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Diaquip 350mm Electric Disc Cutter - The Competition Gets Tougher

Petrol vs Electric Power

While it is great to have the independence of a petrol-powered disc cutter in some places, there is no doubt that the use of electrically powered machines has grown because they are quieter and just as efficient. Noise is definitely an issue when these petrol cutters are being used in public places and it may be a limiting factor when used near hospitals and schools for example. I also find them easier to work with too – but that is probably a personal experience – noise can add to the ‘scariness factor’ sometimes.

The other technical challenge that has been overcome is the use of water-based dust suppression on electric machines. We have always been warned that electricity and water don’t mix, but apparently with a bit of care and the right parameters, they can safely be kept apart.

All new disc cutters have to have ways of suppressing dust because of current health and safety legislation, and probably not before time, because they are often used on hard building materials like concrete. Cutting concrete produces a lot of the very fine silica dust that is one of the worst dusts for our lungs.

 

Diaquip’s Concrete Saw

The Diaquip machine is instantly recognisable as professionally rated – just looking at it you realise that it is solidly built, straightforward and no-nonsense. The U-shaped side handle, for instance, is a solid steel-plated tube, bolted into place and covered with an insulating and grippy ribbed-rubber compound. This handle is strong and rigid and shaped so that the user can grip from the top as well as the side when the cutter is used in different orientations.

An elongated main handle is placed directly behind the blade, and it gives users a good view of the cut, as well as allowing them to have enough leverage on the blade to be able to guide it accurately. The oval-shaped aperture of the handle also allows users some movement options for the trigger hand. The trigger is big enough for easy use by gloved hands, and it comes with a lockout button, of course.  Right on the top of the trigger handle is the load-warning lamp so that it is very easy to see if an overload occurs.

Easy to Set up?

All the adjustments that should be on a machine like this are there - they are simple to operate and are strongly made. For example, the lever that locks the blade guard into various positions is a simple L-shaped steel piece that locks into a series of holes on the guard. It doesn’t need any more complication, but it does need to work easily when the machine is covered in sludge after a hard day on site.

There is also a simple arbor lock for easy blade changing.

 

Other Options

The big and strong cast alloy blade guard incorporates two methods of dust suppression. The most obvious of these is the water-based version, since it involves a tube for the water feed attached to the heavy-duty main power cable that leads down to front of the guard. There are two nozzles – one on each side of the blade - that spray water onto it. With the right amount of water at the right pressure, there should be precious little dust escaping into the environment. For ease of use there is a water feed valve at the entrance of the water tube, and a standard hose lock water coupling is provided for instant snap on/off hose connection.

Right at the bottom of the guard is a standard sized dust port that will connect to a vacuum dust extractor should the user choose. The amount of dust produced at full speed is quite considerable, so a small L-Class vac is probably not going to do a good enough of job of protecting the user, and those nearby, from the inevitable dust that does escape. A really powerful H-Class extractor will do a much better job – but users will still need appropriately rated facemasks and other PPE. It is also good to note that the dust port has a little cover on it so that when vac extraction is not being used, the sludge doesn’t come straight back at the operator.

Or if you prefer you can use the dust ski. Held in place by a simple pin this fits underneath the blade so that the weight of the machine rests on the stainless steel base of the ski. With the support this gives, again accuracy of cut is improved, but more to the point, the ski provides a shroud to the blade that concentrates dangerous dusts right to the back of the ski where it is collected much more efficiently by the (correct) class of vacuum extractor. Since the ski adds so much to the overall dust safety of the cutter it is indeed a very useful addition to the whole saw kit, eradicating all dust when cutting.  Regs still say that good PPE (masks, goggles, gloves, hearing protection) is needed in the battle against dust intake that leads to silicosis – so be wise and comply.

 

Other Bits I Liked

Having used them on a few cuts when I was slicing through some delicate 40mm thick marble, I am a great fan of the guide rollers assembly that comes with this machine. They are simply fitted using a butterfly bolt right under the balance point of the main motor housing. They allow the user to rest the weight of the machine onto a hard surface and use this extra stability to guide the cutter for greater accuracy.

Although it is only a simple addition, the splash guard that can be fitted at the back end of the blade guard is another nice touch. Simple to fit, it also provides some protection for the user from water and sludge splash.

Plantworx

I first saw the Diaquip being put through its paces at a rain soaked and windswept Plantworx Show. I thought at the time that these conditions might be a more typical usage framework than some of the sunnier weather we have had recently. During the demonstration, I was impressed by its obvious power and cutting ability in a variety of materials such as reinforced concrete and paving materials. Water dust suppression was being used, just to add to the already damp atmosphere, and it clearly worked well.

Back home in my workspace, the weather was drier but I still ended up thinking that this was a Very Useful and Capable Machine. It is clearly quieter using an electric motor, but didn’t seem less powerful or less capable. I found myself using the water dust suppression system nearly all the time, because it works very well and is simple to attach and set up from either a garden hose or a pressurised container. Accurate cuts are easy to achieve as you become more expert in the use of the machine – much helped by the judicious use of the guide rollers of course.

