Wera KK SH 2 Plumbkit: all you need for sanitary/plumbing?

I AM usually very suspicious of kits of tools made up by people other than me because there always seem to be some tools that are there to make up numbers or others that are glaring omissions, writes PETER BRETT.

However, having reviewed the Wera electricians’ kit a while back, I have to be more circumspect. Several sparks that I know wouldn’t be without theirs and, combined with the 2Go cases, reach for theirs before any other tool.

So, with the KK SH 2 Plumbkit I asked the plumbers first and then used it myself for a while before I rushed to judgement.

 

Presentation

Wera packaging is so much more than merely stimulating point of sale interest. The design of all of Wera’s products is consistently excellent to reinforce the Wera message of challenging existing standards. This set is no different; a high-quality cardboard box contains the rigid textile box in which the 15 tools are contained. For extra security, a tightfitting clear plastic slip cover helps prevent opportunistic unpacking and thieving.

And of course, retailers like all of this too – both for the security and the clear desirability of the products.

 

The tools

Because sanitary and plumbing work sometimes needs a bit of electrical input, the inclusion of a small range of screwdrivers is an absolute must. The Wera Kraftform blade-holding VDE handle is accompanied by a PH1 and PH2 VDE driver blades. Phillips screws are more commonly used on electrical fittings because they are supposed to prevent overtightening. But they are also used on grub screws on taps too, so you get two functions for one.

The other two blades are a small (3.5mm) and a larger (5.5mm) slotted screwdriver used on many electrical fittings. Each of the included VDE blades features a reduced blade diameter; this allows access to sunken screws and spring elements that normally will not be accessible without stripping back the insulation.

As with all Wera’s VDE products, the user is safe from shocks up to 1000v when using these screwdrivers correctly.

A small voltage tester with easy clip on the handle is also included for the admirable ‘better safe than sorry’ safety reason that sometimes live current needs to be tested for its presence.

 

Hex L- keys

Housed next to the screwdriver blades are the four hex L-keys in 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm sizes. They are all ball-ended which means that they can still be used at an angle to the screwhead – sometimes very important in a fitting where space is limited. The ‘L’ ends have Wera’s Hex-Plus Profile which prevents rounding the corners of hex screw heads. These L-keys come with a ball-bearing on the long arm, which securely holds the screw onto the tool. This is especially helpful in confined, hard-to-reach spaces, where there is no room for a second hand to hold the fastener.

Colour coded identification of the L-keys makes finding and identifying them simple and even I can read the clear black writing and symbols etched onto the thermoplastic sleeves without my glasses.

 

One of my favourites

I have a large Wera Chiseldriver that goes to every job with me and it is invaluable, so I have no qualms in accepting the smaller 932A slotted chisel driver being included in this set. On the basis that you ‘never know when you might need one,’ it is a must. It still makes for a tough slotted screwdriver, even when it has been used to chisel up a bit of brick or mortar. It can be safely hit with a hammer because of the solid Pound Thru blade and integrated impact cap, so it is definitely up to the job – and probably more than should be demanded of it.

 

Interesting… and different

In the course of doing this review, I showed the kit to a few plumbers and general handymen. Without exception, they commented on the Wera Kraftform nutspinners. There are two in the set – to fit 10mm and 13mm nuts. But the big difference is that the shafts of these are hollow, allowing the extra-long bolts used on modern mixer taps to slip into the shaft so that the nuts can be tightened right up to the bottom of the worktop. A lot easier than using a ‘standard’ pipe spanner. Because there are only two, they are easily identifiable by size, but the white etched print on the base of the handle still provides extra identification if needed.

Not jok(er)ing… not an option

Wera’s Joker range of wrenches is famous for being innovative, time-saving and premium in quality. The two included in this kit (again 10mm and 13mm in size) have been carefully chosen to help out in a number of plumbing scenarios. Each has two different ends – an open end and a closed end with a 15 degree offset and a finely-toothed ratchet.

The open end has the very useful metal plate in the jaw, that securely holds nuts and bolts in place, eliminating the risk of dropping them. This allows the user to position the nut or bolt where needed, without the necessity of holding it in place with the other hand.

The closed end has a finely-toothed ratchet mechanism, so that even in small confined space (like underneath a kitchen sink) the nut or bolt can be tightened. The ratchet setting handle is so neat and unobtrusive that it won’t get in the way but is easily reachable with thumb or forefinger when needed. I just love these Joker wrenches – and the chrome-molybdenum construction is extremely resilient so don't worry about applying a lot of torque to them.

 

Why I like this kit

It is clear after a short examination of it that this kit has been put together with care. As part of the Wera system, it benefits from high quality and thoughtful design and manufacture, as well as superb functionality; it does what is asked of it and will often deliver more in skilful hands. The ‘Take it Easy’ tool finder system and clear size markings make the tools easy to identify, and it is easy to add the kit to the Wera 2go transportation system. By using the piece of adhesive backed hook and loop strip provided in the box, you can mount the kit on the van, workshop or toolbox for easy access.


www-de.wera.de/en/

Draper's sleek Storm Force tools make able cordless companions

DRAPER’S blue and black Storm Force range of cordless tools is now well established on the market and provides end users with a comprehensive choice of 10.8v and 20v cordless tools at very competitive prices, writes PETER BRETT.

My experience of these tools is that they are competent and well made with most, if not all, of the bells and whistles required by end users these days.

A couple of months ago I reviewed the 20v combi, SDS and hammer drills and now it is the turn of the 20v angle grinder and reciprocating saw to go under the magnifying glass.

The angles on the grinder

For me, an angle grinder is one of those indispensable tools that I use infrequently but when you need one, no other tool will do.

The top three features that I look for in an angle grinder are balanced handling, a safe and easy to operate switch and a cutter guard that is easy to adjust, preferably without tools. In my view, this Draper Storm Force delivers on these so we are off to a good start.

