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Safety and workwear – work it like a pro

Style and fashion aren’t necessarily the first things that spring to mind when thinking about safety and workwear. But thanks to the Diet Coke man, we have a reputation to uphold and these days the range of clothing, footwear and accessories on offer isn’t just highly functional, they’re packed full of nifty design features, high quality materials and detailing to make even the most workwear weary sit-up and take note.

So while you might be musing over the many choices on offer, we’ve pulled together some of our favourite joggers, jackets, and gilets (amongst other items) that you can wear and work like a pro.

Dickies jackets and gilets

From soft shell jackets to waterproof gilets, Dickies offers modern styling in lightweight and versatile fabrics with many additional features that traditional work jackets don’t have. Its soft shell collection features multiple benefits including breathable, waterproof fabrics that include reflective qualities and added stretch for extra comfort.

Its popular Loudon Gilet is lightly padded for when you need an extra layer, but don’t want to compromise on freedom of movement. Offering modern styling with a contrast waterproof zip, it also features an internal mobile phone pocket and adjustable hem. Ideal for whether you’re out and about on site or working indoors.

If you’re after something a bit warmer, then take a look at the Dickie’s Stamford Puff Jacket. Available in either black and lime or grey and orange, it’s one of our favourite outerwear items here at Fixings – in fact it’s become a bit of a uniform! Extremely comfortable and durable, it provides warmth while having a slim, modern fit. And that’s not just a bunch of puff.

Shake that booty

There’s nothing better than a sturdy safety boot and here at Fixings and Powertool Center we stock a range of brands including Apache, DeWalt and Timberland Pro. Designed for demanding work, our boots are available with steel protection in a variety of styles and colours.

Hiker boots seem to be big business right now and the popular Apache Hiker Safety Boot is a fine example of modern styling ideal for all trades. With a water resistant upper layer, padded tongue and collar for added comfort, this steel toe capped, rubber soled ankle boot certainly means business.

The DeWalt Rigger Safety Boot is a durable and robust pull-on protective boot with a brown, full grain upper and padded cuff for added comfort. A great alternative to the hiker boot and an attractive option for construction sites.

For a more sporty look, check out the enviro-friendly Timberland Pro Hypercharge Textile Boot which is made with sustainable and recycled materials, including premium leather from a tannery rated silver for its sustainability.

It’s all about the accessories

Finish of your workwear wardrobe with a range of accessories. Dickies Knee Pads are a real must-have item, which confirms to industry EN14404 standard. Lightweight, yet tough, they are made to fit all Dickies coverall and trouser pouches.

Dickies Silverton Reversible Belt is made from leather and comes in three sizes. It’s also reversible so now you can match your belt to your mood – and trousers! Choose from either black or brown.

If it’s high quality work socks you’re after, try Dickies Strong Work Sock. Designed to be worn with professional workwear shoes and safety boots, they have full cushioning throughout the sole, combined with a reinforced heel and toe area.

All these products can be ordered online for delivery. If you’d like to chat on the phone to a team member, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Our guide to pressure washers

What is a pressure washer?

A pressure washer can tackle the toughest and dirtiest jobs ensuring forecourts, driveways, patios, and decking are kept spotlessly clean. Using a high-pressure water jet, pressure washers are capable of removing all sorts of dirt and grime including moss, paint, mould, mud, and dust from buildings, concrete and vehicles.

Whether you’re a professional in landscaping or construction, or just hoping to spruce up your property in time for summer, our guide to pressure washers will help you decide which one is the best tool for the job.

Which pressure washer should I buy?

When it comes to pressure washers, there are numerous versions on the market with a variety of motors and accessories. Depending on how often you intend to use your pressure washer, and the type of work you will be undertaking, the best pressure washer for your needs may change.

Pressure washers tend to be rated by the number of hours they can be used. If you are looking for something that can be used for general jobs around the home, you can expect this to equate to around 50 hours per year. Therefore, a pressure washer of 500 hours with a 1500 psi should be sufficient. For more high maintenance, daily tasks, a heavy-duty 2000 plus hours rated machine with a 3,000 psi will be needed.

If you are looking for a pressure washer that works well for household tasks, for instance washing the patio or cleaning the car, the STIHL RE 109 Compact Power Washer has everything you need to get the job done.  Complete with an aluminium pump head with a high pressure pump and stainless steel pistons, it is particularly resilient and durable. The rotary nozzle provides a concentrated power output over a large area, while the fan-jet boasts variable pressure allowing larger areas to be cleaned quickly and efficiently. The high quality, extendable telescopic handle makes for more compact and easier transport.

