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/

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

BiTorsion and BitBoxes Long Live the Evolution at Wera

Continuous Product Development…

It doesn’t keep me awake at night, but I do sometimes wonder how far Wera can go in its run of continuous product development that I have witnessed for at least 20 years.  Cynics might suggest that it is development for development’s sake, but when you examine the details it is clear that there is always a sound reason behind any development – and most importantly, the Wera Tool-Rebels, the loyal band of followers, seem to agree.

As part of the new product launches for 2017, Wera has taken another close look at the use of driving bits and the requirements of the increased use of impact bits in many trade sectors. There have been reports of some impact bits splintering under impact loads and the splinters flying up into users’ faces.  Just the sort of problem that Wera loves to understand and solve.

I am sure that many users, including myself, have used ‘standard’ Pozi and Torx drive bits available in bulk boxes at your local trade outlet, for many common tasks. We use them, they last as long as they last, and then you replace them and that is probably as much thought that most give to the problem. However, I have long been aware that some driver bits are better than others – ever since I lent a set of Wera bits to two tradesmen I shall call ‘Bodgit and Leggit’, who had a reputation for breaking almost any tool they ever used. Not only did I get the bit set back, but they had only used one bit each. The secret lay in the special diamond coating on the bit flanges that not even they managed to break.  Some of the new bits I was sent for review use the same idea – so time for a close examination.

The Products

I shall start with the bit boxes. All of these have been redesigned for handy use, security and easy display at the point of sale. The boxes can be stood in a display box or hung on a hook on a display stand, and are clearly marked with a description, a graphic to show the bit point design, and a size – e.g. a big 2 if the bit concerned is a Pozi 2. All of them have a semi-transparent back so that you can see how many bits you have left. The boxes are sealed with a little red plastic clip that holds the sliding access lid closed until it is sold. The clips are not easy to spring open without a knife or screwdriver point, so should be secure in a retail display.

The box of ‘standard’ Pozi 2 bits are the ones that most trades would use in non-demanding screwdriving tasks and this is reflected in the price. However, the genuine Pozidriv profile and manufacturing techniques ensure much better than usual bit life.

Within the selection and going up a grade or two in the Pozi series are the Pozi 2 gold extra hard bits (BTH). The Bitbox notes the size clearly but also adds that these bits are extra hard (through hardened) and use the Take it Easy tool finder system for easy identification (black/Pozi; red/Phillips; green/Torx, yellow/slotted and blue/hex). Accordingly, each Pozi bit has a black band around the shank with a couple of white ‘2s’ on, so even without my glasses I could identify them easily. But the story doesn’t end here. Each bit has the Bitorsion feature on it. This means that the bits will respond to sharp inputs of torque by slightly flexing in the middle, and thus help to reduce breaking strains on the flanges. Since the bit is made to a harder Rockwell measure it is also better suited to the stresses put on it through typical timber applications using drill/drivers providing longer life.

It is a similar story on some of the other bits I looked at. For example, the box of size 25 Torx bits are marked with a green band bearing 25 around the shank. The box also tells me that they use the diamond gripping solution I mentioned before. If you run a fingernail through one of the Torx slots, you will feel the slight abrasion provided by the diamond coating that ensures long lasting grip on the fixing by eliminating cam-out. The bits are also labelled ‘impact proof’ – so users know exactly what they are to be used for.

The Bitholders are Important too

Included in the samples were four bit holders designed to work with the range of Wera bits for maximum performance, safety and longevity.

The first is a basic Rapidaptor bitholder. About 50mm long, that is perfectly suited to less demanding driving tasks. Its USP is its complete ease of use – simply push a standard hex bit into the chuck and it clamps it tight. With a single push upwards of the rotatable collar it ejects them just as easily. In my experience, a much better solution than straight bit holders.

More sophisticated is the longer Rapidaptor bitholder, with the Bitorsion feature built into the holder underneath the outer sleeve of the holder. Once again, this absorbs the extra torsion shocks of some of the powerful drill/drivers used nowadays. Some drivers boast torque ratings of over 135Nm – so you can understand the need for Bitorsion technology. Used with a Bitorsion bit there are a couple of extra layers of torsion safety.

The Ultimates

What every regular user of impact drivers should consider are either the Wera Impaktor, or Impaktor with Ringmagnet bitholders. These are labelled as impact proof and just looking at the build quality might convince you of that. They both use Bitorsion technology and have magnets to hold the bits into place. The Ringmagnet version has a magnetic collar as well and is a great way to hold screws ready for driving, as the magnet is genuinely powerful enough to hold a 75mm screw securely as you lift it to the workpiece.

