Langs
call us
Call us now!
01375 374 901
Expertise, Experience and Excellence

Langs_A

PPE and how we use it?

Following on from the last blog post about PPE (personal protection equipment) and whether it will protect you from Covid-19. We felt that we didn’t cover the subject completely and there were still a few more things to say that will help people understand its use better.

Facemasks…

Respirator/Gas mask PD100 – Designed for chemical and biological pathogens.
Retailing $100

The medical profession have used facemasks for many years. But the reasons they do seems to have been misunderstood – Nurses, doctors and surgeons wear facemasks to protect the patient, NOT themselves! It protects them very little, if medical face masks protected nurses we would see no fatalities from Covid-19 in the medical profession.

N95 dust mask – retailing for $50 for box 20

So the medical scrubs/facemasks are to protect the patient who is already in need of care from getting other illnesses and not the wearer. Whereas, rated facemasks are to protect the wearer and are rated to a standard to do so. Although N95 and higher rated facemasks will have some protection against the spread of Covid-19 they are NOT rated for it, and are not a “silver bullet” stopping the infection.

Thin 3ply medical mask – Retails $30 for 100

The bottom line….

So, don’t get fooled into thinking facemasks/dust masks will keep you 100% safe! Most masks are for dust, and are rated for dust particles, not to protect against Covid-19 or any other kind of biohazard. A tight fitting mask (respirator) with a filter is best if purchasing a mask. Better alternatives are

1. Social distancing – Which has been proved to work, so even if you are wearing a mask, keep the social distance gap (two meters in UK). Or

2. Social isolation – Staying at home and having little or no physical contact with anyone else. If you don’t meet with anyone else in person, then you can’t get infected.

Gloves…

The reason to wear gloves has been similarly misunderstood. Once again the reason that the medical profession wears gloves is to prevent infection from dirty hands, and the best way to do this is having a pair of sanitised gloves on. – Then once finished with a patient, they remove the gloves and throw them away! Putting a new pair of gloves on when they see a new patient. – Gloves are not worn to stop infections getting onto the skin and then in through pours (this can not happen). Gloves are worn so you aren’t washing your hands whenever you touch something and can guarantee the gloves are sterile.

The bottom line….

To use gloves safely – you touch one surface/one person, then take the gloves off and throw them away. Then put a new pair of gloves on. So one pair of gloves a day will cross contaminate every surface you touch during the day. If you touch a contaminated surface and then your face, you will contaminate your face. If you sneeze on your gloves, you will contaminate every surface you touch with your gloves until you change them.

As with facemasks, don’t get fooled into thinking gloves are a magic bullet. If they’re made of sterile latex, the virus can still live on the surface of the glove and be transfered to anything that you touch, even removing them can be difficult without contaminating your hands on removal. This is why medical professionals also wash their hands after removing their gloves.

Never touch your face while wearing gloves, unless they’re new on and you’ve not touched anything else while wearing them.

Eye protection/guards…

Unlike facemasks and gloves, in the medical profession eye protection is used to protect the wearer. You may see either goggles, spectacles or face shields worn, these are to catch sneezes and coughs and stop them from hitting eyes or, with face shields, the whole face. The face shield does more to protect the wearer than a facemask does, without holes to let through vapourised fluids there is much less chance of contamination from coughs and sneezes.

One of the best things about goggles or faceshields it it’s a lot harder to touch your face or eyes wearing this kind of protection. It also makes you notice, how much you are touching your eyes or face.

Full face shield, usually used for grinding or chemical protection.

The bottom line….

Goggles and eye protection are good, but not essential. You are more likely to accidently touch your face or eye with your fingers and infect yourself than get a direct infection of Covid-19 through your eye.

So what does it mean?

If you wear a facemask, buy a rated one or there’s little or no protection against getting covid (see my last blog post.)

If you use gloves, change them frequently, and don’t touch your face at all, or it significantly lessens your protection.

Using safety goggles/guards is good protection against sneezes/coughs, although only a risk indoors, where there’s no air circulating. People who have these symptoms should NOT be outside even if they don’t believe they have Covid-19.

Medical Personal protection equipment is best suited to the medical profession and if you really want to protect yourself, social distancing and social isolation are the most effective ways.

6 things to know about Covid-19 and PPE

Who would have thought that what happens in a small market place in China could have such a massive impacton every county all over the world? Hitting every country and every economy equally, forcing people to stay at home to protect their health, families and their futures. Although according to recent reports from China the wet market initially assumed to be the center of infection has now been ruled out as the epicenter.

What does this mean to the average family? What can you do to make yourself safe? Do dust masks really work at all, or is it merely a psychological placebo, making us feel safer than we really are and leading us into a false sense of security?

We have tried to put as much information in one place details on personally combating the issues of Covid-19 gathered from the (WHO) World health organisation, Healthline.com, NHS direct, a few other sources and our own technical expertise regarding Personal protection equipment.

1 – Old t-shirt, handkerchief, dustmask or respirator? What is good enough to protect me?

Firstly, personal protection has been around a very long time. And there are many types of face covering, from a simple piece of cloth to a full isolated air system respirator. Maybe a better question is – What are dustmasks there to protect against? Dustmasks were developed predominantly to limit the amount of dust someone would breath into their lungs.

Are any of these good enough??
None of these are manufactured to stop covid-19!