It would definitely be a machine I would look at if I were a construction worker – powerful, easy to use with good dust suppression – lots to like.

 

Aimed at: Construction workers, heavy-duty users

Pros: Powerful, easy to use and excellent dust suppression 

CAT Portable Generator – Electric Results

 

Portable? What Is Portable?

Before I did this review, I had a picture of a portable generator as roughly the size of a small suitcase, and suitable for powering the till and lights for an exhibitor at a craft show. But having tried the CAT RP 4400 Low Power Generator Set, I have a more flexible interpretation of portable. The CAT weighs 80 Kgs, and therefore it takes two to lift it from its delivery carton and then to add the wheels and stand. However, once the wheels are added, the CAT does indeed become portable. One person, even me with a slightly bad back, can easily wheel it about and get it up a few steps and through a standard doorway. Clearly this is enough portability for its intended use on worksites, and where back-up power is needed. The wide treaded never-flat wheels are big enough to allow it to be manoeuvred over even softer surfaces like grass and unmade paths.

Also useful is that it will fit into the back of a medium-sized hatchback (with the back seats down) but, again, it will take two to lift.

What Goes into the RP4400?

The RP4400 is the most powerful genset in a small series of three machines that are intended to cover a range of demands from small users for serious power in workplaces, on smallholdings and back-up power for the home.

With its maximum output of 4400W the CAT will power anything from TVs to power tools, so it is really flexible. We in the UK are blessed with a pretty reliable power supply, but I have relatives in Africa and friends who live in the further reaches of Scotland, who all have a back-up generator as standard equipment for the house. For them it is a necessity of life.

Powered by a modern and reliable 300cc four stroke engine that will produce the required power at a pretty unstrained noise and 3000 RPM rev level, it is also quiet enough that it won’t deafen you even when you are quite close to it.

Having had my share of getting various petrol powered machines going straight out of the box, I know that some motors can be a bit capricious. But having filled the 30-litre petrol tank and added the required amount of oil, I followed the clear instructions for starting. To my absolute surprise the motor started on the first pull of the recoil starter cord, and then settled to a steady muffled roar that was by no means a pain in the ears.

The genset produces AC voltage of 115 or 230v at 50Hz frequency, and it has AVR or Automatic Voltage Regulation that is needed for the safe use of modern electrical equipment.

According to the specs, a full tank of fuel should last up to 18.5 hours – enough to get you through a full dark night in Scotland in midwinter. Filling the tank is easy since the fuel cap and tank are located on the top of the machine. Removing the metal cap reveals a fuel filter – an absolute necessity when filling from fuel containers that can be more easily contaminated with sediment etc. The fuel gauge, also on top of the tank, gives an adequate reading of the fuel available.

Handily, all the controls and power outlets are located on one end of the generator. This is a genuine ’user friendly’ move because having bits and bobs everywhere would be difficult to manage if you were having to get the generator going, and perhaps connect ancillary machines to it on a cold wet night after a power cut.
 

The controls are simple and self-explanatory, and a handy quick guide is mounted on the fuel tank for easy reference and is also supplied with the comprehensive instruction booklet. I guess it would be a good idea to keep it in its plastic bag and keep it near the generator at all times. (All manuals are also available as PDF download from www.cat.com/homeandoutdoor)

On the other side of the machine is a foldable, two-position tubular steel handle. This can be locked into its positions with a pin. The handle and the wheels are the keys in making the RP4400 portable. Acting like wheelbarrow handles, the weight of the machine is largely over the wheels, so it is easier to move.

Examining the frame revealed that it is a simple, but very strong space frame, made from steel tubing welded together. It provides a solid base on which to attach the motor and generator, as well as providing good protection for the vital bits when it encounters the inevitable bumps and bangs of the work site.

 

What I Got Up to…

Occasionally serendipity happens and this month I have had a diamond disc cutter to review and a large outdoor swimming pool to refurbish.

The swimming pool predictably enough was at least 75m from an electrical power source, so it was really handy to have the CAT to wheel down to the pool enclosure (fortunately dry weather meant that the usual Sussex clay was firm enough to wheel the machine easily)

With the switchable 115/230v option on the CAT, I was able to power the disc cutter a few times when I needed it on bits of pool masonry that needed replacing, but I was also able to connect up my 230v jet washer, by simply changing the plug on it so that it could fit into the site-style plugs on the CAT.

The jet washer had a lot of hard use and of course so did the CAT. It remained easy to start up when needed and simple to move around when the limits of the pressure hose on the jet were reached. In this situation, I was much better able to appreciate how a machine like this would be used and also to appreciate its power and convenience.

I guess you could still use this generator as a portable power source at a craft fair – but it would be at home powering several stalls and even more lights. And in winter maybe even powering a heater or two for stallholders.

 

Aimed at: more demanding domestic users, smallholders and professionals needing site power.