What you don’t see

Of course, what most users will never see is the trouble and effort made by Wera, at manufacturing level, to create bits and bitholders that have the right properties for the jobs they are designed to do. Bits that need to be harder than ‘standard’ are made of different compounds of metals and hardened separately to a different Rockwell value. It is in the detail that Wera delivers the range of bits, each subtly different for the jobs they do. The lesson for consumers? Choose your Wera bits and bitholders carefully – if you do you will most likely do a better job, with bits that last longer and perform better. 

 

 

Christmas is Coming – What to Give to the Tool Rebel Who has Everything?

Aimed at: Tool rebels and aspiring tool rebels who want everything.

Pros: Keeps you guessing all the way to Christmas.

Wera’s “Tool Rebel” concept is a great idea, with the “rebels” identifying strongly with the brand at the same time as being able to feed back their ideas and solutions to the company. It is witty conceits like the “Tool Rebels” idea that make Wera a company that is close to its end users- and these same users become loyal brand ambassadors, many of whom feel that they can completely trust the brand, but also recommend it to others.

But many, if not most, Tool Rebels have a wish list, so what better present than a big Wera Advent Calendar from their nearest and dearest at Christmas? When you think about it, it is this wry sense of humour that makes for a great idea. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the marketing people first kicked about the idea of an advent calendar that contained 24 Wera tools aimed at adults rather than 24 chocolate shapes aimed at kids. 

The Wera Advent Calendar is big at 57cm long, 47cm wide and 5cm deep and is illustrated on the front with a typical Christmas scene with several Wera “clues” on it – for example Santa is using a Kraftform Kompakt screwdriver to mend the wheel on a toy car. If the donor doesn’t want to give all its the secrets away, then he/she should remove the outer transport packaging that has all of the items listed on it.

As we would expect from Wera, the contents have been thoughtfully designed to be revealed in a particular order to make a couple of small kits that would grace a toolbox and a workshop – with a couple of typically witty parts that would make a Tool Rebel smile – like the bottle opener with the Kraftform Handle. Typically these things come with cheap pressed steel openers – but not Wera with their fully hot forged version, fixed into the handle in the same way as their screwdrivers, for long service life.

In true Advent Calendar tradition, the doors are randomly dotted about the box in no particular date order – so it will be part of your Advent routine to find the door and open it to find the surprise. I couldn’t wait until the 1st December so I had a few sneak previews to help me write this review…..???

I got a bit of a clue as to what might follow when opening the double doors of no 1 when out popped a Special Edition Wera Bit-Check – clearly there were more parts to collect here and opening day no 2 confirmed my suspicions when a Phillips No 1 screwdriver bit was revealed and was quickly slotted into place in the first compartment of the Bit-Check. I am not going to reveal all in order to retain some element of surprise, but it was very tempting to continue to open a couple more doors just to see…

In order to retain some mystery, the parts of the kits are not revealed in any particular order so when the Screwdriver Board was released from its compartment it creates a little curiosity about what might follow.

An Advent Calendar needs to be hung up or stood on a mantelpiece for easy access day by day, and Wera has obliged by providing a couple of hooking spots to hang it up and a foldable stand so that it can be stood up on a flat surface like a workbench.

Retailed at around the £40 mark (typical internet price) it is clearly not just “a bit of fun” with throw away parts that will be easily lost and discarded. I am sure that many Wera Tool Rebels would love to have one given to them by a wife or partner because the whole adds up to much more than the sum of its parts. In fact, the calendar is very good value because all the pieces bought separately would easily add up to more than double the value of its retail price.

There may also be many retailers who would want to reward big account customers who have spent thousands with them all year and for whom the cost would not be more than say, the cost of a few bottles of wine or a decent bottle of malt whisky. If so, they had better get their orders in quickly because the calendars are selling out fast, if recent experience at tool shows is any guide.

But I couldn’t help myself from exploring a few more doors trying to second guess the contents. I did all the usual stuff like shaking the box near my ear to decide if I could discern the difference between various screwdrivers to stick into the Screwdriver Board. And this is another way in which the Wera guys will keep us guessing because although the size of the doors is somewhat of a guide to what is concealed underneath, it is not an infallible guide – sometimes the blades of the longer pieces have been deliberately slipped into voids left behind the calendar façade so all is not what you might think.

