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National Abrasives - Mini Fill - Review

I do enough decorating jobs to know that filling and making good is the most important part of getting a good final result. Clients will often be surprised at how long careful preparation can take, especially if they think that it is simply a case of rolling on some emulsion once the wallpaper has been stripped….. 

Good preparation usually involves a lot of filling and sanding which is tedious and dusty work. Any way of making these jobs easier warrants a closer look in my view.

I also know that there is a huge range of plaster-based fillers out there, and I have used many of them. Choosing the right one for the job can be important for speed, efficiency, and getting the right sanded finish. So, when I saw the Mini Fill I was keen to find out if this all-in-one hole and crack filler would be effective and, more to the point, save me time and hassle.

Think of Sausages

The Mini Fill looks like a small wrapped salami sausage. Roughly 23cm long and 3cm in diameter, it has a sealing cap on one end with a built-in stopper and filler/spreader tool.  For the necessary long shelf-life the Mini Fill has a seal on the business end of the sausage that needs to be broken before use. This is done by simply pulling off the plastic strip and screwing in the cap to pierce the ‘sausage’.  Then just pull off the sealing cap and a gentle squeeze on the tube will get the filler flowing.

Texture and Look

Because it is gypsum based, the filler inside the Mini Fill is a greyish white when it is unset, drying to a plaster white when set. The texture is pretty well spot-on for most filling jobs – wet enough to spread easily, but with enough body not to slump when it is used to fill slightly bigger holes – say those about 15 to 20 mm wide.

It also feels as though it has had a plasticiser added because it feels a bit sticky and is easy to finish smoothly. It certainly feels a bit more like applying a well-mixed skim plaster rather than a hand mixed proprietary filler. The standard gypsum based fillers for the usual DIY or professional use can feel a bit lumpy and dry in comparison, depending on the expertise of the mixer. Either way, I found that the texture of the Mini Fill was a definite plus point and added to its ability to get a smooth finish with minimal sanding. 

The end of the sausage includes a white plastic spreader onto which the filler is ejected when the tube is squeezed. When filling small cracks and holes left by plastic plugs this spreader is perfectly adequate and indeed leaves a smooth surface that is easy to sand flush when the filler has set. I tried to stretch the parameters a bit by using the Mini Fill to fill in 6 to 10mm wide cracks left when replacing a window frame. Although application straight from the tube using the spreader was easy enough, I think the idea of a corner applicator that National are introducing in the coming months will make this job a breeze.

Usable working time was very respectable too, because it is often easier to fill bigger holes and cracks by applying the filler, and then waiting ten minutes for the filler to set a little before spreading it further and then applying the final filler coat.

Setting time can vary according to warmth and humidity, but I found that by the time I got around the room I was preparing, and back to the start point (a couple of hours) the filler was ready to sand. Sanding is easy enough, and you shouldn’t have to use anything rougher than 120 grit abrasive paper to get a smooth finish.

Cleaning up the Mini Fill is simply a matter of re-inserting the stopper to seal the tube and washing the spreader under the cold tap. I kept a half-used tube for a week to test the seal before I finished it off and the contents were still usable, so the seal is good.

Looking at the Economics

With 80ml of filler per tube, the Mini Fill, as the name indicates, is best used where the filling needs are not too drastic. The cost of the Mini Fill retailing at up to £2.98 inc Vat would be easily balanced by the ease of use, and hassle free application and preparation of the finished surface. It would also solve the problem of half a box of filler powder, slowly getting hard in the cupboard under the stairs waiting for the next decorating job to come up. The same can be said of ready mixed fillers in tubes and tubs, which generally go hard. The Mini Fill has a 5-year plus shelf life.

Like other fillers, Mini Fill can be painted, sealed, sanded, drilled and plugged, so it is a genuine replacement for the usual market offers – but I still point out that its biggest selling points are its ease of use and the good clean finish with minimal effort, the brilliant built in scraper and long shelf life.

For Retailers

The Mini Fill comes in a handy counter display box for easy display and explanation. I think customers will like that fact that they only need to buy the Mini Fill to do the job – no need for unexpected extra bits and pieces like scrapers - and then the tubes are easy to dispose of too when they are used up. It all translates into time and convenience that are on the side of Mini Fill. 

 

 

Head Torches from Ledlenser Review– Which is the One for You?

Peak buying season for torches is not-so-slowly creeping up on us, so while the rest of us enjoy our summer breaks, the torch suppliers are beavering away ensuring that dealers have enough stock to meet demand when the clocks go back in October.

