Draper Abrasive Cut-Off Saw- A Real Workhorse!

 

Aimed at: pro metal and masonry workers

Pros: big and powerful, quick and easy to use, with extraction too.

There are some tools that are indispensable – like cordless drills and circular saws for carpenters. The Draper Abrasive Cut-Off Saw (stock no 76211) is in this category for metal, stone and masonry workers. Used on site or in the workshop, its considerable cutting power would be invaluable. The clean edges left from the abrasive wheel would need minimal preparation for welding (in metal) and competent users can get accurate straight and angled cuts every time. The more I looked at and used this machine, the more I realized that is very well specified and well designed for the tasks it is intended for.

It is a big, heavy machine (20Kgs) as is appropriate for its uses – but it has a total footprint of only 47 by 27 cms so can easily fit onto a fixed or portable bench. The big rubberized carry handle placed right in the middle, above the weight of the motor, is well placed for relatively easy carrying – I certainly wouldn’t want to lug it too far – but hulkier users than me would find it much easier. A robust lock pin locks the head down for easier transportation.

Pretty well all that the user has to do to get the machine useable out of the box, is to attach the four rubber feet and mount the appropriate cutting disc for its intended use. Some observant users might notice that one of the rubber feet has a metal shield around it to protect it from the danger of fire from sparks generated when cutting some materials.
Clearly metal cutting discs are different for those intended to cut bricks or stone. Attaching the disc is easy and takes only a few minutes. A robust screw needs to be released so that the cover plate can be rotated backwards to reveal the spindle bolt. Using the spindle-locking pin, this bolt can be unscrewed and the disc mounted. Then the bolt is simply tightened to a suitable torque with the spanner supplied. It is held captive by a spring at the back of the base.

The all-metal cutter guard intrigued me in that it has two parts that open automatically as the handle is used to push the disc into the workpiece. It looks a bit like the opening and closing mouth of a “pacman” figure in those now ancient computer games, but it works very efficiently and minimizes the exposure of the disc to the operator. This clearly also limits the amount of dust and sparks that are directed to the side of the machine where the operator might be more exposed to them. Operators should be wearing full PPE gear anyway, but it always good to have extra safeguards.
There is also a handy plate behind the disc, on the moveable arm of the saw, that directs sparks and dust downwards away from the operator.

Another little extra is the extraction port on the side of the machine that does a good job of removing swarf and dust. The port needs a standard adaptor to fit an industrial vacuum cleaner and users need to ensure that the vacuum is appropriate – for example not all vacuums are designed to vacuum up steel swarf and further hot steel swarf can be a fire risk!

The extraction port is yet another example of how much you get for your money with this saw.

Work holding for these type of saws is another key feature. Sometimes users need to cut angles and odd shapes, and the work holders need to be flexible and robust enough to make the cutting operations safe.

With robust pressed steel components the work holding vice on this machine is very tough, and yet very quick to use too. There is an efficient quick release system on the vice screw that enables very nifty adjustments to be made and the handwheel ensures secure tightening onto the workpiece in a few seconds.

The rear fence can be fitted into one of two positions. As standard from the factory, the fence is adjusted so that the workpiece is directly under the cutting disc. But there is another position, closer to the hinged arm that can be used to suit different work pieces.

In factory setting position, there is a clear 150mm width in which material can be securely clamped so enough capacity for professional users I think.

Adjusting the angle of cuts needs the use of the spanner again on two bolts, and although there is a rough angle guide on the adjusting quadrant, users will need to use their own protractor for more accurate results.

The large horizontal trigger switch is housed inside an even larger loop handle. The handle and switches could easily accommodate a gloved hand and the spring on the swing arm is powerful enough for an easy lift, but not too strong to hold down comfortably when cutting.

Motor noise is quite controlled considering that it is a powerful 2000W brush motor. Even when cutting hard sections of steel I found no lack of power from the motor, although forcing the disc is actually counterproductive for an accurate and quick cut.

Other important safety features are the adjustable depth stop and the overload cutout that will protect motor and user from over-heavy use.

Users should also be aware that the abrasive discs used on this type of machine are intended to wear away as they cut the material. It is the way in which the periphery of the edge is kept sharp. However, as the blade wears the peripheral speed of the disc is reduced, so discs should be replaced when they have worn to within 25% of their original size.

With a typical internet price of around £175 – £180 it seems to me that users get an awful lot for their money. The saw is robustly made and intended for heavy site and workshop use and has got a few extras that make it not only easy to use, but safer than many similar saws

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

Metabo MT 18 LTX - Pick and Mix the Metabo Way

18v Cordless Multi-tool

Aimed at: pros and high end DIYers with specific jobs in mind.

Pros: Metabo cordless battery system, slimline body and quick tool change.

Multi-tools are now everywhere, ranging in price from around £50 to £200 and over – a niche and price for every DIYer and tradesman. Increasingly, cordless makes sense too, with smart electronics for charging and controlling batteries and enough power to rival corded machines.

But, we come to Metabo with great expectations since the company has staked a claim on the cordless worksite of the future.The new MT 18 LTX Multi-Tool is part of the “Pick and Mix” range of over 40 different Metabo 18v tools that can use all current Metabo18v battery packs. Buyers can choose what they want – whether it is the naked tool, or with a battery, a charger, in a box or with other variations like different chucks etc. In other words a totally flexible set of options that can save a lot of money and be as comprehensive as you need. Lots to like here in my view.

My sample arrived in a sturdy cardboard box, inside which was a custom fitted tray that would slot into one of the new range of Metabo plastic cases now available. For the MT 18 LTX, the MC05 carrying case or the MetaLoc II stacking case are the ones to go for. The tray has custom spaces for the tool (with battery) a charger, an extra battery, dust extraction tubes and a lidded compartment for a limited range of accessories.