Most readers will not be surprised to learn that in the end I couldn’t contain my curiosity and I ended up opening all the doors and assembling the kits. Suffice to say that each of the two kits is very useful because they are made up of the very latest incarnations of the tools. Each of the bits, for example, has been marked with the latest Wera Take it Easy identification sleeves and is in impact-friendly BiTorsion format and the blades are diamond coated for longer life and better grip (anti cam-out).

The Bit-Check has gone straight into my newly bought 10.8v drill driver/ impact driver set and it complements it very well. The Screwdriver Board, with its contents, is now hanging in my indoor work room where it will be immediately available rather than having to search through my toolboxes. Apart from the bottle opener that is – straight into the kitchen drawer ready for its intended use over Christmas. Oh to be a Tool Rebel!

 

For more information please visit http://www.wera-tools.co.uk/

 

Take it Easy with Wera Tool Sets

Aimed at: Proffesional fitters and mechanics. 

Pros: Easy to locate and identify the tools in their wallets or in a crowded toolbox. Pro spec means they are tough and help achieve a good job.

Wera users are familiar with the incremental approach to development that their new products have. Sometimes not so revolutionary but evolutionary, these tools develop and change, but never leave their past behind. So my ten-year-old Rapidaptor still fits the most modern Wera hex bit set, even though it may have lost some of its original purpose due to the increased use of impact drivers and the specialist bits needed for impact work.

On review this month are two of the smaller sets from Wera that really reflect how the tools are developed in order to improve the end user experience and make their lives “simpler, safer and full of joy”, the essence of the Wera mission statement.

I will start with the smaller of the two – the Kraftform Kompakt Zyklop Mini 2. It is packed into the dramatic black Wera packaging that says “quality and high value” to anyone who looks at it or handles it. Inside the box is the rigid-sided nylon wallet with a hook and loop closure to keep the contents secure. Underneath the wallet closure are two small ratchets moulded in plastic that can be used to identify the set by sight or by touch if the set is in the bottom of a toolbox for example. A subtle detail, but an interesting example of where the Wera mission statement is really applied – no detail is too small to be included.

Inside are 27 pieces all neatly attached into rows where they can easily be seen and accessed.

On the “lid” of the wallet is a row of 15 hex shanked drivers. The line starts with a square socket drive that will fit into the driving tools and it has a ballbearing socket retainer so that the sockets can be held securely. It is followed by a Pozi 1 and 2 bit, Phillips 1 and 2 bits, six Torx bits from size 40 to 10, and four hex bits from 6 to 3. Each is identified by its laser markings and is easy to replace in the flexible rubber loops. If you are a careful worker, they all get replaced correctly each time in their allotted spots, which will save you time searching. I am only as organised as that sometimes….

On the “side “of the wallet is a row of nine mini-sockets with popular sizes from 13mm to 4mm. They are mini-sockets since they are just 18mm deep and are designed that way to be as slim and as compact as possible. Intended users are fitters who often operate on small apparatus in limited spaces – think computer fitting technicians, specialist electronics etc. The sockets are firmly held in place on square plastic pegs and will not move in transit, and the laser etched identification marks are also echoed in the white stitching of the sizes on the wallet itself – no real excuse to be disorganised with the sockets.

On the other “side” of the wallet is a small Kraftform Kompakt driver handle. Obviously not intended for applying higher torque, it is small enough to be used in fingertips for delicate operations. The highly magnet hex socket will hold all standard size 6mm hex bits and with the ¼ inch square driver bit in the set, the sockets can be used as well. 

Finally we come to the mini-Zyklop ratchets – Zyklop Mini 1 and Zyklop Mini 2. I can always understand how people might want to fidget with these ratchets because they are so smoothly finished and well made that they are just very tactile. But that is to miss the point somewhat because they are also fully functioning ratchet tools with a fine tooth ratchet giving 6 degrees of turn for use in tiny spaces. The extra slim heads on the ratchets mean that they will fit almost anywhere and be able to function as intended.

Zyklop Mini 1 is just 85mm long and the ratchet head itself is just 12mm thick. Even with a driver bit in, it is only 28mm thick.

The more meaty Zyklop Mini 2 is 105mm long with an 11mm hex drive socket on the end. The sockets fit snugly into this and are retained securely by a sprung ring, so no need to worry that they are going to fall into the machinery and cause havoc.