Balance, in a cordless tool, is a lot about where the battery pack is placed and the Storm Force follows a lot of other designs by having the gearbox head and the battery pack at each end of the body to counterbalance each other.

Combined with the three-position auxiliary handle, most users will be able to find a position where the cutting disc can be safely applied to the work and held securely for maximum efficiency.

This is helped by the fact that the body of the grinder tapers gently down from the switch to the battery pack and so can be easily gripped by even small hands like mine.

It is also helped by generous and grippy rubber moulding strategically placed at the top and bottom of the body.

The slider switch is easy to operate with your thumb by left or right handed users but, as we all know, the real test will come after many hours of work when the combination of brick dust and metal filings created by the cutting discs start to clog the switch sliders.

Ideally, we should all take better care of our tools but experience tells us that isn’t always possible. The good news is that the Draper’s switch stayed easy to lock off and on during my trials of it.

Getting the right angle on the cutter guard is very important to protect the user from the spray of sparks or dust coming from the cutting disc when in use.

Sometimes the guard has to be adjusted several times in the same cut depending on the circumstances so it is important that it is easy to adjust.

The Draper uses a clip system that is simply sprung open to move the angle of the guard and then sprung closed again to secure it.

The clip has a small adjustment screw on it to take into account wear and use, and the collar on which the clip is mounted is wide enough to achieve easy movement.

The collar also has a groove cut into it to secure the spring clip when it is loose, so it will not simply fall off during readjustment.

Details like these are tiny, but are actually very important for making a tool hassle free to use.

A black-coated alloy gearbox head incorporates the spindle lock. It engages positively and then the removal or replacement of the cutting disc with the two-pronged pin spanner supplied is easy.

Just a quick mention of the auxiliary handle: it too has generous grippy rubber and a substantial collar around the end to prevent fingers being exposed to the cutting disc.

In use, the things I really liked about this angle grinder proved to be the easy handling and adjustments made possible by the slim body and balance of the tool.

Using the cutting discs supplied for the test I was able to cut stainless steel rods, mild steel sheet 6mm thick and some hard face bricks.

I chose to use the grinder with the bigger 4Ah battery packs which lasted well, but it is possible to use the smaller (and lighter) 2Ah packs that are an option in this ‘bare’ tool.

Recipe for recip?

One of the things I like about the angle grinder above is the slim and easy to grip body, so I was pleased to note that the theme continued on the Storm Force 20v reciprocating saw.

It is actually very light and compact, and while it might be said that it lacks the bulk of some of the competition, I think that its compact size could be an advantage – particularly getting into smaller spaces where size and weight can make for di‑ culties both in access and in deft handling.

That is not to say that this recip saw lacks features. Fitting the blade is done in an instant by simply twisting the knurled knob on the recip arm and inserting it.

Blades can be used with teeth facing up or down for greater versatility.

The shoe is moved by unlocking the grey lever which allows users to regulate how much of the blade can be used in the cut and also solves the problem of getting the most use out of the teeth.

On the left of the body is another small grey lever that selects either simple straight cuts or an orbital cutting action that is much faster when cutting softer materials like timber and MDF.

Safety-wise, the on/off trigger is locked as the default position – the user has to use their thumb or forefinger to push the sliding switch to one side for the trigger to be depressed to the start position. An excellent feature in my view.

Handling is good courtesy of the black rubber overmould on the D-handle and on the slim body profile.

Balance is good because the battery pack serves as a counterweight to the motor and gearbox. Recip saws can be very power hungry when used hard but the battery packs (either 2 or 4Ah) have a red/amber/green system for telling users the state of charge.

With all recip-type saws the choice of blades is key to getting a good cutting performance. The wrong blade will result in over-fast or slow cutting and a very quick drain on the battery. I was sent a choice of GP wood and metal cutting blades that performed well.

I really liked the fact that this saw is light – only 1.7kg without a battery pack – and yet has the capacity to cut wood up to 115mm thick or alloys up to 10mm thick.

This is enough capacity for most general jobs at home or on a small renovation site. Although it is usual these days to have plastic cases for all tools, I liked the big nylon wide-mouthed carry bag that Draper sent with the tools.

This was easily big enough to hold the grinder and the saw, several battery packs and the charger. With its hard base, it protected the tools from knocks and water and was easy to carry.

It also carried a lot of spare blades, cutting discs and all of the other extraneous stuff that gathers.


www.drapertools.com

Wiha: talking the Torque

FOUNDED almost 80 years ago in 1939 by Willi Hahn, grandfather of the current Wiha Managing Director, Wilhelm Hahn, Wiha remains an owner-operated family company with an international presence and reputation, writes PETER BRETT.

The company aims to make daily life much easier for users with a product assortment of innovative hand tool solutions geared towards user needs, which increase efficiency, reduce costs and preserve health.

Quite a mission statement and one that covers a lot of ground.

The design teams at Wiha are constantly developing, designing and making products that meet the highest functionality, durability and ergonomic demands. They provide a comprehensive range of tool concepts and sets, screwdrivers, torque tools, multitools, L-keys, bits, pliers, soft-faced hammers and much more.

The VDE (The Association of German Electrical Engineers) sector is a speciality for Wiha and it has tested, developed and brought to market many innovative solutions based on actual needs of the industries they serve.

Design teams at Wiha are constantly developing, designing and making products that meet the highest functionality.

Wiha is a multi-award winning company for both products and innovation.

Recently, Wiha received the Focus Open Design Award 'Special Mention' 2018 and the German Design Award 'Gold' 2019 for its product innovation speedE, the world’s first e-screwdriver from Wiha.

In 2016 it was recognised as belonging to the top 100 most innovative medium-sized companies in Germany, and other prestigious awards they have won include the Manufacturing Excellence Award in 2014 as the best German SME.

