Error message

  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3697 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3698 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 19 in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).
  • Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in user_node_load() (line 3699 of /var/www/html/toolbusiness.co.uk/public_html/modules/user/user.module).

Welding Has Changed – And I Get my Hands Dirty Proving the Point

In Europe, “ordinary” DIYers and small trades think nothing of reaching for a welder when they need one. But in the UK we shy away from welding. But GYS are about to change that. 

Working with wood is my key skill, but I have done some fairly regular “maintenance and repair” welding. My visit to GYS UK in Rugby was a chance to experience the best of modern electronically controlled welding to see if I could improve my welding skills. My tutor in this experiment was the charming and knowledgeable Amaury from France who informed me that he could make a difference to my welding skills in about twenty or thirty minutes. It is a tribute to his patience and skill that I managed a run of competent looking welds in about twenty minutes and I came away more confident knowing what I could do in future to make stronger and neater welds.

I started with the GYSmi 80P – the cheapest and smallest of the GYS MMA Inverter range of welders. I think this was just to prove that being the smallest in the range doesn’t mean that it is inferior. Amaury showed me how to set the dial on the 80P to suit the size of the electrode – there is only one control so this is simplicity itself. Making the necessary connections and setting up the cables is easy too – they are all provided in the box. The only extras needed are electrodes and PPE before I was ready to go. Amaury suggested that I test the welder’s ability to avoid the electrode “sticking” at the start of the weld and after a few attempts I was able to start smoothly because instead of having to pull the electrode sharply away when it stuck, the welder’s electronics simply cut the power and made the “stick” easy to release.

Amaury’s demo weld showed a curved herring bone pattern that I did my best to emulate, and after ten minutes, when I had got used to the fairly rapid feed rate needed on the electrode, I managed a slightly wobbly weld that met his approval. Apparently all I need to work on is my coordination between the hand and electrode to ensure that the weld remains even and strong.

The second welder I tried was the GYS SMARTMIG 162 aimed at the professional or semi-professional user. I have never done MIG welding before but I had seen it on the telly and it looks like fun – a good reason, in my view, to give it a go.

Again, Amaury explained the very simple set up of the machine using the SMART control panel to set wire speed and power, all I had to do was select what I knew about what I wanted to weld, the wire diameter and thickness of the metal. This set up gives workable parameters, but experienced welders will know when to adjust the dial a fraction here and there because local conditions like ambient temperature can make a difference.

Amaury also explained to me that the hand position in MIG welding was different to MMA because the feed is forward and the left hand needs to support the torch to get a smooth movement and therefore a smooth, neat weld. I must admit that it took at least six attempts before I got a weld that I actually liked and that matched the demo weld somewhat, but I think that MIG welding could be for me – it feels smoother and slightly easier for me to do. According to Amaury, from now on, it is just practice that will develop my welding skills. I am willing to believe him, but the point is that in a short time I learned a lot more about MIG welding than I thought I could.

For more information on GYS Welding, please visit www.gys.fr

Fein, Starlock and Me - The Future of Oscillating Tools?

The new Starlock Technology from Fein, is set to change the way Oscillationg Tool users go about their work.

The Fein Company, based at Bargau, near Stuttgart, in Germany, is most famous for its MultiMaster range of oscillating tools. I use my Fein MultiMaster regularly and in my view it is the best “get out of trouble” tool around. So when talk of a new “Starlock” system gathered pace, I was intrigued – how could the development of the famous Fein “Multi” Machines be moved even further on?

Jointly developed by Fein and Bosch, the Starlock system will be fitted onto all Fein oscillating power tools in the coming months. Current Fein and other brand oscillating tool users need not fear - the new Starlock system is backwards compatible with older tools.

There are several areas in which the Starlock range is different. Engineering logic tells us that in order to achieve the most efficient cutting, scraping etc, the connection between the tool and the blade has to be made as tight as possible, so that any oscillating movement is translated straight to the edge of the cutting blade and not lost in slackness or free movement. The Starlock system has introduced a “dish” into the blade fitting that has corners similar to a socket or ring spanner. These engage with the head of the tool and enable the blade to be held securely without any play. Fein has put some figures on it: - in their tests the new system has proved to be up to 45% quicker for the new Supercut and 35% quicker with the new MultiTalent and MultiMaster.

Making a revolutionary new blade fitting system is not easy if you want to ensure full backwards compatibility with your own machines, as well as ensuring that the new system will fit other brands of oscillating machines. Accordingly, Fein has introduced three new classes of cutters, Starlock, StarlockPlus and StarlockMax.