Moving to the less romantically named 8740 c HF 1 we find a similar story in the packaging and presentation, but this time there is a hex drive socket on the front of the wallet for identification.

Inside are just nine tools – hex drivers intended for use in heavy duty mechanical engineering and automotive industries. You can really see and feel the difference between the delicate sockets in the Zyklop Mini set and these ones. They would be perfectly at home even on the extended version of the big Zyklop ratchet reviewed last month.

But even here amongst the toughies, Wera has managed to introduce a bit of sophistication to make users’ lives easier. The ½ inch drive sockets all have a deep ring around them into which are baked different colours that serve to identify them visually by colour. They are also laser etched in large letters (I didn’t need my glasses) on the drivers and to aid replacement in the wallet, white nylon stitching marks their positions as well. It could be as simple as telling the assistant to “pass me a red”  (the 6mm driver).

Because these are heavy duty tools, Wera has not simply relied on a friction fit to keep the tools secure in their wallet. The new release and retaining system uses a quick half twist on the anchors to release or retain them.

Another little bit of sophistication and usefulness is that the hex driver ends have been tweaked to serve as a holder function for the fastenings that they will be used to drive. This involves a spring – loaded ball bearing right on the tip of the driver where it will fit into the socket of the hex bolt and this will hold the bolt well enough so that it can be fitted into place before it is tightened.

 

For those lucky enough to have a workbench or mobile trolley to hold their tools Wera has also included a strong strip of self-adhesive hook and loop material that can be fixed to a smooth surface.  This enables workers to have a favoured kit on hand nearby.

These kits are aimed at different ends of the technicians’ market and yet still have the common thread of innovation and developmental improvement that Wera lavishes on its products. I think that is the reason why Wera continues to enjoy a loyal following of tool users and dare I say, “Tool Rebels.” 

Zyklop Hybrid from Wera Extra-Refined with Extended Capabilities!

Aimed at: Professional and Industrial Engineers. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wera Technicians’ Kits – All the Necessary?

Aimed at: Pro specialist technicians,  electricians and fitters.

Pros: Well- chosen key tools in a handy to use kit. Easy to take on site for diagnostics and repairs. 

I recently overheard a comment at a tool show by someone who was clearly a tradesman, to his mate about his Wera tools. The comment was along the lines of how “joined up” all his Wera tools were, because they were “designed that way”.

Clearly an appreciative and perceptive end-user, and I am sure that Wera should collectively pat itself on the back. As an end user it is comforting to think that a system that you might have bought into years ago is still expanding (sensibly and quite rightly driven by design, innovation and end user requirements) and is therefore still useful, compatible and up to date.

The two kits Wera have sent for review illustrate the above very nicely. Aimed at plumbing and heating engineers and maintenance technicians respectively, they are a kind of “first call” toolkit that is easy to carry to site and, in many cases, will be all the tools that are needed to fix a problem.

The first kit I opened was the Kraftform Kompakt SH1 PlumbKit. Handsomely presented in a black nylon folding wallet, the set consists of 25 assorted tools, essentially divided into two parts on each side of the wallet. All the pieces are familiar as they are part of the wider Wera range, but as a combination they are pretty comprehensive.

Firstly there are two VDE screwdrivers and a voltage tester for the electrical element of a plumbers’ job. The small screwdriver is a Kraftform Plus VDE Extra Slim with integrated insulation, which is useful for sunken and spring elements, while the bigger one is the Kraftform Plus VDE Lasertip. The tip of this screwdriver is roughly laser engraved with lines that bite into screwheads, preventing slips.

Next in line is one of the most useful tools that Wera produces in my view – the Kraftform Plus Chiseldriver. With its hex section blade it can of course simply tackle large slotted screws, but can also be hammered directly onto, thanks to the integrated impact cap on top of the handle and twisted with a 10mm spanner via the hex holster under the handle  - ideal for those really tight screws!!! It is also great for chasing out in plaster walls, and stays useable as a screwdriver after even long chisel use.

Two large handled Kraftform Plus HQ Nutdrivers in 10mm and 13mm complete that side of the wallet. These two socket sizes are the most commonly used in electrical and plumbing apparatus.

