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Black & Decker WM301-XJ
Here we have an almost iconic tool ( yes there is such a thing! ) - the Black and Decker workbench. A handy gizmo for all DIY enthusiasts with all manner of clamps and vices and holes to put g-clamps through. It also holds a cup of coffee nicely while you work... I have had mine for years and it is still going strong ( ... although it is looking a little Jackson Pollock these days ). I have used it as a sawhorse for logs, to hold wood during drilling, to hold wood for sanding and for decorating. I has rubber feet which gives it stability and it is surprisingly easy to carry and move about.
The workbench is a folding contraption with strong steel legs and a wooden type top.
The wood looking top is actually made from strong compressed bamboo and is in two halves which can be used as an extra large vice. The edges feature an inch/cm rule. Very useful. There are dual clamping cranks to increase the clamping power and a variety of swivel pegs and grooves for versatile clamping of wood etc.
It arrives boxed and is easy to set up and use within ten minutes.
This little wonder of engineering holds virtually anything steady so that you can drill, saw, rout to your hearts content. It fits in a small workspace and is easy to stash in a small space for storage.
I am not a huge fan of Black and Decker for power tools because I find them to be rather weak and feeble. But this is an essential item for me and very reasonably priced. Black and Decker do different versions of their famous workbench which have all manner of bells and whistles as you go up the price range. This one is suitable for most DIY jobs and semi-professional work.
I use it for predominantly hardwood which it holds with ease. More importantly it does not mark or damage the wood as I am working on it. When I am using softwood such as pine, cedar etc I always protect the wood in the clamps with some cloth and would advise others to do the same. I have never (thank goodness) had an occasion where the wood has slipped in any of the clamps whilst I have been working so this is a good and safe item to own.
Holds virtually anything within vice jaw range, bench tool stand, vice for cutting, drilling, routing, painting etc, general workbench and stable enough to use as a sawhorse.
Vice jaw length: 610mm
Vice jaw opening: 0 - 115mm
Vice jaw material: Compressed Bamboo.
Working height: 760mm
Table width: 341mm
Folds for easy storage.
Prices range from £28-£45 and it comes with a 2 Year Manufacturers Warranty.
In conclusion - a fantastic item to assist in any DIY task. Easy to set up and fold down and light enough to carry about. Stable and safe.
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I like to do things with my hands, (easy now... I'm not talking about that!, not here anyway), and sometimes I like to make things, either because I have to or because I need to quench the thirst of boredom. When it comes to making things, or even repairing things, it's nice to have the right tools in order to make the job in hand ... easy and safe to finish.
Some jobs in hand, (no... still not that), need a larger tool to complete, which is where a good power drill or sledgehammer may come in handy, whilst other jobs only need small tools to achieve the right result.
And it is one of the latter of tool types that I am going to tell you about today. That tool being something that can replace a vast array of things that are used to attach certain materials together... or in other words, it's something that is designed to help you stop having to go out and buy hundreds of tubes of 'Uhu' glue, (other brand named glues are also available at most stores).
What I am talking about is a sort of gluing device, but it's not the sort of glue that you instantly think of. It's not the sort that you squeeze out of a tube, nor is it the sort that you paste onto what ever you want sticking. This is on fact a gun that glues.
Yes that's right, it's a gun that glues?!! In fact, this particular gun that glues, or glue gun, to give it it's true title, is made by a well known tool company who are best recognised from their dark green tools that are found on many shop shelves, and that company name is..? ... No..? you at the back, the one with the striped hat and large nose. It's not from Wilkinsons. And you in the middle, the lady with the short skirt and hairy legs, it's not made by the Coop either... it is on fact made by the well known and very respected company called Bosche, with the full name of this gun being the Bosche PKP 240volt glue gun.
Now, I bet you're confused? I mean, you possibly know that Bosche make some cracking tools. You've seen such things green things as saws, drills, planes, (not the flying kind of planes), and several other tools as well. But how and why have Bosche made a gun that glues. How can a gun glue things together? Guns are for shooting things not for sticking things together, so how can I be talking about a gun that glues?
* Well, let me tell you.
Firstly, I'll tell you roughly what it looks like, which helps in letting you know why and how a gun can glue...
The main thing is that it is shaped like a gun, hence the gun in the name of it, and it has a trigger, again, a reason why it has the word 'gun' in the name. then, there is a handle to grab hold of and a nozzle that shoots things out.
And that's where the gun theme ends really.
It's a nice size, if more at the larger glue gun range, being about 205mm long by 160mm high, (at the handle) and about 30mm wide, (diameter, sort of), weighing in at a floating feather weight 345 grams.