Pros: Powerful with big power outputs, 115 and 230v, and portable using big wheelbarrow handles.

 

Finding the Level with Draper

 

Levels – is it a Choice between Good value or Accuracy?

Just about every tool supplier has a level or two on its stocksheets, and predictably they can be cheap and nasty or more expensive and good. In my experience buying as good a level as you can afford does pay off. The one I bought from a well-known builders’ superstore was so bad that, years on, it still raises my hackles despite the fact that it was dumped soon after purchase.  

 

The Conundrum

Having done masses of end user research for a major tool company on spirit levels a few years ago, I found out that end users generally want rugged, accurate, easy to read and easy to maintain tools. But making these tools to a demandingly high specification and at a market-beating price is pretty well impossible. Hence the dominance of the bright yellow German brand of levels, despite the high price tag attached. They have reached the level of trust in quality and accuracy where the brand reputation alone is enough to ensure sales. But as ever, there is always room for competition, and since end users are as various as fish in the sea, good quality, value and accuracy can always be judged in different ways for different needs.

 

Some of the Draper Line-up

Exclusive to Draper Tools and available in increments up to 2000mm, Draper’s Expert range of OPTIVISION™ spirit levels is not only well priced, but ticks all of the main consumer demands mentioned above.

 

Just a quick examination of the alloy extrusion and finish will tell you that they are well made and protected against the rigours of the worksite by a baked-on highly visible white finish. Opinions seemed to vary on the colour – the chippies liked it better than the brickies!

Unlike some levels, it has a wide levelling surface that is 35mm wide and milled to a fine, easily cleanable finish. On the magnetic version 600mm and 900mm levels, there are two sets of magnets set into the levelling surface so that it can be attached to metal scaffolding poles, RSJs etc or stored within a van. Some might argue that the magnet settings might be a cleaning problem, but again, users make their choice – which is handier for you?

The rounded top side of the level houses the shockproof OPTIVISION™ vial that comes with a lifetime warranty. The highly visible red vial is UV resistant and accurate to within 0.5mm per metre. Each vial also has a red surround that makes the bubble definition stand out and easy to read. Another interesting feature, and one that divided opinions when I showed it to various trades, was the multiple lines in the centre vial so that users can read the gradient of 1 and 2% depending on need. Again – you pays your money and you makes your choice. I personally thought that it would be a feature that I might use occasionally and would therefore want included.

 

The vertical vial is also shock resistant that can be read from the front and side of the level or indeed from the curved topside via the side view vial feature. I could see that there are some situations where this arrangement would be very useful, but most of the time the front view would be fine.

What I particularly like are the large ergonomic handles that are lined with ridged grippy rubber that makes this solidly made level easier to handle, and even to hang on the end of a handy batten or nail.

Finally, the end caps are thick, solidly made and very shock absorbing; they provide sound protection against accidental knocks and drops. The end caps also include four rubber bumpers that protrude through the body, ideal for gripping on smooth surfaces.
 

Draper Expert Optivision™ Boat Level

Boat levels have an even tougher life than site levels so need to be strongly built and this level is milled from a solid piece of cast alloy. It has three Optivision red vials that all have a lifetime guarantee. The middle dial has three lines on each side of the level indicators so users can gauge gradients. The right-side vial is a plain red with just two lines so that its main trade users, namely scaffolders, will find it easy to read and quick. Interestingly the left-side dial has an angle finder function on it. This is easy to use and very useful – think scaffolders determining the angles of angled cross poles that are necessary for the stability of a whole scaffolding set up.

Big rubber bumpers on each end protect against dropping, and two powerful magnets mounted in a groove on the levelling surface are used to hold the level in place as the poles are levelled. My end users all thought that the quality was self-evident and robustness built –in. This is definitely a level that will find a space in many toolboxes.

 

Prolaser 5-Dot Self Levelling Laser Pointer

This is a simple and compact piece of laser technology that we wonder how we did without - it makes layouts so much simpler, since all dimensions can be done at the same time relative to each other.

In the black nylon case there is the laser, a laser target, a magnetic auxiliary mount and two AA batteries so it is ready to go on unpacking. The device is quite compact at only 95mm long,80mm high and 50mm wide. It has only one switch with indicators for power and laser on and a locking switch on the front releases the self-levelling mechanism. Underneath there is the all-important screw thread for a tripod that would be needed for setting the dots at the correct level needed.

With a range of up to 30m, using the laser target and a self-levelling accuracy of+- 4mm in 10 metres this little device is accurate enough for most layout tasks, and at a price tag that will soon see it pay for itself.

 

The Draper Range

This review looked at only three of the many levelling and marking products in the Draper range just to give a taste of what is available. Draper Expert products are aimed at trade and professional users, but keen amateurs would be wise to aim at this higher price point. Occasional users could look to cheaper Draper ranges that match their demands and skills, but truly, we have a range of kit that will do a good job – any blame for sloping brickwork will only attach to the user!