Immediately I picked up the MT 18 I was struck by just how slim the main body is and therefore how easy it is to handle, especially for my small hands. Some readers will know how much development Metabo has done on developing smaller, slimmer and more powerful electric motors, and clearly the work is paying off here too. There is a small amount of grippy rubber around the switch and body to aid grip and provide some bump protection. The balance of the tool is right with the oscillating head balanced by the battery pack at the rear. With a 5.2Ah battery pack on board, the tool weighs only 2Kgs and has electronically controlled no-load oscillation speeds of between 7,000 to 18,000 /min with an oscillating angle of 3.2 degrees left to right. The speeds are selected steplessly via a red-toothed wheel on the base of the tool.

We have come to expect all manner of tweaks and sophistication from our cordless tools these days and the MT 18 LTX Multi-Tool delivers in all categories. The quick accessory tool change system means that changing cutters etc is a simple matter of lifting the lever above the oscillating head and removing the tool holder and cutter. The tool holder is designed so that pretty well all makes of multi-tool accessories will fit, so users can choose what they need at the price point they want.

I was very taken with the two bright LED worklights inset into the front of the tool. This may be a comment on my aging eyesight, but I do always find these lights useful and I seem to be working inside a cabinet or in darker places more often these days.

One of the jobs for which a multi-tool is ideal is for detail sanding. I found that fitting the sanding delta pad and dust extraction was about as simple as it could be. The choice is to have the extraction tube locked on the left hand side where it is out of the way of the sanding head, or it can be mounted so that it can move freely round. Connected to an extractor via the standard 28mm Metabo vacuum adaptor the results were brilliant, with pretty well all dust collected that could be. Delta sanding, in particular, depends on the quality and grade of the sanding sheets and Metabo has a very good range covering most materials.

One of the tests I always do on multi-tools is to cut a slot out of the centre of a board. This is their USP – no other tools can do this. I used a piece of 35mm thick brown oak and was very happy with the results. The cutter even had a row of mm markings down one side so I could check how far I had cut – but I did need my glasses to be able to read them.

Another thing that pleased me was that the noise and vibration from the cordless motor was very well controlled. Multi-tools, because of their nature, have a sort of scream that can be tiresome, so less noise and vibration is very welcome.Another of my tests is removing grouting using the carbide half round cutter – this is a job that is made simple, efficient and quick with a multi-tool, and for me, a good enough reason to buy one. Again, the Metabo worked very well, and was very controllable too since I could choose the most efficient oscillating speed on the machine.

The rough carbide delta sander is perfect for sanding external surfaces where speed is important – I find that flaking paint simply disappears and also doesn’t clog the sander.

I mostly used the 2.0Ah battery supplied with the tool and it lasted well enough. However, when I tried a 5.2 Ah battery the machine seemed to run forever, and with the new battery chargers, downtime is minimal.

I confess that up until a few years ago I thought that some classes of tools like routers, circular saws and multi-tools would never transform well into cordless operation. But I am happy to say that I have been proved wrong and the Metabo MT 18 LTX Multi-Tool is a welcome addition to the competition. It is worth a look at purely on its own merits as a multi-tool, before you even consider the fact that it may fit into your existing Metabo cordless tool set at a price that will save you a lot of cash. With a typical body-only price of around £150 it could be the tool that adds a lot more versatility to your tool chest.

Steinel 2020 Hot Air Tool - Not Just for Removing Paint

Aimed at: Pro users in many trades who need a powerful and controllable heat gun.

Pros: Easy to use, good balance, extra versatility and controllability with the HL Scan attachment.

In short, it seems as though we in the UK need to do a bit of catching up on just how many ways in which the Steinel hot air tool can be used.

Steinel as a company had humble beginnings – in a garage in Germany in 1959. However, it now has worldwide sales, a number of very big partners in business and a range of professional and DIY products that embraces everything from glue guns, hot air tools and modern lighting solutions.

The company prides itself on having an entirely European manufacturing operation with quality and innovation at the forefront.

The 2020E is part of a range of Steinel professionally rated heat guns and at top of the range, is particularly well specified. For example it has 2200 W of output which means that it can put out an incredible heat of 630 degrees C at full stretch. Using the adjustment switch on the rear of the casing the user can select the relevant temperature in 10 degree C steps. The decent-sized LCD screen on the rear of the gun shows the temperature as it climbs and falls according to the user’s choice.

There is a four-step slider switch on the rear of the main handle that is used to select the off position and three steps of fan speed.

The ergonomics of heat guns is important because they are often used for long stretches and they need to be able to put down safely without setting fire to anything. The Steinel 2020 has been designed with the centre of gravity of a handgun – just about where the trigger should be, and as such it sits comfortably with a good balance in the hand. With a weight of just 800 grams it is really light enough to be used continuously by competent professionals and skilled DIYers.

It is also possible to stand it on its back on three rubberized feet so that it can be used stationary – with the materials brought to the heat rather than vice versa. Laid on its side the slightly bulbous body and nozzle protector mean that no superheated parts will come into contact with the floor or whatever, so obviating the danger of fire. (As long as you take obvious precautions like not having odd bits and pieces of flammable stuff lying around!)

Other very practical features are the plastic hook on the top of the body, placed so that the heat gun hangs horizontally, and the residual heat warning light nearby that blinks redly at you until the heat has dissipated enough for the tool to be stowed or handled safely. There is also an optional fine dust filter that can be clicked over the air inlets on the rear of tool. A valuable addition, I think, for dusty environments, where dust drawn in through the heating element could easily combust.