Why Torque?

I can’t give a better explanation of why we need specialist torque products than Volker Lehmann, Product Manager and Torque specialist at Wiha, who said: "New application fields, technologies and materials, coupled with ever advancing miniaturisation, are leading to a growing necessity for applying the right torque for fastening. Here, in order to prevent quality problems, process safety is at the forefront.

"However, it’s not just today’s shift system that results in people with different training or experience failing to meet the required safety level with exact power transmission due to not using the correct hand tool. It’s all about using the right tool to prevent the high costs involved with reworking or product recalls, and thus avoiding the loss of our own quality image."

In addition, Lehmann states that “correct torque usage prevents damage to materials, eliminates the need for retouching and protects against warranty claims.

In today's industry, using torque tools is one of the decisive factors in terms of increasing process reliability. This makes fully certified Wiha torque tools essential for mechanics, electricians and electronics technicians in different segments as they combine precision with security.”

Torqueing Tools – some of Wiha’s finest

The TorqueVario®-S range of screwdrivers is very sophisticated and intended for industrial and professional users.

The handles contain mechanisms to adjust the torque settings and cover a range of common torque brackets depending on the size of the screwdrivers. For example, the 0.5 – 2.0 Nm TorqueVario S screwdriver is a bit smaller than the top of the range 2.0 – 7.0 Nm version.

The handles are graded to suit the sizes and applications of the tools and are set using the torque setting tool supplied. All the screwdrivers feature the patented SoftFinish handle design that is recognised as being easy to use and causes reduced strain on hand and back muscles.

The VDE versions of these tools give the user protection up to 1000v while also encompassing the SoftFinish handle design.

Taking the next step up the ease of use ladder, the mechatronic iTorque screwdrivers can be set without tools.

The settings are guaranteed to be accurate and are easy to set via the integrated setting wheel on the end of the handle. A digital display confirms the chosen setting.

For users like electricians and electronics fitters who might find it uneconomical to invest in a range of torque tools, Wiha provides a simple and cost-effective solution in the form of the easyTorque adaptors.

They will fit all the variants of the slimVario family of Wiha screwdriver sets – both VDE and conventional.

The user simply chooses the adaptor from a range of preset torque adaptors and inserts it between the bit and the handle. In this way, the user can get accurate torque settings on sensitive fixings without breaking the bank – or the screwdriver!

Checking the Settings

Having been educated into some of the intricacies of torque tools recently, I know that torque tools have a life span during which they have to be regularly checked for accuracy and, if necessary, be recalibrated. Guarantees and warranties may depend on torque tools being accurately set, so it makes sense to have a system or even a tool that does informal and more regular checking of accurate torque settings.

It could be very costly and time consuming to find out that a production tool is outside the torque parameters and then having to recall or recheck products.

The Wiha solution is to use the Torque QuickCheck that enables all Wiha screwdrivers to be checked for accuracy very regularly – before each use if needed.

The checks are very easy to carry out – simply insert the screwdriver into the TorqueCheck and they will be checked at 2.8 Nm as a standard. If the TorqueCheck and the handle settings match up, then a green light will indicate that it is accurate.

But a red or amber light would indicate an inaccuracy that would need further investigation and recalibration.

The virtue of the QuickCheck system is that it is light, compact, accurate and can be slipped into a toolbox so that regular checking is not a chore.

While it is not a substitute for recalibration, its use as a diagnostic tool that avoids expensive rechecks on jobs already completed is a cost-effective solution.

I acknowledge that this is a swift and broad-brush overview of the range of Wiha torque tools.

But I hope that it helps readers to understand a few of the trends in torque tools available and the levels of sophistication that we have already reached in using torque applications.

Like Brexit, torque applications aren’t going to go away, and end users will have to get to grips with the increasingly sophisticated systems in which torque tools are used.

Checks are very easy to carry out – simply insert the screwdriver into the TorqueCheck and they will be checked at 2.8 Nm as a standard.

Even your average ‘sparky’ and plumber these days need to know torque settings for RCDs and boiler fittings. The Wiha range might be a good place to start looking at the tools needed.


www.wiha.com

Workwear: JCB branded from Progressive Safety Footwear

DESPITE the sunshine here in the south of England, the weather has turned very cold. So, it really is time to dig out the winter work gear, write PETER BRETT.

The prospect of muddy jobsites and cold feet and hands is not one I relish. From November to March I usually prefer the comfort and convenience of working indoors, but we cannot always choose where we work.

Boots made for walking

So it was handy to have a nice parcel of JCB branded winter clothing from Progressive Safety Footwear. In the parcel were two pairs of boots for different work sectors.

First up, JCB 5CX boots

The first pair are butch and tough-looking, entitled the 5CX, which provide the following specifications:

• The uppers are made of tough black leather, a feature I like because my feet prefer the comfort that leather promotes.

• The seams are double or quadruple stitched and the protective toecap is covered with a TPU ‘scuff cap’ to remind users these are indeed tough work boots.

• The boots are S1-rated, which is a level above Safety Basic; so safety protection includes anti-static safety, sole-piercing protection, and protection from flames and heat, outside grip, and resistance to some chemicals.

• The sole has a strong ‘blocked’ grip pattern that will help to grip in muddy and wet conditions outdoors – but the downside for indoors, is that they can drop off lumps of mud on interior floor coverings.

The 5cx’s message is clear: they are intended for tough outdoor use, but there’s a particular twist with these boots – although they lace up all the way past ankle level, on the inside ankles, there is a strong YKK zip that can be slid down. This means the boots simply slip straight off.

A leather hook and loop strap helps prevent the zip from sliding down by itself, and the choices offered by the various lacing loops means users can personalise the fit around the ankle for a combination of support and ease of taking on/off.

