Fein ASCM12

Four Speeds = Flexibility and Control

Not all trades need endless power and lots of batteries in a drill kit. Many don’t need the raw power of 18v or 24v, or the weight and bulk that goes with it! Also, Ah is not that important either - a small 4Ah cordless combi can last for several days on a job.

With a smaller driver what you should get is precision control. Two speeds may be enough on an 18v drill, but control and accuracy are required on smaller fitting - enter the 12v machine.

Testing, Testing

 I tested this machine on various site jobs and I found flexibility, versatility, perfect control, ease of use and particularly quick changes between modes. One minute I may be driving screws, the next, drilling small holes and later, sinking a slot for a cabinet hinge or removing the chuck to drive a screw inside a 300mm wide cabinet.

The Range

The Fein ASCM12 is part of a range of three 12v drivers and has four selectable speeds via a sliding switch that can be moved so quickly between speed settings that you will use them – to your advantage.

The trigger is speed sensitive and it is possible to hold a slow speed, but a harder press quickly accelerates to max speed of either 400, 700, 1,400 or 2,500 rpm.

Build Quality

The 'Made in Germany' quality of the tool is evident. Rubber mouldings protect the casing and provide the user with a good ergonomic grip.  While I was using it on site the Fein fell 2m onto a brick path, followed a bit later by a 1m fall off a ladder. Both times, the tool was unharmed and worked perfectly afterwards.

Features

In retrospect I should have used the reversible belt hook supplied for safety.

The Fein has a 20-position torque setting collar for fine control. Drill setting allows a 40mm diameter hole in wood with the correct bit, and the motor brake stops the chuck almost instantaneously. 

It has a Rohm keyless chuck and a quick pull back on the collar releases it, leaving a standard 6mm/1/4 inch hex fitting. Now the tool is only 150mm long – cramped spaces? No problem.

You get a custom case, two 2.5Ah battery packs and smart charger. Charging is quick – just over the half hour. Battery packs have a simple four LED light system to indicate battery charge.

 

https://youtu.be/jvO5zaQKPUU

Wiha’s MagicRing and Magic Spring L-Keys

Why Get Them?

Sometimes you need to attach the fastener to the L-Key without a magnet – computer for eg don’t like magnets!

Wiha’s team has come up with several solutions that fit the bill

Features

The pack of nine ErgoStar MagicRing Hex keys have a ball end with a spring retainer – they retain the fasteners even at an angle of up to 20 degrees on the ball end.

Made with 57-60 HRC Chrome steel and meeting all the ISO and DIN standards they are of professional quality.

The short end of the keys allow max torque and maximum access for the tools in confined spaces.

The above is all very well for hex keys, but Torx fixings are becoming much more popular these days, especially for more demanding applications. Wiha also makes a ball end Torx L-Key and its engineers have solved the problem of retaining a Torx bolt onto an L-Key. The clue of course lies in the name – the ErgoStar MagicSpring.

The MagicSpring Torx L-Keys are in a 13-piece pack and have a black finish.

 The same ingenious holder is used so there is no hassle needed to get at the keys, but at the same time the set stays safely together.

Included is a wall hanger for the entire set so that it can be attached to a rack or van interior.

Overall, there is no doubt that these Wiha L-Keys are professionally rated pieces of kit with a few handy innovations that will make jobs easier and more efficient. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJzGksW1oi8

Wiha MagicRing L-Keys The Non-Magnetic Solution for Screwholding

Enter the L-Keys from Wiha. Designated the MagicRing and MagicSpring range they offer several features that will surely find favour with many end users – particularly those whose everyday jobs have very specific requirements.

Such is the pace of innovation in the fixings and fasteners arena that it is sometimes not enough to introduce one innovation at a time – they have to come in twos or threes. Enter the L-Keys from Wiha. Designated the MagicRing and MagicSpring range they offer several features that will surely find favour with many end users – particularly those whose everyday jobs have very specific requirements.

Retaining the fasteners to the driver is a feature that many users like. It is really handy to be able to start the process of screwing in a fastener by introducing it into the aperture mounted on the tool, and being able to get the thread started. In cramped spaces this is often a necessity. The usual method of retaining a screw fastening to the tool is to use a magnet – and this is usually very effective. However, what if the magnet is near to sensitive electronic components or what if the fastener is made of quality stainless steel and is therefore not magnetic? Clearly time for a bit of head scratching and a referral to the R and D team.

Wiha’s team has come up with several solutions that fit the bill – and they have already found favour in the market.

The first of these that I looked at was the ErgoStar MagicRing Hex key set. Retailers and end users will like the clear plastic bubble packaging that shows all that you need to know before purchase. A clear graphic shows all nine sizes of metric hex key in the pack and shows that only the biggest six sizes have the MagicRing feature – the smallest keys are simply too small to machine the retaining ring and spring onto them.

