6 Different Types of Hand Saws and How YOU Can Put Them To Use

artistic shot of a carpenter's saw on a black background

We get it, meandering through the hand saw aisle at your local hardware store can sometimes prove a bit daunting. After all, there seems to be a lot of different types of hand saws of all shapes and sizes. The ever-changing advertising and terminology can leave even the experienced woodworker’s head spinning.  So, today, we are going to cut through some of that confusion, (and yes, that pun was very much intended) by giving you a rundown on 6 of the common hand saws you might come across while perusing the aisles.

 

Infographic with a list of 6 different types of hand saws and their primary functions. Including bow saw, back saw, coping saw, keyhole saw, carpenters saw, and hacksaw.
The Basics

 

Back Saw: The Accuracy King

The term “back saw” generally refers to any type of saw that has a thick reinforced backing along the blade. This backing helps to prevent the blade from bending or bowing during the cut, which ensures a more accurate cut along with better control compared to the saws without this backing.

The stiff spline characteristic of the back saw

While back saws can be used for general cross cut purposes, they are better used for detail work and joinery – such as dovetails, mitres, box joints etc, because of their added degree of stability. The extra steel along the spine places an even pressure along the entire length of the blade which makes precise cuts much easier than with a carpenter’s saw.

Unlike the carpenter’s saws that most of us picture when we think of saws, the back saw has a rectangular blade and is shorter, usually around  35.5 centimeters (14 inches). Because the back saw has a spine that is thicker than the kerf of the blade, it is limited to material that’s thickness is less than the height of the blade – eliminating this saw for through cuts on thicker wood. The back saw’s teeth are closely spaced which allows for a smooth finish and clean cut – ideal for intricate work.


Best for:

Joinery
Accurate cuts

Coping Saw: The scroll saw of hand tools

the thin blade and u-shaped design of a coping saw

The scroll saw of hand saws.  The coping saw has a very thin metal blade stretched between two points on a thin, malleable, c-shaped frame with handle. Because the blade is so thin and the teeth are relatively small and closely spaced, the coping saw excels at making curved and intricately designed cuts with a fine finish – but the downside to the thin blade and closely spaced teeth is that these cuts take much longer to complete.

The blade of the coping saw can be reversed and removed which adds to the versatility of the saw – different blades can be purchased for different materials such as metal. In addition, because the blade is removable, the saw can be used to perform interior cut-outs from the centre of the material by detaching, inserting the blade in a drill hole, and then reattaching to the saw frame.

a crafter demonstrating a coping saw making a curved cut on plastic
Coping saws can cut on a variety of materials and are adept at accurate curves.

The thinness of the blade causes it to be relatively fragile and as the thickness of the material being cut increases, the accuracy of the coping saw decreases. Thicker material tends to cause the thin blade of the coping saw to wander and create wavy cuts – this restricts the coping saw to more delicate work on thin materials.

Best for:
Intricate designs on thinner materials
Curved cuts
Interior cut-outs

Bow Saw: The lumberjack

Hand drawing of a bow saw

While there are a few different versions of the bow saw, including some specifically designed for the shop woodworker, I’m going to focus on the common bow saw which we currently see most often in the hardware store.

The common bow saw we see in hardware stores is a versatile saw with a similar design to the coping saw but vastly different cutting ability. The bow saw gets its name from its design, which is shaped like…. you guessed it – an archer’s bow. It is comprised of a long, stiff blade held between two points on a D-shaped frame. Unlike the coping saw, the pistol grip handle of the bow saw is situated directly on the D-shaped frame. This location allows for more power to be directed into the cut – which gives an indication of what the common bow saw is mostly used for these days – quick, rough cuts.

The tooth layout on bow saws is unique in that they are not all angled in the same direction, which allows for cutting action on both the push and pull stroke of the cut. This, along with the low tooth count and deep gullets, results in demonstrably faster cuts than other saws. However, these factors also make for a choppy cut with a rough finish – good for quickly removing material, but not for work that needs a delicate, finished edge.

A bow saw sitting on a pile of freshly saw firewood

The bow saw is commonly used outside. Its tough metal blade, and rigid handle design make it ideal for cutting logs and green wood. Throwing back to its outdoor uses, the bow saw generally has two different blade styles to accommodate for the different wood you’ll be attacking outside –
the peg tooth: designed for dry wood
and the peg and raker toothed blade: designed specifically for wet wood.

The design of these blades is beyond the scope of this article, but I encourage you to pick the right one, or even one of each if you do a lot of outdoor work.

Best for:
Outdoor work on logs/green wood
Fast, rough cutting
Large curves

Hacksaw: The grinder

Red metal hacksaw

The hacksaw has a similar design to the coping saw and the bow saw and is primarily used for plastic or metal. It has a thin, wide blade, with a very high tooth count, which makes for exceptionally clean cuts. The blade is situated in a metal frame with a pistol grip handle, and varies in length depending on the model, though the standard is roughly 30cm. The blades are removable and there are a wide variety of types that can be purchased for use with different materials.