When it comes to safety the Steinel again aims high. There is both a thermostat and a thermal cut out so that maximum temperatures are not exceeded. Steinel has also included a simple system where the power cord can be replaced very easily without dismantling the heat gun. Anyone who has ever seen what continuous heat does to an ordinary domestic iron cord as it enters the body of the iron will appreciate the value of this feature. Simply put, continuous heat can damage insulation over a period of time, so it makes sense to have a system of making replacement very easy.

I tried the Steinel heat gun out on a number of tasks that would be standard – including paint stripping. I was very soon able to set the optimum temperature for stripping off gloss paint from wood without too much danger of burning it. The best distance from the material seemed to be about 15 cm and in truth, I would have done well to invest in some of the specialist nozzles that Steinel make for specific tasks.

If you were shrinking sleeves onto cables, for example, it would be handy to have the nozzle that directs some heat all the way round the sleeve so that it shrinks evenly.

I couldn’t resist the starting barbecue fire test, so I cranked up the heat to maximum and it worked brilliantly. I smugly thought I could show my South African relatives a thing or two without struggling with firelighters next time they are over!

But that is not all that Steinel have added to heat gun technology. I was also sent a small device called an HL Scan. This is powered by a 9v battery and can be clipped onto the top of the heat gun using the hanging clip. In short, if you are a very demanding user who wants nearly instant feedback of the temperature from the surface you are heating with the heat gun, then you need one of these. Clearly with plastic welding and heat shrinking where temperature is critical for a perfect result the addition is obvious. Even when the heatgun wasn’t heated up I could aim the red beam at my hand and get a temperature reading and then aim it a piece of wood and the temperature LCD would indicate the change. The temperature is set via the mode button and selecting the required heat level. An optional beep will sound when the temperature is within range.

There is also an emissivity setting for heat readings from different materials and a choice of F or C temperature readings. The result of all this is the user can work much more accurately and safely on even combustible materials with confidence.

This all brings me round to the point I made at the beginning of the review – the Steinel 2020 is a very sophisticated tool that would be a very handy addition to some toolboxes – Maybe it is just too good to be used for mere paint stripping?

Abracs “Hybrid” Grinder Discs- Safe, Multi-use Solutions

Aimed at:- pro users who need the flexibility of application and high performance.

Pros: Versatile discs that can cut and grind many materials.

I often think about the phrase “jack of all trades master of none” in the context of tools because it is true that many so-called multi solutions tools are often less easy to use and less effective than having the right tool for the job. But for grinder discs? Could there be such a thing as a grinder disc that works well on both metals and brick?

Abracs have recently launched the Hybrid range of discs that is capable of being used on a number of different materials thus saving the time of constantly having to change discs for different materials and expense of buying different discs for different applications. When you think of how much time is taken changing discs the cost savings become significant.

I was sent three different Hybrid discs to try out and I tried the 5 in 1 MULTI Disc first. This is designed for cutting ferrous metals, alloys, stainless steel uPVC and brick – so a wide range of general cutting is possible. The disc is noticeably thinner than normal cutting discs but it feels quite strong and rigid. I found it really effective on steel – it sent a huge stream of sparks away and cut quite quickly. Predictably, on hard face bricks the cutting rate was a bit slower and a lot more dusty (always wear appropriate safety gear) but the results were good and the wear on the disc was noticeably less than on other cutting discs I have used.

The 3 in 1 Maxi Disc was up next. This is a combined cutting and grinding disc. Because grinding and cutting apply two separate forces to discs the two types are usually made differently. Ingeniously, the 3 in 1 seems to have a layer of grinding material around the periphery without the slight “dishing” that grinding discs normally have, and an extra layer of reinforcing to ensure that the edge does not break up while cutting. Without the “dishing” the edge of the disc is straight leaving an edge that is also safe to use for cutting. The disc is a little bit thinner than a standard grinding disc so has a bit of flex required for grinding. Intended for use on ferrous metals and stainless steel, I was able to cut very efficiently and soon had a stream of sparks flying away from my test sample. For grinding, Abracs recommends a 30 degree angle to the material and it is then very efficient at getting a clean surface

Finally, I used the Plus 20 Flap Disc. This was my favourite disc as it proved to work really well in polishing up a piece of steel from rust to a smooth gleaming shine in a very short time. What makes this disc special is the double row of abrasive cloth, 60g on the bottom and then 40g on the top. Abracs claim that this arrangement has increased the life of such discs by up to 20%. All I can say is that it worked well for me and I would definitely keep this disc on my angle grinder.

In a market where price, habit and availability are key factors it can sometimes be hard to get end users to change their habits, but I think that these new Abracs disc are unique, so they would be worth going out of your way for. The decision could save you a lot of time and money.

Flex Laser Tools - Getting the measure

Aimed at:- Pros who need the speed and accuracy of laser marking out and measuring.

Pros: Keenly priced, up to date and very accurate.
No reason not to have one.

Flex tools aren’t available outside specialist tool dealers for the very good reason that only specialist dealers are in a position to give professional advice on the best use and purposes of Flex tools. Of course, this limits the scope of the market, but loyalty to the trades has been a Flex motto in the market.

Flex is probably most well known for their Giraffe wall sanders so it was with some surprise that I took delivery of a range of Flex laser products a while ago. Initial impressions were favourable – they seemed to have all the build quality and capability associated with other Flex products, and there is nothing like a bit of competition in the market to raise everyone’s game.

I started with the ADM60-T Touchscreen laser range finder. I am a great fan of this type of tool – how did we ever manage without them, dragging tape measures around site and having to climb ladders to measure roof heights for example. All done in seconds now with a laser measure, with all the extra calculations too. The ADM 60-T has a Flex Red casing with black rubber “bumpers” on most of the edges. Powered by 4 AAA batteries it comes in a nylon case and a standard tripod screw fixing in the bottom for static (and more accurate) use.

