Video: 15 tools we wouldn’t be without – part 3

We’ve been asking a few of our machinery-minded contributors to nominate their favourite get-out-of-a-fix bits of workshop kit. In part one, we tested an inverter arc welder, an antifreeze tester, a tyre bead breaker and an unbreakable LED work light. And in part two we put some open-ended ratchet spanners, a nifty wrench a handy screwdriver/retrieval tool and a selection of top-quality water pipe tools through their paces.

This week we’ve got hold of an amazing 12-volt to 240-volt inverter, some rock-hard Bi-metal hole-saws a bearing fitting kit and an auto-ranging multimeter.

12-Volt to 240-Volt inverter

What is it?

A clever box of tricks that, when plumbed into a vehicle battery, will power any standard household/workshop stuff.

How does it work?

It takes a 12-volt DC feed and transforms that into 240-volts AC to run all sorts of bits of kit from two standard three-pin plugs.

Why is it so useful?

 

Have the inverter tucked away behind your seat to run things like grinders, compressors and welders out in the field.

We found the 2100 Watt version wasn’t quite capable of boiling a kettle and powering an SDS drill simultaneously or running a 9in grinder at full chat. The more expensive 3100 Watt version we tested will do all that and more.

Cleverly the PowerSource Pro has a display to show exactly how many Watts you’re using and will sense when the charge in the vehicle’s battery is getting too low and shut down.

Who makes it?

The PowerSourcePro range is sold by Ring Automotive.

How much does it cost?

• Ring list price – £374.99 (2100Watt) or 529.99 (3100Watt)
• Best online price – £209 (2100Watt) or £334.99 (3100Watt)

 

Bi-metal hole-saws

What are they?

Drill bits that will cut decent-sized holes through most materials with a standard pistol drill.

In this Bosch set sizes range from 19mm to 64mm.

How do they work?

A bayonet-style quick-coupling with a standard drill bit at its centre holds hole-saws of differing sizes. The pilot bit cuts an initial hole and then the serrated circular saw blade follows, chomping its way through pretty much anything in its path.

Why is it so useful?

Will cut hefty holes which a pillar or piston drill with standard bits would never manage.

Simple coil spring punches out cut-outs that usually end up jammed inside the hole-saw.

Makes the drill work hard so it’s a case of gently does it and to make life easy add a bit of oil.

Who makes them?

This set is a six-bit, long life Bosch kit.

How much does it cost?

• Bosch list price – £78
• Best online price – £43.95

Bearing fitting kit

What is it?

A set of six circular plastic blocks that can be used to align and fit bearings, bearing shells and seals.

How does it work?

Ranging in size from 39.5mm up to 81mm, each of the plastic blocks is bolted onto an aluminium handle which can be clouted with a hammer. It’s just a case of slipping the correct one into the bearing race or onto the front face of the bearing or seal and tapping it in.

Why is it so useful?

Can be used for all types of bearings and applies pressure squarely so that the shell is properly aligned. It also means you don’t end up using an inappropriately sized socket for a job it’s not supposed to do, so you don’t end up destroying the nice new bits you’re trying to refit or leaving flakes of chrome just where you don’t want them.

Who makes it?

Draper make this version and a more expensive set-up. Companies like Brammer offer expensive professional quality kits. (Prices can be anything up to £450)

Draper used to make an aluminium set with a greater range of sizes but it’s plastic all the way now.

How much does it cost?

• Draper list price – £49.99
• Best online price – £39.41

Auto-ranging multimeter

What is it?

An electrical tester that measures voltage, current (ampage) and resistance (Ohms) in both AC and DC and senses the right range to display.

How does it work?

Unlike a standard multimeter, this one does not require the user to select the appropriate measurement range. It’s just a case of twiddling the dial to measure volts, amps or Ohms and then the clever computer will stick the decimal point in the appropriate place.

Why is it so useful?

Generally multimeters are excellent tools to have about. Every year hundreds of people (including trained electricians) are killed messing about with electrics. An auto-ranging multimeter not only identifies what’s live but also shows how much power is there without any misleading readings due to a misplaced decimal point or the wrong setting being used.

It’s also got a rubber surround that will hopefully take the jolt out of most drops and knocks.

Who makes it?

This one’s a Draper unit but there are others from the likes of Sealey, Extech, Kelin, etc…

How much does it cost?

• Draper list price – £53.49
• Best online price – £37.33

Some of the stuff we’ve chosen might seem expensive but quite often there are cheaper versions available if you shop about. (Just try typing the product name into Google Shopping and you’ll soon find the cheapest deal).

Reckon we’ve missed some obvious tools you shouldn’t be without? Please let us know by emailing james.andrews@rbi.co.uk or add your favourite tools in our forum