I have become a fan of head torches after initially being quite sceptical. What converted me was having to work under a car bonnet one wet, dark and wintry evening, trying the find the catch to release the headlight housing so I could replace the bulb. I needed a beam adjustable from spot to flood, and a beam housing that could be moved downwards, so that I could hold my head at the correct angle to see what I needed to see. But end users have a variety of other needs too, so LEDCO UK sent me a couple from their new i-Series range to try out.

Top of the Range - Ledlenser iXEO 19R

Packed into its own padded black nylon case surrounded by an informative sleeve, it is clear that this 5-in-1 2000 lumen max super light (handheld torch, headlamp, helmet light, area light, emergency light) is aimed at demanding users, such as professionals in heavy industries such as tunnelling, construction and utilities as well as mountain rescue and the emergency services. Accordingly, it is IPX6 rated in terms of water protection – i.e. protected against strong water jets.

The kit itself is comprehensive, as it comes as standard with a self-adhesive helmet connecting kit, belt clip and extension cord, to give the option to hang the Li-ion rechargeable PowerBox on a belt or bag. A neoprene battery bag has a belt loop, and can be used instead of the belt clip if the battery pack needs more water protection. There is also a mains charger, and a USB lead so that the battery pack can be used to charge a mobile if needed. A nice touch is the soft cloth and brush to clean up the lenses occasionally.

It is worth a look at the battery pack to explore some of the ways it can be used. The plastic casing has a slightly matte black rubberised feel to it and has various catches and sockets. On one end, there is the inlet socket for the charger/connection lead and the USB socket. This has a rubbery cover that no doubt helps to achieve the IPX6 rating. A small lever is used to lock the battery connection lead into place so it is secure and waterproof. There is also a blue light battery charge indicator on this end.

On the opposite end is a plastic catch onto which the head of the torch can be attached making the whole thing into a handheld device. If this seems like a bit of a fiddly arrangement – it is, but after you have done it a few times it works better – it’s just a matter of getting used to the way in which the clips work. To make it easier, a short connection cable is also included so there is no need to remove the coiled cable from the elasticated headband. All the cables, apart from the short one, have lockable connections so that they are secure against movement and water ingress.

The iXEO 19R Torch Head

This torch head in sharp black, with bright yellow lens mounts and adjusting levers, looks a bit like a two-eyed monster when viewed full frontal, and the arrangement promises complexity. However, it really is quite simple to use. There is a single rubberised switch on top of the head. Press once on the top for dual half beam, press twice for dual full beam, and a third time for selecting the Optisense option that automatically controls the amount of light for the user. So on Optisense, a night worker would have near full beam when looking far ahead, but when looking at a map close up, the light would automatically dim so as not to dazzle.  A fourth press activates the dual strobe lights. However, press on the right side of the switch and the right-side light will come on in the same sequence as above. The same is true if you push the left-hand side of the switch except that the left-hand light will illuminate. An addition press in any mode of the front switch activates the maximum 2000 lumens, which literally turns night into day. More than enough light for even the darkest of environments.

The two yellow levers on each side of the switch work independently and move the focus of each light from spot to flood – thus making it possible to have full flood or spot in either lights, or a mixture of one flood and one spot in whichever side you need. The levers work smoothly, as does the switch – you won’t find the torch moving on your head if the headband is adjusted properly and the helmet mount is very secure. It is possible to click stop the head of the torch from horizontal to nearly 45 degrees for close up viewing, and behind the lights themselves is a ventilation system that cools the LEDs, apparently making them brighter. A new bit of information to me.

Finally, by pressing the switch and holding for 5 seconds, the battery is locked so that it cannot be accidentally activated when it is packed in a rucksack, for instance - a useful feature.

This is obviously a choice bit of kit that is designed and made to the high standards of Ledlenser, and has the price tag to match. I don’t think it will disappoint the target users because it is genuinely powerful and capable – but take a good look at the instructions to get the best out of it, because it is sophisticated.

iSEO 5R

In the mid-range of i-Series head torches, the iSEO 5R is a lot more compact and cheaper than the above. Nevertheless, it is still part of the industrial series of head torches because of its IPX6 weatherproofiing and glare free red LED light option. It sports a180 lumen light output with a range of 120m at full spot. At full beam a completely recharged battery will last 10 hours, but with low power beam selected, this goes up potentially to a very useful 50 hours. Or, if you want, you can use three AAA batteries instead.

Charging is done via a short USB lead that can be plugged into a computer/laptop, or one of those new USB enabled mains sockets.