The boots stay dry, cool and warm through a padded and part-lined material.

My experience of wearing these boots for a few days was they were almost instantly comfortable, and with a chance to adjust the laces and zip over a couple of days, I was soon able to get them to feel like a very tough and protective second skin.

I found they came up a bit smaller than other pairs of JCB boots, so it will pay to try them on if you can, while remembering to take into account a pair of cosy JCB winter work socks.

Secondly, a pair of HYDRADIG/B boots for lighter duty

Next up was a pair of HYDRADIG/B black mesh mid cut boots. With a lightweight sole and mesh fabric construction they are aimed at trades whose work is largely indoors.

The sole reflects this too – it has a lightly-hatched pattern to provide good grip on ‘smooth-ish’ surfaces, which will help remove mud and dirt easily by simply wiping your feet on a doormat.

• These mid-cut boots have a full mesh lining designed for comfort;

• Much like the 5CX, the HYDRADIG/B provide S1-rated levels of protection for toes and sole penetration as well as anti-static insulation and grip, but unlike the leather boots above, they do not resist heat or fire.

Having worn a pair of JCB safety trainers this summer I found that moving up to the mid-cut pattern was seamless. They feel similarly comfortable and the lacing is easy to customise for a compromise between a secure fit and getting them off easily.

Again, on a cold winter’s day it is easy to slip on a pair of slightly thicker JCB work socks to ensure cosy feet.

Some more treats

A warm and rugged sweatshirt is good to have on a cold jobsite. To be part of a more exclusive crowd, the Limited Edition J C Bamford 1945 logo sweatshirt is distinctive – and practical.

Made from polyester and cotton, it is ‘roomy’ and fits comfortably – which is complemented through a thumb loop on the end of the sleeves, which keeps them from riding up and exposing arms to the cold.

The lightly fleecy inner certainly helped to keep me warm and the crew neck kept draughts to a minimum. Of course, it is the first item of clothing to get paint or plaster splattered, but it washes and dries quite easily because of its polyester content.

Underneath the sweatshirt, a subtly branded JCB polo shirt is a great choice.

Made of 100% polyester it is breathable, antibacterial, pill-resistant, colour fast and anti-stretch. In summer, it will also protect its wearer from UV light.

The sleeves and underarms of the shirt are made with a breathable mesh fabric (as seen on football strips) and these help to keep the wearer fragrant.

I have already mentioned the warm JCB socks – I have a couple of pairs now – but the additional pair will help solve the one pair on, one pair washed and last pair in the laundry basket dilemma.

Not-so baggy trousers

Finally, the JCB Trade Plus Rip Stop Work Trousers (in grey and black), are styled in a classic and comfortable way.

I find these trousers suit me very well for most jobs because they are not only tough and practical but comfortable too.

With seven substantial belt loops (an extra wide one at the back to avoid builder’s bottom) they stay up. I like the holster pockets on the front of each thigh, but of course they are very easy to overload with tape measure, knife, pencils etc etc. Not the trousers’ fault though!

With nine other pockets for everything from a screwdriver to the ever-present mobile phone, these trousers are a useful standard layout that has many applications in a variety of trades.

I almost always manage to test the rip-stop qualities of the material via a nail or bit of scaffolding – but it is what it says – Rip Stop.

In my experience, the JCB clothing above has scored well for practicality, comfort and washing. There is an advantage to a coordinated work wardrobe – it adds to comfort and even safety, and the JCB ranges come without a premium price tag.


www.jcbworkwear.com

‘Big, powerful and a three-year guarantee’: Triton TRA001 Router

THE distinctive shape, colour and operation of Triton routers has always made them look and feel different from the competition, write PETER BRETT.

There are many thousands of happy Triton router users who would be very happy to note the TRA001 heavy duty, 2400 W Dual Mode Router carries on the old Triton traditions.

Unpacking it from the carefully designed box, anyone vaguely familiar with routers would realize it is indeed a beast designed to do heavy-duty cutting. A tool that would easily find its way into a professional tool kit not only for its sheer grunt, but also because of its 68mm plunge depth and maximum cutter radius of 55mm.

The TRA001 is packed with features for accuracy and clean cutting. Some new versions are different from the conventional design of bygone routers.

However, once you do get used to them the Triton system looks and feels perfectly logical. In my opinion, the ‘designed-in’ safety features put it steps ahead of the competition. There is something inherently dangerous about a sharp cutter whirling around at 21,000rpm and the Triton keeps exposure to an absolute minimum as well as making ‘accidental starting’ almost impossible.

Safety is key

These systems make perfect sense when you examine some of the other features of the router. One of the main ways the Triton designers keep our fingers away from whirling cutters is to put strong, transparent plastic guards around the baseplate. There is a standard vacuum outlet included so dust and chippings can be safely removed, thereby protecting eyes and lungs.

However, this means changing cutters has to be done with the router collet moved all the way down to be in line with the baseplate where the supplied spanner can be fitted to the flats of the collet for cutter removal. The geared system plunge is best used for this as it works very positively and engages the automatic spindle lock for one-handed cutter changes.

Triton is designed to be stood on its head so it is easy to achieve safe and highly visible cutter changes. This arrangement is even more logical when the router is used in ‘router table’ mode, where cutter changes take place with the cutter above the level of the table for maximum ease.

Another major safety feature is the on/ off switch design. This has a sliding door on it that has to be pushed in and the router switched to the ‘on’ position for the motor to operate. Once the rocker switch is turned ‘off’ the sliding door snaps shut preventing the switch from being operated. You have to deliberately choose the ‘on’ option so there’s no chance of accidentally activating the motor with a careless movement.

When changing cutters, the switch has to be in ‘off ’position and the sliding door closed, for the spindle lock to engage.