Weighing only 180g and with a length of 115mm the measure will easily fit into a trouser pocket. What makes this measure different from many is the touch screen. The on/off switch is on the right hand side and once this is pushed the blue-based display is easy to read even in daylight. Energy saving kicks in quite quickly to reduce the display and then turns off the device automatically after a minute or two.

There are only seven icons on the screen and they all follow “computer logic”. For example it is simple to scroll through the units needed – from metres to miilimetres, feet and inches, inches only or feet only. The device will also automatically calculate cubic volume, area and triangulated heights by simply selecting the appropriate icon on the screen.

I am still slightly in awe of how quickly simple surveying, estimating and measuring can be done with laser devices like this, and the Flex ADM60-T is so easy to understand and use that it is a no-brainer for even independent tradespeople to have one for doing quotes. It will pay for itself in time saved incredibly quickly.

Next on the list was the ALC 2/1 Basic Self-levelling Crossline Laser in its custom carrying case. The description pretty well tells you all that it does, but what it can’t convey is that the quality of this device is excellent. Although there is an interior red plastic casing to hold the laser projector and lenses, most of the exterior is covered with a rubberized material that offers excellent shock and dust protection.

The device can stand on a flattish surface or can be held on a tripod or one of the other bases that Flex supplies as accessories. If the placement surface is not flat enough to sustain a level reading, the laser will turn off and on intermittently and a warning light will show red on the top display. The display is simple to use and understand. There is a choice of interior and exterior use. The latter simply makes the laser crosslines slightly brighter so they are easier to see. There are three modes selected by an advance button – single vertical line, single horizontal line and combined vertical and horizontal lines. Ideal for brickwork, tiling, laying out kitchens and even hanging pictures. I have used similar devices for real and when I tried this Flex ALC 2/1 it is better than many and up there with the best. With a working range of 20m (probably a bit more indoors) it is another one of those time saving devices that you wonder how you managed without.

The Flex ALC 3/1 Basic Self-levelling Crossline Laser is bigger than the device above and comes in its own carrying case with the addition of a special magnetic wall holder so that it can be stuck to ferrous metal surfaces as well as being able to be used from a standard tripod mount.

It follows a similar pattern to its smaller sibling with generous rubberized shock and dirt proofing but it has the addition of a side laser beam used for plumb measurements. Switching on the switch on the side frees the floating laser projectors and it will self-level in a few seconds. Again, simply scrolling through the menus will allow the user to select the correct mode, i.e. horizontal, vertical, combined vertical and horizontal and then plumb mode with an additional vertical line that projects onto a surface at angles to the first two lines. There is again an interior and exterior mode and the range is given in the specs as 20m and 5m in plumb mode. Measurements are specced to be within 0.3mm/m, which is certainly good enough for most purposes. No doubt it costs a bit more than the Basic ALC 2/1, but if there is a chance you would use the plumb function a lot it would make sense to buy the bigger one – it too will soon repay its investment costs.

Some people might query why you might need a digital spirit level – after all many trades use ordinary spirit levels every day with no problems. But the truth is the addition of the laser bits improves the flexibility and functionality of a basic spirit level so that it becomes something a lot more. I was sent two examples of the spirit levels – namely the ADL30 and the ADL 60. They both function in a similar way with identical displays, and they both have magnets inset into the bases making them ideal for use by scaffolders and HVAC engineers. The ADL 30’s top surface is not milled so it has only one registered flat surface, whereas the ADL 60 at 60cm long has two registered surfaces, top and bottom, so can be used accurately from either. Both levels include a standard tripod mount and a vertical and horizontal spirit bubble. They can therefore both be used as ordinary spirit levels.

But the magic really begins when the central display is switched on. Immediately the bright green display shows a measurement in degrees above and below vertical or horizontal. If you want different units e.g. inches per foot or percentage, just change it using the “unit” button. A “beep” can be selected as an audio signal to indicate horizontal or vertical.

Finally, by pushing a switch on the right hand end of the levels, a pinpoint laser is projected from the end that can be used as a marker for lining up the level selected.

Like “ordinary” spirit levels they have protective rubber cap ends and the ADL 60 has two rubber-lined handles for easier handling.

No doubt these levels have a specialist clientele in mind rather than simply bricklayer duties, but the quality is not in doubt and they are very easy to use and understand. Years ago I never thought I would be so enthusiastic about things digital and laser, but I have changed my mind because the benefits of these new devices in making measuring, marking and laying out are so obvious. Never mind the cost – feel the ease of use and the accuracy.

There is further information on products from Flex, including the Flex Random Orbit Sander and The Flex Giraffe II

 

New Panasonic EY37A2 B Site Radio - Good Sounds, Sounds Good

Aimed at: Tradespeople, camping boating and outdoor types.
Pros: Super High quality sound, tough build and cordless freedom if needed.

Now transfer the above into the power tools business, where admittedly Panasonic is not one of the “giants”, but it is a very significant player with loyal users who will return again and again to buy Panasonic products. It is acknowledged worldwide as a company whose battery and charging technology is cutting edge.

In my view the 35th anniversary was merely a serendipitous bit of timing to launch a site radio. From what I hear, loyal Panasonic users had long been asking for a site radio at trade fairs and tool shows, but sometimes quality comes slowly.

Designing from scratch and launching a site radio is not an easy process. There are so many things that end users want that seem to cancel each other out. Which is the best – good sound quality from delicate speakers or tough site build quality with less pure sound?

