How to maintain your power tools

When it comes to power tools, the secret to a long life is proper regular maintenance. A well-maintained drill could last 15 years, but treat it shabbily and it will cost you time and money, until it ends up on the scrap heap.

What’s more, a faulty tool can be a safety hazard. Keep tools in good condition and you’ll keep yourself safe, while also complying with Health and Safety standards.

Sometimes repairs are unavoidable, but the better you treat your equipment, the longer it will stay out of the repair shop. Here’s a list of common maintenance tips designed to help prolong the life of your power tools:

  1. Keep tools clean

Construction areas aren’t the cleanest of places, so keeping your power tools clean requires regular effort. Before and after using any power tool, give it a check over to make sure there’s no crud stuck to it. Have a rag handy to wipe off any sawdust, grease, etc., and use a can of compressed air to blast debris out of hard-to-reach parts.

  1. Look after cords, hoses and batteries

Plugs, cords, air lines and batteries are the weak links in most power tools. Check plugs and cords are intact before attaching to mains power, and don’t be tempted to use anything that seems damaged, or bodge a repair. When not in use, roll up cords and hoses to avoid kinks that can lead to faults. Keep batteries away from extreme temperatures, and don’t let them run all the way down before recharging.

  1. Check safety features

Inspect safeguards before use to ensure they’re in place and intact; not only can a faulty guard damage the tool, it can also injure the user. Never tamper with or remove a tool’s safety guard, and unless you know what you’re doing be sure to have repairs carried out by a professional.

  1. Don’t use old or broken attachments

The friction and stress that attachments like drill bits, saw blades and sanding discs experience make wear and tear inevitable, but continuing to use worn or damaged parts can break the tool or, worse, cause injury. Check the business end of the tool before use for excessive wear, cracks or missing parts, and be sure to replace anything damaged. Not only will you help prevent further damage and possible injury but you’ll also get better results from the tool.

Don’t forget to protect yourself with safety equipment when dealing with power tools.

Follow these simple tips and you should find that your tools last longer. However, if they do suffer a breakdown, or if you decide it’s time they had a tune-up, then don’t forget our site includes a repair and servicing shop. Our highly-trained team of experts are on hand to diagnose, repair and service a wide range of makes and models of power tool. To book an appointment, or to find out more, get in touch here.

DeWALT Demo Day – June 21st 2019

Don’t miss our exclusive DeWALT Demo Day on Friday June 21st!

We’ll have all the latest new DeWALT products and will be doing demonstrations in store. Plus there will be special offers on the day:

  • 4 Customer Experience days to be won
  • Buy any Flexvolt kit and claim a FREE XR Flexvolt 6Ah battery
  • Spend £400 and get a FREE 4Ah 18v battery
  • Spend £500 and get a FREE 5Ah 18v battery
  • Spend £600 and get a FREE 6Ah 18v battery
  • Spend £900 and get a FREE 9Ah 18v battery

 

10 essential tools for building contractors

Whether you’re just starting out in the building trade, or you’re a veteran looking to splash some cash on a new toy, it’s always worthwhile finding out what other contractors are carrying in their toolkit. Some like to keep things old school by putting their trust in more manual tools, while others are always in search of the latest gadget.

Although your tools depend largely on the type of projects that you do, there are some you shouldn’t be without. So kick back with a brew and let us run down our list of the 10 absolute essentials.

  1. Drill

A must-have piece of kit. Most people choose the hassle-free option of a cordless drill, though if you’re going to follow suit, make sure you get an 18-volt model with a couple of batteries, as this will give you enough power and battery charge to last throughout the day. Many drills also double as an electric screwdriver, saving you space and money. Top tip: Go for a drill with more than one year’s warranty on both drill and batteries.

  1. Reciprocating Saw

When it comes to woodworking, a saw is a basic requirement. However, there’s no need to wear yourself out by using a manual hand saw. A reciprocating saw is an extremely versatile power tool that can deliver around 3,000 strokes a minute. This allows it to cut through most building materials, from wood to steel and copper. Just remember when using one to protect yourself with adequate safety gear.

  1. Oscillating multi-tool

Using rapid side-to-side movement, the versatility of these gadgets lends them to a wide variety of tasks. From cutting and sanding, to polishing and wood detailing, the range of interchangeable accessories available means you can replace several tools with just one device. Investing in one can save you both money and hard work.

  1. Tape measure

There aren’t many jobs that don’t require an accurate measurement at some point, so purchasing a good retractable steel tape measure is a no-brainer. Go for one with a minimum extendable length of 5 metres, though the longer the better.

  1. Spirit levels

Liquid bubble levels can be bought in packs that include a long and short version, ideal for when you need to measure straight levels in confined spaces. If you’re more technologically-inclined, then you could plump for a laser level for better accuracy and adaptability.