The switch is a simple button switch on top of the battery housing. One press selects full beam, another press selects low power, a third starts the strobe light, and a fourth switches the beam off. To select the red light just hold down the main switch for a few seconds longer, and another press will engage the red strobe light.

There is also the battery lock option to prevent accidentally switching the torch on – simply hold the switch down for 5 seconds.

Beam focusing is simply done by a twist of the outer lens bezel, and the light can be angled by a full 60 degrees by a stopped ratchet.

Although this torch is very light, weighing just 105g, it is supplied with the option of a self-adhesive hardhat mount with extra helmet clips for industrial users.

Ledlenser is proud of its quality control and manufacturing and this small torch does not escape the process. Such a light, compact and effective torch will surely gain fans. 

Stahlwille Quality Torque Wrenches Review - Torqueing it Easy!

The Background Bit…

I confess that I only knew of Stahlwille products peripherally because I rarely go into the world of spanners. More recently however, spanners and socketry have become more prominent in my work – it all depends on what jobs come your way I guess.

I had admired the huge Stahlwille presence at the Cologne Hardware Show last year, and was interested to hear about the products they were developing, but I don’t think I was fully aware of just what the company’s values and traditions are. But a chance to test one of its torque wrenches gave me the opportunity to look a bit more closely.

The company was founded in1862 by Eduard Wille and remains a family based concern. At the outset, the company focused on quality, but was also forward thinking enough to realise that quality has several components, including innovative ideas, a team of good workers and investment. It has tried to maintain this outlook and has survived and prospered for over 150 years, so it must have done something right.

The company has also insisted on maintaining production in Germany and has three production plants there. It was one of the first manufacturers to be certified with DIN EN ISO 9002 and later DIN EN ISO 9001 – fine indicators of quality.

But one final statistic might set you thinking – of all the 3.5 billion airline passengers who flew on aeroplanes worldwide in 2015, the airlines that carried them all relied on Stahlwille tools for daily and other maintenance.

Torqueing the Talk

The first torque wrench I ever used belonged to my uncle and it was a complicated beast whose setting alone was a trial. It needed to be checked and recalibrated quite quickly, and required quite a knack to get accurate results.

Roll on a few years, and the problem is that many applications now are torque sensitive – from electrical installations to automotive and onwards. So, what is needed are reliable torque instruments that are easy to use, recalibrate and are reliable – and in some cases even recordable so they can be checked on for warranty purposes. The Stahlwille Manoskop 730 Quick range consists of ten torque tools that vary in size and capacity. For example, the smallest in the range will deliver on ranges between 6 to 50 Nm while the largest and longest can deliver a range of 130 to 650 Nm. What they all have in common is that they are easy to use, easy to set and reset, and do not require a manual reset to zero.

Start with the Setting…

Perhaps the most crucial part of this tool, the setting, is indeed easy. It took me all of a few seconds to grasp, and therefore a trained mechanic could very easily use several settings on a single job without taking very much time. It certainly saves on the scenarios I have seen, where several torque wrenches have been used to apply different torque settings to a variety of bolts on the same job.

On the long length of the side of the wrench is a plastic-outlined window with a green sliding button and a plastic magnifying lens. Clearly marked are two scales in Nm and lb./ft. The torque indicator mark has a definite V-shaped mark in it that will line up with one of the clear vertical lines indicating the torque settings. I managed to read the scales very well with my glasses on – and the silver background and black scale marks are very visible.

To set the torque simply put your thumb into the handle end of the wrench shaft and you will find a small flat lever. Push this all the way down (if you don’t push it far enough the scale will not move freely) and use the green milled adjuster button to the setting you want. Release the thumb lever and the setting is set – it won’t move. 

Although the lever is on the open end of the wrench shaft, it is recessed enough so that it can’t be accidentally pressed or too easily become a victim of the ever-present greasy muck associated with workshops.

There is a rubbery plastic handle sited right on the end of the shaft for easy grip and maximum leverage. I wondered if some users might find it a bit small since my small hands had no trouble covering it.

The Working End

It would be pointless to have a quick setting torque wrench and not have a similar level of convenience when it comes to changing sockets etc. The Manoskop 730 Quick has a simple oblong socket into which spanner heads and square drives can be slotted. They are easy to release by simply pushing the green plastic button on the end of the shaft. I did have a small query about this arrangement because if the square drive is inserted ‘upside down’ the button release doesn’t work. Fortunately Stahlwille has provided a little hole where you can insert a pen/file/whatever to push down the release button.  I admit that this might not happen often because the orientation of the wrench is almost always the ‘correct’ way, but mistakes happen. 