Best for:
Metal and plastic cutting
Pipes

Carpenter’s Saw: The Utility Saw

carpenter's saw with utility blade

Often referred to as the carpenter’s saw or panel saw the utility saw, is a versatile saw that can be used for a wide variety of applications and can come in several sizes. In the past, this traditional handsaw with its angular, triangle shaped blade and pistol grip handle situated at the back, came either with crosscut or rip cut angled teeth on the blade. This meant that you would often need two saws, a crosscut and ripcut, in your arsenal. However, in recent times most of these saws come with a design that holds both types of teeth, allowing the saw to cut both rip and crosscuts when necessary. These saws are often referred to as “universal” or “utility” saws – also look for saws branded as those with “hybrid” blades if looking for the utility saw.

artistic shot of a carpenter's saw on a black background

The blades vary in length but are generally longer than a back saw and have a lower tooth count. Much like the blade technology, which has changed with time, the cutting action on these saws has also changed. While most still cut on the pull stroke, as was the traditional design, there are models now that cut both on the pull and push, which allows for a much faster cut. The length of the blade results in a long cutting stroke, which also increases the speed, but at a detriment to accuracy and fine finish. Because the blade is a singular thickness throughout, unlike the back saw, the utility saw is not limited in the thickness of material it can cut.


Best for:

Dimensioning lumber
Thick material
Both crosscut and ripcutting

Keyhole Saw: The versatile handyman’s dream

Keyhole saws have a narrow, rigid blade attached to a handle. Think of this saw as the manually powered jigsaw.

The thin design of the blade allows for tight, curved cuts or interior cuts on panels, such as drywall or plywood – most often for outlets or switches. While the cuts won’t have as clean of a finish as a coping saw, the keyhole saw gets curves and odd cuts done fast.

a keyhole saw with pistol grip seen from the top and the side view

However, this little guy shouldn’t be relegated to only these odd cuts as it is a workhorse around the shop. For instance, the narrow design and sharp teeth make it ideal for cutting out quick mortises after drilling (especially if you aren’t keen on chisel work.)

Many keyhole saws come with a removable blade which opens up the possibility of using varied blades for different materials, and the saw’s relatively small design means it is easy to attach to a tool belt to be used for quick offcuts and utility purposes.

Here’s an example of an awesome use for a keyhole saw that we mentioned: Mortises!


Best for:

Interior cuts
Cuts in cramped, tight corners
Curves
Multipurpose

So, there we have it…

We hope these explanations on the common saws you see in the hardware store will help you feel less overwhelmed the next time you stand in front of the display and wonder, “Which of these saws is the right fit for my job?”

If you’ve found this article helpful we encourage you to share it with someone else who might need the info! Thanks for reading and get out there and cut your teeth on some hand saw projects! (That pun was intended as well)

 

Vintage Woodworking Tools | Worth the hype?

Vintage chisels and hand drills displayed in a workshop

As I’ve said before, I love old tools, and there is nothing better than coming across some quality vintage woodworking tools.

But what’s all the hype?

Are they really better than the tools of today?

Where can I look for, and what do I look for in vintage tools?

Beyond the nostalgic value of each vintage woodworking tool being used to create perhaps countless beautiful things by the craftsmen/women who owned them, are they really worth getting up early on your Sunday off to scour the local swap meet?

The answer according to Raff? Yes.

Tools from before the era of CNC machining didn’t have the option of having shortcuts. They were expensive, large, and heavy, simply because they had to be, and the by-product of these qualities? Well, they have inherent longevity. This means you can pick one up for a couple of dollars at a swap meet, clean it up, and likely have it working as well as the day it was produced.

Where to find Vintage Woodworking Tools:

So, you’ve decided to try to augment or perhaps fill your toolbox with some vintage tools. Where do you look?

Swap Meets

In Australia, I have found the best luck for vintage tool hunting at local swap meets or Sunday markets. A simple Google search will have you finding dozens of these in any major city, often one in every suburb. Where I reside in Perth there are no less than three Sunday markets within a fifteen-minute drive of my home. The added bonus is that these are fun, and you really never know what you might find. It’s the ultimate treasure hunt!

Market stall with various vintage items

Ebay

If you are looking for a specific vintage tool and want to do it from the comfort of your home – eBay is the place to do it. Unfortunately, for those of us on the other side of the world, the .au eBay doesn’t have nearly as large a selection as Ebay.com. Many of the vintage tools you will find on Ebay will be coming from the US, so watch for those sneaky shipping fees that can quickly add up.

Estate sales

I’ve picked up some amazing quality tools from estate sales, with the added bonus of often getting to learn a bit about the history of the tool and the previous owner. It gives me a good deal of pride to know that the tools that were used lovingly in the past will continue to be used lovingly in my own collection.