Firstly your mask must be rated for it to be protective! There are many ratings for dust masks; Essentially FFP1(also called P1), FFP2(also called P2), N95, N99 and FFP3(also called P3) are the most common, this certifies a mask’s protection factor (for example N95 is rated to protect against up to 95% of dust particles) These ratings are given to show how much dust can be in the atmosphere and still be used safely (FFP or P rating) or how much dust can be blocked and still protect the wearer (N ratings).

Dust particles floating in the air can be quite large compared with a liquid spray (a sneeze), or a gas (oxygen or nitrogen) and dust masks work by stopping only larger particles. There are 3 common dust mask ratings which are specifically graded regarding dust density and NOT for any other purpose. According to the World health organisation dust particles are from 1 to 100 µm (micros) is size whereas aerosols/liquid spray can be fractions of a micron (as stated in this piece from the US library of medicine.)

The UK government says – “if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth when it’s hard to stay away from people, such as on public transport..” and ” You are at higher risk of being directly exposed to respiratory droplets (released by talking or coughing) when you are within two metres of someone and have face-to-face contact with them. You can lower the risk of infection if you stay side-to-side rather than facing someone.”

So the bottom line is a dustmask will protect others if the wearer has Covid-19, but will do less to protect the wearer from getting it from others – Social distancing and washing your hands are much better preventions. Unless you buy a full face supplied air respirator a dustmask will provide little protection. Thin masks are no good at all, the thicker the barrier between you and the air the less likely you are to be infected.

US Library of medicine has some interesting information saying that masks are not “100% preventative, but are greater than 99% effective”. Bearing in mind these dust masks in their trial are graded N95. Also CEBM suggest more evidence and trials are needed to say that “face coverings” are significant in protecting people against Covid-19. Personally seeing these results was a surprise and changed my mind as to their effectiveness.

The US Library of medicine also say that a simple single or dual ply cloth mask is from only 60 – 80% effective, this effectiveness then degrades each time you wash it, degrading 20% after 4 washes to 40% – 30% effiency! Making these masks virtually useless compared to dust masks and respirators that are rated!

2 – A mask needs to be fitted properly to be effective!

So you’ve decided that you want to use a dustmask? Are you fitting or using it properly? For more in depth information the has done a study on just how effective a dust mask is…

1 – To work to the graded specifications the mask has to be covering nose and mouth completely. If your nose or mouth are exposed, you may as well be wearing no mask at all.

2 – Make sure the mask has a rating and/or is made of a thick material. – If it’s not rated your mask will fit into the 60% effective and lower category!

3 – The mask must be fitted without any gaps around the edges of the mask. These gaps will let contaminents and dust through.

4 – The mask must be tested, try to get fingers under the mask all around edges, if you can the mask will be ineffective.

5 – A use by date? On my dust mask? Yes, dust masks do have a use by date, this is not for the filters on the mask but for the life of the rubber straps.

Is it fitted correctly?

3 – What about my eyes?

Yes exposed eyes are still a way into your body for infection. Once again we look at the US library of medicine which says that you can be infected through the eye. This is why washing hands and not touching your face are essential to avoid infection.

So yes, eye protection will help toward stopping infection through the eye, it also prevents touching of the eye with fingers. You’re more likely to touch or rub your eye with your fingers than getting direct infection through the eye.

Obviously if someone sneezes or coughs in your face with Covid-19 having eye protection will help.

4 – gloves and hand protection

Hand protection is mainly used instead of having to wash your hands all the time. So use the gloves and dispose of them or wash the gloves before using them again.

However it is advised that hands are washed as well as wearing gloves, to be doubly safe.

5 – Hygene and common sense

1 – The reasons for washing hands and cleaning surfaces

How can you tell what surfaces are contaminated with Covid-19? The simple answer is, you can’t. There have been studies on Covid-19’s life expency on every day items; metals, plastics, wood as well as skin or hair. So it’s better to be safe, than sorry.

According to the Lancet the virus is stable at 4 °C up to room temperature (24 °C) and can stay active on plastic and Stainless steel for up to 7 days! Can last on Glass, copper, paper and banknotes for up to 4 days. Cardboard for 24 hours and wood up to 48 hours! So cleaning surfaces, especially in unfamilar locations (when you don’t know who has been using door handles or surfaces before you) is essential to protect yourself and your family.

The best protection is of course washing your hands with soap and water to kill any virus on them. This works by the soap molecules sticking to the virus’ “lipid bilayer” and then letting the water wash it away and kill it. Science focus go into greater detail about how this happens on their website.

2 – The reasons for Social distancing.

With many diseases, including Covid-19, people are affected by them in different ways. Some people may be hit hard and die when infected, whereas others don’t display any symptoms at all. (Both Presymtomatic and Asymtomatic). So asymtomatic infected, don’t know and don’t think they have it therefore go out into public spreading the desease to others. Just because you don’t feel ill, doesn’t mean you aren’t infectious.

The CEBM reported on this in April. Saying “from 5% to 80% of people infected with covid-19 could be asymtomatic (showing no symptoms of a disease that they have)! Even taking an average of this percentage means 50% of people who are infected with Covid-19 may have mild or no symptoms at all but will be infectious.

Therefore the only reason we can ensure the safety of the vulnerable is to socially distance. Someone who is asymtomatic could be 2 meters (6 foot 6 inches) away safely from someone who has not got the virus. Why 2 meters you ask? Because when people talk they spray out aerosole/water vapour up to two meters.