Made from 57-60 HRC Chrome Vanadium steel and meeting all the ISO and DIN standards for these types of tools, they are up to the demands of professional users who need quality every time they use the tools.

The MagicRing feature is very easy to see on the largest key on the set (10mm). On the long end of the L, a small groove is machined into which a round spring washer is inserted. When the hex end is pushed into the corresponding head of a screw, the spring washer slides into it, but still exerts some pressure onto the inside of the hex head, thus retaining it strongly enough for it to be held securely. This is enough to hold a screw in place while it is located and then screwed in.

Also only on the long end, Wiha’s designers have include a “ball end” – essentially the way that the hex shape has been relieved by cutting a big v-shaped slot into the end so that the key can be used at angles up to about twenty-five degrees off the right angle when loosening and tightening a fixing.

Clearly this makes it a lot easier to work in confined spaces and also to locate the screw in the first place. What I liked about the MagicSpring feature was that it did its job without affecting anything else that a hex key is supposed to do. It held the fastener securely, but not so securely that it interfered with tightening or moving it.

With the removal of metal required to create a ball-end, the hex keys, particularly the smaller sizes, are not as strong and could therefore be short in the applied torque department. However, Wiha has made the solution obvious by keeping the short end of the L-key a full hex shape, capable of exerting the torque you need. With the short end of the L-key, it is usually possible to fit into most spaces.

The above is all very well for hex keys, but Torx fixings are becoming much more popular these days, especially for more demanding applications. Wiha also makes a ball end Torx L-Key and its engineers have solved the problem of retaining a Torx bolt onto an L-Key. The clue of course lies in the name – the ErgoStar MagicSpring.

The MagicSpring Torx L-Keys are packed in a similar transparent plastic bubble pack so that buyers can see what is in the set.

There are 13 pieces in the pack and they are made with the same steel as the hex keys above, but with a black finish. The range is in several popular Torx sizes from T45 down to T5. I chose the T45 to examine because it is easiest to see how the spring retainer works – looking at it through a magnifier I could see a couple of springloaded hooks that grip into the side of the Torx aperture of the fixing. It is an impressive bit of micro-engineering since it needs precise placing on the end of the L-Key to ensure that it works correctly. And it does work. It was easy to set a fixing into and then place it into the right spot to start threading it into place. There is usually a little bit of angle flexibility on Torx fixings so there is some scope to use the L-key at a slight angle and still get good results.

But as I have said, multiple innovations seems to be the norm these days, and the presentation of the sets will win friends. The standard method of presenting a set of L-Keys is to slot them into a plastic block arranged in order. It is time consuming and fiddly to access the keys like this so Wiha has come up with a neat solution. Each laser marked key has its own slot in a plastic block, but simply pull one of the keys out to 90 degrees from the storage position and all the keys are revealed and ready to pull out without interfering with each other. The geared mechanism enclosed in the block works smoothly and the casing also has each size of each key marked in its position.

Included is a wall hanger for the entire set so that it can be attached to a rack or van interior.

Overall, there is no doubt that these Wiha L-Keys are professionally rated pieces of kit with a few handy innovations that will make jobs easier and more efficient. 

 

JCB 2CX /G Suede and mesh Boots from Progressive Safety Perfect for Winter?

WhyBuy? the JCB Grey Suede Workboots

  • Comfortable
  • Water resistant
  • Safety tested
  • Good sole
  • Leather
  • Insoles and padded lining for warmth
  • Well priced

Fortuitously these grey suede boots arrived at exactly the same time as the wet and wintry weather down here in Sussex. The timing couldn’t have been better. I hate having cold and/or wet feet while working.

The boots are modern looking and as stylish as work footwear can get without being impractical. Loosening them up and tightening again is made easier by not having lace holes but metal lace loops. The strong nylon woven laces can slide through these without catching, so getting in or out is quite easy. If I have one small thing I would change it would be to have the last few metal loops replaced with hooks like hiking boots have – thus making it even easier to get in or out.

My foot comfort in work boots relies heavily on having the boots lined with a sympathetic but insulating material – and in this case the box is more than adequately ticked because from heel to toe the lining is thick enough for warmth and good padding.

Secondly, despite my small stature, I have quite wide feet, so I need to have enough room around my toes. These boots took about half an hour to go from “new boots” to feeling like I had been wearing them for months. I had even taken the precaution of packing a second pair of boots in case I needed to change but that clearly wasn’t necessary.