On the front there is a black nozzle with a small hole in the end that the hot glue oozes out of, then, as we go backwards along the top of the glue gun, the is a small window type hole that shows you where the glue stick is up to, size why, so that you know how much glue is left on the stick itself, (these sticks I will explain a little later, if you don't mind). Also, on the top, or more on the bottom of the top section near the front end, so to speak, there is a couple of small holes, one either side. These holes are for the small metal stand that is designed to support the gun when it is being used so that you can place it down on a surface, keeping the heated end from burning the surface and keeping the danger of fires at bay.
On the back there is a round hole that, when you look into it, is like a like tunnel leading from the rear of the gun right through to the nozzle at the front.
And now for the handle, which simply has a rather large black trigger on the front of it, which is the gun resemblance, and it is when you pull, or more squeeze the trigger that the glue comes out of the end...
And that's really what it looks like.
* So how does it work..?
Before I go into how it works I have to tell you about the glue sticks themselves as they are quite important for this glue gun.
You do have to get the right size glue sticks for this gun, those being the 11mm ones, as there are many other sizes for different size glue guns. But 11mm sticks are quite common and easily found in many shops.
The sticks themselves are basically solid sticks of glue which, when heated up by the gun that they are inserted into, soften the stick and turn the solid glue into liquid, which then acts like any other glue, allowing you to paste the glue into the area you want to stick together.
Seconds later the softened liquid glue begins to solidify, turning back into the solid state that you see on the stick themselves. Then, after a bit longer, about a minute or so, depending on the air conditions around you, the glue will become as hard as rock and will make the area you have just glued have a firmer grip than the right hand of a single man in an adult video store.
* Now for how this glue gun works..?
This is such a simple method that I wonder why it took so long until some one actually came up with the idea of these guns that glue.
This works by simply heating the glue stick to a scorching hot 200°C so that the solid stick heats into a liquid form so that it can seep into areas that a solid piece can not reach.
Basically turning a solid glue into a liquid glue that turns back into a solid glue... simple really.
You simply insert the glue stick into the end of the gun, the end opposite the nozzle area as there's no way that you can get the stick into the tiny nozzle so don't even try.
Anyway, once the glue stick has been inserted into the rear end you plug the gun into the mains and let it heat up to it's maximum heat setting. This is a single heat of 200°C and, once there, it remains at that heat, no more and no less, until you unplug the gun. This helps the glue sticks melt at the exact temperature so that it doesn't burn and, more importantly, it doesn't come out with any little lumps and bumps.
So now the gun has reached its maximum flux capacity temperature it's just a matter of aiming the nozzle of the gun in the place you want to stick together and gently squeeze the trigger.
This trigger squeezing action slowly pushes the glue stick forwards and, as the heat of the gun around the stick melts the stick itself, the now liquid glue begins to 'ooze' out of the nozzle and onto the material you're working on.
Basically, the gun heats up and melts the glue stick that, with the pull of the trigger, passes through the top of the gun, turning a solid into liquid at a very high temperature.
And that's how the gun works.
You do have to be careful as the liquid glue comes out as hot as the gun becomes. That being 200°C. it does cool down over time but it's best left for a while before finger contact as it will take the skin from your bones quicker than a smirking chav taking your wallet as you walk down a darkened street at sunset
* Does it work then..?
In one word... Yes, it does... hang on, that's three words.
But anyway, it does work and can stick things together quicker than a traffic warden issuing tickets, and can be as strong as a teenager armpit aroma.
It does take a few minutes for the liquid glue to solidify into the bond that is needed for that perfect joint but once there it will probably out last the material you are gluing together.
* So what can I use this on..?
This glue can be used on many material. Such as wood, leather, paper, card, thin metals, (such as aluminium), plastics, certain cloth, glass and probably what ever else you can think of sticking together.
It will struggle on thick metals where a true weld is really needed. Don't get me wrong, it will stick them together but the join won't last long at all.
Basically, if you need something gluing and you think that a tube of Uhu will do it then this glue gun will be of more use... but if your car needs a new drivers side wing reattaching then I'd seriously get the welding kit out of the kitchen cupboard as this glue gun may fail you very badly.
* Is it easy to keep clean..?
Pretty much yes.
The only part that has any issues surrounding keeping clean is the nozzle area as this is where the hot glue seeps out of. This is where you would expect it to get bunged up worse than a 'Big Mac' addicts back passage but the actual nozzle manages to stay remarkably free of the heat glue as it runs through the tube.
But even if some glue does end up hardening inside the nozzle it soon softens up when the gun reaches the right temperature once again.
* What do I think of this glue gun..?