However, when it comes to people who have the virus either asymptomatic or otherwise when they cough or sneeze, this safe distance increases significantly. As we can see from this post by Science focus an uncovered cough can spread infected droplets up to six meters, or a sneeze up to eight meters! (the length of a London Bus)

So the idea is prevention; having minimal contact means the virus has less or no chance to spread from person to person. If someone is at home the infection can’t be spread to or from that person. In 1918 they used exactly the same method to eradicate the influenza epidemic. These documented cases from National Geographic from the US help prove the point that it works very well when implemented properly.

Minimum of 2 meters

3 – Contact tracing

This only becomes relevant if you test positive to covid-19 or have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive. Then you are tracked by the authorities and told to self isolate for 14 days even if you don’t have symtoms. This is the method South Korea has used to stop the epidemic effectively with less than 300 deaths in total.

4 – Trying not to touch your face

Most people don’t even notice when they touch their faces; that little itch, some sweat maybe, or adjusting your glasses. But your hands are a breeding ground for covid-19; touching money, hand-rails, desks, door handles, bells, self service check-out screens and many many other possible contaminated surfaces or objects. As we’ve seen some surfaces can have Covid-19 on them for up to 7 days in the right conditions. If you do touch your face, use a wrist or part of your hand you wouldn’t usually use, meaning it is less likely to infect yourself from contaminated objects by your own hand.

Do not touch your face if you’re wearing gloves! Yes, gloves are protecting you, but only from getting covid-19 on your hands. If you touch an infected surface with the glove, then touch your face with the glove, you will have the same risk as not wearing gloves at all.

Covid-19!

5 – Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

As mentioned earlier a cough can travel up to six meters, and a sneeze eight meters. The spray can then hang in the air if for up to 30 minutes (inside, with no airflow) which can then infect anyone passing through this vapour.

6 -Dispelling the myths.

There seems to be lots of propaganda from people claiming the covid-19 pandemic is a “lie” or “disinformation”. Or that the Chinese created the virus in a lab or 5G is somehow responsible from spreading Covid-19. Over 1million people dead so far should prove these statements false. But, let’s ask the questions that need to be addressed…

1 – Is Covid-19 naturally occuring? – Why would anyone release a virus into their own population? They wouldn’t. They would send it to a different country and the survivors would never find out where it came from.

2 – Is this a real disaster or a complex manipulation? – Why would a country (let’s take the UK) shut everything down, loosing billions of pounds a day – in April the mail online reported £2.4 billion is being lost a day in the UK. Lockdown started on March 23rd and it’s now June so this is a total of almost £250 billion so far. Does it make sense to close a whole country on a whim, for the first time like this in over 100 years? Definitely not.

If either of these scenarios were true, it be the most expensive and stupid decision ever made by any country in the world ever, and every country has now implemented similar restrictions. It’s extremely difficult to gauge any possible advantage in shutting the worlds economies down for 3 months. Thinking logically, the suggestion is ludicrous!

3 – If it is natural and not a manipulation then why did it all happen now? – Because nature is chaotic and unpredictable. Everything is evolving. Your parents made you, and their parents made them, you have evolved in ways different to your parents and grandparents. When something lives it evolves, this virus is a colony of living organisms, therefore is also evolving. The virus jumped (much like bird-flu, swine-flu or ebola) from animals to humans. This virus could have evolved at anytime.

4 – Is the virus spread by 5G? This is totally impossible! It’s like asking if someone can get “herpes from watching their TV set”, or comparing apples to an architect’s blueprints. The 5G signal is a wireless frequency system, which beams information to and from devices. Virtual identical to 4G, 3G and so on with the exception of being faster and doesn’t have a physical existance.

5 – How about putting disinfectant or bleach into my body to kill Covid-19? It works on work surfaces! This is a dangerous and stupid suggestion. Ingest or inject either bleach or disinfectant can be extremely harmful, causing organ failure and in some cases death – This statement has been issued by the leading makers of disinfectants.

6 – Antibiotics will kill this virus dead! This is untrue, unfortunately antibiotics will do nothing. Antibiotics aren’t used against viruses, they are used to kill bacterial infections. For information on the myths about Covid19, visit this site.

7 – Can I get Covid-19 from my cat or dog? There is no evidence that animals have spread this disease at all, compared to lots of evidence saying humans have spread it across the globe. Getting covid from your cat is extremely unlikely. As far as we know the only case of Covid-19 that has been confirmed outside the human population was in the lion and tiger population at New York zoo – All of the animals made a full recovery. So potentially humans can spread it to other animals, but not animals to humans.

Hopefully we’ve helped dispell some myths and give more you more information on how to stay safe inside and outside our homes during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are all in this together, so please look after eachother and show some compassion and tolerance.

It’s Christmas!!

As promised in our previous post here’s a run down of our top 10 Christmas gifts for 2019 from Langs! They’re listed in no particular order, so here they are:

No.1.. the classic 3 piece Bahco’s spanner series 80 set @ £34.99 inc VAT. These 3 spanners, 6 inch, 8 inch and 10 inch are the professionally made and most popular range of Bahco spanners. With phosphate finish, 16 degree head angle and non slip handle and knurled sized adjusting nut.