Through the new coding into performance classes, FEIN ensures that only the accessory that matches the performance of the machine can be clamped on, thus preventing overloads. The Starlock covers the lower performance range and is compatible with all FEIN oscillators and common multi-function tools on the market. StarlockPlus works perfectly with all oscillating power tools from FEIN and all multi-function tools with a StarlockPlus mounting. StarlockMax is the right choice for very powerful oscillating power tools, such as the FEIN SuperCut Construction, and all multi-function tools with a StarlockMax mounting. Accessories for lower performance classes can also be used on tools with more power. Current SuperCut users will require an adaptor to fit Starlock blades, a minor compromise to allow access to larger, more readily available accessories.

Revolutionary Blade Mounting

For me, the technologies highlight  definitely the new blade mounting system on the new range of Fein oscillating machines. Instead of using a mushroom-head pin that was pushed through the blade fitting and held securely by the QuickIN system, the user simply pulls a lever on top of the machine and a pair of spring-loaded clamps grab hold of the cutter and when the lever is returned these grip the Starlock cutter securely, without any play, onto the machine. The spanner-like recess helps guide the cutter into place and the whole thing works so smoothly that blade changes are possible in about three seconds. For a bit of fun I placed a row of blades on the demo bench and there is now a video of me out there somewhere, changing 3 blades in less than 10 seconds. I am definitely looking forward to giving this system a thorough testing when I get my hands on one of the new machines.

Innovation – The Key to the Future?

I am sure that many UK users will be just as impressed with the Starlock system and furthermore, how Fein operate as a company.  

I am always pleased when I witness a way of doing business other than the inevitable “bottom-line” thinking of margin cutters and cheap and cheerful manufacturing that seems to be the most common way nowadays. Above all else, it is a sustainable method – and who wouldn’t want a quality, sustainable set of tools to work with?

To see my review on the Fein Cordless Multimaster, click here. For more information on Fein, please visit fein.com

Flex CHE 18 EC SDS Hammer-Prepare to be Surprised

Aimed at: Small trades and those who need a compact and capable machine. 

Pros: Very good, even in very hard materials, and the battery lasts well too. 

Why Join the Cordless Party?

With so much competition in the cordless power tool market, it would seem that anyone wanting to join the party is either foolhardy or determined to prove that they can offer a really good alternative to other brands. Flex falls into the latter category, although the company has a long history of power tool manufacturing in Germany and, indeed, bringing many innovations to market. Its world-leading “Giraffe” wall sanders are a classic example.

Cordless tools also bring another big factor into play since the choice of battery platform is the biggest decider in what tools may be bought in the future. So, anyone wanting to join the cordless competition has to be sure that they have something different or extra to add to their tools in order to persuade buyers to make the initial purchase of a brand.

Flex has done a lot of homework and research, and in my view, has come up with a genuinely unique system for its cordless battery cells that will not only help the tools to perform better, but will add significantly to the range of cordless battery technologies out there.

The enemies of Li Ion

In an article I read recently, it was pointed out that the real enemies of cordless batteries are deep discharge and heat build up during operation. An overheated battery pack will deliver much less than its stated capacity and forced “overheating” breaks can cost tradespeople valuable time. The answer to these issues is to build in electronic controls to tools, battery packs and chargers so that they all work together to prevent them. How manufacturers program these into their tools will always vary and of course how end users treat the tools is always an unknowable…?

Solutions

Flex has joined the cordless competition with solutions on all three fronts. Firstly, a patented system of “Keep Cool” technology that helps to keep batteries cooler in order to deliver maximum power for longer. Secondly, a unique diagnostic charging system uses an LED display to inform users exactly how long the battery charge will take amongst other things. Thirdly, the smallish, but growing, range of German-designed and developed cordless power tools have electronic controls built-in. These controls are unique to each type of tool to take account of the way in which each tool uses power. For example a cordless drill/driver does not have the same power usage profile as a reciprocating saw and therefore the electronic controls will respond to maximize power delivery and battery life.   

The above may be a long introduction for a power tool review – but the question in my mind when I tested the 18V CHE SDS Hammer was whether the new Flex cordless technology would make a difference.

I will immediately confess that my answer is yes – this little Flex tool is a great tool to use and it seemed to have much longer legs than some other cordless SDS hammers that I have used – but that is just the bare bones of the story.