 

Aimed at: Pros and demanding DIYers who can appreciate the extra accuracy and quality needed for a good job.

Pros: well priced but well made with some unique features and good dial visibility.

 

 

It’s Crunch Time from Leatherman. The Compact Multitool

Aimed at: Discerning users who need a small range of tools.

Pros: compact size, well designed few, but effective tools.

Some multi tools can get beyond themselves in terms of size and complication and I, for one, have got to the stage where sometimes I wish for something that is simpler and perhaps quicker to use. Enter the Leatherman Crunch. It is quite small – literally compact enough to fit comfortably into a smallish hand. While it feels solid and looks very well made in the Leatherman way, it is also not too heavy, and although it has a nice leather belt pouch, it wouldn’t be too bulky to carry in a trouser pocket. 

My guess is that the “crunch” part of the name refers to the spring loaded “vice grip” type jaws that are the main feature of this tool. The jaws are unusual in that only the top jaw is held in a permanent fulcrum – the bottom jaw has to be clicked into the fulcrum provided. I know it sounds strange, but fear not, once its in place it won’t slip out. The fulcrum arrangement is to allow for the whole tool to be folded up into a package just short of three cm wide and ten cm long. This fulcrum arrangement strikes me as quite a clever solution and it really only takes a few seconds to engage the bottom jaw – no longer, in fact, than folding the handles over in the “plier” version of other Leatherman tools.

The jaws themselves are forged and then very well finished with mixture of a mirror and matte finish. At the end of the handle that contains the top jaw there is small adjusting screw that is used to adjust the jaws so that they can be used as pliers or locked into place like the handy “vice-grip” tools.

If you look carefully you can also see that there are two sets of cutting edges on the back of the jaws right next to the fulcrum – one for solid wires and one for stripping stranded cables. A thin groove parallel to the milled jaws can be used to hold pins and wires for pulling or pushing and the middle part of the jaws can be used on small nuts and bolts. My guess is that the Crunch will be largely used with these functions in mind – and because they are so clearly capable, users will be happy to use these alone.

However, there is one remaining handle that has the capacity for some fold out blades to add some extra functionality.

These extra bits are again quite limited and not too fancy – but in my view are almost more useful because of that. Five blades can be pulled out –the largest of these is a perilously sharp serrated knife blade. There is also a double-sided file blade with a large slotted screwdriver head on the end and then a couple of other slotted screwdriver heads as well – one medium, one small. The small one has a bottle opener tucked on to the bottom of it. Right in the middle is a Phillips screwdriver function and a tiny round lanyard holder for those who want to attach the tool to something to avoid losing it. A strong spring-loaded catch holds the blades in place while in use but the spring is not so strong that it is a pain to use.

Made in the USA in solid stainless steel, I came to regard the Leatherman Crunch as a very handy pocket tool – it is a case of the more you use it the better you like its compact size and clever design. 

 

Security from ABUS – Advanced Locks that Work

Aimed at: Anyone who needs a high quality padlock that both looks the part is very secure. 

Pros: Use of ne Titalium makes for both lightness and strength. 

 

It is a truism that security is only as good as the weakest point – and in my observations, the badly fitted hasp and staple or sliding bolt held on with nails are quite common on sheds and gates up and down the country. For these situations it would be pointless fitting one of the ABUS TITALIUM padlocks I was sent for review. With an ABUS security rating of 8/10 they are definitely not the weak point.

Handling the locks and working the keys makes one aware of just how up to date these padlocks are compared with some we commonly see on the market.

Firstly, the bodies are made from TITALIUM, an alloy developed by ABUS that consists largely of aluminium and titanium (hence the name) that is not only light but also extremely tough. The body exteriors of the locks are specially plated against corrosion, as well as being ground smooth, so that attacks with hammers and bars are more likely to bounce off than break the lock.

Just looking at the engineering of the bodies, it is clear that each has been milled from a single solid block of TITALIUM, so there are no seams or joints for a potential thief to exploit.

Secondly, as far as I could tell, the lock mechanisms are inserted tightly, right into the body of the locks – again obviating any exploitable gaps or weak points. The complex double-sided key is slid into the mechanisms and can be inserted any way up, thus saving time and hassle. A complex key and matching lock mechanism also makes picking the lock quickly highly unlikely. 

The all important shackles are another potential weak point, and no padlock I have used so far in my career has been proof against a cordless angle grinder, thin cutting disc and enough time. Thieves might not always have the time to use this noisy option, so it is a limited threat, but I have actually given up on the bolt cutter option when it became clear that I was more in danger of pulling a muscle than cutting the shackle. Those locks you see on the movies being cut with a flick of the bolt cutters must be specially made….

So just for devilment, I got out my bolt cutters to try to cut either of the two shackles. The Extra Classe 96 has a NANOPROTECT shackle that is designed to minimise access to it, so it is hard to get a bolt cutter near enough to engage the jaws. I did try very hard and managed to dent the shackle a bit, but there was no way I was going to be able to cut it.

