24 May 2016

The ‘must-have’ items in every self-builder's toolbox

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Embarking on a self-build project is both an exciting and daunting prospect, but one thing that can make the experience a lot smoother and more enjoyable is having the right tools for the job. Here Nathan Ford, Application Specialist at FEIN, gives advice on the ‘must-have’ items in every self-builder's toolbox.

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The world of power tools is extremely diverse and knowing which tool does what best is not always as straightforward as one would hope. While buying specialist or niche tools for individual tasks might be cost-effective for the time-served professional, it isn’t always for the DIYer – the trick is to know which tools can do lots of jobs well and which tasks are best completed with a specialist tool.

Starting with the category of multifunction tools, there is one that clearly rises to the top of the list. The oscillating multi tool (OMT) market has exploded in recent years and for good reason, their versatility and durability has made them a must-have tool across nearly every trade. Sanding, cutting wood, cutting metal, cutting plastic, grout removal, polishing, and rasping are just a few of the tasks OMTs can carry out.

The best OMTs have a combination of power, comfort and a quick accessory change. A high-powered machine with variable speed is best, as it will give the user greater control to produce a higher quality of finish. Comfort is also extremely important with OMTs, because of the oscillating movement. All OMTs vibrate, but the best have innovative anti-vibration and noise cancellation features, these will make them much nicer to work with in the hand. The speed of accessory change will also make a big difference. Because OMTs are so multifunctional, inevitably users will be changing the accessories often and if this process is difficult or long-winded then it will become a real bugbear. FEIN’s new OMT range features its new Starlock accessory mounting system, which enables accessory changes in less than three seconds without the need for additional clamping removable parts like a pin.

The other multifunction tool that springs to mind is the power drill and screwdriver. Whether it’s making multiple screw connections, drilling wood, plastic or masonry, a power drill is an essential part of the self-builder’s tool bag. Things to look out for in a good drill include a brushless motor for added reliability, high torque rating for the tougher jobs, comfortable weight and balance for prolonged use and extra features like an LED light, drill bit holder and battery read out display.

Specialist tools that self-builders should consider for specific tasks include collated screw guns if there is a large amount of dry-walling or stud wall erection and angle grinders for cutting metal, pavers, mortar or cleaning and polishing surfaces.

A consideration across all power tools is whether to go cordless or corded. Both have their merits but for the self-builder I would recommend cordless. Battery technology has come a long way in recent years and many cordless tools will now produce the same power that you get from their corded counterparts. Run-times have increased massively too and the best kits come with two batteries minimum and a rapid charger (offering recharge times of around 35 minutes).

To make the most cost-efficient investment in power tools look out for relevant combination sets and manufacturers that have one battery compatible across multiple machines. For instance, FEIN offers a number of OMT and power drill combination sets that bring the two most versatile tools together with interchangeable batteries.

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