What you can be sure of though, is that the QuickRelease Safety lock, while it is quick, will not release until you do it – it is safely held while working.

Accessories

There are several accessories that will fit either to the square drives, or straight into the end of the wrench. I tried the wheelnut socket and the spark plug socket on my car. A mechanic friend who gave the wrench a once over could really see the benefits of the ‘Quick’ aspects of the system, in terms of saving time and hassle for a busy mechanic working to deadlines.

He also liked the fact that there was no need for a manual reset to zero on this wrench made possible by STAHLWILLE’s unique triggering cam mechanism. This means the mechanism is not under any load unless a force is applied, even when it is left set, therefore you do not need to release the tension from the spring, as with conventional torque wrenches.

Once it has clicked as the torque is reached, the job is done and the wrench can be moved straight on to the next bolt.

Compared to the other old style torque wrenches I have used, the Stahlwille Manoskop 730 Quick is a more sophisticated wrench, that did the torque to the required spec with no hassle at all. 

DART PCD Blades – Tough & Long Lasting!

Why PCD?

PCD is a polycrystalline diamond, manufactured by sintering together carefully selected diamond particles at a very high temperature and pressure in the presence of a solvent/catalyst metal. The result is an extremely tough inter grown mass of randomly orientated diamond crystals bonded to a tungsten carbide substrate. PCD, therefore can be regarded as a composite material which combines the hardness, abrasion resistance and high thermal conductivity of diamond with the toughness of tungsten carbide.

Polycrystalline is ultimately an extremely hard material – harder than tungsten and carbide, so will outperform a TCT blade by up to 50 times life wise.

Another advantage of the DART PCD blade is that it creates very little dust unlike the abrasive discs often used, as it produces a shaving rather than a powdery dust, even in cement board.

 

When is PCD used?

Correctly applied, PCD tooling replaces existing tool materials such as HSS or tungsten carbide. With the rise in use of wood substitutes (such as wood composites and plastic woods) for future house building in the construction industry – the traditional TCT Blade struggles to cut many of these new materials – leaving an untidy, unattractive cut and the need to replace the blade frequently. This is where the PCD Blade can be seen as a must in any building or timber merchants, as it offers the user an effortless, clean cut in a huge variety of ultra-hard materials. Just to name a few - it will cut through cement fibre board products, such as Marley Eternit, HardiePlank, ‘No More Ply’,  MDF and Corian, as well as laminated and melamine surfaces, GRP, softwoods and hardwoods, plywood and chipboard.

How do they compare cost-wise?

The cost of a PCD Blade can be up to 10 times more expensive than a TCT Blade – but there are extra considerations to take into account. When cutting through certain materials, the user often needs to change a carbide blade daily, while the polycrystalline can last up to 50 times longer – so there is little doubt that the initial cost factor is far outweighed by the extended tool life. In addition, this doesn’t take into consideration the cost of having machine downtime and the time-savings associated with using a PCD blade.

DART Tool Group is a trusted and reliable supplier of PCD blades. With a range of sizes starting at 160 mm and going up to 300mm, with 4 to 8 teeth and an extra-large gullet design, which minimises dust and improves removal of material – you can be guaranteed a smoother, cleaner and more accurate cutting– if you haven’t considered PCD yet, then now is the time!

DART…The Serious Alternative.

Visit https://www.darttoolgroup.com/circular-saw-blades/diamond-pcd-blades for more information.

Peter Brett’s view

I tried the DART PCD 250mm diameter saw blade on12mm thick cement board. The resulting cuts were very accurate and clean – almost planed clean, making the job of joining them accurately easier. My experience of it is that it cuts the board like a knife through butter with very little effort or noise.

The blade sent for the test had just six teeth, spaced about 130mm apart on the periphery of the blade. Each of the teeth has a peppering of PCD particles on it that you can see through a magnifier but not really with the naked eye. There is a large depth-limiting chunk of blade directly in front of each tooth followed by a series of three smaller rounded bumps that serve to clear out the dust as quickly as possible. In comparison to a normal TCT blade, the dust and swarf is incredibly little – due to the lower number of teeth.

There are also six noise reducing slots cut into the blade that dispel heat and therefore reduce or eliminate heat distortion. The blade is a mere 2mm thick and does not cut a thick kerf – reducing drag and friction. I guess some of the smaller diameter blades in this same DART series would be usable in cordless saws as a result. 

Mirka DEROS and Abranet Ace Abrasives - Perfect Partners?