Gumtree (Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook marketplace etc)

Gumtree can be hit and miss, but I have found some good deals. Most recently, I purchased an early era Australian made Stanley Bailey No. 5 for $20 dollars. A good tip is to ask if they have anything else to sell as well. The older gentleman who sold me the no. 5 also had some brace and bits for sale that he was willing to part with at a good price given that I was already there. While I wasn’t interested in any more bits, you just might have been!

Is this rusty, dinged up thing a diamond in the rough?  

You’ve crawled out of bed well before dawn to get to the local swap meet bright and early, but as you find yourself perusing the various stalls and Ute beds, you realize that you have no idea what you are looking for!

So how do you tell what’s a good buy and what’s a waste of your hard-earned cash?

Vintage tools including a push saw, ball peen hammer, and hand drill displayed on a wooden table

My biggest advice here is to know what you want and research it beforehand. If you’re reading this, it is likely you have already started that process. Good for you! When I go to a swap meet I usually have a list of tools that I would be interested in picking up in mind. Beforehand, I’ve done a good deal of research on what the ideal brands and models are for each tool – if I’m lucky, one of those models will be lurking in one of the boxes of old, rusty tools, but more often than not they aren’t.

Don’t get too caught up in the brands, after all, we are looking for useability and not collectibility, and many old brands that aren’t as popular today put out surprisingly good quality tools.

Acorn no. 4 hand plane on a black table

I found the above Acorn No. 4 for 25 dollars at a swap meet. While it isn’t a collectible item and the Acorn brand isn’t nearly as popular as Stanley, once cleaned up I’ve found it in fantastic workable condition and much better quality than anything I could have purchased for $25 brand new. You can read about my find and the history of this plane here: Vintage Acorn No. 4 History.

That’s why knowing what to look for in a general tool is so helpful – it means you don’t have to be tied to a specific brand.

In terms of age, pre-war (WWII) is a good rule of thumb for quality, but pre 1970 is generally well thought of as well.  It’s oftentimes hard to tell the age when you are looking through a box of tools that all look pretty old, though. After all, it’s amazing how a few years in a damp shed can age a tool. A severely neglected hand plane can look fifty years old and turn out to be five! That’s why I advocate doing your research on what models of a particular age looked like/what features to look out for in order to date a specific tool.

In more general terms here are a few things I look out for:

Rust:

For vintage tools, many people get hung up on rust, but the reality is that rust can often hide a beautiful, quality tool beneath that many people not knowing any better would have avoided – that means it’s probably cheap for you!

There are two types of corrosion to look for: Surface and pitting

Surface rust is the orange, dusty rust that is easily removed with a good amount of white vinegar and steel wool to get back to bare metal.

Pitting is an aggressive, localized form of rust that leaves small holes in the metal. I generally advise that tools with pitting should be avoided. There are loads of vintage tools to pick and choose from and I find it not worth the effort to pick up a tool with mid to heavy pitting.

Blade adjustment knob and rear sole of an acorn no 4 handplane. Displaying flaking rust and paint.
This Acorn hand plane has a lot of surface rust, but once cleaned, the difference will be stark!

Blade Quality:

Keep an eye out for  my specific second-hand buy guides for tools such as the hand plane and chisels,  that I will be coming out with, but for now, here is a general guide:

For tools with blades, such as saws, hand planes, and chisels – what you go for depends on how much work you will want to put into your vintage tool before it is usable. However, there are a few things I will generally stay away from.

Check the blade on handsaws to ensure that it isn’t missing several teeth and that the teeth have enough life in them for continued sharpening.

For chisels and hand planes, avoid blades that appear to have been excessively sharpened/ground, this can appear as blades that are significantly shorter than usually seen. In the same vein, but perhaps slightly less common sense is to avoid blades that look like they’ve been machine polished.   Both of these aspects (excessive sharpening and machine polish) mean you have a higher risk of getting a blade that has been overheated.

If you find anything marked “cast steel” I would snatch it up.

Body quality:

When looking at the body of the tool look for thick metal casting where rigidity is needed: Ie, on the sole of a hand plane. No cracks should be visible, or obvious repairs. There shouldn’t be any severely misshapen areas – such as bowls on a hand plane sole or bends in a chisel blade. Use your judgment here, because if it looks off, it probably is.

Wooden parts:

Generally speaking, if I find a good brand of cast steel the condition of the handles/wooden parts won’t be the reason I walk away- as they can generally be replaced for cheaper than a brand new quality steel tool. However, it’s worth mentioning that anything rotted or cracked is going to cost you more money/time in repair – so factor that into the cost to ensure it’s worth it to you.

Are Vintage tools really better than their modern-day counterparts?

We live in the day and age of excessive consumerism.

Products are easy to buy, and just as easy to replace, which ofttimes has me wistful for a time that I never really got to see, a day when things were created to last.