And Now to Work ..

First impressions of the 18EC SDS are very favourable. Mine came in a stackable custom-fitted Sortimo box with charger and battery pack. On first charge, the charger told me that I needed to top up the battery for 25 minutes, and so it proved. The LED display on the neatly designed charger tells you what you want to know without the usual confusion of a series of flashing lights. By pushing a small button on the front of the battery pack users can get an up to date display of the state of battery charge – four bars is full, one bar is 25% or less.

A bright LED light on the handle base aimed at the chuck end is also a very useful addition for me – I need light when I work nowadays!

Handling – It Feels Good

When I first lifted up the hammer I immediately felt at home with it because the balance is spot-on. The handle is well covered with grippy, vibration absorbing rubber overmould and it slims down towards the bottom for a real ergonomic feel. Forward/reverse is chosen by the trusted method of the push through switch.

Since this tool is going to be driven into hard concrete amongst other things, there is a substantial thumb and forefinger groove right behind the axis of the drill point in order to apply maximum control and performance. There is also a big removable auxiliary handle attached to the front collar. This is covered with grippy rubber too and can be moved to any suitable position by unscrewing the handle a bit. An adjustable bar-type depth control is also part of the handle.

A rotatable switch on the left side of the hammer is used to choose either drilling, hammer drilling, neutral or chiseling mode. This system is easy to use and very positive as each position has a click stop to show that it is engaged.

The battery pack is attached via a substantial slide and is easy to attach and detach. The whole tool can be stood on the battery base because it is flat and right in the middle so it provides a stable position.

Brushless is the Way to Go

Flex’s new range of tools all use brushless motors, and this machine uses all their advantages to do a great job. With a 10mm SDS bit and a hard concrete paving stone I drilled hole after hole without a lot of effort on my part. I would go so far as to say that I was quite astonished by how easy it was to use and how willing the tool felt as I used it – it really seemed to want to get on with the job. Other people I showed it to had a similar reaction – surprised that a drill so compact could feel so capable.

With a maximum capacity of 18mm diameter in concrete, this SDS drill will, I am sure find a number of happy users amongst building and plumbing trades etc. At the moment, it shares a battery platform with a few more commonly used Flex tools like drill drivers, impact driver and a recip saw, but Flex, as we speak, is developing and launching further tools into the range, some of which will be reviewed in these pages.

I am always happy when there is competition in a market, and in my view I think this SDS drill/hammer in particular, and the new Flex range of cordless tools in general, certainly add to the choices we can make. My experiences with Flex tools so far have been very positive and make them definitely worth a closer look. 

To see further FLEX Reviews, click here.

For more information FLEX, please visit www.flex-tools.com

 

 

 

 

 

Zyklop Hybrid from Wera Extra-Refined with Extended Capabilities!

Aimed at: Professional and Industrial Engineers. 

Pros: Super strong and easy to add the extension plus the 'Take it Easy' Tool finder

There is innovation and then there is innovative refinement. As a company, Wera has proved to be good at both of these over the years. The result is that we tool users get to enjoy classic Wera products, but with the knowledge that the Wera R&D team is looking, listening, refining and innovating so that these products will be ahead of the game wherever possible.

An example of what I am referring to was launched at the Cologne Tool Fair at the beginning of March and I was lucky enough to have a sample arrive for reviewing soon after.

Users and retailers alike approve of the dramatic new black Wera style of packaging that emphasizes the quality of what is inside, as well as providing versatile ways of display in retail premises. The rigid ballistic nylon wallets inside the box have also undergone some refinements that may not always be obvious. For example, the flexible plastic outline of the tool attached to the wallet near the hook and loop closure helps the user to identify the kit if it is in the bottom of a toolbox or bag, or if conditions are dark- something that happens quite often on worksites in our dank and cold winters – in my experience January is the worst.

Another refinement is the inclusion of a strip of self-adhesive hook and loop fixing. The Wera team has worked out that sometimes it is handy to be able to attach the kit to a vertical or flat surface so that it is instantly available where expected, and also so that it doesn’t move around.

Perhaps the thing that most users will notice when opening up the wallet will be the coloured bands around the sockets. From now on, if a user decides to work by colour, a light blue band indicates a 19mm socket. For others, the black band around the business end of the socket with large clear numbers gives the same message. This identification system is a refined and more user-friendly way of identifying sockets and tools compared to the usual Wera method of laser etching. To help replace the sockets correctly into the wallet after a job, the sewn in numbers 10 to 19 along the line of socket carriers provide a third line of organizational defence. Without my glasses, I found that both the numbers and colours worked well for me. “Pass the green socket” might soon become a comprehensible instruction in a workshop near you, no wonder that Wera calls it the “Take it Easy” tool finder system.