DEROS – Direct Electric Random Orbital Sander

The Mirka DEROS 5650CV 125/150 Orbit 5.0 Case UK – its full title – is a well specified and thoroughly modern sander – and its price reflects this. But it is also very well made, versatile enough to fit into a large number of work scenarios, both on site and in the workshop, and it reflects most of the current developments in sanding technology. So once again it is a case that you get what you pay for.

A Brief Run Down of Specs

  • Integrated vibration sensor
  • 5mm oscillation
  • Powerful brushless motor
  • Constant speed electronics
  • Built-in motor brake
  • Soft start
  • Motor speed control lever
  • Improved dust collection backing
  • Left or right handed use – or two handed use
  • Lightest machine on the market
  • General or specialised sanding
  • 125 or 150mm sanding pad options
  • Performance comparable to a standard 500w electric ROS

It has an integrated vibration sensor that can be connected via Bluetooth and the myMirka app (downloadable via Google Play and the Apple app store) that monitors exposure to vibration. Sanding machines rely on a vibratory movement in order to work, so it is clear that users will be subject to some hand/arm vibration. 

And it is actually so compact and light that it is simply easier to handle and manipulate when sanding. The on/off switch is inset into the body and the operator simply pushes down the lever on top of the body to start sanding. This lever invites left or right handed use, and when it is released the sander stops very quickly due to the motor brake.

The Abrasives?

Mirka is well known for its development of net-based abrasives. The hook and loop backing is efficient enough to give a good grip on the sanding pad as well as allowing dust to be vacuumed clear.

I was given three types of abrasives to compare – Abranet, Abranet Ace and Abranet Ace HD – but users have an excellent choice depending on what they are sanding. I have used simple Abranet discs a lot, even on my other random orbital sanders and I have always managed to get an excellent and, more to the point, quick finish on my work. An easy task it would seem, since I mostly sand wood and manmade boards. If I have a small criticism of the discs it would be that I mess up the rims of the discs because I sand too close to edges.

Abranet Ace abrasives were developed for more demanding sanding applications. I tried it on beech, elm and oak and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I could get a decent result. If I could put a figure on it, I reckoned I could get a comparable result about 20 to 25% quicker than using my ‘standard’ abrasive discs on my ‘standard’ ROS. 

The Abranet Ace HD discs I was sent even looked slightly different from the above mentioned ones. The ceramic grains seemed to be a bit more prominent and attached to the disc so that the abrasive surface was more noticeable. On the back the net also looked woollier and deeper with very pronounced gaps in the net structure that would clearly allow the sanding dust to be quickly cleared through it. I tried some 40 and 60 grit discs to sand down a large area of wall that had to be prepared for painting. I have to say that the results were very impressive – to the point where I actually went up a few grades so that the sanding wouldn’t be too aggressive and destroy the plaster surface. I tried something similar on painted wood and the job literally took a few minutes to clear the frame of a door back to the wood through several layers of old paint. Impressive – and time saving.

Perfect Partners?

The answer is of course, a definite yes. Having a lightweight and very efficient sander combined with some hard working and effective sanding discs is a winning combination. In truth, I am going to miss the DEROS a great deal when it goes back because I can genuinely say that it has saved me time and effort on the jobs I did with it. Hopefully I can hang onto it a few weeks longer……

 

 

Why Buy?

  • Lightweight
  • Modern
  • Controllable
  • Monitorable
  • Very efficient
  • Combine with discs for excellent results
  • Easy to use
  • Symmetrical design for L and R users

 

Mirka DEROS and Abranet Abrasives - Perfect Partners?

Sanding is not nearly as much of a chore since the invention of random orbital sanders and longer lasting abrasives. Chuck in a few dust control and collection regulations and some new materials to be sanded, and what the various manufacturers' R&D teams come up with can be truly amazing. I was impressed with the Mirka CEROS sander I tested a few years ago, so I looked forward to trying out the Mirka DEROS to see how far things had come.

DEROS – Direct Electric Random Orbital Sander

The Mirka DEROS 5650CV 125/150 Orbit 5.0 Case UK – its full title – arrived in a bright yellow, custom-fitted sustainer case. It all felt a bit lightweight for an industrially rated sander – but fear not, the lightness is very much a virtue, and by no means a reflection of the performance of the tool. It was also accompanied by a variety of net sanding discs so that I could compare the performance of the machine and discs in various sanding applications.

The DEROS is a well specified and thoroughly modern sander – and its price reflects this. But it is also very well made, versatile enough to fit into a large number of work scenarios, both on site and in the workshop, and it reflects most of the current developments in sanding technology. So once again it is a case that you get what you pay for.