The other side holds a more mixed selection. The 10mm and 13mm Joker combination ratchet wrenches are some of the best I have ever used, simply because they solve a whole lot of problems in one tool. The reversible fine ratchet is strong and has a tiny 30 degree throw for confined spaces, while the open-ended spanner not only grips the nuts well, it will hold a bolt head or nut so that it can be brought to the corresponding part without the user having to hold it in place. They can be used in confined spaces and are also VERY strong when it comes to applying torque to them.

In my view the key piece on this side of the wallet is the small Zyklop Speed ratchet. This is incredibly easy to use, the angle of the head can be changed, sockets ejected etc etc. It is a great piece of engineering and I have heard so many positive comments from end users about it that it has truly become a classic. The Zyklop can be used as a screwdriver by attaching the Rapidaptor bit holder adaptor and using one of the twelve driving bits in the kit. A bronze-coloured set of 6 Torx driver bits (TX sizes 10 to 40) have a “holding function” that hold Torx screws tightly so that they can be presented to their positions before they are tightened.

The set of three sockets (7mm, 10mm and 13mm) fit the Zyklop and the last set of longer shank driver bits are a mixture of four hex and two Pozi bits.

All the pieces are laser marked with sizes and designations so that they are easy to identify and of course, for users who need to customize their kits, all the components are available from the Wera range individually.

The Wera W1 Maintenance Kit comes in the new style of textile box with rigid sections. These sections make for a container that is very robust and durable, and can even be stood up on its end for easy shelf storage. It also means that if any individual pieces somehow come loose, they would find it very hard to escape once the large hook and loop closure is pressed shut.

This 35-piece set has quite a VDE presence with twelve interchangeable Kompakt VDE screwdriver blades in Pozi, Phillips and Torx configurations and a detachable Kraftform Kompakt VDE handle. Despite this handy detachable blade format this, like all Wera VDE kit, is guaranteed for safe working up to 1,000V (as per EN60900:2012).

Another nice touch is the red plastic Screwgripper that is used on the end of a screwdriver blade to hold screws firmly when needed. Think of having to place a tiny screw at the back of a casing that would be a pain to find if you dropped it while trying to screw it in.

There is also a small voltage tester screwdriver – still one of those safety essentials for maintenance operators.

Gathered round the essential Zyklop Speed ratchet is a set of eight sockets. These range in size from 5.5mm to 13mm – an essential range for maintenance. To make life easier there is also a small extension bar (also with a plastic rotating collar for speedy work – the attention to detail is amazing, and totally Wera) and a Rapidaptor adaptor to hold the selection of seven driver bits. These cover four sizes of hex, one Torx and two sizes of Pozi. There is also a slimline standard hex magnetic bit holder that would fit an appropriate Kraftform handle or cordless driver.

Finally there is a double-open jaw Joker wrench with popular 10mm and 13mm ends. This has the holding function and limit stop so that the user can’t push the bolt or nut past the spanner jaws. With its smart jaw design the Joker has a small return angle – ideal for use in confined spaces.

I expected the trades to which I showed the kits to be either sceptical or to tell me that the kits were too similar. In fact, I got neither of these reactions. The favourite seemed to be the maintenance kit, but that was maybe due to the preponderance of electricians in my sample audience!! For these end users, quality and design is now so firmly established as a Wera selling point that it becomes purely a question of how much it costs and whether they need it now or next month.

Read more Wera Reviews, such as the Kraftform Kompact VDE and the Wera Joker

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

Wera Kraftform Kompakt VDE- All the Drivers Needed?

Aimed at:-Fitters, maintenance/electronics engineers and anoyne who needs an easily portable set of general fixing tools. 

Pros:-Brilliant small kit in a new nylon case. The kit is amazingly verstatile and very well made.

Sometimes the right tools are just the ones needed for the job in hand – the fewer the better. And sometimes the right tools are the ones that you thought you might not need, but thankfully you have them there anyway. The Wera Kraftform Kompakt VDE sent up for review belongs to the latter category. With seventeen pieces in all it is probably everything an electrician would need in the way of screwdrivers for most, if not all jobs.

I should note first of all the black nylon wallet into which the kit is all carefully arranged. It is as compact as it can be as well as being compatible with ensuring easy use on site.

When folded up via the strong hook and loop closures, it could easily fit onto a waist belt. Indeed, there is a strong belt loop provided on the back of the case.

If used this way, all the tools are made to hang down so that they can be easily accessed from above.