This really does save me a fortune on buying several different types of glue for all different fabrics and materials as the glue from this gun can stick all sorts of stuff together without any real trouble at all.
This gun feels nice in the hand, being a good size, with the handle feeling very solid in my hand so that when the gun gets hot I'm not worried about my hand being near the heated area.
As for actually using it it is so easy and very safe indeed, unless you're either very stupid or very clumsy, or both, which if you are then for the love of god please don't even think of going near this glue gun,,, or me come to think of it as I have had enough bad luck recently.
It has a few nice features, such as the mechanical feed, which means that when you press the trigger it squeezes the hot glue out slowly and surely, stopping it coming out when you release the trigger. This is all controlled by the mechanical feed so that the right amount comes out. No more and no less, which saves any unnecessary burning of the skin or worktops.
Plus, there's the little wire stand that attaches to the sides of the gun so that it can stand up when it is being used, which stops anything getting burnt from the heat of the front of the gun. This wire simply folds forwards and backwards so that when you are between gluing you can rest the hot gun down without the hot nozzle touching anything. The stand may look a little flimsy but it can take the slight weight of the glue gun without collapsing.
As for actually getting to the ultimate heat setting, this gun gets to the maximum heat of 200°C in a matter of 6 minutes and 45 seconds, (or there- abouts), and stays at that heat so that it gives a constant run of glue without it getting too hot and burns the tips or becoming to cold so that the glue sets inside the nozzle.
According to the book it can give out about 20grams of glue in a minute, but I have not tried this so I can not confirm that statement at all. But what I can say is that the glue does come out at a speed that feels very comfortable when sliding the gun around the area that needs gluing. Not too fast and not too slow.
Anyway, if I remember correctly this gun only game with one solid glue stick, but these sticks are as cheap as chips, (what ever that means), and can be bought from many shops out there, just make sure you get the right 11mm diameter sticks as there are a few different ones.
But apart from the gun and the single glue stick you get an extra-long nozzle, which helps get the glue into the more narrower areas, plus an instruction manual which give a simple guide on how to use the glue gun.
* What more can I say about this glue gun..?
Well, it does exactly what it is supposed to do and it does it well. It glues things together and keeps them stuck for a long time afterwards.
Using it is so simple, being just a matter of aiming the nozzle into the area you want to glue, then it's just a matter of pulling the trigger and slowly moving the gun along... the glue then does what it is supposed to do and sets in a matter of minutes, making the join as solid as Rocky Balboa's six pack.
* What would one have to pay for this gun that glues things together..?
This glue gun sells for a mere £15, roughly, which is great value indeed as it does a great job in connecting things together and can save you money in the long run as you won't have to spend £4.00 a time on tubes of very expensive glue.
As for the glue sticks, these sell for a few pounds, and for that you can get a good 50 sticks or so.
Do shop around as there are many offers out there, just remember to get the 11mm sticks as they are the ones that fit this gun
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Bosch GHG 660 LCD
Anyone that enjoys a bit of painting and decorating, apart from being a little mad, knows how important it is to have the most appropriate equipment for certain jobs. What I mean by that is that you can't drive home a screw with a paint brush, nor can you sand down a piece of wood with a plumb bob. So, depending on what job you're ... having to face, you want to put your hands on the tool that will make everything go as smooth as silk.
And when it comes to painting onto already painted wood then it's sometimes better to strip the old paint off the wood in order to get it down to the bare bones, just so that you can paint a fresh coat and make the work look more professional instead of going about it quickly and leaving lumps and bumps everywhere.
So, what is best for stripping the old paint off the work then..?
Here is where you get a choice. Which is a rarity these days.
You can either use a lot of sand paper, together with good old fashioned elbow grease, and sand away until all the old paint has gone. This is possibly the longest method and is defiantly the messiest method indeed.
You can also opt for buying some paint stripper from the shop which, with the instructions followed to the letter, will bubble the paint off the work so you can then use a scraper to scrape the bubbly paint off. Then you will have to do a bit of sanding to finish the work off.
The other way, which, if you have a lot of paint to shift, or actually do a lot of stripping over time, (not clothing as that's a different story), then you may be best of investing in something called a heat gun, and don't worry, even with the name 'Gun' in it it doesn't mean it requires a license of some kind, nor will you have the armed response team jumping out at you from behind the bushes when you're using this in your garden... unless you have a very short sighted neighbour that is.
That is what I did, (No, not the armed response and short sighted neighbour scenario, although that would have been interesting to say the least). I bought myself a heat gun. But not just any old heat gun, this heat gun is something quite special, and unlike most other heat guns that I have owned or used.