Basically, it means no cutter changing without accidental starting being triggered. No other router I use can make that claim.

Turrets, depths and adjustments

One of the easiest adjustments to spot is the milled wheel on top of the motor housing that controls the motor speed.

It has five positions, but the speed increase is from 8,000 to 21,000rpm.

Bigger cutters need to go slower because of their higher peripheral speed, while smaller cutters can go faster. Just watch out for burning if the feed rate is too slow or the cutter is blunt.

There is a small rotatable three-stop turret on the base of the router. By using the spring-loaded depth stop (with locking screw) depths of cut are easy to set.

However, for users who wish to use this router with the optional router table – a great accessory in my view as it increases the versatility and accuracy of the tool many times over – then there is the option to use the winder handle. This is used to wind the cutter to the selected depth.

Although, it is important to follow the instructions when fitting the router to the router table, it is not difficult to do. Also, attaching the router to the table improves safety and increases speed. The rack and pinion cutter depth-set system makes it easy to change cutters without removing the router from the table. As a result, there is no need for the more common practice of dealing with a sharp cutter and a spanner underneath the table.

This way that way, another way

As well as being able to choose to use the TRA001 on the router table, users can also have the choice of collets as both a 12mm and a ½ inch collet are supplied. It is fairly easy to spot the difference because the ½ inch collet is bigger than the 12mm one.

In the UK, most router cutter stockists offer ½ inch cutter shanks as standard, and it is definitely not a good idea to fit a 12mm shank cutter to a ½ inch collet or vice versa.

Other features include a solid pressed steel baseplate and fence assembly for accurate edging cuts and circle routing.

Since the base plate is in one piece and the securing nuts and bolts are all captive it does save that awful moment when you realise you have lost the screws, as sometimes happens to me with other routers.

The motor has a soft start and has a constant under-load speed and is remarkably restrained in terms of noise and vibration, even with a big cutter on board.

Above all, my overriding impression is still of a big and powerful router with all the capability one needs for demanding jobs.


www.tritontools.com

Snickers Stretch workwear mirrors high street fashion

WHEN I changed from a comfortable pair of well worn-in jeans and donned the new Snickers Workwear AllroundWork Stretch Trousers with holster pockets, they immediately felt like they had always been part of me, write PETER BRETT.

Despite appearing to be a tighter fit on legs and waist, which Snickers call a street-smart style, they had space enough to accommodate easy bending and stretching without constricting anything.

There’s lots to like and they will be my first on-site choice of wear for the foreseeable. They will be perfect for those pesky bend and stretch jobs, where the stretch really does make a difference in comfort levels.

Design is the answer

Comfort and durability are designed into Snickers trousers and it does mean the products are considered premium.

However, Snickers wearers I’ve spoken to justify the expense with the fact the trousers last a long time, wash very well, and do a good job of being practical work trousers.

It is also increasingly true high street trends are affecting the work wear ranges of many manufacturers.

It seems tradespeople want to keep up with fashion too, but I doubt whether the average pair of fashionable trousers from a high-street chain would be made using 64 pattern pieces, 592 metres of thread and come in 70 sizes.

Clearly there is more to the design of these trousers than meet the eye. Using a combination of two-way and four-way stretch fabrics is only one way the designers have ensured the comfort and durability of these trousers.

Other practicalities include the knee areas and seat being made of elasticated Cordura, which adds to the comfort. The hardwearing Cordura fabric is indeed tough and washes well.

Proof of the pudding

Initially, I wore the trousers around the house while doing my usual weekend jobs that require bending and stretching, and the feeling was confirmed they just feel comfortable, and there was a lot less pulling up at the waistband after bending down. They simply stayed in place better.

When I ventured to the workshop, I started using the array of pockets to collect my usual array of tape measure, screw bits, pencils and markers.

The two side and back pockets are large and secure for a wallet and car keys, but I am a convert to holster pockets on the front of my work trousers.

Each holster pocket from the Snickers workwear have three pouches so it is easy to separate a small screwdriver to a pencil for easy finding. On the left thigh there is a capacious pocket, which is useful for larger items.

On both side-thighs there are long pockets that will hold bigger screwdrivers. On site, these pockets along with the comfy stretch made for a really comfortable pair of trousers that felt almost like a second, extremely protective skin.

Kneeling pains?
Thing of the past!

Snickers Workwear is one of the few manufacturers that can boast the knee pockets and knee pads on its trousers match the position of the wearer’s knees when they kneel. This is such a valuable feature for me that it’s a deal breaker when buying new trousers. Add to it that wearers have the choice of four kneepad styles and a Knee-Guard System that allows the user to position the kneepads in their pockets at the correct level.

On reflection and lots of wearing, all I can say is if these Snickers Workwear AllroundWork trousers are fashionable then I am happy to be part of the ‘fashionista’ trend. Now that’s something I never thought I would say!


www.snickersworkwear.co.uk

Innovation from Spectre Screws

WHEN it comes to woodscrews – or even fastenings in general – we have a bewildering choice nowadays.

The cordless drill driver and modern woodscrews have made what was a chore into a simple job with, usually, much better results than we could have expected 20 years ago, writes PETER BRETT.

Who drills pilot holes these days? Or who greases screws before twisting them in with a big screwdriver like we used to?

The Spectre USPs

The new Spectre screws are labelled as Advanced Multi-Purpose Woodscrews, so are aimed at jobbing builders, joiners, carpenters and others. They need a good product at a good price, when a premium screw is not required.

FORGEFIX carefully chose the features most needed for general users and, based on my experience of using woodscrews in a variety of applications, the design is pretty well spot on.

Starting with the quick-start type 17 slash point, it is very sharp so getting a good start is almost as easy as just pushing it into the wood where you need the screw to be.

In addition to the cut out to clear the starting hole quickly, the first few mm of the thread has a small sawtooth that literally cuts its way through the wood and helps prevent splitting.