A Brief Run Down of Specs

  • Integrated vibration sensor
  • 5mm oscillation
  • Powerful brushless motor
  • Constant speed electronics
  • Built-in motor brake
  • Soft start
  • Motor speed control lever
  • Improved dust collection backing
  • Left- or right-handed use – or two-handed use
  • Lightest machine on the market
  • General or specialised sanding
  • 125mm or 150mm sanding pad options
  • Performance comparable to a standard 500w electric ROS

Anyone who appreciates sanders will look at the above list and immediately get the point that the DEROS is a cut above. But there are a couple of features that caught my eye as significantly important to follow up on. 

For instance, the DEROS has an integrated vibration sensor that can be connected via Bluetooth and the myMirka App (downloadable via Google Play and the Apple app store) that monitors the exposure to vibration of its user. Sanding machines rely on a vibratory movement in order to work, so it is clear that users will be subject to some hand/arm vibration. Most users stop sanding when their fingers tingle – but this is not a safe indicator – so a vibration monitor that gives accurate timings is going to be a good deal safer.

The other thing that is obvious is that the DEROS is actually so compact and light that it is simply easier to handle and manipulate when sanding. The on/off switch is inset into the body and the operator simply pushes down the lever on top of the body to start sanding. This lever invites left- or right-handed use, and when it is released the sander stops very quickly due to the motor brake. It is very easy to get used to the ease and sophistication of this sander and it will make you think about how other random orbital sanders work.

The Abrasives?

Mirka is well known for its development of net-based abrasives. These have the advantage of not having to have holes pierced into the sanding discs in order to allow the collection of dust. The hook-and-loop backing is efficient enough to give a good grip on the sanding pad, as well as allowing dust to be vacuumed clear.

I was given three types of abrasives to compare – Abranet, Abranet Ace and Abranet Ace HD – but users have an excellent choice depending on what they are sanding. I have used simple Abranet discs a lot, even on my other random orbital sanders, and I have always managed to get an excellent and, more to the point, quick finish on my work. An easy task it would seem, since I mostly sand wood and manmade boards. If I have a small criticism of the discs it would be that I mess up the rims of the discs because I sand too close to edges.

Abranet Ace abrasives were developed for more demanding sanding applications. By using ceramic abrasive grains, tougher hardwoods, like oak, are easily and quickly sanded. But it can also be used fruitfully on various industrial finishes and primers. I tried it on beech, elm and oak and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I could get a decent result. If I could put a figure on it, I reckoned I could get a comparable result about 20 to 25% quicker than using my ‘standard’ abrasive discs on my ‘standard’ ROS. 

The Abranet Ace HD discs I was sent even looked slightly different from the above mentioned ones. The ceramic grains seemed to be a bit more prominent and attached to the disc so that the abrasive surface was more noticeable. On the back the net also looked woollier and deeper with very pronounced gaps in the net structure that would clearly allow the sanding dust to be quickly cleared through it. I tried some 40 and 60 grit discs to sand down a large area of wall that had to be prepared for painting. I have to say that the results were very impressive – to the point where I actually went up a few grades so that the sanding wouldn’t be too aggressive and destroy the plaster surface.

I tried something similar on painted wood and the job literally took a few minutes to clear the frame of a door back to the wood through several layers of old paint. Impressive – and time saving.

Perfect Partners?

The answer is of course, a definite yes. Having a lightweight and very efficient sander combined with some hard working and effective sanding discs is a winning combination. In truth, I am going to miss the DEROS a great deal when it goes back because I can genuinely say that it has saved me time and effort on the jobs I did with it. Hopefully I can hang onto it a few weeks longer...

Wera 2go Helps us to Get Organised

Why Buy..?

  • Stylish and practical
  • Well designed for easy carrying of a range of tools
  • System built for versatility
  • Strong nylon manufacture for long service life.

Regular users of Wera tools will know that the brand is well known for its systemisation. The tools are designed to work together to help users to maintain some semblance of organisation. Wera does this with careful tool presentation in wallets etc, and by making tool identification as easy as possible.

But wouldn’t it be good to have a quick method of carrying the tools – perhaps gathered from the workshop as well as the van – in a way that keeps them all organised, together and in an easy-to-carry (including up a ladder!) format? As ever, Wera designers are ahead of us, with the launch of the new 2go System.

I will start with what I think is the basic piece, the 2go 1 - a semi-rigid piece of strong black nylon fabric folded in the middle with four faces. Inside and out it is covered with big patches of hook and loop material. Over the fold there is a loop handle sewn in, and to this can be attached an adjustable shoulder strap. In this form the 2go 1 is a blank canvas onto which many other things can be easily attached. Users who already have other Wera tools, like the rigid-walleted Zyklop and socket sets, will be able to attach these to the 2go 1 on both sides, since they have the necessary hook and loop strips on them.