Made to standard ISO 6787, DIN 3117, ASME B107.8-2003 and BS 6333

Item 2.. Another Bahco product, the S240. This is a comprehesive and useful selection of sockets and accessories, which any DIY or professional will find complements any set of tools. The set consists of the following;

  • 18-Piece 1/2″ hex sockets 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 30 and 32 mm
  • One 1/2″ ratchet, quick release, 60 teeth/6° action angle
  • Two 1/2″ extension bars, 5″ and 10″
  • One 1/2″ universal joint
  • One 1/2″ T-adaptor
  • One 1/2″ breaker bar with two-components handle: 10″
  • One removable three-section plastic box with lid
  • Matte finish
  • High-performance alloy steel
  • Less wear and damage to fastener thanks to Dynamic-Drive™ profile sockets
  • Quick socket release button on ratchet
  • Case: High density polythene (HDPE)
  • Standards: ISO 1174 and DIN 3120

Selling for £55 including VAT

Our 3rd Christmas product is the Irwin Marples M373 8pc chisel set. Incredible value for this splitproof bevel edge set are ideal for heavy-duty use and have splitproof handles. They are made from best in category steel for improved sharpness and edge retention. set consisting of 6mm (1/4in), 10mm (3/8in), 12mm (1/2in), 19mm (3/4in), 25mm (1in), 32mm (1.1/4in), 38mm (1.1/2in) & 50mm (2in)

Selling at £70 inc VAT

No 4 the Stanley antivibe hammer and wonder bar pry bar set.

More classic design, this time from Stanley with their one piece antivibe hammer and their wonderbar prybar made from highgrade carbon fibre with a powder coated finish, with bevelled nail slots and contoured grip. Both together are £29.99 inc VAT

No 5 Draper’s Redline 14pc spanner set; consisting of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 22, 24, 27, 30 and 32mm made of Chrome vanadium steel, hardened and tempered with a chrome finish. All coming together in a roll-up teflon pouch making this Incredible value @ £49.20 in VAT

No 6 Draper tap and die set; Suitable for cleaning and rethreading mild steel or aluminium. Manufactured from high carbon steel, hardened and tempered. Supplied in plastic case. Contents: 8 metric dies size: 3 x 0.5, 4 x 0.7, 5 x 0.8, 6 x 1.0, 7 x 1.0, 8 x 1.25, 10 x 1.5 and 12 x 1.75mm die 1/8″ NPT 8 metric taper taps: sizes as metric dies tap 1/8″ NPT bar type tap wrench M3-12 (1/8-1/2″) die holder screwdrive. A great starter set or replacement to anyone’s precision equipment for £31.08 inc VAT

Our 7th item is another Draper item. 110volt, 30Watt, 360 degrees LED site lamp. 2800 lumens of 360 degree light coverage. Has a carry handle, hanging hook and tripod fixing holes. Our price £76.20 inc VAT

8th on the list is the DeWalt DWE315B corded oscillating tool with bag. For ease of use, it features quick accessory change and adjustment, no hex key required. The body features superior ergonomics, the soft comfort grip helps to reduce user fatigue whilst improving control. Supplied with a 37 piece accessory set that contains: 1 x Rigid Scraper 1 x Sanding Plate 25 x Sanding Sheets (Assorted Grades) 1 x Universal Adaptor 2 x Hex Keys: 3mm and 5mm 1 x Dust Extraction Adaptor 1 x Depth Stop/Straight Cut Guide 1 x Tool Bag Specification: Input Power: 300W No Load Speed: 0-22,000/min. Weight: 1.5kg

Langs Industrial price £119.99 inc VAT

No 9 is the Einhell TC-VC 18125 Wet and Dry vac 1250W 240v. This compact wet and dry vac is extremely flexible and versitile for both wet and dry cleaning. Supplied with: 1 x 3 Piece Plastic Suction Pipe, Ø36mm 1 x Suction Hose 1.5m x Ø36mm 1 x Big Comfort Nozzle with insert for carpets/smooth floors 1 x Crevice Nozzle 1 x Foam Filter for wet vacuuming 1 x Paper Bag for dry vacuuming Specification Incredible value at £40

Our last item no 10 is the 25 piece Wera Kraftform Kompakt W1 Maintenance Kit includes the following:

  • 1 x 817 VDE Kraftform Blade Holding Handle
  • 4 x 154mm VDE Slotted Blades: 0.4 x 2.5, 0.6 x 3.5, 0.8 x 4.0, 1.0 x 5.5mm 2 x 154mm VDE Phillips Blades: PH1, PH2 2 x 154mm VDE Pozidriv Blades: PZ1, PZ2 4 x 154mm
  • VDE TORX Blades: TX10, TX15, TX20, TX25 1 x Screw Gripper Attachment 1 x Single Pole Voltage Tester 1 x Joker Double Open Ended Wrench 10 x 13mm
  • 1 x Zyklop Speed Ratchet 1/4in Drive 1 x Zyklop Bit Adaptor 1/4in Drive 1 x 75mm Zyklop Extension 1/4in Drive
  • 8 x Sockets: 5.5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13mm 1 x Universal Bit Holder 2 x 25mm Pozidriv Bits: PZ1, PZ2 1 x 25mm TORX Bit: TX25 4 x 25mm Hex Plus Bits: 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0mm

All in a robust textile box @ £100 inc VAT

That’s it for our top 10 Christmas products listed on our website! We’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone reading a happy Christmas and a happy new year for 2020! See you in the next year!