If it’s a cost effective, entry level pressure washer you’re after, then try the STIHL RE98 Cold Water Pressure Washer. A fantastic addition to any garden, and designed to be ergonomically-optimised, it offers 440 litres per minute maximum water throughput. The integrated nozzle means the machine is ready to use whenever required and the built-in wheels and handle make it easy to move the pressure washer around the garden. Complete with a 6m high press hose, rotary and fan jet nozzles, this is an ideal pressure washer for homeowners.

For heavy-duty jobs or regular daily or weekly washing, look no further than the STIHL RE129 Plus Petrol High Pressure Cleaner  which offers a maximum water throughput of 500 l/h. Fitted with a telescopic handle and trolley for easy transport and storage, this robust pressure washer has an induction motor offering superb performance with low noise and long service life. The steel-reinforced 9m high pressure hose and large wheel diameter make moving it on and off road much smoother. The rotor nozzle provides concentrated cleaning power with large area output and a powerful pencil jet with a rapidly rotating motion.

What maintenance does my pressure washer need?

Before purchasing a pressure washer, check that it comes with a warranty. Be sure to register your pressure washer once purchased so the warranty is valid if it is ever required in the future.

All the pressure washers mentioned above come with a 3-year domestic warranty.

Pressure washer pumps and engines will need to have a regular oil change every 200 to 250 working hours.  A good quality, two-stroke engine oil will keep it performing at its very best. Try STIHL HP Super 2-Troke Engine Oil which is a semi-synthetic oil with low ash additives for clean, low smoke burning. Always check that the oil you are using in your pressure washer is compatible with the make and model before topping up.

It goes without saying that taking good care of your pressure washer is the best way to keep it in tip top condition. Always remember to shut off the engine and let it cool after use. Once the water is turned off, relieve the pressure in the system by pressing and holding the spray-gun trigger until all the remaining water is gone. Ensure you store your pressure washer in a dry, secure location, and remember to clean it regularly and check for oil, fuel, and water leaks. If you need any help with your pressure washer, our team of expert engineers at our power tool repairs and servicing workshop in Surrey will be happy to help you.

All the products mentioned in this blog can be ordered online for delivery, or pop into our store where we will be happy to advise you. If you’d like to chat on the phone to a team member, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Best tools for outdoor work and garden landscaping

It’s been a tough winter for garden contractors in the UK, with so much wet and windy weather wreaking havoc on outdoor projects. Here at Fixings and Powertool Center, storms Ciara and Dennis have definitely made their mark, primarily in terms of chainsaw sales!

As the clear-up begins, gardeners and landscapers have their work cut out to ensure outdoor spaces are spruced up in time for spring. So it seems the ideal time for us to look at the essential tools of the gardener’s trade. Our product recommendations aren’t just for professionals – amateur gardeners who appreciate a decent bit of kit should also take note!

Blowers

Autumn may be a distant memory, but many borders and pathways are still strewn with leaves, not to mention all that debris washed in during torrential rainstorms. Hand-held blowers make light work of the clear-up process, with our bestselling petrol models offering superb quality and great value. For example, the Stihl BG56C-E petrol blower enables an effortless clean of paths, patios and driveways. As with many of our outdoor power tools, this model is multi-function – an adaptor kit is available to convert it into a vacuum shredder. For an even higher spec, this Stihl backpack blower offers outstanding engine performance and an anti-vibration system that will be appreciated by professionals working with power tools for large chunks of the day.

Brushcutters and strimmers

Brushcutters and grass trimmers (also known as strimmers) just love to get into those awkward corners or overgrown areas where a mower cannot venture. In general, a grass trimmer is a smaller, lighter machine that’s ideal for long grass around the edges of a fence or a tree trunk. Brushcutters are more powerful tools that can clear high grass, scrub or undergrowth, and even small trees. For professional work, petrol-powered rather than corded models are recommended. We offer a comprehensive selection, such as the Stihl FS55 petrol grass trimmer and the Stihl FS70C-E petrol brushcutter. The 4-Mix engine of the Stihl FS91 petrol brushcutter is at the higher end of the price scale, but offers amazing fuel economy, making it a great investment for garden maintenance teams and professional landscapers.