Some site workers need a highly cleated sole to get grip on very muddy work sites. I mostly don’t have this problem and tend to prefer work boots to have a slightly smoother sole that doesn’t accumulate loads of mud. This is because I am often working inside and out in equal measure. Last week was a case in point. Having lifted an old, rotten floor, I had to lay a new one with a laminate topping. With not enough space to accommodate the mitre saw inside, I had to have it on the stand outside – on a muddy grass patch. The constant popping in and out on relatively smooth soles meant that I could keep the floor clean by simply wiping the boots on a waste piece of chipboard flooring before I laid the next piece of laminate.

When it comes to protections though, the boots are made to satisfy the relevant EN ISO 20345:3011 standards so you will be protected against slipping, penetration by sharp objects, electrical currents, water absorption and warmth, amongst others. 

When I question tradespeople about work wear they often tell me that they want to take all the safety stuff for granted because that is what they are paying for. But they do all tell me that they want a boot that is very comfortable, hardwearing, water resistant (nothing quite as nasty as cold, wet feet on a building site in late November!)  and reasonably stylish.

I am happy to report that I found these grey suede boots all of those and they will therefore be joining my small collection of work shoes that I definitely will use again and again – especially in winter. 

 

Dart Angle Driver – Popular and Award Winning too!

WhyBuy?

  • Handy
  • Well priced
  • easily adjustable
  • well made
  • could get you out of a spot

In many drill driver kits these days an angle driver head will be included. Belatedly, in some cases, we have woken up to the fact that not all screwdriving is a simple straight line function. Sometimes we have to work at very odd angles and around corners and in tight spaces, and the angle driver, in very many cases, allows us to do just that. In fact, I chose to purchase a particular brand of small combi drill on the basis that it was the only one, at that time, that came with a quick release angle driver and chuck. Frankly one of the best decisions I have made in tool purchases because I have used it more often than I thought I would.

So the market was crying out for a well made angle driver that could be simply mounted in a standard chuck. DART Tools, masters at sourcing tools, stepped in, and so popular has its angle driver been, that it won the Innovation Award at the Torque Expo Show in October 2016. It was chosen by the visitors – who represent a wide range of trades and businesses in the fasteners and fixings industry.  

What the voters could clearly see was that the angle driver is very well engineered and its angle gearing works smoothly – so it is a high quality 90° extension to the normal Driver Chuck.

Any close examination of the driver will reveal that it is satisfyingly heavy – so enough metal has gone into its construction for it to be robust enough to withstand trade use. The outer casing of cast alloy has been well finished and is smooth to the touch. To mount it up for work, all the user has to do is attach the hex end of the driver to a chuck (it could also be one of those chucks mounted on a flexible drive cable) and find the angle that they want to drive at before tightening it.

Again, the hex end is strong and capable of delivering the maximum 57Nm of torque that can be put through the gearing.

At the driver end is a small spring-collared and magnetic bit holder. Since this is a standard fitting there is no reason why the user couldn’t customise usage by mounting drill bits, etc, from one of the comprehensive hex bit sets available from many manufacturers.

An absolute necessity in my view is the small handle attached to the driver. This is adjustable into three positions, so that the user can maximise its potential. In my experience it was very handy to be able to use the handle to guide the screwdriver bit onto the screwhead, and then apply some pressure to keep it there while driving it home. A nice touch is that the top of the handle can be unscrewed revealing a compartment just big enough for a spare driver bit – how often have I needed one of those!

The angle driver can be used at speeds up to 2000 rpm even though screwdriving will be done at much slower speeds – but it does allow the option of using drills and even small cutters and burrs mounted on a hex shank.

A neat idea, neatly realised, and one that will be a very useful solution to many screwdriving dilemmas.

As one happy customer remarked, “This product is designed to enable me to screw or drill in that impossibly tight position where no other could - it has saved me from failure many times”

 

Christmas is Coming – What to Give to the Tool Rebel Who has Everything?

Aimed at: Tool rebels and aspiring tool rebels who want everything.

Pros: Keeps you guessing all the way to Christmas.

Wera’s “Tool Rebel” concept is a great idea, with the “rebels” identifying strongly with the brand at the same time as being able to feed back their ideas and solutions to the company. It is witty conceits like the “Tool Rebels” idea that make Wera a company that is close to its end users- and these same users become loyal brand ambassadors, many of whom feel that they can completely trust the brand, but also recommend it to others.

But many, if not most, Tool Rebels have a wish list, so what better present than a big Wera Advent Calendar from their nearest and dearest at Christmas? When you think about it, it is this wry sense of humour that makes for a great idea. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the marketing people first kicked about the idea of an advent calendar that contained 24 Wera tools aimed at adults rather than 24 chocolate shapes aimed at kids. 