  1. Vacuum

With stricter regulations surrounding construction dust coming into force, it’s essential that you’re able to keep your work area free of harmful materials. Whether you’re drilling, sawing, or sanding, you’re guaranteed to be working in an atmosphere of dirt and dust. Help keep the site clean and safe by investing in a trustworthy industrial vacuum or dust extractor.

  1. Hammer

While nail guns take away most of the effort, you can’t beat a trusty claw hammer for giving things a good old whack. Avoid those with wooden shafts, as these tend to deliver more of a shock to the hand on impact; fiberglass or steel is a better bet for comfort. Comes with a range of swear words for when you hit your thumb.

  1. Step ladder

Unless you’re over seven feet tall, chances are you’re going to need a step ladder. Resist the temptation to stand on a piece of furniture and get yourself a durable set of steps for those hard-to-reach tasks. Some models are made with non-conductive materials like fiberglass to reduce risks on electrical jobs.

  1. Safety gear

The most important bit of kit you’ll ever own is your body; if you get injured you might find yourself unable to work until you recover. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re equipped with reliable safety gear. A strong pair of gloves will help protect your hands, goggles will shield your eyes, steel toe cap boots will safeguard your feet, and a mask will keep you from breathing in harmful materials. Also, when you’re working on a construction site, PPE regulations require you to wear a hardhat to protect your noggin.

And last but not least –

  1. Pencil

Perfect for marking up materials or for just doing the crossword. Ideally perched behind one ear, or tucked into a pocket away from light-fingered workmates.

We hope our list has given you some food for thought for when the time comes to treat yourself to a new tool. If you’d like to find out more about any of the options out there for contractors, then get in touch.

And if any of your power tools need a little TLC, don’t forget we have our own repair workshop where our engineers service and repair a wide range of professional power tools.

Trying to choose a planer? Read our plain-talking guide

Originally a mediaeval tool, a planer cuts wood to the desired thickness, while at the same time creating perfectly parallel surfaces and beautifully bevelled edges. Whether you’re levelling floor joists, smoothing rough surfaces, or ensuring accuracy in cabinet-making, a reliable planer is an essential component of any woodworker’s toolbox. It’s therefore worth taking the time to decide which features are most important to you when you’re looking to buy one.

What to look out for

Electric power planers can dramatically cut task times, while providing a professional, clean finish. Key aspects to consider when selecting an electric planer include: power, cutterhead quality, cutting widths, weight, dust collection, and portability.

Selecting a tool that has enough power to drive the motor, no matter what type of wood is being cut, is essential. One measure of power is the speed (in revolutions per minute) at which the motor turns. Anything less than 8000 rpm isn’t going to provide the drive needed.

We’ve picked out three of our most popular models across the varying price ranges, all with impressive durability and performance, to demonstrate the versatility of the tool and to point you in the right direction on your hunt for the ideal planer.

Our top picks

At the value end of the range, the Bosch GHO 26-82 Planer 110V provides plenty of power for a small machine. Its compact size makes this tool perfect for transporting on-site. For a competitive price, you’ll get the fastest and best value blade changes on the market, and it also comes with parking rest, and lock-off switch, and chip clearance suitable for both right and left handed users.

At the other end of the market, the Festool EHL65EQ One Handed Planer 240V should be on your shortlist. This machine is designed with comfort in mind. Complete with a soft-grip handle and weighing only 2.4kg, it’s a versatile and portable addition to your power tool collection.

The Festool Planer works to a planing depth of 4mm, and 23mm rebate, with a spiral blade that reduces noise levels while working. As you would expect with a Festool product, the dust extraction at the left or right hand side means the dust is taken away immediately so you can clearly see what you’re working on, and you won’t need to clean up afterwards. With infinitely variable chip depths, this planer has the advantage of a quick blade change thanks to its automatic adjustment for greater speed and efficiency.

Another respected name in the market – DeWalt – offers a powerful model that copes with even the hardest wood. The DeWalt D26500K 4mm Planer 240V has left and right chip rejection, front handle depth control and a large planer blade drum which rotates at high speed to provide an excellent finish.

If you’re looking for a planer, we’ll point you in the right direction – matching your requirements with the ideal model. Give us a call or pop into the store for one-to-one advice.

Tips on how to keep your gas nail gun firing

Nail guns – or nailers as they’re also known – are one of the handiest tools in the toolbox. Far from being a luxury, it’s an essential piece of kit for any keen DIYer or tradesperson involved in construction.

It can help you get the job done quickly, and improve accuracy, as the nails are driven in at high speed. It could also save the odd finger here and there too!