I tried the screws close to the edges of both hard and softwood, and it is not an idle claim.

Brian Trevaskiss, Marketing Manager at FORGEFIX, said: "Users don’t have to open the box, they just need to offer up their sample screw to the scale to compare.

" This is simple stuff – but no-one else has thought of this before. I am sure retailers will love it.

"There is also the option to purchase larger quantity boxes of the most popular sizes that represent a 10% saving on the equivalent normal size boxes.

"As for the screws – yes, they work well. They are anti-corrosion coated, and come in 48 sizes with, as mentioned above, options for bulk trade boxes.

"Dealers who decide to stock bigger numbers qualify for a free one-metre display stand."

Point of sale display

FORGEFIX is to be commended for coming up with a few excellent ideas to help end users (and even shop counter staff) to choose the right size screws.

This will also help with the annoying problem of finding clumsily opened boxes half full of screws on a display - usually the result of a customer trying to find exactly the length and gauge of the screw they want.

The new bright yellow and black boxes have the size and gauge of the screws written in big letters (even without my glasses I can read them) on one side of the box.

On the other side is an actual size representation of the head, so the user will know what size and type of driver to use. Below it is a centimetre scale with the screw imposed on it.


www.forgefix.co.uk

Wera and the era of the ‘torqueys’

A FLICK through the latest Wera product catalogue will confirm the company is no stranger to the ‘torqueys’ – tools that control the level of torque for tightening various bolts and screws, writes PETER BRETT.

As machines and components have become more advanced, the need to control the levels of torque of various fixings has become very important.

'As tight as you can get it' is not an acceptable procedure when working on a carbon-fibre structure, or on an electronic device that needs a correct torque to maintain electrical contacts.

The Wera torque tool range provides ultra-precise micro screwdrivers to standard and VDE formats, right the way to a monster torque wrench capable of delivering torque tightening from 200Nm to 1000Nm.

Clearly the latter have more sophisticated ‘innards’ to ensure accurate and consistent torque delivery for a wider range of tasks.

Eisenwarenmesse 2018 (Cologne Tool Fair) was the setting for the launch of Wera’s Click-Torque range of wrenches – and an array it was too.

To ensure all bases were covered the range stretches from the A5 & A6 ¼” drive 2.5 – 25Nm right through to the E, which is a ¾” drive.

C1 – C5 Range

The C1 reversible ratchet wrench comes with a 10 to 50Nm capability up to the C5 with an 80-400Nm available. Add in the Click Torque E and the Click Torque X series for use with insert tools and it is clear Wera takes torque tools extremely seriously.

Click Torque C3

I was sent a Click Torque C3 to review, which is in the middle of the C range (1/2”) of wrenches and is a typical example of the ergonomics and operation of the Wera torque wrenches – so readers can generalise a bit about how the rest work.

The Click Torque C3 announces its capability with green lettering by the ratchet head reading 40-200Nm, meaning it would be a good choice for mechanics, AA Patrol Staff and such like.

This precision tool is just over 51cm long and arrived packaged in a snug square plastic box, which is great for storage and would suit any retail display.

Also in the case was the all-important calibration certificate and Certificate of Conformity, which should be kept safe.

Torque wrenches need regular calibration after a fixed number of work cycles to ensure continuing accuracy. I was pleased to note my sample, according to the certificate, was well within the 3% tolerance allowed by the standards testing authorities.

Some features

As we would expect from a Wera tool, the ratchet head is made from finely finished alloy with a ½ inch square drive. This drive has a ball-bearing socket retainer and a socket release button.

I hate wrestling with sockets that rely on friction and a tight fit to keep them in place.

Inevitably I end up struggling to change sockets, particularly in cold weather, so I welcomed these features.

The 45-tooth ratchet is reversible, so the wrench can be used to loosen bolts. The 45-tooth ratchet also means the tool has a relatively small ‘throw’, making it easier to use in cramped spaces.

A solid oval tube painted in Wera Black conceals the inner workings of the ‘click’ part of the Click Torque mechanism – of which more below.

Then comes the user interface: the setting scales. These are marked in Nm on the right side of the line and in lbs/feet on the left. The scales are in black lettering on a white background so are clear to see.

Although the lbs/feet scale is a bit smaller and I needed my glasses. The Nm scales are marked in 10Nm graduations and each in-between increment is clearly visible in a separate window.

To adjust the torque settings you have to head past the large Wera Kraftform handle to the button on the far end of the wrench.

The button has to be pulled out and this enables the handle to be turned. The design of the handle is excellent because the grippy patches not only help when applying torque, they also make it easy to twist it to set the scales.

The window below the scales provide individually click-stopped numbers from 0 to 9.

A full turn of the handle moves the scales exactly 10Nm and the 0 marks the exact spot for a 1Nm measurement.

An audible and tactile ‘click’ allows each incremental change to be clear to the user.

It is easy to work out if you wanted to set 45Nm, you set the scale to 40Nm and then turn the handle five clockwise click-stops.

In my opinion, the click-stop system is very accurate, and is easily repeatable should you need to change settings often. To lock the wrench settings so they will not move in use, the button on the end of the handle is simply pushed down.

Click – Torque is a brilliant feature of this series of wrenches.

On many older-styled torque wrenches, the torque’s indication target was reached when the head would give an audible click as the mechanism slipped.

However, if the user continued applying torque the likely result was a higher torque to that set on the wrench.

With the Click – Torque there is not only the audible signal to notify the user the target torque has been reached, but there is also a cam mechanism inside the handle to give a tactile click, which can be felt in the hand as it escapes the spring. This double signal means the user can immediately realise target torque is reached and can release pressure on the handle.