Spam and Christmas: The English way

Please leave your spam at the door!

Many of you may have noticed how there’s not been all that many posts recently on this toolblog. Well there’s many reasons for this. One reason is the amount of spam/adverts/fake posts that are automatically created and flood the blog on a regular basis. Yes, I had all the IP blockers and other “spammer” tools but they had no or little effect. I would come on line with every intention of writing an interesting, useful or funny post, but instead have spent all my time “weeding” the spam from my comments, sometimes 1,000 a day! As I say this was until recently, I’ve got the spam down to 10 a month, which is a lot more palatable and means I can actually get on with writing that epic blog post.

This blog uses wordpress, which in my experience has many problems when it comes to being spammed by bots, before you start! You can take all the precautions, install all the add-ons and come back to the blog the next week with 5,000 – 10,000 spam comments you need to review, and delete or approve; mostly viagra, porn, dating, Russian, Polish or just weird random medical sites! But yes, there are some real comments in there too! Real actual people reading the blog, not just spam bots!

The one thing I’ve done which helped me get the spam down was putting the Google Captcha add-on into the blog. This means that when someone writes a comment, they have to click a Captcha box next to the comment they’re posting. Humans can, but bots can’t, so this gets rid of most of the spammers immediately. So my advice would be to install Google captcha as soon as possible to make your life easier, and you will be able to write blog posts, instead of sitting for hours ploughing through spam comments and rubbish. It doesn’t get rid of everything but it will mean the difference between spending an hour and spending five minutes taking care of your spam issues.

This, in turn, means that there should be more blog posts coming more regularly in the future with hopefully some guest bloggers too. So stay tuned.

The state of tools and of Christmas..

As we move into December in a few day’s time. Our thoughts turn to Christmas and the commercialism of the high street; Who started their Christmas sales around August 31st, with all the quality street and heros they had left over from last year. Here at Langs, we try to leave it till late November before we even think about putting up trees and decorations, and even then sometimes we don’t bother with all the frills and glitz.

Obviously being a commercial enterprise, we have suppliers who offer many goods they think would make incredible Christmas gifts. Rather than just pushing all these goods, we pick the best of what’s on offer (usually 10 or 12) and then recommend these as the best available deals for Christmas. These will be put into a separate post at the beginning of December.

Christmas and looking forward to 2020 and onwards…

We have some interesting Christmas bargains this year as you will see if you look over at Langs Industrial From torches by LED Lenser to Dewalt power drills. There’s something for everyone, even as a stocking filler.

This is a good opportunity to tell you our Christmas closure times for this year. Over the Christmas period we will be closing from the 21st December 2019 and then will be back on 2nd January 2020 bright and early for the new year!

In 2020 Langs will be celebrating their 74th year of trading since Fred Lang opened his little engineer’s supply back in 1946 – Making 2021 the magical 75th anniversary year since opening.

So lots to look forward to in the next few weeks, months and even years…

Tales from the counter-side

I haven’t written to this blog in a while and thought I’d post something a little different. 

During our time working in retail, hardware, engineering supplies and tool sales.  We’ve met some interesting people.  Many have been weird, wonderful and some have been just totally mad or strange.  I think for the most part, mistakes, misinformation and misunderstandings are what this comes down to, for the most part…

Here’s a few comical examples of 30 plus years working with the public.  I think the title and the original “two ronnies” sketch says it all “I’d like four candles!”  And here it is if you’ve never seen it.

And there seems to be a trend; when you don’t know the name of what you want, make the name up!  I can’t fault this for the most part, although sometimes it can be annoying when a customer insists on using a term which is wrong or you just don’t understand what they are saying. The amount of times I’ve been asked for a gromet, a thing-amy-jig, or even an bolt – all of which can be anything at all to anyone who’s asking.

The “wags” over at British Rail, Ford and Sterling (among others) would send their neophyte fresh-face workers into the shop on a wild goose chase. Having an official purchase order in hand or just verbally told “Get over to the supplier, we are in urgently need…..”.

A recipricating bore. Tartan paint (pictured below). A left or right handed coat hook. Glass hammers. (although apparently Yoko Ono actually created one in 1967!) A Teep-Opt with four digi-stiff display. Skirting board ladders. An “I-M-nu”. Or a “long wait”, and of course “four candles….” to name a few of the items asked for.

A good example of misunderstandings is when I was asked for an “Axsaw” To this I naturally said, “Do you mean a hacksaw sir?” The man looked angrily at me saying, “NO, an Axsaw! A. X. S. A. W!”…..This is when we get the tool catalogue out to show the customer, to discover what the customer means as communcation has failed.   I always say that if we the assistants/counter staff/shop keeper/Sales team are doing our good job right, we are part detective and can usually get to the bottom of what it is they’re after.

On a side note – It turns out, there really is something called the “axe saw” (see picture below) however, this wasn’t really what he wanted and didn’t exist at the time – he wanted a Hacksaw, and confirmed this with the catalogue pictures.

This of course is the tip of the iceberg.  The word “Gromet” seems to cover almost any small item that a customer is searching for from a small piece of rubber (yes, a real gromet) to a furniture cam or roll pin.  “What’s one of those? ” I hear you say….

Give us a screw…

Screws are a huge source of humour, until you’ve heard that joke everyday for 10 years. “I’d like a screw please! No not that kind!” There was actually a well known brothel….er massage parlour very close to where our shop was, within crawling distance.