However, this isn’t to say that tools of the past are inherently better than the tools of present-day, it just means that you might not have to pay as much to buy the same quality vintage tool as a new, high-quality tool of today.

For instance, if you are willing to put a lot of money down, the tools of today will run circles around the tools of the past in terms of weight, ergonomics, metal quality and ease of use. However, in the current era of mass production, CNC machining, and big box stores, more people are purchasing a $20 set of cheap chisels, a set which will end up in the garbage in a few years, than those who are purchasing an individual Lie-Nielson chisel ($100+) which will last a lifetime. This inevitably creates an incentive for companies to cut corners with quality in order to produce cheap tools that the average person will buy.

screenshot of an ebay advertisement showing the price of a vintage stanley smoothing plane
Does the 4x the cost in a Veritas smoothing plane equate to 4x the quality of a vintage Stanley? I don’t think so.

screen shot of an advertisement showing the price of a veritas smoothing plane

So, if you are like me and don’t want to spend another $500 for a Veritas smoothing plane, but you also don’t want to spend $70 on a new Stanley plane with plastic totes –  you can purchase an old Stanley for $100 (often less) which will perform arguably just as well as the Veritas once properly tuned.  If that sounds like a good deal, then vintage tools may be your saving grace.

Happy hunting!

Vintage Hand Planes | Acorn No. 4

Blade adjustment knob and rear sole of an acorn no 4 handplane. Displaying flaking rust and paint.

I discovered a love of old tools early on in life. There was something about the worn wooden handles, marked with the years of sweat from its prior owners, or the rusted metal that inevitably could hide the most beautiful body beneath, or the jammed up moving parts that one almost couldn’t imagine ever coming back to life again – that hooked me. That’s why whenever I am perusing the antique shop’s aisles, or meandering through the stalls at the local swap meet, I’m keeping a sharp eye out for what I refer to as “the king among antique tools”- the vintage hand planes.

“what happens when you hold a tool – your fingers form an intimate bond between you and the tool. It is a marriage of intellect and an inanimate object. Suddenly the tool becomes alive and performs…” R.J. DeCristoforo – Handtool Handbook for Woodworking (USA 1977)

Recently, I found an old Acorn No. 4 hand plane at a swap meet, which I promptly picked up for $25. Before this purchase, I had never seen an Acorn hand plane before, and I do confess to not knowing too much about the brand or company in general. This is surprising given how popular their parent company Chapman Ltd’s braces are.

Acorn no. 4

However, after much in-depth research, I was able to dig up a bit of information on the history of the company and a few pictures that helped me nail down what I believe to be a relatively accurate ballpark age for this specific plane I had come into possession of. If anyone has a better understanding of the age and history, I would be absolutely happy to hear of it!

History of Chapman Ltd

The Acorn brand name was first used by James Arscott Chapman who is simply listed as a “tool and metal plane maker” from 1924-1939 in Goodman’s guide. Chapman Ltd was located in Sheffield England and was known for its range of steel braces, but later started making hand planes under the “Acorn” name in 1934.  Around 1936 Stanley Works Ltd (Yes, THE Stanley) bought out Chapman Ltd and used the factory as its base for moving into the UK market.

After its take over, Stanley kept the Acorn line, some say as a second, cheaper version of their own Stanley line.

Early Acorn Hand Plane Design

In terms of early design, the Chapman Acorns were made with black japanning on the body, no frog adjustment screws, a brass blade adjustment nob, and from some reports a dark red colour on the rear and fore handles. As for the fixtures, the front handle was attached with a single plain bolt with a slotted head, and the rear was attached with a threaded rod and brass nut. Later models, under Stanley Works, had burgundy japanning with even later models moving to what I see as a ghastly firetruck red. Both the front and back handles on the later models were attached with threaded rods and nuts.

These are all details that I took into account when trying to accurately date my hand plane.

I’ve got a new hand plane, now what?

Upon getting this hand plane, which I have affectionately dubbed “little nut,” home, I was able to get a much closer look at the components. The initial ‘once over’ gave me most of the info that I was looking for – there are clearly no frog adjustment screws and the front handle is attached with a single slotted bolt, both good signs if I’m hoping for a plane on the older side of vintage!

The japanning itself is a bit difficult to tell. I thought it to be black, but it perhaps could be a dark burgundy. Further cleaning of the tool will be needed to give a better assessment.

The handles, though well worn, definitely appear to have a dark cherry colour to them! Another good sign, if what I dug up during my research is correct.

Dating

Given all the above info, including the potentially black japanning, red handles, no frog adjustment screws, and a single plane bolt for the front nob I would initially date this Acorn hand plane to be from the era of Chapman Ltd or shortly after the Stanley took over – somewhere from 1934-1945 perhaps.  During the restoration, I may come across some aftermarket parts, or other indicators that could change this assessment. But, part of the fun in any restoration process is doing the research to know what to look for and proceeding to make an ‘educated guess.’ Now to see if that educated guess is correct!