The Wera Advent Calendar is big at 57cm long, 47cm wide and 5cm deep and is illustrated on the front with a typical Christmas scene with several Wera “clues” on it – for example Santa is using a Kraftform Kompakt screwdriver to mend the wheel on a toy car. If the donor doesn’t want to give all its the secrets away, then he/she should remove the outer transport packaging that has all of the items listed on it.

As we would expect from Wera, the contents have been thoughtfully designed to be revealed in a particular order to make a couple of small kits that would grace a toolbox and a workshop – with a couple of typically witty parts that would make a Tool Rebel smile – like the bottle opener with the Kraftform Handle. Typically these things come with cheap pressed steel openers – but not Wera with their fully hot forged version, fixed into the handle in the same way as their screwdrivers, for long service life.

In true Advent Calendar tradition, the doors are randomly dotted about the box in no particular date order – so it will be part of your Advent routine to find the door and open it to find the surprise. I couldn’t wait until the 1st December so I had a few sneak previews to help me write this review…..???

I got a bit of a clue as to what might follow when opening the double doors of no 1 when out popped a Special Edition Wera Bit-Check – clearly there were more parts to collect here and opening day no 2 confirmed my suspicions when a Phillips No 1 screwdriver bit was revealed and was quickly slotted into place in the first compartment of the Bit-Check. I am not going to reveal all in order to retain some element of surprise, but it was very tempting to continue to open a couple more doors just to see…

In order to retain some mystery, the parts of the kits are not revealed in any particular order so when the Screwdriver Board was released from its compartment it creates a little curiosity about what might follow.

An Advent Calendar needs to be hung up or stood on a mantelpiece for easy access day by day, and Wera has obliged by providing a couple of hooking spots to hang it up and a foldable stand so that it can be stood up on a flat surface like a workbench.

Retailed at around the £40 mark (typical internet price) it is clearly not just “a bit of fun” with throw away parts that will be easily lost and discarded. I am sure that many Wera Tool Rebels would love to have one given to them by a wife or partner because the whole adds up to much more than the sum of its parts. In fact, the calendar is very good value because all the pieces bought separately would easily add up to more than double the value of its retail price.

There may also be many retailers who would want to reward big account customers who have spent thousands with them all year and for whom the cost would not be more than say, the cost of a few bottles of wine or a decent bottle of malt whisky. If so, they had better get their orders in quickly because the calendars are selling out fast, if recent experience at tool shows is any guide.

But I couldn’t help myself from exploring a few more doors trying to second guess the contents. I did all the usual stuff like shaking the box near my ear to decide if I could discern the difference between various screwdrivers to stick into the Screwdriver Board. And this is another way in which the Wera guys will keep us guessing because although the size of the doors is somewhat of a guide to what is concealed underneath, it is not an infallible guide – sometimes the blades of the longer pieces have been deliberately slipped into voids left behind the calendar façade so all is not what you might think.

Most readers will not be surprised to learn that in the end I couldn’t contain my curiosity and I ended up opening all the doors and assembling the kits. Suffice to say that each of the two kits is very useful because they are made up of the very latest incarnations of the tools. Each of the bits, for example, has been marked with the latest Wera Take it Easy identification sleeves and is in impact-friendly BiTorsion format and the blades are diamond coated for longer life and better grip (anti cam-out).

The Bit-Check has gone straight into my newly bought 10.8v drill driver/ impact driver set and it complements it very well. The Screwdriver Board, with its contents, is now hanging in my indoor work room where it will be immediately available rather than having to search through my toolboxes. Apart from the bottle opener that is – straight into the kitchen drawer ready for its intended use over Christmas. Oh to be a Tool Rebel!

 

For more information please visit http://www.wera-tools.co.uk/

 

The Metabo WPB 36 LTX BL 230 - A 36v Cordless Disc Cutter to You and Me!

Aimed at: Pro users who need the capability of a 9 inch cutter but the freedom of a cordless

Pros: powerful, effective and cordless!

The vision of the future for many power tool manufacturers is the cordless worksite – and on many levels it makes sense. The freedom of movement provided by cordless tools is great and the tangle of trailing cables plugged into heavy transformers is something I wouldn’t miss. But we can’t say goodbye to mains power just yet – despite our best efforts, batteries still need charging and they still run out at inopportune moments.

But if you ever needed proof that a cordless tool can perform as well as a corded one then just have a try with the WPB 36. What is also very clear is that this cordless lacks none of the refinements and features of a corded version – so you are not getting a cordless poor relation version of the “real” thing.