Hedge trimmers

These are a vital piece of kit in any garden contractor’s armoury – but we’d advise you to choose your hedge trimmer with care. The cheapest models available in some hardware stores are rarely built to last, and you could find yourself replacing or repairing equipment that simply isn’t designed for heavy-duty use. Our comprehensive range of hedge trimmers start in price at just below £100 for the Stihl compact cordless hedge trimmer with integrated battery, right up to the impressive Stihl HL94C-E Petrol Long-Reach hedge trimmer at £616.50 including VAT. In between there are plenty of mid-range choices to suit any budget.

Chainsaws

High winds and storms have taken a heavy toll on our trees and woodlands. Whether you need a chainsaw to cut up fallen branches and make a tree safe in a residential garden, or to carry out professional arboricultural work on multi-acre sites, we have a model to suit every requirement. Don’t forget – to use a chainsaw to fell trees professionally you must have a relevant certificate and wear the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) workwear. We sell chainsaws from top brands including Dewalt, Milwaukee and Stihl. The Dewalt DCM575X1 is part of the FlexVolt range which provides cordless power tools with the same runtime and performance as corded tools, and is proving a popular choice for our customers.

Mowers

While there’s a definite environmental trend towards longer-cut grass, a neat lawn is still a key element of most gardens. Even longer lawns need plenty of tender loving care! Fortunately, we can offer all the love they need with our selection of magnificent mowers. The Stihl RM248 petrol lawnmower is ideal for medium-sized lawns up to 1200m2 and features foldable handle bars and a large 55-litre grass catcher box for fewer breaks. At the other end of the price scale, there’s the Stihl RM253T petrol lawnmower, featuring an extra-large cutting width and a single-speed drive that makes cutting a breeze even on very steep lawns. The height adjustment of this model features seven settings, so your lawn can be cut to the exact length required.

Whether you’re working outdoors or indoors, we’re the power tool experts you can trust. If you’d like any more advice or information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Redhill store.

Site radios – don’t miss a beat!

So you’ve stocked your van with high spec power tools and latest labour-saving gadgets. But we all know there’s one piece of kit you can’t do without on your worksite – a decent radio.

Whether you’re mad for Magic FM or love a blast of Absolute 80s, there’s no doubt a decent tune helps set the tone for a productive day’s work. In fact, a recent survey found that British workers complete a task on average three minutes faster with music playing than they do with no background sound. According to Harley Street psychologist Dr Becky Spelman: “Music has a really powerful impact on the brain. It affects mood and mental and physical performance.”

Now we know that science is on our side, it’s time to choose the kit. On a busy jobsite, you need a heavy-duty radio that can take a bit of wear and tear. But with such a wide range of radios on the market, which is best for you?

To make things easier, we’ve picked three bestselling models offering different specs and functions. All these radios offer DAB and FM frequencies, and there are a range of extra features such as Bluetooth pairing and powerful speakers. Read on for a run-down on each of our three featured options…

Festool Sysrock BR10 DAB+ radio. Price £114.13 + VAT

This compact model is portable and lightweight – you can perch it on even the narrowest of ledges or windowsills. It might be small but it’s powerful, with impeccable sound for its size. And yes, it also boasts Bluetooth, so if you want to sync it with your phone and listen to your own playlist, that’s not a problem.

Key features include:

  • AUX-IN interface
  • Integrated USB port for device charging
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Colour LCD display and easy-to-use controls
  • Three year warranty
  • Operation with Festool battery packs or mains cable

Makita DMR112 DAB+ job site radio. Price £138.82 + VAT

What’s not to love about this radio? The rugged design is matched by the fantastic sound quality, with new improved speakers compared to previous Makita models. The unit is shock-proof and moisture-protected, with an IP64 rating that makes it ideal for use on outdoor construction sites. This model has Bluetooth connectivity, two AUX-IN connectors and a USB port for charging other devices. The radio can store up to ten pre-set stations (that’s five FM and five DAB), so it’s simple to switch between music genres to keep you and your workmates happy.

Key features include:

  • Pairing Bluetooth button
  • Two AUX-IN connectors for MP3 players
  • USB plug to charge connected devices
  • Powerful sound with 2x89mm speakers
  • Foldable antenna
  • Powered by Makita Li-Ion batteries or AC power

Dewalt DWST1 TSTAK Radio. Price £163.53 + VAT

OK it doesn’t look like a radio on first sight, but we promise you this durable Dewalt model offers crystal clear, dynamic sound quality. It comes with six speakers, including two sub-woofers for anyone who likes a bit of bass to help them through the day.