But for Panasonic it was the expectations of their end users – to satisfy them a Panasonic site radio would not only have to have excellent sound quality, but would need to be tough, practical, and as work-site proof as could be made, with several other mod-cons built in as well.

Having now used the Panasonic Site Radio for several days –indoors as my main radio, as well as on site and in the workshop – I think that the Panasonic engineers have done a magnificent job. In my view, loyal Panasonic users will have no qualms about investing in this radio and adding to their haul of Panasonic kit.

It appears that the R and D team started with a clear sheet and also a clear understanding of what was required for a site radio.

For me, and clearly for the designers too, an absolute requirement for a site radio would be toughness and weather and dust sealing. No matter how much care is taken, tools used on site get a hard life. They take unexpected knocks, get rained on and are exposed to all manner of fine dusts and are then chucked into the back of a van at the end of the day if they are lucky.

Panasonic is very familiar with the challenges of protecting power tools via their TOUGH TOOL IP strategy, so it was not too much of a stretch to apply the same sorts of protections to the radio. As a result, the radio has IP64 levels of weather, shock and dust protection.

Like many other site radios the Panasonic is surrounded by a slightly flexible protective “cage” that allows it to be isolated from pools of water and dust, but which also protects it from falls and knocks. The radio should “officially” be proof against a drop of 1.2m onto a hard surface, but from the way I have seen it treated at demos, it will withstand more than that!

To give some idea of the trouble to which Panasonic went to ensure a long-lasting product, the speakers underwent a complete design programme of their own. Where “normal” speaker cones are made of coated bamboo or fabric, this radio has aluminium cones that will not absorb moisture and therefore will not slowly disintegrate. The cones were also mounted in rubber for shock and weather protection.

The speakers are mounted on each side of the radio front for optimum sound quality.

We have become used to good sound quality even from a tiny electronic device that fits into the top pocket, so the Panasonic has a range of adjustments for optimum bass, treble and spoken voice sounds. The simple dual-purpose knob on the right front of the radio is used for tone selection as well as volume control. I assure you that you will be very happy with the sound quality – it is clear and big-hearted.

The left side knob is also dual-purpose and used for tuning and selecting up to 6 each of FM and AM radio programmes. The Panasonic system works well and is a good deal simpler than tuning my car radio for example.

The blue digital display is big, clear and readable – even for me without glasses. It includes a clock that still reads clearly even if the radio is turned off.

Another fantastic feature in my view was the Bluetooth system for connecting phones/iPods etc so that users can stream their own music to the radio. This works at a distance of up to ten metres away from the radio, but the distance is greater if there are no obstacles between the radio and the device.

Having had mixed success with Bluetooth on some of my devices (iPad for example) I was amazed at the clarity and adjustability of the streamed sound on the radio.

Other “usefuls” include a USB phone charging port and three other auxiliary ports located two on each side of the radio.

With a keen eye on other sectors of the radio market, Panasonic has also included a bright LED light into the front of the radio. I am sure that camping and leisure sectors like boating and fishing will also take the EY37A2 B to their bosoms because it has so many of the features they would value.

The radio is powered by a the new standard Panasonic 14.4v or 18v cordless battery pack that should last up to about 24 hours of continuous play depending on volume etc. The battery is slid into a protectively covered compartment at the rear of the casing with a proper locking catch. Or it can be run on mains current via a mains cord supplied as part of the kit.

I think Panasonic can be very proud that it has made a site radio that its regular fans would be happy to invest in – it has all the Panasonic virtues of TOUGH TOOL IP, good design, superb sound quality, up-to-date features and it’s easy to use too.

Having recently celebrated 35 years of making power tools and nearly 100 years making electronic goods, Panasonic has a lot to be proud of and its a huge portfolio of tried, tested and trusted products is enviable. From TVs to cameras, domestic appliances and power tools, Panasonic is considered a leading brand, and is justly well known for the sophistication of its electronic know how. Indeed their Technics brand has recently launched one of the most advanced audio products ever.

Draper Expert Sliding Compound Mitre Saw – Big and Capable

Aimed at: An “Expert” audience who can appreciate power and capacity.

Pros: Easy accurate adjustments, good quality build, and portable too.

Mitre saws, big and small, are now a well-established part of trade and DIY toolkits. Prices are also very competitive, so it is not beyond the budget possibilities for a competent DIYer to justify – even for a single big job.What a good mitre saw offers users, is the ability to cut accurate and repeatable angles and mitres – ideal for making frames, partition walling, laying flooring, roofing timbers, building units and kitchen fitting for example. Indeed, a quality mitre saw would not be out of place in a cabinetmaker’s workshop.

Accuracy in a mitre saw is dependent on robust build, the ability to adjust and reset the settings and the right choice of blade for the job.The Draper Expert sliding compound mitre saw (stock number 28045) sent for review is a big and capable beast with a 90 degree crosscut width of 340mm up to a depth of 77mm. Of course these are reduced on mitre and bevel cuts because of the angles, but still a very healthy 40mm x 240mm cut is possible on a left hand 45-degree compound mitre cut.

The box in which the saw arrives is big and can be lifted by one person, but this is not really recommended. Unpacking is pretty straightforward because the sawhead has been set at a compound angle to minimize the packing space. Most of the extraneous bits needed (table extensions for example) are stored in the top of the protective polystyrene packaging, so once that is lifted out, the saw can be lifted out using the built-in carrying handle.

First impressions were favourable – the alloy castings look robust and well finished. The alloy mitre table is smooth and polished underneath some instructional stickers and the rear one-piece fence looks big and well supported enough to guarantee the capacities of which the saw is capable.The sliding saw head is released by undoing a lock screw and the twin sliding bars are polished and strong enough with little sideways play on the sawhead.The sawhead is released on a spring via the release catch – again substantial and up to the job. Another useful feature is the trenching stop on the left hand side of the arm that enables fixed-depth trench cuts to be made.