There’s many a time a customer has come into the shop for a “bolt” and it turns out they want a woodscrew or machine screw, a padbolt or a chutebolt. Yes these are all different as a customer can tell when they look at you like you’re insane when you bring the “bolt” back.

No good deed….

Then there’s the maxim “No good deed, goes unpunished!” which I have personally felt the sting from more than once. Sometimes we would get customers come into the shop who desperately need something “fixed”. I fell into this trap many times, notably with one lady with a leopard print shopping trolley (Yeah, snazzy). Unfortunately she was constantly overloading it and the metal reinforcements had broken, along with the wheels, and most of the rest of it. She kept coming in to fix it so I thought, I would do her a favour and fix the cart for her. I was at it for a hour, she wasn’t grateful in the least in fact she didn’t like the fix and complained. So I fixed it in a different way with some jubilee clips, which she was much happier with. By the time this was done I’d been with her for an hour and a half before she was satisfied, until I told her the price. £5…Yeah for an hour and a half’s work and the goods to fix her cart. She looked at me like I was cheating her!

Irregular regulars

Then we get the “regular customers” who treated the business like their very own hire purchase establishment. Having “a tab” (although this was stopped very quickly because of lack of funds the shop’s direction) that he would put goods on and then pay for later….Much much later. Sometimes bringing back goods that were purchased 6 months earlier and expecting us to take them back or swap them. Some of these items were hundreds of pounds.

The undesirables

Yes, you get thieves, con men/women and aggressive customers if you work with the public in any way.

Three are more noteworthy than most (that I can mention here); the first a woman who came into the shop with her two kids picked up a 5 liter tin of cleaning solution (I saw her) and proceeded to ask for a refund for it! Saying “Sorry, I don’t have the receipt for it…” To this was said “You can’t have a refund then! When did you buy it?”….She said “Ok, I’ll just take it away again and look for the receipt!”….How about we call the police and see what they say, we’ve got video evidence of you picking it up from the shelves!

The second was stranger. A customer came into the shop asking “Can you come and have a look at this miter saw I want to buy?” I said “Yes Sir I’ll just come over….” to this, the customer leads me down the aisle of the shop and out the front door. I said “where are we going? I thought you wanted me to look at a saw that you want to buy?” He said “I do, it’s out here!” He lead me to a transit van outside where an Irishman was standing in front of opened its open doors. I looked at the miter saw, then at the customer. “This is a fake…..Hold on a minute!” I went back into the shop and got my colleague who had worked there 25 years out to have a look. He couldn’t believe it, there was some guy selling counterfeit powertools out of the back of van in our car park! We told the Irishman to leave our car park and we were calling the police! To this the Irishman said ” Don’t be cheeky….”. The customer who called me out to look at the saw, looked at me bewildered saying “thought it was too good to be true” and left.

The third was just odd and very quick. A eastern European man came straight into the shop, and into our large showroom. Then immediately turned around and walked straight out again. However, while leaving he had a new DeWalt hat on his head which no-one missed and a chorus of 4 counter staff shouted “Oi! That’s not your hat!” To which the man turns and feigns ignorance….takes it off, throws it on the floor and runs.

The other side of the coin

Then there are the very strange people who work for the company. Yes, it takes all sorts to make a world….

One assistant, we will call “Rambo” the reason for which you will find out soon. Worked for the company for around a month, maybe a little less, but left a trail of angry customers and destruction in his wake and finally was “let go” because he came in late shirtless claiming he was “beaten up” at the nearby train station. He had only scratch marks over his chest and stomach. (self inflicted?)

Another assistant had literally breath-taking extreme halitosis! Having a conversation was difficult because you couldn’t breathe or you would choke and gag. His breathe could peel paint from a wall without any paint stripper or heat gun involved. I ended up offering him a mint every time I saw him.

So it can be fun, weird and interesting working for an Engineer’s suppliers as you can see.

A brief history of light…

From the discovery of fire to the illumination of the night…

It’s been a while since our last blog post, and so with the new year 2019, we hope to set it off to good start!

From the still red embers of fire discovered in the darkness of the past to the dazzling bright future of illumination from LED’s and beyond; fire, burning torch, oil lamp, candle, the innovation of batteries and utilisation in lights. It’s been an interesting journey to get to today’s point of progress.

And then there was fire.

It’s been a while, and no one really knows how fire was discovered, and I suppose it depends who you speak to. Whether Prometheus stole the fire from the Gods to give a flaming torch to man, or if there was a forest fire caused by lightning that some clever proto-human managed to salvage a flaming piece of wood from. It’s difficult to know how things went, but according to “English Heritage” around 120,000 years ago the secret of fire was discovered independantly around the world, however according to the History Channel and Science Daily caves have been found in South Africa that are 1 million years old with proof that fire was tamed and used by the hominin humans that were living there.

Fire was literally light, life and power! So to harness this was very important to humans becoming what they are today.

The next steps…

The natural progression of wanting to see in the dark, to keep warm and/or to keep predators away meant the transferring of fire from place to place was nessassary if not extremely important to remaining alive. Especially when humans discovered the joy of cooking their food.

So, humans had to initially learn how to transport their fire from one location to another and then the innovation of creating a fire itself. Which was probably found while using flint hammers against rocks (see the history of hammers on this blog); creating sparks and setting dry kindling on fire.