Stay tuned for my restoration of this Little Nut!

 

Dewalt Cordless Angle Grinder Review – DCG406

Often when I’m shopping for a particular tool, I struggle with buyer’s anxiety. I spend hours looking at reviews and perusing tool shops to check out the different options. While I do have a certain amount of love for a specific brand, which I have yet to review on this site, I’m not so loyal that I won’t pick a tool from a different brand if it has that wow factor.
This Dewalt cordless angle grinder has that wow factor for me. I mean, it’s not often where I pick up a tool and think “Wow, this is exactly what I want,” instead of the usual refrain of “Well, this tool does have this feature but brand X’s version has that feature and now I’m struggling to choose.”
(just a brief look into my mind for you)

Let me give you a thorough rundown of this little beauty:

Dewalt cordless angle grinder

The Dewalt 18v 125mm Cordless Angle Grinder with Paddle Switch (DCG406)

Specs

Voltage: 18V

Max. Disc Diameter: 125mm

No Load Speed: 9000rpm

Spindle Thread: M14

Weight: 1.74kg

I’m Giving ‘er All She’s Got Captain –  (Does This Thing Have Enough Power?)

Oh, baby. If there is one thing this tool has, it’s the power we have come to know and love in Dewalt tools. The DCG406 has a 9000RPM rating under no load. It cuts through metal like my fork cuts through the half-melted butter that I left out on the counter, because the recipe called for it to be at room temperature, but I forgot that room temperature in Australia is akin to putting a block of butter in the oven so… I’m sorry I digress. The point is there isn’t a thing I have thrown at this grinder that it hasn’t sliced through, ground down, or polished with ease and efficiency. This is a versatile tool that I’m confident will handle anything you direct its way.

But How Likely am I to Lose a Finger? – or Is This Thing Safe?

I love angle grinders, but I also have a very healthy fear of them. My partner is a surgical registrar and I can’t tell you how many times she’s messaged to say she’s staying late to attend to a mangled hand courtesy of a wayward angle grinder. It’s not a stretch to say that it’s probably the tool that I hear the most about in terms of gnarly accidents.

So, all those stories were echoing around in my mind when I was perusing the isles for my new angle grinder.

The Dewalt DCG406 has several safety features that are common on today’s grinders and a few that are not.

The electronic brake, which operates when the switch is turned off to stop the disc from spinning, is a feature you should look for on any grinder you are intending to purchase. The DCG406 is also equipped with an E-clutch. The clutch uses an electronic monitoring system to detect a significant drop in RPM, as would be seen in a bind or stall, and automatically cuts power to reduce the occurrences of kickback. Again, you should look for this feature on any grinder.

Dewalt cordless angle grinder electric brake

One feature that I chose this specific model for is somewhat contentious – the paddle switch. Some people love it, some people hate it. I’m in the former group’s camp.

My previous grinder had several years on it, and I found the switch took a good amount of pressure to turn on and off – not an ideal situation. The paddle switch is nice in that as long as I have a good grip on the grinder, which is necessary for safety, the switch will be in the on position. If I lose grip or the grinder jumps, or I drop the grinder for any reason, the paddle switch is depressed, and the grinder turns off. This has never happened to me, but it does provide me with some degree of peace of mind.

Dewalt cordless angle grinder paddle switch

If you do difficult cuts like those over head or in awkward angles, Dewalt has put the same grinder out with a conventional switch as well. This makes those awkward cuts easier as you can twist your grip while using the grinder without fear of depressing the paddle.

To each their own on the switch, but the electronic safety systems are a must. It’s important to remember; however, that you shouldn’t rely on any of these safety features as your frontline defense against an accident. Safe and controlled use of a tool is always the most important.

But how Does it Feel? or – Ergonomics and Features

The DCG406 is a well thought out tool that is evidenced throughout its design. It has a comfortable, compact body with a nice thick rubber grip and good room for the hands, which makes the handling of the tool quite comfortable. The front handle itself is like many other grinders in that it can be moved to either side to coincide with your dominant hand. My only complaint with the front handle is that it’s quite rigid and, although Dewalt advertises it as an anti-vibration handle I didn’t feel like it offered much vibration protection.

The body itself is solid with no unnecessary protrusions or holes that could chip or allow debris inside the casing. I have dropped or knocked the poor thing (Thankfully not while on!) more times than I care to admit, and it doesn’t seem to show for it. In addition, there is a micro filter located at the base of the handle that is easily removed for cleaning and keeps fine particles from gumming up the interior.

dewalt cordless angle grinder microfilter

Featured within the DCG406 is power-off overload protection which makes the grinder shut off before it can overheat and protects it from thermal overload.