Adding the accessories is straightforward. The side table extensions are handed so you need to make sure that they are correctly mounted. A screw on the end of each guide rod ensures that they won’t fall out and they can be locked into place with a screwed knob. Each side table has a built in pop-up stop as well, very useful for repeat length cuts.There is also a work clamp assembly that fits into a hole behind the right or left hand side of the fence.Finally, there is a dust collection bag that slots into a dust extraction port on top of the blade guard assembly. Since it is a standard size, this port can also hold a standard vac nozzle that would improve dust collection immensely. Vac extraction is vital, in my opinion, if the saw is used indoors – to avoid a lot of sawdust on the floor. A dust mask will still be needed for the operator as the dust on these types of saw easily becomes airborne.

I generally used the saw with a vacuum dust extractor connected and the majority of dust was collected – however, some dust always escapes – it is the nature of the beast.When I checked, the factory setting on the mitre table was a fraction out. This is not unusual as it can be quite easy to knock it out of true in normal usage parameters, which is why an easy way of making adjustments is necessary.

In this case all I needed to do was to loosen up the four bolts on the fence and use an engineer’s square to reset it accurately. Both the bevel and mitre scales are marked clearly in single degrees so it is possible to set angles very accurately.

Most of the cutting I did with the Draper were cross cuts and mitre cuts of some big pieces of beech and oak, and it is fair to say that the 2000w motor had all the power needed for the job. There is quite a lot of noise associated with the brush motor – again not unusual in a saw like this.

I found that the main controls were simple and intuitive to use. The large horizontal “D” handle with the switch trigger falls to hand and so does the thumb-operated side lever that releases the blade guard in order to plunge the saw into the cut. I found that there the slide mechanism worked smoothly too, helping accuracy and user confidence.

The saw comes equipped with a laser cut guide that operated from a switch on the end of the “D” handle. It, too, is adjustable should it be knocked out of alignment.

Weighing in at around 18Kgs it is possible for one person to carry the saw onto site. By setting the saw table at an angle and locking the saw slides and saw head down, the size can be reduced sufficiently to fit easily through a standard doorway. The large comfy carry handle in the centre of gravity of the machine helps to achieve this, but an extra hand on the base helps a lot to balance the weight when carrying.

After working with the saw for a while I really came to appreciate the extension worktables/supports. They are robust, extend the work surface significantly for safe support of workpieces and the flip-up stops are very handy for repeat cuts.There is also a steel support extending out of the back of the mitre table that will prevent the saw from falling backwards when used on a trestle table for example. There are holes in each of the feet for fixing the saw securely to a work surface, but let’s face it, one of the major advantages of a saw like this is that it is easily portable, so the steel support is very useful. It also serves as a nice little carry handle when needed.

With a typical internet price of around £250 – £260 it is good value considering that it is part of Draper’s “Expert” range aimed at trade users.

Draper 710W Recip Saw - Very Useful!

Aimed at: Light trade, DIY and Garden use.

Pros: easy handling, longish cord and quick release blade system.

It seems to have taken us in the UK a long time to catch up with the potential uses of reciprocating (“recip”) saws compared with the US. Maybe, because more US-Style construction methods and materials have been adopted here, more recip saws will be found in the back of white vans. Certainly, no uPVC window fitter I know is without one, and a friend bought a cordless one recently to do pruning and cutting in the garden.

When choosing a recip saw I look for a number of things – the most important being a quick release blade system. Close behind comes a well-balanced body with the ability to use the blade facing up as well as down and a decently arranged trigger and rear handle.

The Draper 710W recip saw (stock number 28809) has all of these and after using it for a week or so I was more than happy to add it to my “wants” list.

When I tried to analyze quite why I liked this saw so much it amounted to a number of things that all came together to make a tool that is not only easy and safe to use, but is also capable of a wide range of jobs depending on the blades that are fitted.

Compared to many recip saws I have used, the Draper is light – only 3Kgs – and its handling is very much aided by a lozenge-shaped rear handle with a black overmould on the back of it, and generously-sized trigger. The trigger is speed sensitive – the harder you press it the faster the motor will go. This is important because metals generally require slower cutting speeds compared with softer materials.

Although much of the weight is in the front – where the gearbox and motor are situated the front handle is also generous and shaped for easy grip for left and right-handers. A black and grippy overmould enables even gloved hands a secure hold. By applying pressure in the cut with the front hand and guidance from the rear handle – generally accurate cuts can be made – despite the fact that recip saws are not generally used for their accuracy.

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A standard quick release blade system is used to attach and remove sawblades. A simple anti-clockwise twist of the ribbed collar releases the blade ready for a new one. This system is an industry standard, so pretty well all recip saw blades on the market will fit this saw – almost every metal, wood, plastic etc. will have a specialized blade for optimum results. If you don’t want to waste a lot of time, my suggestion is that the right blade for the right material is a necessity.

Supplied as standard is a hex key that is used to adjust the blade shoe forwards and backwards so that the full extent of the blade can be used.

With a typical internet price of around £70, the Draper 710W is competitively priced for a quality product. It will cut up to 115mm in wood and 10mm in mild steel – very much in the range for light professional users and DIYers.

Metabo Cordless Mitre Saw KGS18 LTX - Flexible + Cordless + Cutting

Aimed at: Professional and enthusiast users who need cordless versatility.

Pros: Accurate, cordless with decent crosscut and mitre capabilities.