You may have seen old films where the hominin people just happened to live next to tar pits where fires rage, the hominin dips some fabric into the tar with a branch of wood so and it instantly ignites this new firey torch to illuminate the night. According to Wikipedia and other sources clothes were first worn around 170,000 years ago; although clothes, fabrics, hides and animals skins wouldn’t have survived through till now. So there’s no definitive evidence of when torches like this could have been created. So the earliest we can say that torches could have been made is 170,000 years ago.

Something more illuminating..

So man and fire where united and unleashed on the world.

Fire creating cooked food, heat, warmth and a safe environment for all the tribe. Over time these early people became more expert with fire, and how they used and controlled it. Cooking food had usable side products including fats, tallows waxes and oils when used with a wick would last much longer and be more controllable than the large firey torches. Which brings me to the oil lamp which was first seen 70,000 years ago according to the history of lamps website, probably first used with cut out wood, shells or stone. Then refined later on with the advent of pottery (4,000BC), bronze (1,500BC), Iron (800BC) and other containers became more widespread and better designed

These oil burners became widespread through-out the ancient world from Greece, Rome to Egypt. Along with the later oil burners the candle makes an appearance around for 1,000BC with wicked candles. Unfortunately because of the nature of candles there’s little evidence remaining of when exactly candles were first used and created, although there are bronze, iron and other candle holders through to the present day. Gradually become widespread throughout the world to be the main source of light until the early 1800’s.

The death of the candle and the oil lantern in the home was heralded with the widespread installation of gas heating and lighting. However this didn’t mean the end of the storm lamp/lantern when needing a torch to light your way in open country or anywhere without street lighting

A revolution of batteries…

With the revolution of the battery in 1887, quickly industry wanted to utilise this incredible new harnessed power! With many new innovations and designs, the now familiar handheld torch (flashlight) was created in 1899 and became a public success! This were called flashlights because they couldn’t keep the light on for too long or the torch would get hot, burn out the bulb or just stop working! This basic model used 3 battery cells to shed very little light in a wide scattered beam using a polished brass reflector, using a contact switch to active the torch.

After the first world war by the 1920’s the design of the torch developed with the arrival of better quality battery technology, better more economical bulbs, thinner glass lens and a better reflecting lens. Making a more popular, more user friendly, easier to use and a higher quality product. Notably the Rayovac flashlight which is significantly brighter and more ergonomic than the earlier torches.

Another war and the invention of the transistor changed the torch again; although it had the same old familiar design externally, it revolutionised the all the internal components. Gradually miniaturising, improving and re-designing the torch. Initially made of steel, brass or other metals, these newer torches were gradually made out of bakelite, rubber and finally plastics. All the way through to the late 1970’s where plastic was the most material a torch was made out of.

Innovation provides.

Progress came fast and furious with the end of the 80’s with improvements in battery cell technology; today using Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium ion. With light bulbs; today using LED’s or HID’s shedding thousands of lumens of light without the heat created of the incandescent or halogen bulbs. Utilising electronics rather than wires making electrical contacts much more efficient.

Although aesthetically is essentially the same all put together makes a quantum leap from the 5 or so candle power (65 lumens) and only having 10 minutes of ‘on’ time of the first torch, to the modern torch supplying 3,200 lumens for 40minutes in only 110 years.

The future of the torch is definitely getting brighter!

More battery news.

 

Over time, there are more innovations, updates and tweaks in technology.   With an eye on the future, another on the past, and yet another on their competition, Metabo have released (2017) a new battery range.  It’s the new LiHD (lithium ion high demand) battery which is backwards compatible to be used with existing machines and chargers; a policy that Metabo has had since 2009.  Metabo trying to deliver a cordless tool, with the performance of a corded power tool.

 

 

What’s the difference between the new and the old technology?

 

Compared to the old Lithium Ion batteries, the new Lithium HD batteries  have 67% more power, and 100% more run-time!  With an ultra low profile and a 100% compatibility with old chargers and machines.  These look like the perfect upgrade for a already purchased machine.  Here’s what Metabo say themselves.

Revolutinary LiHD high-performance cells: Completely new electromechanical design with significantly stronger conductors, which in combination with more active material, permit a

  • significant increase in the accessible power output
  • resulting in more usable energy for you


Massive power rails capable of handling high currents,
enlarged contact and cell connectors made from a special CU alloy, conduct the current with reduced losses.

Increased run time thanks to:

 

  • an increase in active cell material
  • high-quality materials (silver and copper) in combination with stronger conductors – this permits a more efficient energy flow

 

These 18volt batteries come in three AH versions 7AH, 5,5AH and 4AH costing around £110, £85 and £69 respectively.

 

So what’s next?  What’s next, is the innovation and redesign of Metabo’s power tool line-up to work more efficiently with their new battery.  More efficient power governers, more effecient brushless motors, a change back to a metal or carbon fibre gearbox,  even further and better ergonomic design.  The list is endless, difficult to keep the tool under an affordable price, and this is a problem for a lot of power tool companies.   So stayed tuned for more innovations!

Hammers. Hammers! Hammers?

As a follow-up to my recent post regarding all things hammer, I’m writing this article to complement the previous post.  This time it’s a comparison of three claw hammers rather than more on the evolution of the hammer which I covered pretty comprehensively in my last post.  We’ve chosen three in an attempt to be scientific with our testing.