With shock-resistant rubber moulding and an IP54 rating, the TSTAK guarantees tough protection in even the most challenging construction environments. This radio can be tuned to AM as well as DAB and FM frequencies, and as you’d expect from a hi-spec model, there’s Bluetooth connectivity and a USB charger. If you pride yourself on a tidy van, it’s good to know that this unit stacks perfectly with other Dewalt power tools, hand tools and accessories, providing neat storage as well as easy on-site transportation.

Key features include:

  • Colour screen with pre-set radio channels
  • USB charging port and 3.5mm AUX port
  • BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) enables connection without sacrificing battery life
  • Doubles as a charger for 18v XR or FlexVolt Batteries when connected to mains power
  • Incredible sound quality with four mid-range speakers and two sub-woofers

All these products can be ordered online, but if you prefer to take a look at our selection of jobsite radios ‘in the flesh’, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome at our Redhill store. Our expert staff can demo various models and talk you through the options to ensure you come away with a sound system that meets your exact requirements. Or if you’d like to chat on the phone to a team member, don’t hesitate to call us on 01293 820088.

Corded or cordless power tools: which is best?

Here at Fixings and Powertool Center, we like corded power tools and we like cordless power tools, but which is better? There’s only one way to find out …

No, not with a fight, instead we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each and come to a logical conclusion like the sensible adults we are.

Corded power tool advantages

Provided you have access to mains power the tool will run constantly. This means you can work for as long as you like without having to swap or recharge batteries.

Working off mains power also gives you a high power output, allowing you to use higher voltage tools on tough materials without a noticeable loss in performance.

And as they don’t rely on a heavy battery, corded power tools tend to be more lightweight than their cordless cousins, putting less stress on the user.

Corded power tool disadvantages

The biggest disadvantage of a corded power tool is its relative lack of manoeuvrability; even with an extension lead you’re still tethered to a plug socket somewhere, and then you’ve got the annoyance of tangles and storing your cable tidily.

As well as being time-consuming and frustrating, due to the safety risk of exposed wires and the trip hazard they pose, power cords are also more dangerous than batteries.

Finally, there’s the complete reliance on mains power; with a corded power tool you’re totally at the mercy of power cuts or any other situation that leave you without electricity.

Cordless power tool advantages

The obvious advantage is that you don’t need mains power, which can be extremely handy on sites where it has not yet been installed. Additionally, without the restriction of a power cord attached to a plug socket you are free to use a cordless power tool wherever you like. This makes them ideal for jobs in challenging conditions, for example where space is limited.

Without the need to trail cables throughout a worksite, health and safety is immediately improved. Say goodbye to people tripping over cords or receiving electric shocks from damaged wiring.

One of the great things about power tool batteries is their compatibility with other tools. As long as you’ve got the right spec you can swap your battery between different tools, saving you space and money. They’re also quick to set up – just whack in a charged battery and you’re ready to rock and roll.

And for those concerned about performance, thanks to advances in technology such as lithium ion batteries and brushless motors, many cordless tools can provide the same amount of power as corded tools.

Cordless power tool disadvantages

Depending on the type of technology they use, power tool batteries can run down quickly, which means not only will you need more than one, you’ll also have to make sure you’re disciplined with keeping them charged; there’s nothing worse than reaching for a spare battery only to find out you forgot to charge it. And if you’re using the type of battery that charges slowly, that equals even more wasted time.

Batteries can also be expensive when you need ones powerful enough to run a heavy duty construction tool.

So which is best…?

In general, it’s probably safe to say that cordless power tools have the edge over corded ones. Not only are they more user-friendly, they’re also a lot safer. However, due to their improved reliability and relative lack of maintenance, many people still prefer corded tools. Your preference will ultimately come down to which is best for your given situation; it’s a good idea not to rely on either type too much.

If you’re wavering over whether to go corded or cordless for your next power tool purchase, hopefully this guide has been helpful. But if you still have unanswered questions then remember we’re the power tool experts and we’re here to help, so just get in touch with our Redhill store.

How to protect your tools from theft

Hopefully you received some exciting new tools from Santa for Christmas, or at least some universal vouchers to buy some with. But how many of us give enough consideration to protecting our precious tools from thieves?

According to research carried out by Simply Business, one in three tradespeople has been a victim of tool or van theft, with the average cost of the crime equating to just over £3,000, which is more than the average monthly salary.

