27 Jul 2017

Why quality should be key when specifying tools for your self-build

‘You pays your money and you takes your choice,’ an age-old adage, but never more true than today. Although it may be tempting to take shortcuts when having to buy a new piece of equipment, quality does cost money and we all know that.


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ADIY-quality drill is perfectly fine for those occasional maintenance jobs around the house. At the other end of the price and performance table are the tools chosen by tradesmen to earn their living and those are the tools that need to be used on your self-build so you can avoid delays and can get your dream home built on time.

Your ‘must-have’ tools that are not worth compromising on include a good combi drill and impact driver that you can rely on to perform again and again. A sound specification for your combi would drive a maximum of 16mm into masonry and up to 76mm into timber. This will be a two-speed drill running up to 2100 revs per minute and 31,500 impacts per minute with 21 torque settings to maximise the 115Nm of torque available.

A typically useful impact driver generates a mighty 175Nm of torque and will easily drive those big M8 timber screws home and even an M14 high tensile bolt. With up to 3800 impacts per minute available, these impact drivers weigh just 1.5kg and are really compact if you have to get between joists and studs.

As well as not taking shortcuts with power tools it is equally important not to take shortcuts with health and safety. As far as power tool operations are concerned it is imperative to use dust extraction vacuum equipment. This might seem like a frivolous spend but not only should you follow this safety code by coupling your power tools to the extractor, but you will always have a powerful house-keeping assistant long after the build project is completed. Technically, if you are working with brick, masonry, gypsum, tile, wood, plastic and anything containing silica sand, you should be using an M-class extractor which will remove 99.9% of the harmful elements.

To get the perfect finish you’ll need a good sander. Whilst a cordless orbital sander with three speeds will run up to 22,000 strokes per minute and carry the hook-and-loop, Velcro-type fitting of abrasive material, the long run times may steer you towards a corded sander and probably a half-sheet finishing sander, giving the greatest capacity as you prepare surfaces for decoration.

You’ll be sawing material in this build for sure. A cordless jigsaw is invaluable and a circular saw with 165mm diameter blade will be all you need. The jigsaw, with a maximum cut of 135mm in timber, will be used to install sinks and boxing around waste pipes whilst the circular saw, with 57mm maximum cut, will size panels and structural timber easily. The best jigsaw has a tool-less blade change so there’s no fiddly screws to drop – which also comes with a dust extraction connection.

Some major tasks are likely to require sophisticated bits of kit that are probably best sourced from the hire centre. The hire cost versus the purchase price means this is the best solution especially as you may only need it once in a lifetime.

There’s also the question of corded or cordless. To move freely around site, Makita has an extensive range of battery-powered tools. No fuel, noise or cables to worry about, plus many tools are available as ‘body-only’ to allow you to utilise a single battery platform which can adapt to many products in the range, therefore your investment in a single battery platform and charger will pay dividends.

The message here is to invest in tools that will serve multiple purposes and will do multiple jobs over its lifetime. Bear in mind too that when you invest in a professional power tool the same policy must be applied to the accessories; you need quality throughout.

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