On first reaching for it out of the box I had a thought that I might find the weight of the tool a bit much for daily work. It weighs a cool 6.1kgs but actually after a few attempts at putting it into a working position I came to realise that the design of the handles and the weight distribution makes for a comfortable balance. The 36v, LiHD 6.2Ah battery pack is used on one end of the handle to partly balance out the grinder head where all the action is taking place. Having a good amount of weight on the cutting end combined with the stabilising force of the whirling disc helps to keep the disc safely in the cut and less likely to kick back dangerously.

The main handle has a number of features that aid easy use. Firstly it is large enough to easily accommodate a gloved hand and there is ample grippy rubber on top of the handle for a good hold. As has been the practice for many years, items picked out in red on a Metabo tool are controls. So picked out on the long black trigger is the red safety lock button – to start the machine it is simply pushed forward with the side of the forefinger and the trigger can then be pressed to start the motor.

On the top of the handle set into the black overmould is a dual function red button. This can be depressed so that the back handle can be rotated 180 degrees in 90 degree steps to suit a users’ preference. This feature is common even on some of Metabo’s smaller grinders and I was not at first that impressed with the idea, as it seemed like an unnecessary complication and a way of tangling internal wiring by constant movement. However, there was nothing quite like working on a “real” job in a tight space at an awkward angle for me to realise that having a number of holding and tool presentation options is easier and usually safer because I could retain a firm grip on the tool for better control of the cut.

The red button also serves as an indicator that the machine is running and, as I came to find out quite quickly on the first job I did with this machine, it also indicates (when flashing) that the electronic battery and motor protection circuits have cut in and stopped the motor and will also indicate if the battery has been overheated or needs recharging. I quite like the idea of electronic idiot proofing on modern cordless tools – largely because heat build up in batteries and motors is their number one killer and the scientific consensus seems to be that the reasons why batteries explode or burst into flames is because they become too hot from too much power drain at once.

Also, batteries are now an expensive part of a cordless tool – it seems like good sense to look after them to ensure maximum battery life. Metabo takes this so seriously that you might notice the alloy plate mounted on the rear handle just above the battery housing – to protect the battery from the inevitable sparks created by the cutting discs.

Moving forward to the working head past the motor casing there is a sticker with four main features of the tool marked on it – namely brushless motor, electronic safety clutch, restart protection and the soft start feature, not to mention a fast brake also!

Perhaps more visible is the large auxiliary handle that has grippy red mouldings, flanges to prevent hand movement and a vibration-reducing collar between it and the tool. The handle can be screwed in, in three different places – left, right and centre, so that users can choose the best holding configuration for safe working. The cast alloy head is well finished and slopes downwards to reduce the bulk of it for easier access to the job. The important spindle lock button is handily placed for easy access for one hand while the other wields the pin spanner needed to remove and replace cutting or grinding discs.

The well-established and excellent Metabo system for moving and adjusting the cutter guard is another great feature here – simply lift the lever, move the guard and lock the lever again. It takes seconds and makes life so much easier when having to adjust the guard at different stages of a cut.

Metabo sent me some excellent quality cutting and grinding discs for the machine, but before they arrived I was so keen to try the machine out that I used some cheaper discs on a big job that had been pending for a while. What I learned was this - and it is only common sense -  that better quality discs make for an easier cut or grind and also make the battery last a great deal longer. I managed to use up a battery with the cheap discs in about twenty-five minutes – along with several warnings from the flashing red light that I was overloading the motor. With the Metabo disc mounted, the sparks were uninterrupted, I did more cuts and I still had more than a quarter of the battery left. This was true for both cutting with a diamond disc and grinding with a composite disc.

For those who want cordless freedom, the WPB 36 LTX BL 230, to give it it’s full title, is a very good solution. It is genuinely capable and excellent to use as well as having all the electronic protections built in. Go for it!

 

Coleman – 115 years of lighting experience

Aimed at: regular users who need a good torch for many purposes.

Pros: Battery lock prevents battery leakage, well made quality product.

Coleman is a long established brand in the camping and leisure market and is well known for providing clever solutions for campers since 1901 but their range of battery lights is perfectly suited to the DIY and Hardware retailer of today. With the UK torch market very well served for everything from the almost throwaway £2.99 special to the £200 (and more) specialist torch, it almost goes without saying that you have to bring something more to the market than just another range of torches.

In Coleman’s case it is something that I have actually wanted for a while – Coleman’s BatteryLock - a way of isolating the batteries from the torch that prevents the slow micro-seepage of power from the batteries, as well as ensuring that they do not start leaking. Battery leakage in torches that are not regularly used is a sure way of killing a torch – they will probably never work again once they are filled with the nasty goo from a leaking battery. I have tried cleaning the goo out in order to reclaim my torch, but it rarely works as a permanent solution.