This heat gun that I invested in is called the GHG 660 and comes from the well known DIY tool shop, and professional too, company called Bosch.
So what does it look like then..?
It looks a bit like a gun, hence the name, heat gun, although it's more a star trek gun that one you'd expect to see Clint Eastwood brandishing in one of his trashy movies.
It is about 255mm long and about 255 high and weighs in about a kilo.
Right at the front there is the heated area, which is what does the job that you want it to do. This is protected by a ring of metal, or more known as the nozzle, which does get hot and should not be touched under any circumstances when this gun is on.
It is this nozzle area that the attachments connect to so that this becomes more than just a paint stripper.
Then behind this nozzle, there is a heat protection area which is basically a thicker piece of plastic that is slightly raised from the heat nozzle area and, in theory, separate the users hands from the metal of the heat nozzle itself.
Then, as we go back down the gun itself, or more the plastic housing that encases the workings which provide the power to the heat section.
There is a well designed and very comfortable handle which has a rubber feel to it, and there's a finger guard in front of this handle grip so that it is safer to hold when the plastic you're working on gets a little hot.
Behind the handle there is the on/off switch, which can be reached with the thumb, flicking it up and down when needed.
And finally, above the on/off switch, right at the rear of the gun itself, there is a small, yet easily understandable LCD screen to let you see what the gun is set to do.
Below the LCD screen are a couple of buttons, the air flow settings and the temperature settings. These can both be set by pressing the + and - buttons depending on what job you have in mind.
When you have found a setting that you feel works best for a particular job you can store that setting into the memory by pressing the 'store' button which is just to the left of the screen.
Then, to the right of the screen there is the 'program' button which, as you can guess, takes you into the program settings of the gun.
Normally, apart from the heat gun you do get a couple of attachments as standard, these are the 50mm wide nozzle which is used for paint stripping, and the 75mm wide glass protection nozzle for when you're stripping around windows and such glass things, although for both you will need a scraper to actually scrape the bubbling paint away from the surface.
A few other specs for the boffins...
It gives 1400 watts of power
It offers an airflow rate of 250 - 500 litres per minute, with cold air setting of 50° C +
The heat settings range from 50°C - 660° C.
And that's what this looks like...together with the nozzles that come as standard. Which, you may think, makes this heat gun just, well, a heat gun, nothing more, nothing less. And I agree.
But it is the added extras, which unfortunately you may have to pay a little extra for, but, if you do a lot of stripping, PVC pipe work, plastic moulding or anything to do with working with plastics or paints, then the added extra may well be worth the added price.
Luckily, I managed to get a bundle offer when I bought this heat gun, but I did have to do a bit of haggling when it came down to it. So if I can do it then I'm sure you can.
Anyway, the extras that I managed to get in the bundle, but are sold as extras for this particular device, are...
* A reflector nozzle
* Heat shrinkable tubing nozzle
* Reduction nozzle
* Welding shoe
* Welding rods
So how do I use it then..?
The first thing I will say is that you do have to be careful as this gets hotter than a nympho in an Amsterdam back street. Believe me, you will burn your fingers and hands if you don't show this some respect.
But saying that, using it is as easy as using a hair dryer, (not that I use a hair dryer that much these days). You simply attach the required nozzle that you need for the job at hand, then slide the on/off switch to the on position, check the air and heat settings and your ready to go. The gun should begin to heat up, reaching the set temperature in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Then, once the temperature is reached, you're ready to begin doing what you have to do.
There are four settings in total, one setting for each purpose, shaping, welding, soldering and stripping, with the air flow and heat flow both regulated by simply pressing the + or - button on the rear of the gun. This can be done slowly, one step at a time, with ten steps in total which gives better precision, or simply press and hold the buttons for a quick change of air flow.
No matter which option you choose the airflow and heat flow settings will appear on the little LCD display in the form of an arc of dots going over a three pronged image. The more dots that you can see the hotter the gun is.
Simple as that really.
A little useful feature is the fact that you can store up to four settings in its memory so that the most common ones you may use are always there at the press of a single button.
A safety feature on this gun is that if it overheats it will automatically switch itself off. So if you leave it somewhere it won't continue heating up for too long.
The bonus to this gun is that it has a remarkable air setting which not only allows a good blow of hot air to the project at hand, it also allows a jet of cold air to the said project so that it cools it down quicker, thus firming or drying the work you've just done. Plus, as the cold air blows through the nozzle, it cools the gun down at the same time so that it becomes safer to place down once finished.