However, as a repair and maintenance centre, we handle a significant number of nail guns every week that have stopped working due to a lack of regular servicing and basic care.

Nail gun maintenance doesn’t need to be carried out in a professional workshop. There are things you can do at home to keep your nail gun performing at its best. Not only will it help you save money in the long run, it will also ensure your safety.

Here we’ve put together our top four maintenance tips:

1. Cool it down

If you’re maintaining your nail gun after use, make sure you turn it off and let it cool down. Remove any gas, batteries or nails before conducting checks. This equipment is highly dangerous if handled incorrectly.

2. Oil it every day

The moving parts of the nail gun need to be oiled every day and in between sessions during periods of heavy use. Different manufacturers will recommend different oil types dependent on the machine you have, so check the manufacturer’s guidelines for suggestions. Pay particular attention to the O-rings inside.

3. Keep it clean

Airborne dust and debris can build up in the system and interrupt the nail feed. Use a degreaser to wipe off built-up dirt. Again, check the guidelines for recommended cleaners that match your brand. Avoid using a cleaner that leaves a sticky chemical residue. You can also rub down your gun with a lint-free cloth that won’t shed fibres.

5. Give it a once-over every month

Nail guns are subjected to high levels of pressure and movement, which means screws can loosen and parts can break off. Check it over once every month to make sure nothing is loose or out of place. Tighten bolts where necessary. Replace worn-out parts such as O-rings, battery pads and filters with approved spares or take it to our service centre for more advice. Make sure you’re using the right fuel cells – check they’re in date too!

If your nail gun isn’t performing correctly, don’t spend hundreds on a replacement until you’ve popped into our Redhill workshop. It’s open Monday to Friday, 7am to 6pm, so there’s plenty of opportunity to come along and speak to our expert team.

 

Our guide to buying a reliable router

If you’re on the lookout for a full-sized woodcutting router, the sheer number of products on the market can make the choice confusing. Before you spend hours searching the internet for advice and recommendations, we’ve put together a guide on how to purchase a router that will last.

Whether you need a router for your trade or a DIY project, there are two names that stand out from the crowd. For reliability and power, we recommend DeWalt and Festool, two trusted manufacturers who have led the field in recent years.

A router is a heavy duty wood cutting device on a fixed or plunge base. In this instance, we’re examining products at the higher end of the market, specifically routers with a plunge base used by those in the trade. These models are able to perform a wider variety of cuts in comparison to fixed based ones.

Need to cut, trim, join, carve or hollow? A good router can make light work of almost any job. The versatility of this tool is also down to the number of accessories available, so look at what’s on offer to select the best all-rounder.

What to look out for:

  1. High power output – you need a tool with enough power to cut through the toughest wood
  2. Soft-start motor – to ensure a smooth start for greater precision
  3. Plunge action – look for a smooth plunging mechanism
  4. Variable speed – this is important for different materials and tasks
  5. Dust extraction – to avoid build-up and clogging

There are two size options available on most leading brands, a quarter inch or half inch collet (the sleeve that holds the bit). However if you’re looking for the ultimate machine it’s best to go for a half inch router as it can be adjusted down in size.

The benefits of a DeWalt router

Enjoying a long-established history in tool manufacturing, the DeWalt Products Company began life in 1924 and has grown to be one of the biggest names in the industry. In 1994, DeWalt bought out German power tool business ELU, a manufacturer with a reputation for forward-thinking technology. This has led to an impressive offering of powerful routers that are worth the investment.

We stock a range of plunge routers from DeWalt which offer no-load speeds of between 8000 and 2400 rpm. Other key features include: electronic speed control for consistency; soft start to eliminate misaligned movement from a rapid start; and a precision guide for cutting accuracy. DeWalt has a patent on its plunge arms, which are coated to make the action smoother no matter how dusty they get. Cheaper routers have plastic shields to prevent dust build-up but these aren’t as effective. Prices start from £234.35 for the DeWalt DW615 Plunge Router 110V and 230V.

The advantages of a Festool router

Festool’s routers are ergonomically designed for a smooth glide, and are available in the quarter and half inch collet sizes. Although in the higher price bracket, the three-year manufacturer’s warranty makes it a guaranteed investment.

Its distinctive one-handed design is innovative but means it’s important to try before you buy. Some of our customers love the shape while others prefer the traditional style. We’ve got a selection on display at our shop for you to handle. Our Festool routers start from £389.64 for the Festool OF 1010 EBQ-Plus Router 240V, which features electronic feedback control, a quick-acting brake and chip extractor.

We also stock a range of router accessories including jigs, cutters and guide rails for the perfect finish on all jobs. If you need advice or guidance, pop in store and speak to our expert team, and we’ll find the router that’s right for you.