I was sent three Coleman torches for this review – the Divide+ 700 LED, the Divide+ 200 LED and the CXS+ 250 LED Head Torch. All of these models have the new BatteryLock technology and in each case it is very easy to operate so it should just become a habit to do when the torch is switched off and stored for any length of time.

On the Divide+ 700 and 200 torches, the bulb head is marked on the barrel with padlock symbols for lock/unlock. To go into BatteryLock mode simply twist the torch head towards the “lock” symbol and it disengages it from the barrel that contains the batteries. It also reveals a red line on the torch head that is visual proof of the torch being in BatteryLock mode. Changing from one mode to the other takes less time than I can type this, so it is not a chore to do it in order to have peace of mind from battery leakage.

On the head torch, it takes a bit longer to go into BatteryLock mode because the case is smaller. I found that the easiest way was to grip the casing with my right hand finger and thumb holding each side and my left hand finger and thumb holding top and bottom and then simply pulling the casing apart. This again reveals a red line marked on the casing that tells you that you are in BatteryLock mode. 

The Divide+ 700 Torch has an RRP of £49.99 which makes it quite competitive in its market segment.  I like the simple rubber button switch at the torch end of the barrel that is pressed once to go to full beam, pressed twice for low beam and then again for off. The quality of the beam is very good – a bright white light with a circular focused spot in the middle surrounded by a distinct secondary beam that illuminates a much wider area.

At 700 lumens the full beam has a range of 330 m and after trying it out in the woods, I would agree with that. At low beam the LED delivers only a tenth of the light intensity at 70 lumens with arrange of about 110m – so for most general purposes the low beam is more than adequate and it won’t blind other dog walkers and campers. The payoff for using low beam is a much extended battery life – on full beam the six AA batteries will last about 7 hours – enough for a police manhunt I guess, but on low beam batteries will last an impressive 55 hours

There are a couple of other things to like about the Coleman Divide+ 700 – it is made of anodised aluminium and feels solid and well made. I “accidentally” dropped my sample on a wooden floor several times when I was using it and it didn’t seem to suffer at all. With its IPX 4 weatherproof rating it should also withstand the occasional wetting or even a short dunking without damage. The ideal torch for use in the garage, in the car and to help with those dark DIY jobs.

Coleman Divide+ 200

For more occasional users and those who want a torch for the pocket of a wax jacket the Divide+ 200 should be considered. It is compact at around 125mm long, and quite light too. Powered by three AA batteries housed in a neat cartridge within the anodised aluminium body, the 200 lumen LED has a range of about 200m on high beam and about 70m on low beam. Clearly a good general purpose, household/dog walking/ power cut torch that could be stuffed into a kitchen drawer as easily as it could be used on a campsite. With the three batteries using full beam will only last about 2 hours, but at low beam (20 lumens) this is extended to 35 hours. Again the aluminium body has an IPX 4 weather rating so will be strong enough to resist rainy walks in the rain and the occasional puddle, too.

For me the base criteria for a head torch are that it should be comfortable to wear, it should not flop about once it is put on and the switching system should be easy to manage since you can’t see the switch. The 25mm wide elasticated strap of the CXS+ 250, which has an RRP of £42.99, is comfortable and stays in place well and the slim pad behind the torch back cushions the pressure against your forehead. There is a large switch placed centrally on top of the head torch body so is easy to reach and operate. It is a cyclical switch so you have to cycle through all 5 modes to select the one you want, (the modes are red, low, medium, high and extra-bright). It also features Kinesix which allows you to change the lighting mode with a simple swipe of your hand.  

With its three AAA batteries it remains compact, but the payoff is that at extra-bright beam (250 lumens) the batteries will last only 2.5 hours. Switch to low (25 lumens) for a 40-hour life span, or for even more, use red mode – much favoured by anglers and hunters since it doesn’t frighten wildlife. The range is a very decent 40m on extra-bright beam down to 10m on low beam which is more than adequate for a head torch, since it is meant to be used close up. Its IPX 4 rating indicates good weatherproofing for outdoor use.

There are other torches in the Coleman range, and from what I could see from these samples they are well made and fit for purpose – I can imagine that they would be a popular purchase for multi-purpose, DIY, campers, anglers and anyone who need a reliable and usable torch.

 

For more information please visit www.coleman.eu/uk or email [email protected]

 

 

Two Diamond Cutting Discs from Klingspor Making the Cut

Aimed at: depending on the grade all the way up to demanding professionals

Pros: Made in Europe OSA approved for safety and ingenious design makes for good cutting performance.

To speak to some tradespeople it would seem that the most important thing about a diamond cutting disc is the price. Not the materials it was designed for cutting, not safety, not speed of cut nor the amount of noise it made. Now I am definitely keen on getting value for money, but I am also keenly aware of my safety and my time.