On the Monobloc TI 98 the special alloy shackle is again difficult to access, and again I only made a dent on it with the bolt cutters.

One of the other security confidence builders is looking the part – and these two locks certainly do. With solid bodies and smooth exteriors they provide a deterrence factor by simply looking strong enough to repel all attacks.

These locks from ABUS may be an “old” security solution, but it is clear that the application of modern materials and design has made them still applicable in the 21st Century. 

Seventec stepladder from Zarges – Safe Working at Height

Aimed at: Professional fitters. 

Pros: Rigid safe and in all weather conditions with lumniscent Hi-Vi Strips.

Zarges is a company to look at when it comes to innovative solutions to new working at height products that conform to latest Health and Safety rulings. But the company is also not beyond innovating just because innovation to reflect new materials and markets is a good thing per se.

As it happens, I have been doing several jobs recently that have involved the extensive use of “hop-ups” and small ladders. As I have got older I have increasingly become less of a fan of ladders higher than three metres or so, but the arrival of the Zarges Seventec series is right within my comfort zone and also suits my main purposes very well.

 

The Seventec Series consists of three work platforms with double sided access, extra wide treads and working heights ranging from 2.49m to 2.99m.

The taller work platform with single sided access also has three versions with working heights from 2.66m to 3.08m and these are followed by the Seventec stepladder range, all optimised for safer working outdoors.

The three models have working heights ranging from 2.7m to 3.1m and I was sent the latter to try out.

I must admit that when I saw the ladder in its transit packaging lying in the ToolBusiness office I was concerned that it might be too big to fit into my hatchback, but with the packaging removed it was a good fit, with the top section fitting snugly over the passenger headrest so that it wouldn’t move around in transit. Of course this also means that it would fit nicely onto a roof rack or inside an average sized van with no trouble at all, and with a weight of only 8.1 Kgs it is easy to carry and shift about.

The stability test is a good “first impression” test that I always try when I have to use a ladder. This usually tells me whether the ladder feels too light or flexible to feel safe under my feet as I climb.

The Zarges Seventec is easy to open via the integrated platform hinge that does not have any play in it at all, so the two sections of the ladder very stably bonded together. The two side locking arms are made from substantial alloy strips and lock positively when pushed down. So, first impressions on opening the ladder and setting it up on a reasonably flat surface were that it felt very stable and solid, with very little “play” other than the necessary flexibility required for easy movement of the parts relative to each other.

The other thing that I think offers that “extra-stable” feeling is that the uprights on the ladder seem to have an upward taper on them that is much less than “normal ladders.” As a result, the ladder feels wider than many I have used and the wide treads offer more than enough space for working–boot clad feet.

I wondered a bit about how the Zarges team had managed to achieve such rigid upright pieces, but a close examination gives the answer: - on each side of each upright there are two deep U-shaped folds that would prevent distortion of the extrusions anyway, but then, since each tread is riveted into these folds, (four rivets per tread) the rigidity is increased still further.

Actually, the more I used the ladder, the more I came to appreciate its stable and “safe” feel and became quite comfortable working at maximum height on the few occasions that I needed it when doing particularly high ceilings.

I used the ladder largely indoors, but in many ways, its real forte is as an outdoor ladder. The large safety platform of roughly 380mmby 260mm is substantial and provides easily enough space for big boots.

However, it is the 85mm deep treads that are one of the real contributions to outdoor safety, even in wet, snowy or muddy conditions. Without making the treads feel flimsy, a series of holes have been punched into the stepping area of each. The holes alternate between being punched either upwards or downwards. The upwards punched holes tend to provide grip for snowy or muddy feet, and their slight roughness gives grip on the rubber soles of work shoes.  The downward punched holes allow water and slushy or melted snow to drain through them and then away – so no dangerous small puddles of wet collect to be a hazard.

Added to these are twelve longitudinal ribs that are part of the extrusion. They are sharp enough to add to the grippy feel that is transmitted to the sole of workboots, so the overall feel of the ladder underfoot is that your feet are secure and unlikely to slip.

On each ladder upright, near the bottom is a substantial strip of reflective and luminescent tape that tells passers by that a ladder (possibly with someone on it) is there. And then there is the issue of the all-important ladder feet to consider. Some ladders seem to have an afterthought of a plastic moulding stuck on the bottom of each upright, but this Zarges Seventec has almost what could be called “shoes” on each foot. They extend several cm up the legs and fit snugly so they will not move. A big rivet on the inside of each leg means that they are not going to drop out or fall off.

Underneath each “shoe” is a series of deep ribs that provide good grip on smooth and rough surfaces and will prove to be long lasting too, in my opinion.

One of the things that really helped my feeling of confidence when using this ladder is that the tread side uprights have been extended upwards beyond the platform and then topped with a retainer that provides a solid reminder of where you are so that you don’t overreach or overstep. This is also used as a tray for small tools and parts. At the top of each upright is a strong plastic fitting that provides a hook for adding a workshelf for tools etc. So much easier than having to replace stuff into trouser pockets.