An accurate mitre saw is essential for the work that I do – it is easily within the top ten of my tool necessities. Accordingly, I have a big and powerful corded mitre saw that I can and do take on site occasionally, but I also had a 36v cordless chopsaw that I took onsite more often, until it died….. NiCads don’t last forever!Time to think about getting another. Fortunately, to help my research, Metabo has recently launched the Metabo KGS18LTX 216 that I had the good luck to preview last year at Nuertingen, Metabo’s HQ in Germany.

Getting started with the KGS18 LTX is simple because nearly everything is attached and adjusted at the factory. Pretty well all you have to do is set the saw arm from the transit position to 90 degrees, attach the dust collection bag and insert a fully charged 5.2Ah battery pack.

I used an engineer’s square to test the accuracy of the factory settings and I found them spot on both in vertical and horizontal. A set of mitre cuts on a small picture frame proved the accuracy – which to me is an absolute necessity in a mitre saw. However, as we all know, the saw will lose its settings due to bumps and knocks and general use, so it is important that the factory settings can be restored easily. The Metabo doesn’t disappoint in this either – an onboard hex key is always available to reset the fences etc. so that accurate work can be maintained.

The specs are also generous given that the KGS has a relatively small 216mm diameter blade. At 90 degrees vertical and horizontal, a 305mm width and 65mm depth is easily achievable. At 45 degrees vertical and horizontal this is reduced to 215mm width and 36mm depth. But think about it – for most on-site general second fix work, these capacities are more than enough. I use mostly hardwood, and I found that there was more than enough oomph to cut it – so to speak. There is a technique to learn – because it is easy to stall the motor by attacking a cut too quickly. The way that worked best for me was to start the cut quite slowly and increase the feed rate as the cut advances across the workpiece, listening to the motor for any signs of overload. I regularly cut through 45mm thick beech and oak and the standard 40-tooth thin kerf sawblade supplied left a very smooth, almost planed surface.

What makes this and other Metabo mitre saws easier to use is that all the controls are marked out in bright red and all major controls can be accessed easily from the front even at arm’s length in the case of the vertical bevel adjustment. The adjustments are all positive with standard “click” stops at commonly used angles. The scales are easy to read in one-degree increments so users can set the “odd” angles that are needed – I have never come across a perfect right angle so far when I have been fitting skirtings!

The motor appears to have a direct drive to the blade and the battery pack is mounted right onto the operating handle on the right hand side of the blade housing. The battery pack mount is a standard Metabo slide that is easy to fix and release. Also on the control handle are a couple of red switches for the red laser cutter guide and the white LED worklight mounted onto the bladeguard. This lights up the workpiece very well and is very easy to clean by simply wiping away collected dust with your fingers – but do watch that your other hand is nowhere near the start switch!

The control handle is horizontal with a large trigger inside the loop and a press button on each side. Suitable for left and right-handed use, one of these side buttons must be pressed and the trigger switch squeezed before the motor will start. Each battery pack has a red button to press to ascertain the amount of charge still remaining.

There is a sawhead lock to hold it down for safe transit, as well as a lock nut on the slide mechanism so that it can be centred for equal weight distribution when being carried. Right on the centre of balance on the sliding arm is a big rubberized loop handle that enables one-handed carrying. Trenching cuts are possible by using the red-topped screw to the left of the dust extraction duct. Unusually, there is a depth of trench indicator, so that repeatedly accurate cuts can be made.

Dust extraction from mitre saws is generally quite difficult because of their design. Metabo has actually maximized dust collection by adding a flexible “shute” behind the blade. Proof of effective dust collection is that the dust bag fills quite quickly. However, there will always be some escaped dust around after use. Indoors, especially the use of a dust mask is necessary

This situation can be improved by inserting a dust extraction hose into the dust port and the amount of dust will be reduced to very little indeed. Using a vac extractor is much more feasible with a mains-powered saw since it can be directly plugged in to the auto-start. With a cordless saw the main advantage is its independence of AC power, so I guess a dust mask will remain a necessity until the launch of a really efficient cordless vac extractor.

I have used the KGS18 for several weeks now and I am thoroughly chuffed with it. It has proved to be accurate, powerful enough to cut dense hardwood and with capacities that enable me a much more flexible approach to onsite and workshop operations. In short, it is so much better than my old 36v chopsaw that the Metabo has replaced it in my affections completely. I can’t really think about any downsides of my uses of the KGS18. Some pernicketies might complain about dust collection, but I am relaxed about it. The KGS is a fine tool and I am sure that it will gain many fans.

Time to think about getting another. Fortunately, to help my research, Metabo has recently launched the Metabo KGS18LTX 216 that I had the good luck to preview last year at Nuertingen, Metabo’s HQ in Germany.

Getting started with the KGS18 LTX is simple because nearly everything is attached and adjusted at the factory. Pretty well all you have to do is set the saw arm from the transit position to 90 degrees, attach the dust collection bag and insert a fully charged 5.2Ah battery pack.

I used an engineer’s square to test the accuracy of the factory settings and I found them spot on both in vertical and horizontal. A set of mitre cuts on a small picture frame proved the accuracy – which to me is an absolute necessity in a mitre saw. However, as we all know, the saw will lose its settings due to bumps and knocks and general use, so it is important that the factory settings can be restored easily. The Metabo doesn’t disappoint in this either – an onboard hex key is always available to reset the fences etc. so that accurate work can be maintained.