However, I do get a sense of satisfaction when I get a tradesperson come up and ask about a particular piece of kit and I am able to make the point that good kit, used well, can be safer and quicker, thus saving time and money, as well as making for happier clients.

Of course there is the sharp intake of breath when I tell them, for example, that my rail saw cost £500, but the message remains that sometimes, its not all about the price you pay – sometimes the bottom line needs a bit more sophistication when being calculated. It can be a case of penny wise but pound foolish.  

Diamond cutting discs are squarely in the area of you “get what you pay for”. There are literally dozens of makes of cheap diamond discs on the market. They all vary enough in appearance and packaging for you to be vaguely able to tell the difference so that you can find them again. But my argument is that a good quality diamond disc, chosen with the job in mind, is more likely to perform well, save you time and minimise wear and tear on your disc cutting machine.

Enter the two diamond discs sent by major abrasives company, Klingspor. Established in Germany in 1893 by Johan Friedrich Klingspor to make a variety of abrasives, the company was behind the development of abrasive cut-off wheels and grinding discs in the 1950s and 60s. With manufacturing facilities in Europe, the US and Mexico, the company is one of the four largest abrasives companies in the world and produces a huge range of abrasives of many types – hence it has a lot riding on getting its products right both in terms of price and performance.

Klingspor makes a point of providing discs at three price points (good, better, best) to meet the needs of customers’ varying needs and its in-house R and D facility in Germany offers continuous review, development and improvement of its products. ALL of Klingspor’s diamond discs are Organisation for the Safety of Abrasives (oSa) accredited – the highest level of safety accreditation available.

I was sent two mid-range discs for review, a DT600U and a DT612AB. The DT600U is so designated because it is a mid-priced universal blade meant to be used on pretty well all construction materials from natural stone, to reinforced concrete and all stations in between. This blade has proved to be very successful in the market – not only because of its pricing but also because of its design – a design that makes for rapid cutting as well as a long disc life. Now normally, these two features would work against each other. Long disc life usually means having a slightly thicker blade and deeper segmentation of the blade. On the other hand, a thinner blade usually means a quicker cut because there is not so much dust to remove from the thinner kerf, but the thinner blade then wears more quickly. You can also make a blade last longer by making deeper segments, but that brings other issues into play like the safety of the weld of the segments onto the disc.

What Klingspor has managed to do with this blade is to strike the correct compromise between thickness and wear and the secret of this is in the design of the segments. This 300mm diameter disc has 32 segments squeezed onto its rim. Each individual segment is 10mm deep and it has 25mm deep gullets that are wider at the bottom, that slim down a bit before ending in a precisely drilled hole for reducing noise. The wider slot at the bottom allows dust to be shifted quickly from the cut. A look through a magnifier reveals a fairly close, but random, distribution of diamonds on the segments, but if you think that more diamonds always equals faster cutting, then you are wrong. You may not get optimum cutting if too many diamonds produce too much dust to shift from the cut and then cause clogging.  But the key design feature is the number of segments on the rim – 32 segments with regular slots to disperse the waste quickly has proved to make a blade that not only cuts quickly, but lasts well too. By the end of my tests on steel, concrete, marble and bricks, I could barely see any sign of wear on the rim at all, promising a longer life – I still expect to be using this blade in a few month’s time.

The DT612AB disc is a more specialised design for use largely on concrete and asphalt and has been a hit with utilities, road repair contractors and general construction firms.

The one thing that is very obvious when looking at the segments of this blade is that the diamond distribution is much closer than the DT600U. The diamonds are also coated in titanium powder for maximum adhesion as asphalt and concrete are very aggressive and tend to tear away diamonds that are not tightly bonded. With eighteen larger segments and much larger open–ended gullets cut into the rim, it is clear that dust removal is one of the main aims of this design. Nothing for it but to mount it on the machine and try it out on some concrete and asphalt. Fortunately, I have a small asphalted area where I park my car, and I was struck by just how “clingy” asphalt can be when cutting, as the heat melts the tar and sort of gums it up. But the big gullets do their job and cutting is quite quick – if you are not careful you can go too deep quite quickly. Concrete is a doddle with this disc, no wonder road repair firms are buying it – it is perfect for cutting kerbstones.  I know I had a relatively short time of testing, but the wear on the disc at the end was very small, meaning that I can use the disc on other jobs….

In the end, quality always wins out for me – I have proved to myself again and again that you get what you pay for. These Klingspor diamond discs, tick lots of boxes and I will certainly keep an eye out for them when I have worn these ones out.   