The most distinctive part of the 2go set in my view is the 2go 2. It consists of three pieces – the shoulder strap, the tool caddy pouch and the big, rigid box. This case is 35cm wide, 34cm tall and 11cm deep. The front, back and sides have hook and loop material attached. The front panel can also be folded down for easy access, and the folded panel also has hook and loop attached. This increases the user’s ability to attach the wallets needed, as well as being able to work from the open case.

A similar arrangement on the lid, which can be folded right back flat, means that wallets can be attached here too.

The fact that the case has a big, flat base to enable it to stand upright on an even surface is also really helpful.

It wouldn’t be out of place to carry a small cordless drill driver and spare battery in the spacious main body of the case, but the third part of the 2go 2 comes into its own here. This is a tool caddy with adjustable compartments and its own nylon handle that is perfect for carrying the myriad different screwdrivers we need to have with us these days. And since the screwdrivers can be arranged handle-up, we can take advantage of the fact that Wera drivers can be easily identified by the engraved marks on the tops of the handles, and their new Tool Finder colour code system, thus saving time and hassle.

The padded, adjustable shoulder strap has strong nylon lock-on clips that attach to the tool case so that it can be carried easily, or even taken up a ladder.

The last piece of the set is the 2go 3. This is simply a large, rigid wallet, about 32cm long, 14cm high and 8cm deep with its own small carry handle sewn in. It is a great ‘hold all’ for spanners, pliers, cutters and even a small hammer. A wide strip of hook and loop on the back of the case means that it is equally at home attached to the 2go 2 or the 2go 1, or attached to a space in the van or workshop.

Fein-Dustex-35-MX-AC-Extractor

Portable M Class Extraction for Improved Dust Safety

WhyBuy..?

  • Portable M class dust extraction
  • Highly mobile
  • Powerful suction
  • Will clean up your site as well as extract from machines
  • Good set of tools as part of the package

Cleaning up on many worksites and workshops still consists of a sweep round with a broom, thus actually raising the dust levels considerably. More recently, trades have been adopting vacuum extraction for power tools and then for the final clear up of the client’s floor. What we need are M or H class vacuum extractors if we really want to do a good job of cleaning up dust from source.

What impressed me with the Fein Dustex 35MX AC was the power of its suction. It really is an efficient machine with lots of airflow to keep the work area clean – whether it is from a circular saw or a static machine like a router table. It is also remarkably well behaved and easy to use because it has been well designed and thought out in the first place. It is the sort of machine that will be used because it is not a hassle to get it connected, or change from one function to another.

It has 5 metres of a ‘proper’ tough 35mm diameter corrugated hose and about 7 metres of heavy-duty rubberised electric cable, making the ‘working circle’ about 12 metres – enough for much site work. These also make it easy to position the vac out of the way for avoiding trip hazards.

Controls on the 35 MX are easy to understand and operate. There is a dial for adjusting the hose diameter if needed - up to 50mm diameter down to 15mm for use on small hoses needed for smaller power tools. The suction rate can be adjusted too – some things don’t need full power to extract properly. There is also a switch for auto cleaning.

Movement of the machine is pretty easy on its four wheels (front wheels are braked) and the back wheels are big enough to run over rough stuff and be easier when going upstairs.

Another little touch is that the top of the filter housing is shaped flat to hold a typical Fein toolcase so that tools and extraction can travel together.

Accessories are generous and suitable for workshop or site use. The two-part tubular pole can have a floor cleaner, nozzle or brush fitting on it and all the press fits are safe and secure, and dust free. The base can be lined with a plastic bag or paper dust bag for safer emptying and disposal of waste, and of course you can collect water with it straight into the base.

I used it both on site and in my workshop. In the workshop it kept the router table surface clean and dust free despite having to be connected via an adaptor. The noise levels are not bad and cleaning floors at the end of the day was a doddle. On site the client asked to have a go with it because her domestic cleaner was making no impression on the dust left by the decorators and their rather pathetic vacuum cleaner. Even the decorators asked about it once they noticed how efficient the clean-up was and it gave me an opportunity to tell them a bit more about adequate dust protection. A paper mask won’t always cut it!

There are lots of things to like about this machine and in my view it should definitely be on a shortlist of M class vacuums now that we should all be doing something about workplace dust.

Bosch Builds-in Connectivity

The Future for Tools Too?

Why Buy..?