But as is usual with Wera, refinement doesn’t mean just one improvement.

Clearly the product design team has worked out that bigger sockets need more friction to stay on their square pegs in the wallet, and this can mean that they need more of a tug to release them. I just love the twist and lock system that has now been used to locate and hold the sockets in transit. To release or lock the sockets into place takes a fraction of a twist – a really easy and neat method that saves time and adds a lot to efficient use.

All the sockets now also have a system of holding fasteners so that they can be presented to the corresponding bolt. Anyone who has ever done anything slightly complicated with spanners, nuts and bolts will recognize the scenario where the nut or bolt needs to be taken to its corresponding partner that is stuck behind a bulkhead for example. What then usually happens is a juggling act, balancing the nut in the socket until, by trial and error, the nut can be screwed onto the bolt. A pain in the proverbial, as I am sure you will agree.

To solve this particular dilemma Wera has introduced a couple of sprung ball bearings into each socket that securely hold the hex head of the fastener so that whatever angle it is held at it, it will not fall out. Problem solved easily and elegantly I think.

The Zyklop Hybrid kit is a weighty kit, not only because you get one of the well-established big Zyklop ratchets in the wallet, but a ratchet and extension handle too.

The original Zyklop Speed is well known for having a fine 5-degree ratchet angle so that it will work even in the tightest spaces – the new Zyklop Hybrid boasts an equally fine-tooth mechanism. Hybrid also features a quick and easy left/right switch lever on the ratchet head. I am also very much in favour of the holding and quick release function on the ratchet drive. Sockets are held in place with a ball bearing but will literally fall into your hand as you press the release button. So much easier than having to pull at it, especially since your hands will probably be greasy from working anyway.

A Zyklop ratchet on its own is a formidable beast, including this newest member of the family, but Wera has added extension handle functionality to the Zyklop Hybrid. When using this extension bar, Wera warns users not to exceed torque limits of 600 Nm! I dare any users to do it, and I doubt whether any of them will ever need 600 Nm of torque in any common applications!

The ingenuity of the extension bar is up to the usual Wera standards. To attach it, simply push it as far as it will go into the base of the Kraftform handle on the ratchet, then give it a twist and it will lock firmly. This gives a 50cm long lever that is more than enough for many engineering tasks. This extension will laugh at wheelnuts – I tried it on my car and didn’t even break a sweat.

The extension is released with a typical bit of Wera engineering humour – a tiny Kraftform handle with a loop on it is stored in the handle end of the extension. Just push the release button with it and one becomes two again.

The socket extension is very robust with the usual rotating sleeve to aid quick work and complements what is a VERY USEFUL kit.

Engineers and mechanics will really value the quality, as well as finding the fastener holding and “Take it Easy” tool identification an aid to speedy and efficient working. That is where constant innovation and refinement take us. They are things that Wera does very well and we end users are the winners every time. Long may it continue. 

To read more of Peter's Wera Reviews, click here.

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

Husqvarna K3000 - Wet Dampening Dust, but Not Performance

Amied at: Pro Users who need quieter mchines and good dust dampening.

Pros: Powerful and more compact than a two stroke machine, but just as capable.

The Husqvarna K3000 fits into my category of interesting and useful machines since it is a big, powerful disc cutter with an electric motor. The advantages of electric power are many. The K3000 is quieter, lighter than its two stroke equivalents, unpolluting and fume free. Singlehandedly, it banishes loud two stroke motors and their accompanying hassle. No need to pack fuel or a spare spark plug and there is not the hassle of struggling with a starter cord on a cold morning. All I needed to get the K3000 started was a 110V site transformer and an electrical power source.

Electric power makes the K3000 an ideal machine to use in semi enclosed spaces where there might not be enough ventilation to prevent a build up of petrol fumes and it is also useful where irritating engine noise could be a problem. Worksites near schools and hospitals for example, should aim to keep noise pollution to a minimum.