Not all torque settings are in traditional ‘righty-tighty’ screw threads, and Wera has therefore ensured the C-Series provides controlled tightening to the left and right.

So, will the C-Series catch on?

One of my usually infallible tests for finding out whether a tool will be a success or not is to lend it to the appropriate trade and then wait to see how long till you get it back.

In this case, deadlines being quite tight, I had to prise this wrench away long before the young motor technician to whom I lent it wanted to part with it.

He most liked the easy setting and overall quality of it, especially since he was having to reset torque readings several times a day. To my mind a slick summary of this wrench’s best points.


www-de.wera.de/en

HiKOKI high performance power tools: a new name - still fantastic products

IT MIGHT seem an unusual way to start a review, but - the three HiKOKI tools I reviewed this month - I can't recommend them enough, writes PETER BRETT.

I was fitting a kitchen for a client when I was offered the choice of some tools to review. I chose the new HiKOKI C3606DA brushless circular saw, the DV36DAX combi drill and the WH36DB impact driver, because they were basic tools most fitting trades would use.

They were all given a thorough workout for several weeks and they did not disappoint on any of the tasks they were given.

A general workhorse – the 36V Combi Drill

I would say no toolbox should be without a cordless drill or combi of some description, because there is always a need to drill holes or drive screws - or maybe even something slightly different like using a sanding drum in the chuck to sand edges.

Looking at this combi it follows a similar pattern to every other cordless driver. But picking it up and feeling the weight and power of it proves this tool is in the big leagues when it comes to power and performance.

With the 36V battery pack mounted, it tips the scales at 2.7Kg. With a max torque of 138Nm available, the extra-long auxiliary handle is necessary when using that extra big holesaw.

To help the handling, the combi has excellent ergonomics via a handle that balances the weight of the motor on the top and the battery pack on the bottom.

There is enough grippy rubber for a comfortable and strong handgrip, and the strategically-placed ‘bumpers’ on the casing protect from the inevitable knocks and falls that will occur on site.

The powerful brushless motor has two ranges of speeds via the sliding switch on top of the casing (low: 0 to 500 rpm, high: 0 to 2,100 rpm), and the trigger is not only well placed for ease of use, but is also quite sensitive to the feel of the drill when it performs.

My workmate noted that he could feel when he was getting near to the end of drilling a 50mm hole in an oak worktop and was able to 'ease up' on the speed to avoid breakout.

Drilling specs are impressive too. In brick, this combi will drill up to a 20mm diameter, in mild steel up to 16mm, and up to 102mm in softwood.

It is also capable of driving 12 gauge woodscrews 10cm long.

I did try some of these extremes and these specs are genuine, but more to the point, whatever drilling job we used this combi for – 50mm holes in oak worktops, holes for drainage pipes or driving 75mm long fixing screws – we were left with the feeling this machine has such capacity that it became our favourite ‘go to’ tool.

This is a genuine, hardworking, powerful, well-designed combi drill that would suit the heavy demands that trades would make on it.

Making an impact

By contrast the WH36DB impact driver is designed to be as compact as possible, but it certainly surprised me with its capability and power. It weighs in at 1.6Kg and stands 24cm high with battery pack. It is only 13cm long from the chuck to cooling slots - no doubt made possible by the brushless motor.

Again, it handles well courtesy of the ergonomic handle and grippy rubber overmouldings.

Selecting a soft, normal or power mode via the switch at the base of the handle can control the impressive tightening torque of 210Nm.

For many jobs where impact drivers are routinely used, normal or soft modes are really what you need to avoid simply breaking the heads off screws in power mode.

The most difficult job I used this driver for was drilling holes in masonry for concrete screws when hanging cabinets and fixing battens to walls. It performed extremely well, and I really appreciated the short length, easy handling and LED light when working under and inside cabinets.

Like the combi drill, it comes with a reversible belt hook and wrist strap and the new HiKOKI battery level checker is now on the battery pack itself rather than on the machine. Much better!

Circular saw – more than cutting edge

Most of the time I work with wood and boards. So, I use a lot of circular saws and I have found the more powerful and accurate they are - the better I like them.

The 36V battery pack on the C3606DA easily manages the claimed spec of 66mm cutting depth. With the aid of a straight edge as a guide, I made accurate cuts in 50mm thick oak worktops that left a whistle clean finish on the endgrain.

It was also good at long grain cuts that needed a bit more care to avoid burning, but it performed better than my cordless plunge saw on this test. So I am starting to wonder when HiKOKI is launching a plunge saw and rail combination.

The saw has a couple of clever modes – Power and Silent. In Power mode, you get full speed from the first press of the trigger, but in Silent mode the blade spins more quietly and more slowly until you apply load by starting a cut.

Then the electronics takes over to provide full power. The very efficient motor brake stops the blade in a fraction of a second – a safety feature I like very much.

Like other previous Hitachi circular saws I have tested, the new HiKOK retains a solid and rigid alloy base with tool-less adjustments for bevel cuts and depth of cut.

There is a simple lever operated spindle lock for blade changes, and the hex key for it is safely hidden away next to the motor until needed. My failing eyesight does not see the provision of a bright LED light focused on the cut line as a gimmick. If you do not need it, you can turn it off. A simple fence is provided for basic guided cuts.

My overriding impression of this little saw (only 165mm blade diameter) is that it has 'oodles of power' and is robust enough to take the knocks of a working life.

HiKOKI – the future

In my view the choice of these three basic tools from the new HiKOKI branded 36V range is a powerful statement of intent.

There is no doubt these products (and others to come) are intended to be tough, capable professional tools that can be bought with confidence. I always rated Hitachi tools, but on the above evidence, I think I am going to like HiKOKI tools even more.


www.hikoki-powertools.co.uk

STAHLWILLE's technical expertise means they will always be 'torque' of the town

STAHLWILLE is a traditional German company of the ‘mittelstand’ – the UK equivalent of a medium-sized business.