  • Modern ergo design
  • New cool battery technology
  • Bosch Connected Range of tools
  • Bosch ToolBox App enabled

It seems as though we need ‘Smart’ everything nowadays, and in this regard, Bosch has taken the lead by introducing a small range of six connected tools for what they amusingly call the ‘Millennitool Generation.’

The basis of the tool connectivity is the well-established Bluetooth model for sending or receiving data. While Bluetooth doesn’t have a long range (about 30m with no obstacles in the way) it is nevertheless a very handy way of connecting.

Loading the Bosch Toolbox App is simple and I found it commendably simple to use. By pressing the drill’s trigger, thereby activating the Bluetooth signal, I was very soon informed of the exact model of drill on my screen and that the battery needed charging! By clicking on the image of the drill a whole lot of information, from run times to kickback activations is available on the menu so that you can get a really detailed picture of how the drill has been used. The perfect way to check up on the people who borrow your tools or indeed, valuable info for a service department.

Since the connectivity module is an option, users can choose to buy into it or not. However, I offer this observation: having had the opportunity to observe the performance and capability of the drill after a couple of weeks, I became fascinated with the ability to change and control it, look at usage patterns and generally keep an eye on it.

It is clear that Bosch has put some thought into choosing the other tools that are part of the ‘connected’ range. The new range of GCL 2-50 C and CG Professional Line lasers, available since the beginning of April, have a few features that would make my life easier. For example, with the laser in locked position and fixed to a firm base, it would be possible to move the laser beam by using a smartphone as a control – even if you are perched on a ladder on the other side of the room tracking the laser beam’s position.

Some of the other ‘connected tools’ are the GSB 18V-85 Professional Combi drill and drill drivers, and the GWS 18V-125 Professional angle grinder. These have state-of-the-art EC brushless motors and electronic control systems to prevent kickback and overheating.

Bosch clearly wants its users to embrace the ‘Millennitools’ and their connectivity and avoid being stuck in ‘Neandertool’ times. I like innovation, not always for its own sake, and I can see that Bosch’s connectivity system, because it is so flexible and future-proofed, will be widely adopted.

ZIPP Mini Air Sander from Master Abrasives

Dinky Sanding With Fine Control

Why Buy..?

  • Air power is efficient and economical
  • Flexible easily mounted discs
  • Good variety of discs for different jobs
  • Handy carry case

Master Abrasives, based in Daventry, Northamptonshire, aims to cover the specialist needs in UK industries for abrasives, machinery and grinding. Working to ISO standard 9001, the company has set a benchmark for others in the UK to follow.

I was sent the ZIPP Mini Air Sander. It comes in a self-contained custom case with all the discs and pads needed to prepare a panel for finishing and painting, for example. This is what you get in the case:

  • 3" Mini Sander (ZP386A) 1pc
  • Medium Density Holder Pad 1pc
  • 60 Grit MASTER Zirconium Quick Change Sanding Disc 10 pcs
  • 80 Grit MASTER Zirconium Quick Change Sanding Disc 10 pcs
  • 120 Grit MASTER Zirconium Quick Change Sanding Disc 10 pcs
  • Coarse Surface Conditioning Quick Change Disc 1pc
  • Medium Surface Conditioning Quick Change Disc 1pc
  • Fine Surface Conditioning Quick Change Disc 1pc

It was of course the little ZIPP Mini Sander that really caught my eye – it is indeed mini – just big enough to fit into one hand. It feels heavy and robust, with a good quality rubberised grip, a black trigger just big enough for one finger, and a speed control button on the back above the handle. Exhaust air is ejected downwards from the bottom of the handle, above the inlet adaptor, where it shouldn’t cause any problems with the dust caused by the sanding.

In operation there is no vibration and very little noise apart from the air escaping. I also found that it was easy to control and move to reach patches where you needed to work. The choice of speeds also adds to the controllability, because at high speeds the amount of material that can be removed is considerable, considering that the discs are only 75mm in diameter.

Attaching the various discs is very easy. On the back of each disc is a metal nipple with a simple single thread on it. The nipple is fitted to the recess on the Mini sander rubber platen and turned clockwise to lock it into place. Because the rubber platen is slightly flexible it is possible to shape it into curves and bumps on the workpiece, within reason, without the edges of the abrasive cutting in.

I largely used the ZIPP Mini sander to help me clean up some light steel shelves and components before repainting them and putting them back into use. With my trusty 8 bar compressor I found that I had easily enough air pressure for continuous work, even at the higher speed.

The kit comes in a small case which is easy to store and carry. The simple addition of a small compressor makes it ready to use.

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