In theory this means that the head cools down in a matter of minutes, but I do not recommend touching the end of the gun for a good five minutes so that you're sure that it won't take the top four layers of skin from your fingers. (I mean, have you ever tried wiping your bum with burnt fingers? NO, you usually use toilet roll don't you!!! Te-he... but you get what I mean. burnt fingers aren't pretty, so be careful).
Again, I can't stress how hot the end of this gun will get when being used, especially in the welding settings, so do be careful when using it and for the love of god don't let your kids use it as a toy gun...
When you look at it you wouldn't be mistaken for thinking that it's some form of speed gun, with the little screen on the back above the handle showing the heat settings. Where as on a speed gun it shows the speed you cars going at and leads to a hefty fine dropping through the post.
As I said this is not just a paint stripper, this is an all round heat gun and can do more than bubble the old paint off your skirting boards.
It can also melt plastic so that you can mould such things as conduits in order to make a neater finish for cables to go through. It can also act as a welder for small plastic connection jobs. Plus, for those that like to dabble with electrics, this acts as a soldering iron too.
All these options are reached using the easy to understand settings which are at the push of a button or two, together with the additional tools that can be bought as an added extra, (which are well worth thinking about getting if you intend to do such jobs on a regular basis).
There are knacks to all these types of jobs and the more you do it the easier it all becomes.
The stripping tool does exactly what it is supposed to do, strip away such things as paint from such places as wooden windows and skirting boards. Although do be careful around the glass if you're stripping the paint around wooden window frames, the glass may get hot and could shatter. Also, when you are doing windows you will need a 'normal' hand scraper so that you can scrape the hot paint from the wood as the gun heats it up.
But it's the other tools that make this tool as good as it is as I have found all the additional tools a bonus, especially the pipe bending feature which looks like a broken, no, a bent and broken scraper but is actually a very useful little tool that you simply push a piece of conduit into, up to 40mm in diameter, then let the heat get to temperature and slowing bend the conduit to what ever angle you need it to be. The conduit manages to stay in that perfect inner circumference so that the wire, or what ever I need to push through it, doesn't snag on anything.
Plus, the main bonus of using this to get the bends in the conduit instead of adding an elbow, is that there is no danger of any fluids getting into the piping as there are no gaps or cracks.
The welder feature is another good little tool to use, as long you remember that it only joins plastic to plastic, not metal to metal. This welding is done using an additional rod of plastic that is pushed down a purpose made hole in the attachment that slots onto the end of the heat gun. The gun then melt the rod as it gently heats the two sides of plastic that you want to join together, thus placing the melted rod of plastic into the gap between the plastic you are joining together.
This works on most plastics quite well, with it doing a fine job on conduit, but you do have to be a little careful in case the tubing collapses in on itself.
The welding rods that you can use on this come on a roll, a little like rolls of cables that professional 'sparkies' use. The 'rods' then unravel off the roll a little like mig welding in a way, with the wire, or in this case, the plastic rod, works its way out as and when you need it.
You can also use the welding method without that attachment as there is another attachment that resembles a stack of cylinder discs stacked up onto each other. This thins out at the end and aims a jet of heat in one smaller area.
But regardless of which attachment you use, or what you are doing, you will need to have the plastic rods in order to join plastic together, or even seal off any plastic joins that you want to make air tight or water tight.
Which ever attachment you use, what ever job you have to do, this is a nice bit of equipment to use. It feels comfortable in my hand and is weighted in such a way so that it doesn't feel front or back heavy, having a good balance and a nice light weight.
The grip on the handle itself feels soft, yet firm, if you know what I mean, making it feel as though it's not going to fall apart if you squeeze it a little too much.
The only downside for me is that the on/off switch could have been placed on the handle itself, instead of being behind where it is. Although where it is is not that bad and can be reached easy enough. But a quick squeeze on a trigger would have been a little easier in my opinion.
So what about the price of this heat gun then...? Am I going to have to pay through the nose..?
It's not cheap, selling about £100 or so just for the gun and a couple of attachments. Then, add on the other bits and bobs, which range in price from a tenner to twenty quid, you talking about £150 at least. Although offers can be found if you're willing to barter, (but not shoplift).
Would I recommend this heat gun..?
Yes I certainly would, but only if you are going to use it more than once, unlike some people who buy something, use it as soon as they unwrap it, then throw it in the back of a cupboard. I mean, for £150, that's a pretty expensive cupboard filler.
But if you're a decorator, painter, PVC pipe fitter or just like to have handy tools that you will use one day, then this is a must for you.
I love mine, (not that way), and have used every attachment on it many many times, especially the pipe bending one as I have fitted several pipes and like the fact that I can seal them all off without using elbows or couplings, although I do fit the odd inspection elbow in some places.
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