The specs are also generous given that the KGS has a relatively small 216mm diameter blade. At 90 degrees vertical and horizontal, a 305mm width and 65mm depth is easily achievable. At 45 degrees vertical and horizontal this is reduced to 215mm width and 36mm depth. But think about it – for most on-site general second fix work, these capacities are more than enough. I use mostly hardwood, and I found that there was more than enough oomph to cut it – so to speak. There is a technique to learn – because it is easy to stall the motor by attacking a cut too quickly. The way that worked best for me was to start the cut quite slowly and increase the feed rate as the cut advances across the workpiece, listening to the motor for any signs of overload. I regularly cut through 45mm thick beech and oak and the standard 40-tooth thin kerf sawblade supplied left a very smooth, almost planed surface.

What makes this and other Metabo mitre saws easier to use is that all the controls are marked out in bright red and all major controls can be accessed easily from the front even at arm’s length in the case of the vertical bevel adjustment. The adjustments are all positive with standard “click” stops at commonly used angles. The scales are easy to read in one-degree increments so users can set the “odd” angles that are needed – I have never come across a perfect right angle so far when I have been fitting skirtings!

The motor appears to have a direct drive to the blade and the battery pack is mounted right onto the operating handle on the right hand side of the blade housing. The battery pack mount is a standard Metabo slide that is easy to fix and release. Also on the control handle are a couple of red switches for the red laser cutter guide and the white LED worklight mounted onto the bladeguard. This lights up the workpiece very well and is very easy to clean by simply wiping away collected dust with your fingers – but do watch that your other hand is nowhere near the start switch!

The control handle is horizontal with a large trigger inside the loop and a press button on each side. Suitable for left and right-handed use, one of these side buttons must be pressed and the trigger switch squeezed before the motor will start. Each battery pack has a red button to press to ascertain the amount of charge still remaining.

There is a sawhead lock to hold it down for safe transit, as well as a lock nut on the slide mechanism so that it can be centred for equal weight distribution when being carried. Right on the centre of balance on the sliding arm is a big rubberized loop handle that enables one-handed carrying. Trenching cuts are possible by using the red-topped screw to the left of the dust extraction duct. Unusually, there is a depth of trench indicator, so that repeatedly accurate cuts can be made.

Dust extraction from mitre saws is generally quite difficult because of their design. Metabo has actually maximized dust collection by adding a flexible “shute” behind the blade. Proof of effective dust collection is that the dust bag fills quite quickly. However, there will always be some escaped dust around after use. Indoors, especially the use of a dust mask is necessary

This situation can be improved by inserting a dust extraction hose into the dust port and the amount of dust will be reduced to very little indeed. Using a vac extractor is much more feasible with a mains-powered saw since it can be directly plugged in to the auto-start. With a cordless saw the main advantage is its independence of AC power, so I guess a dust mask will remain a necessity until the launch of a really efficient cordless vac extractor.

I have used the KGS18 for several weeks now and I am thoroughly chuffed with it. It has proved to be accurate, powerful enough to cut dense hardwood and with capacities that enable me a much more flexible approach to onsite and workshop operations. In short, it is so much better than my old 36v chopsaw that the Metabo has replaced it in my affections completely. I can’t really think about any downsides of my uses of the KGS18. Some pernicketies might complain about dust collection, but I am relaxed about it. The KGS is a fine tool and I am sure that it will gain many fans.

Delta Epoxy Sticks Equals Easy Repairs

Aimed at: Professionals and enthusiasts who have a bit of nous.

Pros: Easy to use, quick setting times and multiple materials covered.

This will date me. In my youth in South Africa we had something called Pratley Putty – a two-part epoxy that I sometimes believed had magical properties because I personally repaired several car exhausts, a rigid plastic water tank (empty) and a cigarette lighter (???)

Fast forward to 2015 and Delta Adhesives has sent me a range of one-stick repair putties that appear to do roughly the same job as the Pratley Putty. But after reading the literature that came with the sticks, it is clear that this selection is a much more advanced 21st century product that is versatile and also specialized for different applications.

Altogether, I got six sticks, in no particular order: – Aqua, Steel, Titanium, Wood, Plastic and Copper. From this it is easy to gather that choosing the right stick for the right application is important.

The epoxy sticks are contained within transparent plastic tubes with instructions and safety advice printed on them. In order to use the epoxy, simply cut or twist off the required amount and knead it into a stiff putty. The catalyst hardener runs through middle of the putty and it is the kneading that activates it ready for use.

Disposable gloves are indicated because the epoxy is an irritant and care needs to be taken not to get it into your eyes. It is best if the sticks are kept at room temperature because they will knead more easily.

Once kneaded thoroughly, (don’t take too long or you will lose working time) you have roughly a couple of minutes, dependent on ambient temperature, in order to complete your repair. I found that the two minutes was more than enough for my testing applications. In fact I found that if I let the putty set a little I could “carve’ it into shape a bit and define edges etc. on my repairs.

It is a very good idea to read the individual instructions that come with each tube of putty. For example, the Aqua-Stick Putty is capable of being used in water for repairing such items as baths, boats and water tanks. The presence of water will not affect the setting of the putty into a very hard and, for all intents and purposes, permanent repair. But the “metal” putties need a little more care in application to make them stick permanently.

The metal-based putties have a self-colour that is intended to match the metal to which it is attached – hence the copper is copper coloured, the steel is steel coloured etc. etc.

When I used the wood stick to do a bit of filling on a complicated corner piece on a table, I found that the putty was able to be forced into the repair and I left it a little proud for final shaping after the epoxy had cured.

The epoxies all cut, carve and sand easily once they are cured, so with a bit of care in use, the repairs can be made strong and in many cases, almost invisible.

I think that these epoxy sticks will find many friends both in the trade and DIY sector because of their strength and usability characteristics. My old Pratley Putty only came in white and was not nearly as easy to use and shape, nor was it as strong as the Delta Adhesives Epoxy. Thank goodness for chemical engineers and progress!Every time I go on site these days I see yet another way in which builders’

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