For “dry” dust collection an optional special dust collection shoe can be purchased that fits under the disc, dust is then sucked from there into a powerful industrial vacuum extractor. For this review I had the “wet” version that uses water to dampen the dust, and it also has the side effect of cooling the cutter. Some of the readers might now be scratching their heads and saying that a “wet” dust dampening system and an electric machine really shouldn’t be paired. Husqvarna, of course, has got there before us. The all-plastic body is fully earthed and very well sealed against splashes from the dust damping water. In the UK the K3000 is mostly used with a safety site 110V transformer but in other places there is an earth fault circuit breaker built into the power cord that will cut the current immediately if there is a problem.

Reassuringly, the power cables are heavy and covered with insulating rubber so could withstand both wear and water. Just don’t clean the machine after use with a hose or pressure washer, because that would be pushing your luck and the boundaries of good insulation.   

The K3000 can be used with different types of cutting discs and I was sent a large 350 mm diameter diamond disc for my testing. Mounting it is pretty easy because the socket spanner is included in the kit and there is a handy spindle lock for quick and easy tightening and loosening.

Once the disc is mounted you can definitely feel that the weight of the machine has increased from a dry 8.5 Kgs to over 10kgs. Nevertheless this is still a bit lighter than some of the petrol powered disc cutters on the market and my back certainly noticed the difference after a few periods of working with the machine.

The “wet” option for dust control is quite a clever solution because it is flexible. The K3000 uses a standard Gardena hose connector for the wet system so it is quite possible to connect the machine to a hosepipe with suitably adjusted water pressure and flow to control the dust output. However, not all situations have a handy hosepipe around, so Husqvarna have delivered the WT 15 water reservoir. This tank is a large-ish, translucent 15 litre water tank with a big screw type filler cap that makes it easy to fill via hose or jerry can. Some systems that deliver water for controlling dust use air pressure created by the user having to vigorously pump to create the air pressure needed to drive the water to the machine and the disc. The trouble with this system is that if the air pressure runs out unexpectedly, the user can be left with no water to control the dust. Or else one has to have an assistant to ensure that some quick work on the pump can be done to start the water flow again.

Husqvarna’s system is ingenious and makes use of the ubiquitous rechargeable Li ion battery pack. Concealed in a robust casing on top of the water tank is a place where a small water pump, powered by the battery, is used to pump water down the 12mm diameter hose to the Gardena connector on the disc cutter.

The charger and battery are stored together in this casing so they should be difficult to lose, and a clever system of winding the hose round the base of the tank makes for easy storage and portability.

Although it is a small diameter, the 12mm diameter hose delivers enough water to the disc cutting edge to ensure that dust is effectively controlled without wasting water. The reinforced hose is about three metres long so the tank can be positioned safely away from the machine and the operator.

A simple push switch on the top of the tank is used to start the water pump. About 40cm away from the rear handle the water hose and power cable are yoked together so that the operator knows exactly where both of them are. Included in this arrangement is a flip switch that is used to control the flow of water. Thus the operator has all the controls near to hand and has no need to return to the water tank to switch off the water, for example.

I tried out the K3000 in both delicate and demanding cutting. The delicate was cutting up a piece of 20mm thick marble into fairly accurately squared pieces. Of course I needed full PPE gear of goggles, ear defenders, appropriately rated breathing mask, hard toed boots and workwear.

Harder work was cutting up some 50mm thick paving slabs that needed adequate support so that the blade could not be trapped or pinched.

I can’t say that I noticed that the K3000 had any different levels of power than a two stroke machine, but levels of vibration and noise were definitely more comfortable and therefore seemed to make using it safer and more manageable and for the marble cutting, more accurate. The dust management system worked a treat because the water is delivered very close to the point where it is created, so not a lot of it escapes. Given the choice, I think I prefer electric power to two-stroke power, and with the bonus of excellent dust control, the K3000 is a winner.

For more information on Husqvarna, why not check out Peter's review of the Husqvarna K760 Cut-n-Break or alternatively, you can visit www.husqvarnacp.co.uk

New Venom Saws from Draper - A Sharp Start in Saws?

Aimed at: Pros and serious DIYers who need a serious saw at a good price.

Pros: Well made with 1mm thick "wobble free" blades and fast cutting tooth configurations.

The handsaw business is competitive. Full stop. Site chippies buy them in their thousands and it is not unusual for a hard pressed first fix carpenter on piece work rates to start each new day with a new saw.

There is also a hierarchy of used saws – once it has lost its perfect edge it may get moved to MDF and OSB duties, and the final indignity for a saw might be cutting a few Aerolite blocks or insulation before it is skipped.