It is a family business since its establishment by Eduard Wille in 1862 in Wuppertal. Today the management of the company is independent, but the advisory committee represents the Wille family, writes Peter Brett.

Originally, the company was largely focused on making practical things in steel for domestic use - like fire tongs and pokers. However, after 1900, when the motor car was in fairly rapid expansion and development, the company turned to making the spanners, wrenches and pliers needed to maintain the new technology.

In ‘The Kontor’, the recently renovated visitor and training centre (which used to be the main office in Eduard Wille’s time), it is fascinating to see the display of the first rather heavy duty spanners made.

This was one of the most modern forges in Europe, and it was interesting to compare them with the slimmer and slicker ones made a hundred years later, where the demands of mechanics on their tools are so much greater. 

Eduard Wille established the maxim that the company was committed to producing the best possible tools with the customer in mind.

The Wille family and company remain true to this maxim today – and in my view it is a much better long and medium-term business model than the exploitative venture capital approach. 

STAHLWILLE has an excellent record of exporting products throughout the world. It has expertise in aerospace, automotive, renewable energies and industrial tools that puts it in a very strong position to compete with the biggest and best. 

The places and the people

The Cronenberg-Wuppertal site I visited was part of the original factory and forge started by Eduard Wille, and the large redbrick building that dominates the entrance has recently been renovated and redeveloped into a light and modern training and showroom space.

What is missing is the small railway that used to run down the side of the building into the factory area behind.

As the factory is in the midst of what is now quite a developed urban area, the heavy-duty hammer forges have been moved to a more suitable site in former East Germany, and a more recent extension, built in the local vernacular of slate tiles, houses the administration.

Eduard Wille was passionate in his belief that people were the most important aspect of a progressive company, since it was they who had the ideas to develop and then make into desirable finished products.

Today the company employs more than 600 people and still manufactures in Germany. It exports to over 90 countries worldwide through a dedicated sales network that focuses on understanding the needs of the customers, and then supplying the correct and most efficient solutions.

The innovations

Chris Rose, UK Sales Manager at STAHLWILLE UK, which is based in Surrey, was a great guide, and showed me not only how the company identifies issues and challenges that customers face, but also how the expert product development teams then try to develop solutions.

The obvious area to start is in the development of new ranges of torque wrenches for which STAHLWILLE is very well respected.

For me a torque wrench is a torque wrench, but it soon became clear there is much more to developing an accurate tool, with a reliable and dependable mechanism that would withstand some rough handling.

Also, as torque wrenches are becoming increasingly important in aerospace and vehicle technology - where composite materials are very sensitive to pressure on the fixings - it is vital to have a reliable tool that will ensure these materials can be used safely.

I was introduced to simple mechanical torque wrenches that seemed to do the job well, and then to electro-mechanical wrenches that took accuracy and accountability to an advanced level.

Open protocol wrenches not only did the job well, but recorded in detail and then sent the data on to a central system for ultimate accountability.

DAPTIQ

Alexander Grosser, Project Manager Industry 4.0, did a few demonstrations to show me just how advanced this system could become.

Using an augmented reality headset, a user in a production line for example could be guided towards bolts which need tightening in the correct order.

As this is done, a computer is recording the torques as they are applied and noting that they are correctly applied. 

If for any reason the torque is not correct, the system notes and then stops the user so the situation can be rectified. 

By basing the system on an open source platform, STAHLWILLE is hoping to encourage users to develop their own ways of managing and using the system to their own advantage. 

Reading Station DAPTIQ is another system in development by STAHLWILLE that is constantly evolving, because users and R & D keep on finding out how much more potential there is in the idea.

It looks like a simple secure storage unit for tools. But the unit not only keeps the tools secure, it counts them to ensure that all the tools are present.

In modern manufacture and aerospace for example, it is too late to discover that a wrench has been left in an engine when you are about to take off. Once again, the software allows both STAHLWILLE and clients to customise the system to suit various needs.

More expertise

It behoves a manufacturer of torque wrenches to have very accurate systems of recording exactly how well and accurately the wrenches are performing. 

STAHLWILLE has developed a range of motorised calibration systems. The motorised bench automates the loading process, and the transducers use strain gauges to take the dozens of measurements which need to be taken into account when calibrating a torque wrench to the new ISO 6789-2:2017 standard.

TORKMASTER software records the measurements, and calculates the deviations and measurement uncertainty. 

I did not realise quite how many variations there are when measuring performance.

Apparently, even the four sides of an adaptor can give different readings on the same wrench set to the same torque.

This can be tricky when you consider there must be no more than a 1% deviation for the calibration of STAHLWILLE’s most accurate torque wrench, the SENSOTORK 713 to be passed.

... And the rough stuff

Away from the refined electronic quiet of the demo centre, Chris showed me the actual manufacturing, assembly and finishing of the huge range of STAHLWILLE tools. 

STAHLWILLE is not only torque wrenches; it is spanners, pliers, cutters, screwdrivers, sockets & ratchets, etc etc.

I enjoy watching ‘real’ manufacture, and STAHLWILLE has a range of heavy processes needed to make and finish a socket, as well as the capacity to assemble the delicate electronics in an electro-mechanical torque wrench and then test it. 

Despite the noise of machines, the humans keep control of the factory floor, ensuring the continued production of thousands of items.

STAHLWILLE and the future

It is clear that STAHLWILLE not only has a productive and innovative past, it is looking to the future too.

I have mentioned only a few key innovations, but the company is clear that precision manufacturing in the industrial sector will only become more important.

Key areas like aerospace, automotive and renewable energy already have niche demands for tools, but again, these needs will become even more complicated and demanding - a challenge STAHLWILLE is tackling head on.


www.stahlwille.co.uk

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