Having your tools stolen can have a far-reaching impact, involving not just the loss of property and the money needed to replace it, but also the potential loss of work and reputation if a job is affected. With these risks in mind, it’s common sense to ensure you do everything in your power to protect your tools from opportunistic criminals who threaten your livelihood.

Here are some ways you can help to avoid becoming a victim of tool theft:

1. Theft-prevention storage

You can add another layer of security by keeping your tools locked inside a secure storage container. Whether you install them in your van, your garage or on-site, products like those made by Van Vault use robust materials and strong, complex locks which provide enough protection to prevent even the most determined thief.

These come in different sizes and specifications depending on what you need to store and where you need to store it. Read more about the Van Vault products we supply here.

2. Vehicle security

Vehicle windows are the easiest point of access for thieves, but there are a couple of things you can do to improve their security. Window tints and blanks shield the interior of your van from sight, making it less likely for a thief to gamble on a break-in, while grilles offer an extra layer of protection.

Another option is to fit your van doors with sliding deadbolts. These come in manual and more expensive electric versions and make a would-be thief’s job much harder. Alternatively, there are exterior locks and hasps which are cheaper and provide additional visual deterrence.

And of course make sure your work vehicle is fitted with an alarm, and signage to advertise it. The idea of drawing attention with an ear-splitting alarm may be enough to make a thief think twice.

3. Tool marking and tracking

GPS trackers can be applied to your tools to allow you to track their location. If a thief recognises it then the presence of a tracker might be enough to stop him trying to steal it, as it gives him the dilemma of either spending valuable time prising it off at the scene of the crime, or being tracked as he makes a getaway with the goods.

You can also mark your tools to make them less attractive. If a tool has been engraved or datatagged then it makes it far less valuable to a thief intending to sell it on.

4. Park smartly

Don’t think that simply locking your tools inside your work van will be enough to deter thieves; if they think they can get away with something valuable they won’t hesitate to take a crowbar to a door to gain entry.

Although finding an empty parking space can be enough of a challenge by itself, try to choose one that limits the points of entry for thieves by parking with the rear or side doors against a wall or railings. Also try to park in well-lit areas with CCTV coverage.

5. Don’t go blabbing on social media

Finally, while it may be tempting to share photos of your shiny new tools on social media, this is a good way to advertise them to any ne’er-do-wells. Even the best privacy settings can be scuppered by a contact who isn’t as careful with their data, so instead just be content to keep your tool pride to yourself – it’s safer!

Hopefully these tips will help you keep your tools safe, but if you’re still unsure of the best way to protect them, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable team. We’re available six days a week at our Redhill store, so drop us a line.

Our staff’s top tools of 2019

So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, and you need a new nail gun. Thankfully it’s the time for giving, so why not ask Santa for a shiny new power tool?

Considering he runs his own toy-making workshop (staffed by elves on zero-hour contracts), the big man definitely knows his tools, but if you need to give him some suggestions, we’ve asked the staff at our Redhill store to list some of their favourites from the past twelve months.

Our favourite tools of 2019

Nick: “I vote for the Festool SYSLITE DUO-Plus, as it’s so powerful (8000 Lumen!!) it actually hurt my eyes taking this photo.”

Don’t worry, Nick’s vision has returned to normal now, but he’s still blinded by his admiration for this powerful and highly portable work light.

Using an array of LEDs, it emits light at a temperature of 5000 K, which replicates daylight, meaning you could use it for painting in the dark if you like. What’s more, the LEDs are guaranteed for 10,000 hours, which should be long enough for even the slowest of workers!

With a sturdy and durable casing, it’s tough enough to withstand the rigours of the worksite, and comes with a 4.8-metre-long cable to give you plenty of reach. Purchase the tripod accessory and you’ll also have the ability to easily control the height of your light source, or just use the hook to hang it from a wall if you prefer.

Now you can see why it’s the light of Nick’s life.

Tim: “My choice is the Stihl HLA56. New out this year, it finally brings a cordless long-reach hedge trimmer at a price point for domestic users. And even better it’s part of our two battery deal!”

At a total length of 210mm, this cordless hedge trimmer from Stihl is long enough cut high hedges without the need for a step ladder. Weighing less than 4kg, it’s easy to carry and manoeuvre, and comes with a detachable shaft for convenient transport.