The keyless disc change button is easy to use and convenient which makes the next feature one that I haven’t had to use often, but I do appreciate it. I’m talking about being able to use an Allen key for disc removal. No more searching around for the 2 pin when I have too many Allen keys lying around that need to pull their weighAllen key disk removal for dewalt cordless angle grindercordless angle grinder keyless disc removal

 

In addition, the guard can quickly and easily change positions with the guard change lever which is exceptionally convenient when working on projects that require a consistent change of position.

Lastly, as for noise, I was surprised to find it noticeably more quiet than my previous grinder that was both smaller and less powerful.

Final Say

There is really not much I can negatively report on this grinder. I would prefer a better front handle for vibration reduction, but this is something that can always be purchased as an aftermarket accessory, and therefore it doesn’t have a significant impact on my final conclusion. For safety, power, comfort and ease of use – I definitely give the Dewalt 125mm 18v DCG406 Cordless Angle Grinder a solid A+

Pros:

Lots of power

Great safety features

Solid, sturdy construction

Comfortable, ergonomic handle and switch

Easy disk change button and accessories

Convenient guard change lever

Cons: 

Rigid front handle with very little vibration protection

Overall Score: 9/10

Ozito Tools Review | 170W Rotary Tool Kit

It’s not all expensive tools here!

You see, today you’re about to see a 170W rotary tool from Ozito tools review.

That’s right, Ozito.

This tool is something I picked up off the cuff when I was working on refurbishing some mechanical parts. I was tired of all the fine muscle work and wanted something to polish, clean, and sometimes sand or wire brush small, oddly shaped parts. It was one of those mid-project moments that happens very occasionally, where I think “Nah, this is painfully slow and monotonous. I bet there is a tool that could do this much more quickly.” But I didn’t want to spend much, didn’t want to spend a slew of time researching, and needed (Read: Wanted) it right then and there. First world problems, right?

And thus, I came into possession of this fine, high speed rotary tool.

Ozito Rotary Tool

Here’s the low down:

Specs

Power

170W

No Load Speed

8,000 – 35,000/min

Collet Size

3.2mm

Flex Shaft Length

1m

Weight

1.5kg

Uses

I’ve had this tool for about a year now and have used it for a slew of jobs, including some perhaps that it was not intended to be used for. But, I think that’s the wonder with rotary tools, in some respects, your imagination is the limit for the odd jobs it can be applied to.

In one project I used the rotary tool for drilling some holes in a tight space near two shelf corners of Merbau that my larger cordless drills couldn’t access squarely; and, although it took longer, it did the job nicely.

Ozito 170W rotary tool with flex shaft being used to refurbish a vintage Acorn hand plane
Worked like a champ to help me bring this hand plane back to life!

I’ve even used the flex shaft with the small polishing attachment (without the polishing agent applied) to clean some hard to reach places on my table saw, and recently, to clear rust from the body and to polish the brass of my vintage Acorn hand plane.

For polishing, engraving, cutting, as well as most random uses, I have been thoroughly impressed.

Ozito Rotary tool flex attachment

I’m Giving ‘er All She’s Got, Captain! – Or, Is This Thing Powerful Enough?

Look, when you’re using a rotary tool a question on how much power it’s going to put out seems to be a bit like asking how powerful your electric toothbrush is. It doesn’t need to be immensely powerful. Lots of power would be wasted because it’s not meant to do things that tools requiring larger motors need to do. So, the question then becomes, can this tool do what it is needed to do? The answer is yes. The 170W power on the Ozito rotary tool is more than enough for anything I have needed it for.

Ozito 170W Rotary tool variable speed setting
The variable speed setting situated at the back top of the handle.

I’ve had the motor stop spinning on me twice. Both times, I was applying too much pressure while using the sanding drum attachment with the flex shaft – IE. trying to do a job it wasn’t really intended to be doing. Ozito also puts out a 120w version and a cordless 12v version which I really think would suit most projects as well.

But How Does It Make You Feel? Or – Ergonomics

Ozito 170W Rotary Tool body with flex attachment
Oddly shaped body with a switch at bottom of the handle.

The body of the rotary tool itself, while relatively light is oddly balanced and I found difficult to hold in hand and use. During use there is a significant amount of vibration that makes the awkwardness of the hold that much more difficult, and I found it hard to use for more than a minute before having to break and shake my hand out. In the interest of being honest, I have struggled with carpal and ulnar tunnel for the past few years and these types of activities can tend to exacerbate those symptoms. However, there are many tools that don’t cause this type of reaction.

I find the flex shaft attachment a necessary addition for use in order to mitigate the above issues. Which leads me to my next point:

The Bells and Whistles:

Alright, so here’s the thing, when I picked up this kit it came with 190 accessories including a flex shaft! That’s loads!

The flex shaft is a great addition. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an embedded switch, like similar more expensive models of other brands. This means that you still need to turn the tool on at the body, but it hasn’t proved to be a large inconvenience to me.