The result of this high usage is that the cost of saws and their performance is critical for end users. There can be some brand loyalty too, but often carpenters are forced to buy whatever brand is on offer or is stocked at the outlet where they happen to be that week.

The net result of this is that the margins on saw prices have become increasingly squeezed – in some cases to the point that they are only stocked because they are a “must have” for the customers.

The new range of Draper Venom saws have already “bitten” the market and have made a very good impression for a variety of reasons. It seems that users who have tried them have already come back for more. So, time to look at them and find out why.

The Venom range has the enormous advantage of being comprehensive from the off. There are 550mm, 500mm, toolbox and tenon saws as part of the range. Apart from the tenon saws, they all are available in double ground and triple ground tooth options so users have a fine choice to suit their preferences and needs.

I was pleased to notice that the blades are a full 1mm thick so are not “floppy” in the cut and the result is that it is a lot easier to keep to the cutting line. To reduce friction the blades are coated with a transparent lacquer that also helps to reduce corrosion.

Saw manufacturers have also learnt that users need decent grippy ergonomic handles – and the Venom saws have particularly good ones, with deep checkering for the finger grips and a good size for both big and small hands.

Also required is that the handles should be able to be used as 90 and 45 degree marking out guides to save dragging a try square up onto the scaffolding. I checked the pencil lines I marked on a piece of MDF on all the four saws I was sent for review, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the guides are accurate enough for first and second fix use. The marking edges are also long enough to ensure that the saw doesn’t simply slide around when you are trying to mark the line.

When it comes to tooth options users once again have a good choice with the Venom saws. My “prejudice” is for the double ground tooth formation. With this option, the teeth are pointed and ground on both sides of the point. I find that this tooth option is easier to start in the cut and easier to control down the cutting line. Some users might say that it is a bit slower than using a triple ground saw, but I think you get a slightly better finish to the cut.

The triple ground option looks similar to the double ground at the sides of the tooth, but look closely and you will see that the bottom has been ground off at about 45 degrees to leave a chisel-like tooth that really attacks the wood. Users who need really aggressive and quick cutting would choose this option – and they usually have the arm muscles to go with it, since they are cutting loads of timber and boards every working day. I find that the triple ground option is a bit harder to start the cut, but then I am usually cutting finer boards in hardwood and birch ply.

Draper has also been very careful to provide a sensible range of options for buyers. Firstly, there is a choice between 550mm and 500mm saw lengths in both first fix (8PPI) and second fix (12PPI) saws and in double or triple ground tooth options. The 8PPI will give very aggressive cutting rates, but won’t leave as good a finish to the cut. I like a smooth finish, but roofers and other first fixers like the cut to be quick above all else.

I use toolbox saws a lot and have several in various tool configurations. The Draper toolbox saws are 350mm long, so fit perfectly into a bag or toolbox. With double or triple ground options why not have one of each?

With all of these options, users and dealers need a way of distinguishing them apart. Draper has cleverly used colour coded handles to help users choose. Triple ground saws have a red or orange handle – orange for first fix and red for second fix. The double ground saws have a lime green or yellow handle, with lime being the first fix and yellow the second fix. If it has a blue handle, then you have chosen a tenon saw.

I tried the saws in hardwood, softwood, OSB, MDF, and ply. My prejudice still applies – I prefer the double ground tooth pattern. The triple ground teeth cut very quickly, particularly in softwood and I could see that some users would routinely use this tooth pattern to save loads of time.

But the double sting of the Venom is also in the price – looking around the market, I would expect to pay around £4.79 ex VAT/£5.75 inc VAT for my favourite 500mm double ground Venom saw. But I would recommend dealers to look at the deals that Draper has on the table, both in terms of the merchandiser options and the pallet quantity options. The Venom Saw Range has a lot to offer – not only are they very competent trade saws, but the prices are keen too. Everything to like.

Why not check out more Draper Reviews, or for more information, please visit www.drapertools.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rapid Alu 940 Stapler Nailer – Less Energy Needed!

Aimed at: Pro and DIY users who want to save energy and be sufficient. 

Pros: A quality tool with serious capabilities that won't hurt hands or wrists in prolonged use.

Up until a few years ago I was happy to use bulky “traditional” hand operated staplers. Sometimes I even preferred them to electric ones because they were more reliable and didn’t need to be near an electric plug. But time and heredity have ensured that the arthritis that plagued my mother is now bothering me, with the result that these hand staplers are a pain in the arm to use regularly. So, when I was doing a job erecting a large chicken run in a field too long for an extension cord, that involved stapling many metres of various kinds of mesh I looked for a pain free solution. It came in the form of the Rapid ALU940 that I had seen at Cologne in 2014.