It sports a double-sided set of blades that move at a stroke rate of 2,800rpm, and has an adjustable head that can be easily rotated through -45° to 90° to give you the ability to trim at a wide range of angles.

And as Tim mentioned, it’s currently part of our battery promotion, meaning you get a second battery half price when you buy the promotional Stihl cordless tool set. The price paid will include the second battery at half price.

Buy this tool and it really will be Christmas with all the trimmings.

Dean: “My top tool of 2019 is Milwaukee’s M18ONEFHIWF1-802X 1″ Impact Wrench, with tons of torque and enough power to rotate a planet.”

Dean’s not kidding either; have you noticed Saturn is facing the wrong way?

This cordless power tool delivers up to 2,400 Nm of unfastening power, and 2,033 Nm of fastening torque, giving you the ability to tighten or untighten bolts up to M42 size.

At 28cm long and under 5kg, it’s compact and lightweight, and it runs off a battery, eliminating the need for compressors or generators.

What’s more, it comes with a 4-mode drive control to give the user four different speed and torque settings depending on the amount of grunt needed for the job.

All in all, this one’s a real head-turner.

Dan: “My top tool of 2019 has to be the DeWalt DCS575T2 Circular Saw. It’s been a game changer for DeWalt fans and has proved to be one of the most sought after saws this year. Due to the impressive battery technology that DeWalt has developed, it’s a cordless machine with the power of a mains machine!”

Using a high torque motor powered by an 18/54V XR FLEXVOLT battery, this cordless, heavy duty construction saw gives you the power, accuracy, and running time of a corded machine along with the freedom and convenience of a cordless.

With a no-load speed of 5,800rpm, it has the guts for a host of construction cutting jobs including ripping, cross-cutting and bevelling and can slice through wood and other joinery materials like a hot knife through brandy butter.

Safety-wise, it features a rip fence, additional handle, and a dust extraction spout. It also runs quietly and at only 3.4kg won’t wear you out.

Get one of these for a present and you’ll be absolutely buzzing.

And finally we have a recommendation from an anonymous source who left a note on our front desk while no-one was watching. Given its expert opinion and the stealthy way it was delivered, the team believes it can only have been written by Santa himself.

The note reads: “Metabo SXE450 Turbo Tec sander. The original 150mm dual action sander relatively unchanged in over 10 years. A reliable workhorse and best value for money too.”

With a variable speed range of 4,200-11,000rpm and a TurboBoost switch that allows extra power to be recruited for really tough patches, you can easily imagine Santa buying one of these for his elves to use when the sleigh needs a new paint job.

That brings us to the end of the list, and hopefully now you have some great ideas for Christmas presents or things to spend your universal vouchers on in the new year.

We always stock the latest power tools at our store, and 2020 promises to bring us another bumper load of top line machines for us to get to grips with. Keep an eye out for reviews and offers in the new year, and remember you’re always welcome to pay us a visit or drop us a line for advice on the best tools for whatever job you’re working on.

In the meantime, we wish all of our customers and suppliers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we look forward to seeing everyone in 2020!

Oscillating Multi-tool Showdown: Makita DTM50Z v DeWalt DCS355N

Throughout the passages of recorded time, humankind has witnessed a series of titanic confrontations so epic in proportion they have become the stuff of legend: David and Goliath, Ali versus Foreman, Will Young against Gareth Gates. Now Fixings and Powertool Center brings you another colossal showdown: the Makita DTM50Z versus the DeWalt DCS355N.

When it comes to power tool versatility, the oscillating multi-tool is top of the tree. With the ability to cut, sand, polish, grind and sharpen, this tool gives users a wealth of options in one handheld device and helps reduce the number of separate tools needed for a job, making it a must-have for any tradesperson looking to save space and money.

A quick search online will turn up dozens of different oscillating multi-tools from various manufacturers and at a range of prices. With so much choice, it can be difficult to find the one that’s right for you, especially if you’re not an expert. To make things easier, we’ve identified two of our favourite 18v multi-tools: the Makita DTM50Z and the DeWalt DCS355N.

Both have good reasons to recommend them, so let’s run through some of their key features and see which one comes out on top of this power tool showdown.

Power

Both machines are cordless and run on 18v Li-ion battery power, which hold their charge well, have a high run time, and do not suffer from memory effect. However, while the DeWalt uses a brushless motor, the Makita uses a more traditional brushed motor. This means that not only does the DeWalt’s more efficient motor deliver up to 57% greater runtime than the Makita’s, its components are less susceptible to wear and therefore require less maintenance.

