the three most popular styles of blades that would keep the likes of me and my deburring needs more than happy.

For more information, please contact www.vargusuk.co.uk

Leatherman Super Tool 300- A Trade Favourite?

From my observations it seems that many tradespeople now carry multi tools on their belts. This may reflect the larger numbers of higher quality multi tools available, but it could also be that tradespeople like them because they are a very useful “reach for me” tool, particularly when initially investigating a job. It is very often a multi tool that establishes just how far the rot has got into that doorframe, or unscrews the cover that conceals the problem.

Thankfully, we are now past the time where the multi tools were all “multi” and not enough genuine “tools” and the original Leatherman must take some credit for this – it was the first multi tool that included a pair of pliers that actually worked, and provided the stimulus for the competition to develop better products.   Most manufacturers now include only the tools that are genuinely useful, so it is up to end users to explore the options that will suit their needs.

The Leatherman Super Tool 300 is part of a range of other Leatherman tools including the ”Surge” and “Crunch” for example, that are all deliberately different in order to provide a sensible choice for end users. While a tradesperson usually has a box of specialist tools nearby, a multi tool like the Super Tool 300 may be the only tool available for campers, hikers and yachtsmen.

The Leatherman Super Tool 300 feels weighty and solid when you first handle it – it is clear that this tool is a serious one, and it inspires confidence.

Closed, it is just over four inches (115 mm) long and with the handles bent open to reveal the pliers it is still only about seven inches (180 mm) long – enough to give enough leverage in use, but still compact enough to carry in a belt pouch.

As we would expect from a Leatherman, the body is made from solid, folded 420HC stainless steel, with harder 154CM stainless steel used for some blades, where it holds an edge better. The rivets that hold the whole tool together are reassuringly tight, and no doubt will ease slightly with use.

Once opened, the handles lock into place so that the pliers are ready for action. The pliers are forged and ground into a slimmish compromise between needle nosed pliers and standard ones. The finely ridged gripping tips meet precisely and there is no play in the fulcrum, so indeed it is a pair of pliers that give you the confidence that they will work properly. The wider milled opening before the cutting blades serves as a good way of holding a range of smaller sized nuts and bolts.

The pliers offer a number of wire cutting options, the most obvious one being via the removable cutting blades near the fulcrum. Using a hex key, these blades can be removed and then resharpened or replaced as required. I found them very efficient and sharp, even cutting some wire coat hangers.

On the handle side of the fulcrum there are wire cutters for cutting stranded wires and also the electrical crimpers. I was pleased to find that these features worked as intended. Electricians and mechanics take note!

I was slightly intrigued by the ruler function etched into the handles – in cm on one side and inches the other. It is possible to measure up to 23 cm fairly accurately by pushing the handles together so that the flat handle ends meet. Apart from the necessary gap between 9cm and 14cm it will give a pretty accurate result when needed.

Concealed inside the handles are ten other tools. These are actually quite easy to lift into position because they are ether provided with a good-sized fingernail slot or a hook. When fully opened they are locked into place with an efficient spring-loaded bar lock that you can actually hear as it locks. Unlocking the blades is a simple matter of pushing in the spring with one thumb and pushing the blade back into the handle with the other hand.

The Super Tool 300 has two incredibly sharp blades - one serrated and the other a simple drop point. As with any knife, care needs to be taken in use. I found that by folding the handles in to create a good handle, it allows you to cut safely.

The saw has very sharp teeth and is ground to cut on both pull and push strokes and will sever branches and small timber sections quickly. It is clearly aimed at campers and hikers, not joiners, so don’t attempt dovetails with it.

There are also three sizes of flat slotted screwdrivers and a Phillips 2 screwdriver. For general use these are perfectly adequate, but specialist trades should look at other Leatherman options.

There is also a double sided file with a toothed edge that was able to file soft metals quite well – clearly enough of a function to file a key to fit for example, and with enough finesse and accuracy to be useful.

Since I learned how to use combined bottle and can openers on knives when I was a teenager I take great delight in demonstrating them to the uninitiated and the Leatherman version is a gem – sharp and easy to start. No need for fancy ring pull cans with the Leatherman handy.

Finally, there is an optional lanyard ring that provides an extra level of security against accidental loss. Some trade users might attach a lanyard to it when working at height for example, where it is impractical to always replace the tool in its belt holster. The holster is made from strong black nylon with a hook and loop flap to keep the tool in place.

My overall impression of the Leatherman is that it is thoughtfully designed and manufactured well using good quality materials. It is clearly aimed at a discerning audience that appreciates a tool that will really work.

Leatherman is so confident of the quality of their products that they offer a 25 year limited warranty. However as we know, quality doesn’t usually come cheap, and a typical retail price for the Leatherman Super Tool 300 is £89.95.

Aimed at:- campers, hikers, outdoorsy types and a lots of trades as a first option tool.

Pros:- Well-made with useful accessories and an excellent guarantee.

For more information please visit www.leatherman.co.uk/

 

 

Get To Grips With The NEW Range of Hand Saws from Hultafors

As most discerning craftsmen know, Hultafors' can deliver just about anything you need for measuring, leveling and marking; striking, cutting and chopping; even prying and wrecking. So these really are a range of Tools that can handle tough applications, last for ages and feel right when you're working on site.

Now there’s a new addition to the Hultafors Tools’ portfolio – a range of premium quality Hand Saws - market-leading products for all-round, on-site use with a handful of unique features that will make them highly sought-after products.

So what makes these saws really different? Take a look at the unique blade tip for an easier start and ongoing sawing motion; the easy-to-use blade exchange system; the extra-stable precision blade; the ergonomic handle and the unique blade protection system.

Getting more information on the Hultafors Tools range of Handsaws is easy. You call the Helpline on 01484 854788 or check out www.hultafors.co.uk and download a digital catalogue.

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