Ozito Rotary tool accessories

The quality of the accessories is rather low. The sanding drums, in particular, don’t get through much at all before peeling away, and the drum itself seems to disintegrate after several uses. At first, I thought, “Ah, must be me putting it through the wringing” but I purchased a Dremel sanding drum accessory and both the paper and drum seem to last much longer.

The case is handy with loads of slots for accessories, and even has a nifty slide-out extra storage located to one side. You’ll notice that extra storage is rather clean in this picture, and that is because I had legitimately never noticed it existed until I pulled out the case to take some pictures of it. It’s always a grab and go type job with this one and I had never given the side of the case a serious look!

Ozito rotary tool kit side storage box
The sneaky side storage itself! I’ll definitely be taking advantage of this little bonus in the future!

Ozito Rotary tool kit storage case

While the accessories are hit-and-miss, I’ve certainly gotten my use out of them, and the ones that have broken I’ve easily been able to replace with better quality items. I would compare it to buying a large, cheap kit of router bits to see which ones are most used, before upgrading to better quality. There are a large range of attachments out there both generic brand as well as high-quality Dremel that are compatible, and so I really can’t see a reason why the accessories would be a deal-breaker when deciding whether to buy.

Conclusion

It’s cheap. It’s Ozito. They don’t exactly have the best reputation for quality. Naturally, that led me to believe that I really wouldn’t get much longevity out of this tool. However, I’ve been surprised both by how well it has held up and also by how many uses it really has in the shop. It may even have me second-guessing whether I’ve been unnecessarily giving Ozito the cold shoulder up to now.

The flex shaft is included is a huge bonus for me, given that I find it necessary during use as I mentioned above.

As for the tool itself, I can’t really complain about a thing. It does what it needs to do, and it tends to do it well. The nearest Dremel with the same level of power is over twice the price with only 50 accessories, and I just don’t see there being a massive jump in the quality to allow for that change in price. If you are a professional and need this tool every day, all day for your career of choice – this probably isn’t for you, but for everyone else if you asked me which rotary tool I would recommend for the price…. Well, for the first time in my life I think I would pick Ozito.

Pros:

Low cost

Good power

Flex attachment

Lots of accessories

Cons:

Awkward body shape

High vibration

No switch on flex attachment

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

If you would like to purchase the kit from the comfort of your own home, without moving a muscle except for the one in your index finger required to click the button on your mouse… here’s a link to it on Amazon Australia:

Ozito Rotary Tool Kit 170W with 190 Accessories

Or if you intend to upgrade your accessories anyways, you can buy the version with fewer accessories here:

Ozito 170W 42 Piece Rotary Tool Kit

Do you have an Ozito Rotary tool and have an opinion? Let us know in the comments!

 

Cordless Hammer Drill Reviews- Dewalt DCD795-XE

For the first of hopefully many cordless hammer drill reviews at Tool Talk, I thought it fitting that I talk about one of the first “real” (read, relatively expensive/professional level) tools that I purchased since coming to Australia, the Dewalt DCD795. When I finally decided to settle here, which gave me the freedom of no longer trying to contain my belongings to within the air travel weight restrictions, I began searching for what is often the first tool in someone’s arsenal, a quality combo drill.

The kit I purchased was a Dewalt brushless set, and to be completely honest, the reason I purchased this particular set at the time was because it was on sale for a fairly good price and none of the other kits were. Amazing what a good sale can convince you of! Do I regret falling for the clever marketing strategies? Check out the review below to see!

Dewalt DCD795 – Cordless Hammer Reviews

Dewalt 795

Important Specs:

Voltage:                               18V

Chuck Capacity:                     1.5-13mm

Power Output:                         360 Watts

Speed:                                    Low 0-600/High 2000RPM

 

I’m giving ‘er all she’s got, Captain! -or How Much Power Does This Thing Have?

Since purchasing nearly two years ago, I have put the little guy (don’t let 795 catch me calling him little though!) through the paces.

While he is little in size, the 795 has very little to complain about in the power department. Dewalt has a reputation for power and hardiness, and it’s a well-earned reputation. In regard to power and efficiency, the 795 definitely isn’t the black sheep of the Dewalt family. With 360w power output, it hasn’t in any way struggled with the masonry, hardwood, or metal that I’ve thrown at it.

The 795 is a brushless model, and I have found that it doesn’t heat up nearly as much as other brushed motor drills when drilling consistently. In addition, battery life is excellent, and on a good day at home, drilling 200+ holes in structural pine, I usually have a full or ¾ battery at the end of the day.

 

Settings

The 795 has a relatively good amount variable settings for your disposal. Two-speed settings are a staple of most combi-drills these days, and you will also find them on this drill.

The hammer setting is nearly as effective as my rotary hammer, although you wouldn’t want to use this setting often as it’s as hard on the tool as my mother-in-law is on me! The 795 chewed through my brick wall with an 8mm bit like my StaffyX, Taco, chews through her dinner – in a few seconds flat. At 60nm of max torque, I didn’t come across anything that really stopped me.