Makita **            DeWalt ***

Variable speed control

The Makita and the DeWalt both come with the ability to adjust the speed of the spinning implement, but overall the DeWalt offers the user greater control. While the Makita’s speed control comes in the form of an adjustable dial, the DeWalt’s Dual-Grip™ Variable Speed Trigger allows the user to control the machine’s speed from two separate positions by simply applying pressure. The DeWalt scores additional points for its ability to go from 0-20,000 oscillations per minute (opm), while the Makita’s range is limited to 6,000-20,000 opm.

Makita **            DeWalt ***

Accessories

Both machines are compatible with most brands and types of oscillating accessory (except Star Lock), which means users benefit from their versatility and can also shop around for accessories. The Makita uses an OIS interface, while the DeWalt has a universal accessory adapter, but the DeWalt’s Quick-Change™ Accessory System makes it easier and faster to change implements compared to the Makita’s less user-friendly hex key system.

Makita **            DeWalt ***

Extras

In terms of useful additions, these tools are fairly evenly matched. The Makita has a port that allows you to hook it up to a dust extractor to help you keep your work area clean, a feature the DeWalt lacks. Instead it features an in-built LED work light to improve visibility when working in dimly lit spaces.

Makita **            DeWalt **

Price and warranty

The Makita has a slight edge on price over the DeWalt, coming in at around £20 cheaper. Both machines come with an extended three year warranty that can be registered through the manufacturers up to 28 days after purchase.

Makita ***         DeWalt **

The result

Now the dust has settled and the judges have compared scorecards, we can reveal the winner of this power tool showdown is … the DeWalt DCS355N!

The DeWalt comes out on top in terms of specifications, but the Makita still offers a great option for slightly less money. If you already own cordless power tools (and therefore batteries) from these two brands, your choice may well come down to whether you have Makita or DeWalt machines.

Whichever one of these choices you go for, you’ll be getting a versatile and powerful multi-tool that will take care of a huge number of different jobs.

For more information on these two machines, or for any other advice on fittings and power tools, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us or drop by our Redhill store.

 

Top home snagging jobs to do before winter

Autumn and winter can be an expensive time for homeowners. Rain, wind and freezing temperatures can combine to cause property damage that requires costly repairs, especially when it affects heating and plumbing systems. With the cost of repairing a boiler alone totalling anywhere between £150 and £400, it’s easy to see how the strain put on a house by winter weather can leave you out of pocket.

Now is the time to give your property a thorough going over. With that in mind, we’ve made a checklist of useful snagging jobs to take care of before winter takes hold.

Exterior pointing

Mortar plays an important role in the stability of your house, and can be damaged by the ingress of water that goes on to freeze. If you find any significant holes between bricks, use a hammer and chisel to chip out loose mortar before filling them in with a pointing trowel.

Garage doors and joinery

When checking garage entrances, ask yourself: do the door mechanisms work? Are the locks OK? Use a drill driver to tighten any loose fixings.

Guttering

Look for gaps between joints, misaligned sections, or missing clips. Check downpipes are attached to the wall. A rainstorm is a good time to check guttering and pipes are working properly, and to spot any leaks or spills. A waterproof sealant can be used to fix anything that doesn’t merit replacing.

Roofing

Use a ladder to check the state of your roof. Are there missing or loose tiles or slates? Is flashing cracked or corroded? Identify problems and get them fixed before further damage occurs.

Garden gates and fencing

Make sure hinges, locks and bolts are working, and look for defects in walls, fences and posts.

Paving

Water should be draining away from the property, and there shouldn’t be standing water. If there’s a puddle larger than 1m2 and 7mm deep more than an hour after rainfall, you may need to correct the bed beneath the stones.

Garden furniture

Put away securely anything that could be damaged by winter weather. Check shed felting and windows while you’re at it. A nail gun makes short work of refelting.

Windows

This is a good time to paint or stain wooden window frames to protect them from the elements.

Electrics

Check outside lights and switches are working. If you have venting going outside from cookers or clothes dryers, check these are clear and that fans are working.

Heating

Look out for signs of problems and arrange to have them fixed as soon as possible. Unexpectedly high fuel bills could indicate a boiler problem. Cold spots are evidence of faulty emitters, while noises from pipes usually mean air is trapped inside.