I am not one for carrying stuff on a belt, so I found it equally easy to simple lay the opened case out flat on the floor or a flattish surface. In this position, there are two Wera Kraftform Kompakt handles at each end of the wallet. Wera has listened to some end users who said that sometimes they use more than one driver tip on a job so needed another handle for speed and convenience.

These Kraftform handles are famous for having been tested under very arduous conditions – under crushing loads and right down to -40 degrees Celsius where some plastics can become brittle and hence non-insulating. I guess that electricians working in London boroughs might be well reassured!

But the thing I most like about them is the ease with which it is possible to change driver tips. Simply push back the locking collar between forefinger and thumb, which releases the lock, pull out the driver tip and replace it with another which slides in and locks into place as it is pushed home. Literally a matter of seconds.

The handles themselves are the standard bright yellow and red VDE colours, with the yellow parts of the moulding having a slightly rubberized feel for easy grip.

The driver tips are arranged into four sections in two groups of four tips and one group of seven tips. It helps end users to keep the whole case as compact as possible if they replace the tips after use in the same order and orientation in which they arrive from Wera. In this way the more bulky hex ends are balanced by the less bulky shanks and they kind of fit into each other more compactly. This works for me only because I just get used to replacing a driver tip in the opposite orientation as the one it is next to.

The first section of four driver tips is the straight screwdriver. These go from a small 2.5mm wide tip right up to a more robust 5.5mm wide blade tip. Each one is 154mm long, and as we would expect, the 1000v rated insulation goes all the way down the shaft leaving only 15mm of the working end exposed.

The next section of four tips is the Torx section. Much more commonly used now, Torx screws are found in all sorts of appliances and junction boxes nowadays. In the past, whenever I occasionally took apart a power tool, a simple Phillips or Pozi would do it, but Torx and other patterns are common now. Perhaps to keep the unqualified and incompetent out? – like the ones who wouldn’t buy a full set of Wera VDE screwdrivers?

The Torx drivers are arranged in order as a 10, a 15, a 20 and a 25 – which again is a pretty comprehensive coverage of common Torx sizes. The insulation also goes all the way down the tips leaving only the last 15mm as the working tip.

The last seven tips kind of open out together and they are arranged alternately as Phillips and Pozi drivers and a standard straight driver. There are four Pozi drivers in all – PZ2, PZ1, PZ1/S and PZ2/S and Phillips PH2 and PH1. The straight driver is a 6.5mm width for those bigger screws in casings.

And of course, there is the extra handle at the end to bring the set to completion.

I liked the fact that the driver bits are all held in place by an elastic strip that is stretchy enough to hold the bits firmly, but also flexible enough to make them easy to pull out or replace. This arrangement means that the user can see all the tips easily and can select visually. But in usual thorough Wera fashion, all the bits have the sizes and types of bit printed in black on the hex shanks. I doubt whether end users will take the trouble to arrange the bits print side up like the way in which the set arrived out of the packaging, but it is very easy to twist them around to see the printed sizes if needed. 

Confirmed Wera fans will know that damaged bits in a set can be replaced individually and that different sizes and types of bits can be bought to substitute others in the set. However, I think that this set is pretty well comprehensive so I guess there won’t be too much of that going on.

The plus points of such a comprehensive set are really a big bonus for busy electricians – you get easy changing of a wide range of bits as well as a pair of handles for those jobs where more than one fixing is used, plus all the advantages of quick-change handles and the peace of mind of a well tested VDE range.

To read further about Wera Hand Tools such as the Tehnicans kit, which includes the Kraftform Kompakt SH1 Plumbkit and the Wera W1 Maintenance Kit, and other products, click here.

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

Wera Joker – A Combination Ratchet Spanner – But Not as we Know it!

Aimed squarely at professionals, but keen amateurs will love them too. innovative and possible the end of skinned knuckles.

For the Wera uninitiated, the launch of a new range of spanners, or in Wera –speak – of Joker Professional Ratcheting Combination Wrenches, might not signify on their product radar. But more fool them I say, because they might have missed a product that despite being “only a spanner” could be very useful to them, in solving some of their working dilemmas.

I am not a mechanic by inclination, but even with a limited experience of doing simple jobs on my car, I could see where these Wera wrenches could be a major time and knuckle saver. For professionals, they would be a very useful and long – term investment in timesaving and high quality kit.

The new Joker Combination Wrenches cannot be faulted in terms of quality. They are made from high performance chrome molybdenum steel that is then plated with a nickel-chrome coating for high corrosion protection.