Dewalt 795 torque settings

This drill only has 15 different settings for torque, which is on the low end of the spectrum for me. I like the control of the 25ish options that my Bosch has – but REALLY, I use my driver for screws 90% of the time, and so the torque settings for the Dewalt 795 are more than adequate for when I do need some finer settings.

But how does it FEEL? or Ergonomics and Features

Ergonomics are one thing that I focus a good deal of attention on when buying a tool. The reality is that we live in a world where many of the top brands aren’t too far away from each other in terms of power and design; and so, as long as the tool can do the job, the ergonomics and features are what my choice often truly comes down to.

Because, if the tool is comfortable and fun to use, I will reach for it over any other tool in the shed for the job.

The Dewalt DCD 795 is a surprisingly light little guy, I will give it that. Having held some of the older Dewalt drills which felt like lead bricks compared to some of the more well-designed models of their rivals, I was pleasantly surprised at the 795’s 1.88kg weight. It seems that Dewalt has followed the footsteps that we all do and has come a long way from their chunky, awkward, teenage era self (Oh, we weren’t all chunky, awkward pre-pubescents? Just me? Moving on).

Dewalt 795 body

The feel of the drill in hand is comfortable. The grip on the 795 is slim and fits well in hand, with soft rubber at the back that minimizes those nasty thumb-web blisters. The action is relatively smooth, with not much vibration. What I do truly like is the compact body of the drill itself. It is thin, streamlined, and fits in some awkward situations that a thicker drill wouldn’t.

The 795 has a single LED light that is at the base of the body, which eliminates much of the shadow from the chuck, which you would get from the light being at the top of the body.

Attached to the base of the drill’s body is a magnetic holder for bits and screws. This is a nice handy addition that I use quite often and find myself looking for when I’m using one of my drills that don’t have it.

In addition, it also features a stainless-steel buckle for hanging from the belt or easy wall storage.\

Conclusion

So now we come down to the real nit and grit of the matter. What’s the final say? How has the 795 held up over the year?

There is a single issue I have had with this Dewalt combi-drill that has really bothered me and certainly warrants me taking it in to have it repaired under warranty (always seem to forget at the end of the day!).

The chuck has a fair degree of wobble! This wasn’t there when I first purchased it but did develop a few months after – which is a bit ridiculous for a drill of this price and caliber.

So, if I’m willing to look past the above, I would say that the 795 has held up well. The battery life is still fantastic, it doesn’t overheat, it’s powerful, and no matter how many times it’s been bumped or dropped, the body is still looking great. It’s a good working drill with very little else to complain about.

But the thing is, I’m not really willing to look past the chuck wobble because it’s a significant flaw, and it developed only a few months into my owning the drill. This isn’t the quality I would expect from Dewalt, and while the warranty with Dewalt is generally good – I’m not entirely convinced that I would receive a replacement without this defect, especially after poking around on the internet and seeing several other people who have had the same issue.

Pros:

Lots of power/torque

Good battery life

Brushless motor

Low weight

Compact body

Cons:

Only 15 torque control options (Not a significant con, but a con nonetheless)

Chuck wobble**

Final rating: 7/10

About Raff

My name is Raff, and I love to craft.

Ever since I was a wee sprite, I’ve been drawn to taking things apart or building things from scraps. I would beg my parents for any old pieces of broken radios, computers, and anything else remotely mechanical so that I could create Frankenstein-esque model airplanes with moving props and working lights. I was fascinated with all of the possibilities of things that could be created with my own two hands.

Standing on the top of an old fort I built when I was 13 years old
Little, 13-year old Raff standing atop the ramshackle roof of a log cabin fort I was building.

For several years after finishing my degree in Criminal Justice, I did a slew of adventuring and traveling, which isn’t super conducive to having a shop to craft things in! But, having now decided to take off my traveling boots and settle down, I’m ready to set up shop, get back to my old shenanigans, and share it all with you.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to take apart larger things than those old radios and computers that my parent’s donated, and work with bigger tools than an old butterknife and Phillips head screwdriver. Some of the things I’ve built have been useful, and some have simply been visually appealing – and, well, some have been neither, I’m afraid!

Here at Craft, you’ll find a similar array of information. Some of it will be useful, ie. tool reviews and project details, and some of it will be visually appealing, and… some of it will just be fun – which I suppose is arguably what is the most important of all, and hopefully, none of it will be none of the above!

I’m by no means an expert and most of the time learn through a hard slog of mistakes, clumsy errors and hours and hours of research, but if you follow along, at least you can be one of the smart few who learn from someone else’s mistakes as opposed to their own.

I hope, at the very least, you will find this space entertaining and inspiring.

After all, if Raff can craft it, you certainly can too.

Raff