Plumbing

Make sure fittings and pipework are fixed and in order. Are exterior waste pipes free of blockages and damage? Check grouts and seals are in place – these can be repaired using waterproof sealant. In the kitchen, look for signs of leaks from sinks and appliances.

Loft

Check insulation is in place and free from gaps. Make sure the loft hatch is insulated and sealed to prevent draughts. Check pipework and extracts are connected and working.

Once you’ve checked these items off your list you can rest easier knowing your home is properly prepared for the winter. To equip yourself with any of the tools mentioned above, or to seek further advice on how to take care of snagging jobs around the house, get in touch at our Redhill store.

How has workwear changed over the years?

Imagine this: you’re busy at work on the site, shovelling sand into the cement mixer, when Doc Brown screeches to a halt in his DeLorean time machine and says “Great Scott! We need to go into the past to see how builders dressed back then. Jump in, Marty!”

As you wonder who Marty is, perhaps also crossing your mind is what kind of weird and wonderful fashions you’ll see on your journey through the ages. Did the Ancient Egyptians wear hard hats? Why would you wear a waistcoat on site if it wasn’t high-vis? And just how comfortable would a pair of cords be in summer?

In the name of curiosity, we take a look back at workwear throughout the years and see how fashions and necessities have changed.

Headgear

Protective headgear did not come into common use until shipbuilders and dockworkers created helmets by covering their hats in a shell of dried tar. Later, companies began to make leather protective hats for miners, which in the early 20th century became steel hats similar to military helmets worn in WW1. The 1940s saw the arrival of fibreglass and aluminium helmets, followed in the 1950s by plastic hard hats, not unlike those worn in construction today.

Thanks to Directive 89/686/EEC, which came into force in 1992, safety helmets are now required on almost all construction sites, and have saved countless lives. But you don’t have to go too far back to find mind-boggling photographs of girder-straddling construction workers wearing flat caps or going bareheaded.

Eye wear

An early example of safety goggles can be found in P. Johnson’s patented ‘eye-protector’ of 1880 – two layers of semi-transparent cloth which offered some shielding from bright light, but very little protection from impact. Around the turn of the last century, a French scientist used a liquid-plastic-coated glass to create safety glass, which led to the creation of the first industrial safety goggles. But it wasn’t until the late 1970s that protective eyewear became practical and more commonly used.

Today’s protective eye wear is lightweight, comfortable, and even fashionable, meaning that workers have no excuse not to comply with safety regulations.

Gloves

Gloves go back a long way – at least as far as 1370BC and Tutankhamun’s tomb, and were also used by the ancient Greeks and Romans. With tanning one of the earliest industries, gloves were made to provide protection against cold, heat and injury, as well as dirt and disease.

Now safety gloves are required for a range of manual work, and modern varieties offer flexibility and comfort as well as protection.

Clothing

Thanks to paintings discovered on the walls of their tombs, we know the Ancient Egyptians wore precious little when they were building the pyramids. These images show slave labourers dressed in what look like skirts, which were probably made from linen. While this would have helped them stay cool in the sun, it would have offered next to no protection while they worked.

Fast forward to the mid-19th century, and manual labourers were positively overdressed. Navvies commonly wore flat caps, heavy boots, corduroy trousers, and even waistcoats while they toiled. Trousers were loose and worn to the stomach, Simon Cowell-style, and had to be held up with suspenders.

Nowadays, construction workers benefit from man-made materials that enable workwear to be lightweight and breathable while still offering a degree of protection. Clothing can be fire-retardant and durable, as well as reflective to increase awareness on sites.

Footwear

Navvies used to wear heavy boots edged with iron and with soles of an inch or thicker. While these sound restrictive, they would have at least offered some protection while working, which could not be said for the footwear of earlier workers.

In the 1980s, workboots such as those made by Dr. Martens became part of high street fashion, and this in turn has fed back into the design of current protective footwear. Safety boots now come in a variety of fashionable styles, and include breathable and water-resistant materials to improve comfort, as well as essential features such as steel toe caps and shock absorbing soles.

So there you have it, a whistlestop tour of history’s workwear. Now, even when the sun’s beating down and you wish you could take off your high-vis vest, you might think yourself lucky that you’re not sweating your bits off in head-to-toe wool.

At Fixings and Powertool Center, we stock a wide range of workwear both functional and fashionable, as well as all of the necessary Personal Protective Equipment. Don’t get caught out on site – make sure you’re properly equipped for the job. Contact us here for more information.