Overall, using this ladder, I had a strong impression that a lot of thought had gone into making a piece of equipment that is really fit for purpose, stable, strong and safe to use. I felt confident using it, and that, for me, is a huge plus. 

For more inforamation on Zarges, please visit www.zarges.com

Draper Hard Graft Wipes -Effective Cleaners and Antibacterial Too!

Aimed at: pros and amateurs alike who need to clean up difficult things like grease and glues.

Pros: Easy to use, lots of them and big wipes too.

Wipes and cleaners have become very much part of the tool market as Health and Safety concerns have inevitably focused on healthy skin too. The days are gone when cleaning up was done with powerful solvents that left hands and skin stinging and dry. I confess that I always have a canister of wipes in my workshop and I use them regularly to clean away a variety of glues, paints, varnishes and oils.

The new Draper Hard Graft Wipes come in a large black and orange tub that holds 90 wipes. Opening the flip top lid seal the first time reveals a foil covering that seals the wipes for a good shelf life. Once this seal is broken you have to pull the first wipe from the centre of the roll. A simple system of grooves in the lid guides the wipe so that it can be pulled through and then separated from the next one, which is trapped in the groove ready to be pulled out for next time. The lid actually provides a decent enough seal to prevent the wipes from drying out.

Testing wipes is a good excuse for getting dirty hands, and it says on the container that Hard Graft Wipes are effective on glues, oils, sealants and paint – although this list is clearly not exhaustive.

Accordingly, my first job was to check and top up the oil in my car as this inevitably results in greasy, oily hands. I did all the other maintenance checks too, and when my hands were suitably dirty I pulled out a wipe and cleaned my hands. Results were pretty well immediate – the oil was quickly transferred from my hands to the wipe and I was left with sweet smelling, slightly slippery hands. If left for a while, the slippery feeling soon evaporates, but if you want to, a quick wash with ordinary soap returns the hands to “normal”.

Mostly I use woodglues, and even after I had allowed them to dry on my hands, the active ingredients in the wipes just lifted the residues off my fingers and left my hands clean. Superglues on the other hand, are very differently formulated. I had a little experimentation by putting a popular make of make of superglue on my fingers and letting it go off. Initially, the Hard Graft wipe didn’t appear to be shifting it, but after a while as I kept flexing my fingers the active ingredients crept under the glue and lifted it off. Result!

Both gloss and emulsion paints were shifted with the Hard Graft wipes, and as expected, the oil-based gloss took a bit more wiping and handwringing, but I was left with clean and sweet-smelling hands. 

With their capacity to shift oil and residues, the wipes are also great for cleaning tools and equipment and wiping down at the end of a working day. I used the wipes to clean dirty finger marks from a newly-painted door after I had fitted some new handles for a client, when a damp cloth had failed to do the job.

The Draper Hard Graft Wipes that remain have now been given a prominent place in my workshop ready for cleaning my hands as needed. Good Product!

Click on this link to see a video of the Draper Hard Graft Wipes: - https://youtu.be/F65OY3KMH1k

For more information on all Draper Products, please visit www.drapertools.com

 

Red Ten Core Drill Kit from DART Tool Group Cut to the Core

Core drills, by definition, have a hard working life, and over the years I have heard so many complaints, stories and comments from tradesmen about them that I am always keen to have a closer look – not just to satisfy myself that they work, but also to explore all the different variations that core drills come in these days.

The Red Ten Core Drill Kit comes in a very well made aluminium and plastic case with decent lockable latches and a comfortable carry handle. The case gives the message that the contents are valuable and need to be cared for. And indeed they are. All the components of the kit are snugly fitted into their own slots in the dense foam case inserts. 

Altogether, there are ten pieces in the case – five core drills ranging in size from 127mm down to 38mm plus the other important adaptors that make the kit versatile, are also included. A 250mm extension that is able to take either the drill hex adaptor or the SDS adaptor, a 10mm tapered shank TCT masonry drill and drift key complete the kit. So, in fact you do have a lot of kit for your money.

Quality is taken care of by the fact that the drills are ISO 9002, BS and EN 13236 safety standards compliant and come with a no-quibble guarantee. Tradesman can confidently buy a kit that will perform well and have a decent service life. 

Other important virtues are that the spiral apertures on the core bodies allow easy dust extraction and that the rated Hand Arm Vibration on the kit is very low. Good news for workers who use core drills a lot. 

But the best bit for many of the tradesman I speak to, is that the retail price of the entire kit is only £160. After I had dug out my biggest and most powerful corded drill out of the back of the workshop I had the chance to start exploring the variations that the kit offers the user.As I mounted the adaptors to the cores I was able to closely examine the cores themselves. The screw threads where the adaptors are mounted are substantially long so they should be strong enough to resist the strong torque pressures that they will be subjected to. Each core is 150mm long and the barrels are coated with a red finish inside and out. The barrels also have a number of spaced rings around them and two sets of three slots cut radially into them to aid the removal of the inevitably large amounts of dust associated with core drilling. They also give a rough idea of how deeply the drilling has proceeded.  