Now Rapid is not a company that introduces new products without careful thought and research. Through customer research and feedback Rapid had discovered that users do not want a workout when they use a stapler or nailer – they want to use less force and less energy to achieve their aims. As regular stapler users will know, there have been quite a few attempts to redesign staplers to achieve this end. These includes changing the shape of the levers, using reversed levers, longer triggers for more leverage and the addition of grippy materials to focus the effort from the hand. However, none of these are “proper” solutions because the amount of force that has to be applied to drive, say, a 14mm staple into hardwood, remains the same. But, how that force is generated needs to change if you are going to save energy and arthritic hands like mine.

Rocket science dictates that the force needed to drive a 6mm leg staple is clearly less than a 14mm leg staple, so it would help that the amount of force needed could be altered to suit the staple being used. So, there is simply no energy saving in having a “one shot” stapler that shoots all staples with equal force.

With typical thoroughness, Rapid used physiological data to work out that actually, the hand is giving the strongest force profile right in the middle of the trigger stroke. Obvious in some ways, because starting to press the trigger, our fingers are extended and are relying on the muscles to curve the fingers round to grip the trigger. On the other extreme, when the trigger is fully pulled, our fingers are curved around so cannot exert full force, so it is logical that when the fingers are in the middle of the trigger stroke they can exert the most power.

Using this information, the Rapid R and D team went away and developed the Powercurve Technology, which is now used in the lever of the new range of Rapid staplers. I wish I knew more of the details and how it works, but Rapid, for obvious reasons, is not giving away that information and it is well patented.

Simple tests have shown that the amount of force required to fire a staple from an “old style” stapler is around 100N, while the new Rapid staplers require only 35N for the same task - reduction of about 65%.

The really interesting thing is that this can be easily demonstrated by simply comparing two staplers – one old, one new – by firing off a few staples into a lump of wood. You really can tell the difference. I also noticed that there seems to be significantly less “shock” transferred through the stapler to the user’s hand. When I first tried the Rapid at Cologne I must have got through a whole magazine full of staples just proving to myself that the Powercurve Technology did indeed work.

Real testing on real consumers using the Borg Scale of perceived exertion showed that they rated the new Rapid staplers as “really easy” to operate compared to the “really hard” rating they gave to traditional staplers.

As ever, I really wanted the technology to serve my needs, so back to the damp, cold autumn field and the 24 metre run by 2 metres high run of wire mesh I had to fix. I needed to use maximum power because I was using 14mm staples for best effect. Each pole support needed at least 12 staples to fix the mesh and the corner poles double that. Plus all the extraneous ones that are needed to hold the mesh in place while it is pulled into shape in order to look neat. I used roughly 350 staples and had very few that I had to redo.

I addition, the top of the run needed to be covered with a light nylon mesh to discourage the buzzards etc that seem to be becoming more frequently seen down in Sussex. This mesh needed only 6mm staples, but many more of them in order to avoid any “gapping” that could occur. I can report that my right hand did indeed cope very well with firing off about 8 or 900 staples in a day and I didn’t suffer with any pain at all. Proof, I think, that Powercurve Technology does indeed work.

As for the stapler itself, it is robustly made in blue painted alloy with generous rubberized grip areas in grey on the handle and front. A simple yellow slide switch has three positions marked so that you can choose the level of force for different sizes of staple.

Loading with staples or nails is about as easy as it could be – turn the stapler upside down, release the magazine via the simple catch on the back and it will gently spring open to reveal the steel magazine into which the fixings can be loaded. Not only simple to fire, but also simple to load.

If I wanted to pick out my key word to describe this Rapid ALU940 it would be “easy” – my hands feel the difference any time I use it and it is now a regular in my site toolbox. Pick one up and try one – you WILL feel the difference. 

For more information of Rapid products, please visit www.rapid.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hitachi DV18DBXL Combi-The Torque of the Town

Amied at: Professionals in all trades who need a drill with really serious levels of torque for BIG drilling.

Pros: Excellent ergonomics and loads of torque and a 6Ah battery too, for longer working times.