The steel combination means that even very high-torque applications can be confidently undertaken. Just the feel of the wrenches in your hand will confirm that –they are slimly sleek for comfortable grip and easy access to small spaces, but are clearly very strong.

Cleverly, Wera designers have incorporated the Wera Kraftform trademark into the wrench handles, right in the middle where extra strength is needed. The indentations of the design also serve as useful thumb and finger grips for greasy hands. As usual, the finish on the wrenches is super high quality – there are simply no traces of forging marks – just smooth matte metal.

But with four other useful functions to explore, it is time to move on.

The first of these is the practical holding function. What? a spanner that holds nut or bolt heads tight so that they can be located into position easily and then tightened. A closer look shows that the Joker wrenches have metal stop plates inset into the open ended jaws. With stop plate facing downwards, the nut or bolt head can be inserted into double-hex geometry of the jaws above. The stop plate has “ledges” on the inside of the jaws that prevent the nut or bolt from falling out. The double-hex geometry ensures that the nut is placed for best advantage.  All the user then has to do, at worst, is put a thumb or finger over the nut and start tightening it.

With the wrench the other way up, the holding function becomes an integrated limit stop. With the stop plate on the upper face of jaws, it acts to stop the fastener from slipping through the jaws. This means that the user does not have to steady the fastener with a thumb or forefinger before tightening it. It also ensures that the full area of the wrench jaws is located firmly onto the flat driving faces of the fastener. This minimizes any risk of slipping on the fastener, and also the nasty knuckle-crash risk associated with slipping fasteners.

But the stop plate has one more trick up its sleeve, so to speak. A close examination of it reveals that there are a couple of rows of tiny teeth on the parallel jaw sides of the wrench.  When the gripping plate is facing downwards on the fixing, these teeth, when under pressure, generate a form-fit connection to the fixing. The extra-hard teeth bite into the fixing and help prevent slippage under high torque loads. Once again, a bit of thoughtful design has reduced the danger of skinned (or worse) knuckles.

It is clear from the above, that the innovative addition of a stop plate to the to the Wera Joker Wrenches range has enabled users not only to greater levels of safety, but also to extra speed and convenience too. If they are not some of the goals of innovation in design, then you are welcome to your box of old-fashioned spanners, no doubt with built-in bumps, bends and oil stains!

The double-hex geometry combined with the straight head of the wrench mean that finding purchase on a fixing is a simple matter of moving the handle only 30 degrees to reposition the wrench onto it. Gone are the days of “tighten a bit, remove wrench, turn it over, reposition on fixing, tighten a bit, remove wrench….. etc.

The next bits to explore are the “ratcheting” and “combination” part of the Joker Wrenches. Looking at the other end of the wrenches, users can see an enclosed ratchet ring. This works as slickly as an oiled turnstile. The direction of travel of each ratchet is clearly marked with an etched arrow that won’t rub off with use. Selecting clockwise or anti-clockwise rotation is as easy as turning the wrench over.

The thickness of the wrench head is a shade over 10mm, so it is designed to fit into very small spaces. But perhaps more important to most users will be the fact that the ratchet has an 80 – tooth mechanism that enables a pivot angle of under 5 degrees. In practice it means that the very end of the handle travels less than 25mm to the next stop. Tightening or loosening nuts in a confined area is probably never going to be made easier than this. Also, it eliminates the need to remove the wrench from the fixing to find the next angle of purchase needed to carry on.

For a real life lesson, I used the Joker wrenches to help me replace a headlight on my Ford Focus. Easy you might think – but not on the nearside light. It involves removing the battery and battery holder in order to reveal the back of the light holders. The space is very confined and I was able to make full use of the versatility of the Joker wrenches’ ability to remove fixings in confined spaces. Having done this job a year or so with “conventional’ wrenches and sockets I was able to appreciate just how much easier the Joker made the job. Multiply this time saving many times for a professional mechanic or enthusiast to find out just how useful the Joker range could be. The Joker set used in this review was a six-piece set with popular sizes from 10mm to 19mm in it. Packed for dispatch and display in a sturdy card box, the wrenches are contained in a strong nylon case with a hook and loop closure. The wrenches have individual spaces in the case and there is a hanging loop on the case too. 

 

Read more Wera Reviews, such as the Kraftform Kompact VDE and the Tehnicans kit, which includes the Kraftform Kompakt SH1 Plumbkit and the Wera W1 Maintenance Kit.

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

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