The adaptors are made from lathe turned steel bar and are heavy – as again they should be to absorb the torque loads they will be subjected to. Spanner flats on both cores and adaptors allow the items to be separated easily and the holes for the drift needed to push out the SDS guide drill are accurately cut and beveled. 

Quality-wise, the kit certainly looks the business, but as usual, it is in the using, especially the long term using, that customers might make up their minds.

I started big. I mounted the biggest 127mm core on the hex shank adaptor and applied it to a section of standard house face brick wall. It soon became clear to me that starting the hole accurately, courtesy of the TCT bit, was actually very easy, and there was minimal inaccuracy once the diamond cutters on the periphery of the core started to do their work. However, after only a few minutes work as cutting was proceeding well, I became very aware that the corded drill I was using was simply not powerful enough for the job I was trying to do. It was clear that the chuck on my drill, despite all the tightening I gave it, was slowly loosening.

Time for plan B since I don’t actually have access to a more powerful drill at the moment – builders’ holidays are a nightmare! – so I changed the 127mm core for the 52 mm diameter core and started again.

This core was even easier to start and within several minutes I had managed to cut about 20mm deep into the face brick surface and was proceeding happily. Noise from the core was minimal, the only huffing and puffing to be heard was from me and the drill. Dust and spoil from the cutting edges flowed out quite freely, but not in a dispersed airborne cloud, more as a steady stream of dust from the bottom of the core. Clearly, the spiral dust removal system was doing its job. 

On closer examination of the diamond-faced cutting teeth on the cores after use, showed that they had worked hard in the right places, with the cutting teeth creating a hole just a little bit larger than the body to minimize friction in the cut. By its very nature, core drilling is a chore and it takes time and patience, but I thought that these cores performed well to the use I gave them. 

I can’t go round the M25 these days without passing vans from specialist diamond drilling contractors, which shows that there is a flourishing industry in specialized masonry cutting – but for the many independent plumbers, builders or other tradesman, who rely on tools like the Red Ten Core Drills, there will continue to be a need for this product that delivers in many general applications. To find a kit like this with its range of most commonly used diameters and adaptors at an incredibly competitive price, which comes in an excellent storage case, and with a no-quibble guarantee, it seems to me that the Red Ten Core Kit is a definite goer. 

For more information, please visit http://www.serracon.co.uk

New Metabo Trade-Rated Sanders Compact, Efficient and Quiet!

 

Aimed at:- Pro and keen DIYers with a decent budget.

Pros:- Quiet, vibration controlled and very effective stock removal.

Newly launched and aimed at the building trades that need hardy, compact sanders that work well and can take a few knocks, the Metabo SRE3185 and the Metabo SXE 3150 look like they might become favourites – much like the way my SXE 450 Duo has become an indispensable part of my workshop toolkit.

The SRE 3185 came in a simple cardboard box although there is a plastic case option, and first impressions were very favourable as there is a sturdily constructed and compact alloy base and platen with a rather nicely shaped ergonomic handle on top.As is the Metabo way, the controls are picked out in red – hence the two-finger trigger, the lock on button and the speed dial are easy to spot and use.

There is sparing but useful rubber overmoulding on the handle and top of the casing that aid handling and also make one-handed sanding efficient too, when it is needed.

With a motor rating of 200 W and small 1/3rd sanding sheet size, I found that there was enough power for the smaller jobs associated with a sander of this type.  Sanding orbit speeds range from 8,800 to 22,300/min and, even at the highest speeds, the motor noise is so well controlled that you won’t upset the neighbours or nearby tradesmen. The speeds are in a suitable range so that even sensitive surfaces like plaster and plastic can be sanded controllably.

The sander weighs only 1.5Kgs and while you are aware that the powerful little motor feels torquey in the hand, it is easy to push around while working. It also has enough stability to sand evenly and consistently.

My experience of Metabo sanders is that they do a very effective job of collecting dust even without vacuum extraction, and a pretty well perfect job with it. With a newly designed fabric dust collection bag attached to the rear of the base, I found that dust collection was excellent. The dust bag has several layers of material that do a good job of trapping dust, but also allowing the motor-induced draught to pass through freely. Metabo has also improved the way in which the dust bag is attached by moulding several ring collars on the alloy dust outlet that not only seals the dust in, but also make for a secure fixing into the dust bag nozzle. The dust outlet is a handy 28mm diameter that fits nicely onto the end of a standard vacuum machine nozzle.

Easily available hook and loop sanding sheets are my first choice for using with this machine as they come pre-perforated to aid the dust extraction through the perforated base. However, users have a choice of using standard 95mm width abrasive papers held in place with the strongly spring-loaded clips on front and back of the sanding platen. Since high quality hook and loop sheets have a decent service life these days, I think that only the most parsimonious will opt for the spring- attached sanding sheet option especially since you will have to make your own perforations for dust extraction.