This torquey Combi drill from Hitachi is a brand new, “from the ground up” development, although it would be hard to tell that from just its external appearance. The two key developments on it are the use of a “biggest ever” 6Ah lithium ion battery pack, which is actually the same size and weight as the 5.0ah pack, and a competition-busting 136Nm of “torques”, as Jeremy Clarkson would say.

I have already had a comment from a tradesperson who sniffily told me that trades didn’t need that amount of torque, but I disagree. I seem to have had a few situations recently where I could have done with quite a lot more torque from my drill! For example, using a 75mm hole saw through a bit of 20mm thick hardwood. You may not need the torque often, but when you do, its nice to know its there. Also, with all that torque on tap, the drill seems to work more quietly and responsively – but maybe I am getting ahead of myself.

A quick run down of the Hitachi DV18DBXL proves that the innovations are largely internal – its functions and controls follow a very familiar pattern. The speed sensitive trigger is large enough for a gloved finger and the forward/reverse function is via the push through switch above it.

Behind the quality metal- bodied 13mm chuck, the large collar for changing torque settings is large and easy to grasp and therefore easier to adjust. It has 22 torque settings as well as drill and hammer modes. A slider switch on top of the ABS body casing selects slow or fast motor speeds.

But I think that what users will notice is the very ergonomic handle that the drill boasts. I think it is genuinely comfortable to hold and provides very good grip, especially at higher torques. My feeling was that the designers have made the grip a bit smaller and slightly more hand-shaped to give the level of comfort needed.

Below the handle there are several important features. Not least of these is the 6Ah battery pack, which has a flat base so the drill can be stood on it.

The rails for sliding the battery packs are robust and the battery slides easily on them. The spring-loaded buttons for releasing the battery pack operate positively as well.

On the base of the handle is a bright LED light aimed at the chuck. This switches on and off automatically, and is definitely not a gimmick or “me too” as anyone working in the semi dark or in enclosed spaces will tell you.

Just behind the light is a battery charge indicator so that users can know when to charge up.

There is the customary reversible belt hook too, probably only usable if you have a proper weight-bearing belt round your waist.

The small RFC logo on both sides of the motor housing stands for Reactive Force Control – a posh name for a sophisticated safety clutch. Basically, should the drill bit or whatever, become stuck in the material, the RFC electronics will cut in and stop the motor before the operator breaks a wrist or fingers (with 136Nm of torque on tap it is best to be wary)

The electronics will also cut in to protect the combi from heat build up, battery overloading and deep discharge, as well as maximizing the torque usage, speeds etc of the new brushless motor.

What was a big surprise for me was that this Hitachi combi comes with a 37cm long auxiliary handle. This handle screws into either left or right hand side of the alloy gearbox housing on the front of the tool. The “hand” end has an ergonomic handle with big flanges to prevent hands from coming off it.

I confess that I thought that the length of the auxiliary handle was a bit over the top when I saw it, but when I started testing the torque available from the combi, I realized that there would be times when I would need it.

Unfortunately, because of the demand for sample tools to test, I had a relatively brief window in which to try it out, but I did my best. In the past I have found that some drills I regularly use are unable to drill holes in hardwood when using the three-fluted spiral “speed” drills on the market. In fact, I have often managed to stall a drill bit into the material just past the pilot screw. No such trouble with the Hitachi DV18DBXL – it eats such stuff for breakfast. I drilled 25mm diameter hole after 25mm diameter hole, through 30mm thick, dry and hard oak with the drill not even breaking into a metaphoric sweat. It really has so many guts that you will like having the long auxiliary handle to help control the torque effect.

While it might not look like it because it retains the current Hitachi look and livery, the DV18DXBL is in fact a deliberate move into a new era of drilling by Hitachi.  Using a new and powerful brushless motor and a 6Ah battery pack, there is a focus on compact power that uses the latest electronics to deliver maximum performance for the end user while reducing energy sapping heat from both the motor and battery packs.

The pairing of the 6Ah battery packs and brushless motors maximizes power and run times without the expected extra weight – the new battery packs weigh the same as the “old” ones. Hitachi also assures us that there will be full compatibility with every “slide battery” from 1.5 to 6Ah, and that chargers will be similarly compatible. Charge times will of course vary from old to new, with the new battery packs expected to charge in about 35 minutes.

But even better is that Hitachi intends pricing for the new drill to be VERY competitive. We users will not know the exact pricing details until the launch of the drill in February – but I am sure it will be a pleasant surprise.

For more information on Hitachi Power Tools, please visit www.hitachi-powertools.co.uk

Pages

Scroll to Top