 

Hitachi C9U3 – The Site Workhorse Reshod and Ready

Aimed at: demanding pro site carpenters who need a capable and hardworking saw.

Pros: big powerful, more sophisticated with a facility to collect more dust if needed.

 

Hitachi portable circular saws are renowned as the workhorses of the site. Tough, robustly made and expected to cut to the limits of spec when required - i.e. often. I have lost count of the numbers of battered Hitachi saws I have seen on various sites, but their owners always swear by them. The last one I observed was being used by roofers to cut fibre cement soffits and it was being worked very hard – but I was too polite to ask if they had fitted the correct blade!

The Hitachi C9U3 is a replacement for the C 9U2 and is definitely a sleeker and more modern take on the old one, and just a little bit heavier too. No doubt the extra weight is accounted for in a few extra features on the C9U3. So the changes are not just cosmetic – Hitachi has uprated the saw to make the genuine improvements needed for a newer model.

My first impression of the saw is that it is a bit of a monster – it weighs 7.2 Kgs all up. But it does handle well and with good balance, so the weight does not feel onerous. It is now common, thank goodness, to have a cast alloy base on saws like this and the Hitachi version is strong and rigid and with a big flat ground base that sits nicely on the work. It is finished in a dull grey alloy colour, like the upper and lower blade guards and it is genuinely smart looking and has the promise that it will be hardwearing too. A rigid base is easier to work with since it does not flex and makes cutting and saw adjustments more accurate.

Two other features of the base are the adjustable cutting line guides and the blade perpendicularity adjustment. The first of these is easy enough to use – it is just in the front of the base and is adjusted to the cutting line by unscrewing it and then resetting. At this point I should also mention that the side fence is attached to the front of the saw here. The side fence is made from pressed steel, but is more robust than some I have seen, so it will perform under pressure. It has milled slots on the back of the bar for extra grip as well as metric and imperial measurements on the top of the bar, so some accuracy must be expected from it.

More important on a site saw is that the blade should be perpendicular and that it should return to right angles when the users sets it back after an angled cut. Under the base, a grub screw can be adjusted to set the blade at right angles using an engineers’ square. Inaccuracies can creep in on site saws like this, so it is handy to be able to zero it occasionally.

The motor housing and handles are made in the familiar green Hitachi ABS plastic and both handles have generous black rubberised overmoulds to provide grip and some protection from vibration. Included in the kit, is an extra black plastic front handle that can be located underneath the main front handle with a single screw. This provides the user with a grip a little further away from the blade guards, but also lower in centre of gravity terms. This will help in difficult cuts where it is necessary to give a bit more push to the saw.

Both upper and lower blade guards are made from a well finished grey alloy and they are substantial and rigid to provide good protection from the 235mm diameter 20 tooth TCT blade. There is a substantial black riving knife to help prevent binding in the cut and the lower blade guard has a nicely gauged spring loading that is easy to use at the start of the cut as it is pushed into the work, but provides enough snap to get the blade covered asap after the cut is finished.

The upper blade guard also doubles as a dust collector and dust blower. A smallish vent at the back of it spews out a lot of dust when the saw is at full throttle. As we would now expect, there is a dust collection option. A strong black plastic spout can be attached (one screw) over the dust vent. This spout is ribbed so that a standard dust collection hose can be fitted over it. More importantly, with a decent vacuum dust collector attached, the amount of dust collected is very good – not much is left lying around. But you will still have to clean up later because there is no such thing as 100% dust collection on this type of portable saw.

If you do decide to use the dust collection spout you also have to change the little handle that lifts the lower blade guard. The original handle is large and keeps your fingers well away from the blade, but the dust spout handle is a lot smaller so you need to take a bit more care to keep fingers safe.

Just on the front of the upper guard a small plastic hump directs air from the motor fan directly over the cut line so that it remains dust free and easy to see – I do like this feature very much, perhaps I am getting spoilt?

Height and angle adjustments of the blade are really easy to do and the mechanisms for each adjustment are strong. I particularly liked the blade height adjustment arrangement because the substantial knob handle that sticks out under the main handle is easy to reach and grips strongly when tightened so that there is no danger that the saw will suddenly plunge down deeper into the cut. Another nice little touch is the cord holder function under the handle – this allows the user to loop a bit of the cord around the holder so that it can be kept out of the way when cutting.

But was the C9U3 a workhorse? Well I ran it repeatedly through some damp 100x75mm tanalised timber without it so much as a change in motor note. I moved on to some very dense beech and then some old and very twisty elm. Again no problems. In my view, this new version will build a reputation of its own as a robust and accurate site saw that will keep Hitachi aficionados happy and will also gain lots of new fans too. 

 

 

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