Professional users will also value the long 4.5m length of power cable that enables a decent work radius.

Using this machine on some planer-finished brown oak, I was pleased that I managed to get a decent sanded finish quite quickly and without much effort on my part, other than simply ensuring that the sander was moved up and down in the direction of the grain of the wood to ensure a scratch free finish.

For a small sander, the rate of stock removal is rapid and it is a really nice machine to use.  

My favourite sanders tend to have a round base because they serve my needs best and the SXE3 range can be bought with 125mm or 150mm diameter bases. I also tried out the SXE3150 model and the first thing I noticed was that it is very compact for a 310W machine and when I switched it on I was amazed at how quietly it ran, especially at slower speeds.

The hook and loop base has a variety of perforation patterns to suit a number of different makes of sanding discs, and I also like the mesh backed and multi-perforated types of discs that are equally efficient.

The machine follows a fairly standard layout with the centre of gravity right above the sanding disc with the weight of the motor above. While it can be used in a single hand, I got best results using two hands, with my left hand guiding the machine via the nicely comfortable overmould on the top of the motor housing. Speeds, from 8,000 to 24,000 rpm can be set via the toothed wheel on top of the main handle (which also has a small but effective grippy overmould on it) and off/on is via the two-finger sized trigger beneath. A lock-on button is easy to push in with your thumb.

Like its sibling above, the SXE3150 has a dust extraction spout moulded as part of the cast alloy base and it too has the multi-ribbed outlet that holds either the fabric dustbag or a vacuum extraction tube firmly in place. And, it too is very effective at collecting dust. Even working indoors I noticed very little dust in the air (wear a mask please) because there is inevitably some dust that escapes as you sand over edges, but the vast bulk of the dust is safely collected. Almost perfect results can be achieved with vacuum extraction.

The SXE3150 also has a goodly length of rubberized cord (4.5m) so the work diameter is a useful one.

Users must remember that it is an orbital sander and has very good rates of stock removal, but in order to avoid “swirls” in the workpiece, the machine has to be kept steadily moving. On wood, best results are achieved by moving up and down the grain as well.

I liked this machine from the off, it is light, compact, quiet, easy to use, has good balance and is a very effective performer. I am sure it will find many friends in the market.  

In short, these two models are a valuable addition to the Metabo range of sanders, and with the keen pricing in the market, they are definitely worth a look. 

 

Delta Tru-Flex Silicone Tapes – Does Repairs and a Whole Lot More

Delta Plasma UseWe are supposed to be living in the silicone age – but I doubt if the geeks in Silicone Valley would recognize the features of the silicone used in the range of silicone tapes from Delta Adhesives, a company based in Yorkshire.

Having had a number of minor disasters when it comes to leaks and breaks and having used tapes to seal them, I am very pleased to have discovered the Delta tapes, because, used properly, they almost always work. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I have a 100% success rate with Delta tapes and a couple of trade converts as well.

There are two key things to remember with these tapes:- They only stick to each other and they need to be used correctly in order to achieve the perfect result. Delta recommends that when repairing a leak for example, the wrapping of the leak should start around 7cm away so that the requisite strength and coverage can be built up to resist the leak pressure.

The tapes come in white and black on 3m long reels. Each tape is backed with a clear plastic liner to prevent it sticking to itself when you don’t want it to. Resistant to water, petrol, oil, acids, solvents, salt water and UV rays and able to withstand pressures of 700 psi when used correctly, it doesn’t take too much imagination to realize that everyone from motorists to sailors to tradespeople would be able find a use for them.

Delta Plasma being used

Tests have also revealed that the silicone tape will withstand voltages of up to 8000v as well as temperatures of -65 to +260 degrees celcius, so add polar scientists and boilermakers to the list of potential users!

I used the tape on both rigid copper pipes and flexible plastic pipes with water spouting out of them just to make my job more difficult. As I applied the tape I stretched it to almost double its original length. This has the effect of making the tape thinner so that it adjusts to any contours on the pipe as well as ensuring that the wrap is as tight as possible to obviate leaks. Most times I was able to seal the leak with a couple of layers, but for a long-lasting repair, six or seven layers of wrapped tape are recommended.

Actually, the Delta tapes are so versatile that they can be used to seal gas leaks, insulate electrical wires and even as a grippy wrap on a hammer handle for example. The uses really are only limited by the imagination of the user.

I showed the tapes to a few tradespeople I work with and they were quick to gather that the tapes could be a lifesaver in many situations. Pricewise, there is no real reason why a couple of reels couldn’t be part of a toolbox investment, especially since when you want one, you want it now! A quick trip to the trade counter might be too much time to wait.

My verdict – definitely recommended, it worked every time for me.

Aimed at: Pro and knowledgeable DIY users who need quick and easy solutions.

Pros: So versatile that it should be part of any professional toolbox.

Delta Plasma

 

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