So, what’s so special about these hammers?  Isn’t a hammer, JUST a hammer?  Well, yes, it’s a hammer and essentially they’re the same thing; it’s used to hit things with!  However (according to experts, designers, trade professionals and the manufacturer) , there are some interesting nuances between the three hammers I’m looking at.  The first is a very popular old classic from Estwing, who you will know if you read my other blog post about hammers has been making hammers since 1923, their E3 claw hammer being one of the most popular hammers for professionals all over the planet.  The second hammer I’ll be looking at is a new innovative design by Vaughan, an American company that’s been making hammers since 1869; it’s their Dalluge style straight claw titanium hammer!  And finally our control or baseline for a reasonable everyday hammer, so I chose the Stanley 51-621 hammer created with a fibreglass handle to reduce vibration.

So let’s look at the three and their attributes.

The Stanley hammer 51-621

 

The heat treated forged high carbon steel curved claw head is fully polished and rim tempered for durability and safety.
The fibreglass handle absorbs shock and vibration and the textured rubber ensures a comfortable, secure grip.
High visibility yellow makes the hammer safe and easy-to-locate in work areas.

So, basically an everyday and cheap hammer, for around £12 inc VAT at your local shop or online.  Not pretty to look at with a rubber grip and fibreglass handle that in reality does little to cushion the blows you land.  Yes, it’s better than cheaper hammers, a little. But it doesn’t really match up to the other two.  So this is our baseline hammer, everyone at home has something of this quality or slightly better.

 

The Estwing hammer E3/16

 

The Estwing E3 series curved claw hammers have a vinyl grip made from liquid vinyl bonded on to the shaft during production, offers the utmost in both comfort and durability, while reducing vibrations caused by impact.

The conventional carpenters’ curved claw hammer offers unsurpassed balance and temper.

Made in the USA from high quality steel.

As I’ve already said earlier, the Estwing E3 claw hammer is the go to tool of the professional, the workhorse of the construction site for the carpentry teams.  The steel shaft goes the length of the hammer with the vinyl handle molded around it to create the soft handle.  This hammer would set you back around £50!  I’ve known carpenters who have their Estwing hammer for 20 years.

 

The Vaughan “Dalluge” style straight claw hammer

 

Weight: (16 oz.).
Handle length: 430mm (17 inch)

The lightweight DDT 16, with its patented deep “V” head design, provides faster, greater power at point of impact with less stress and arm fatigue.

The DDT 16 hammer features a patented titanium head with overstrike guard. It’s exclusive Double “D”™ Magnetic Nail Holder has the ability to hold both standard and duplex nails and provides increased reach for one-handed nail starting, while the Sidewinder™ Nail Puller provides extra leverage for removing nails without ripping up forms. For fast and easy tear downs and rip outs the Short Stack™ Claws on the DDT 16 hammer are reinforced to provide increased strength for prying. Heads made in China. Handles made in USA. Assembled in USA. MADE IN CHINA

So Titanium hammers have been around for a while now.  You will get this Vaughan hammer from the internet or if you’re very lucky from a shop but it will set you back £220!! So it makes sense that you’d want to check it out before you put that kind of money into buying this hammer.  Why does it cost 4 times the price of a regular high quality claw hammer and, what would it take to convince anyone to pay this much money for it?

 

The good, the bad and the not so bad…

 

In a direct comparison between the three hammers.

The Stanley is cheap, it’s rubber grip isn’t great but is usable, the fibreglass, anti-vibe handle doesn’t stop the softer vibrations and I suppose would do if you had nothing else to use.  When we decided to do this test, we did think about using some kind of kenetic testing equipment to compare the impact force and the vibration carried back down the handle, but this equipment is really expensive and we decided against it.   In the end the hammer is heavy and unforgiving. At around 10 nail mark your arms starts really feeling it, and honestly you want to take continue much longer…

The Estwing is heavy like the Stanley, but the handle feels much better in your hand.  There’s a certain amount of anti-vibe through the vinyl grip but not much.  It’s heavy but it hits nails perfectly, and once again is unforgiving in the long run.  Around the continuous 10 nail mark again, your arm starts feeling it.  It’s better with vibration than the Stanley.

The Titanium Vaughan hammer is much lighter, and the wooden handle helps with vibration, so lots of anti-vibe characteristics.  So light you don’t feel any strain from hitting in 20 nails continuously!

So the bottom line?  To me the titanium hammer isn’t just a fad, it does help with it’s weight and you won’t suffer from a sore wrist afterwards; or will need to nail twice to three times as many nails as the steel hammer to get the same effect.  Saying this, the price IS a down side, so  the titanium hammer is really just for the professional who works all day at hammering or a dedicated DIYer who doesn’t mind paying out the high price!  But for most serious professionals it’s the trusty Estwing!

If you’re interested in trying and buying any of these three hammers here’s a link to each.

 

Stanley glassfibre hammer 51-621 hammer – £11.94 inc VAT

Estwing E3/16C Vinyl grip hammer – £49.26 inc VAT

Vaughan ‘Dalluge’ Style Straight Claw Titanium Hammer – £220.96 inc VAT

The history of the hammer from its prehistoric beginnings.

The modern day hammer has had an incredible evolution since its origins when man needed to hit and smash shells or bones to get food.  Initially. I thought a post about the evolution of the hammer may be interesting, but I’ve found that hammers are much greater than just a hand tool, they are literally the great grandfather of every tool ever made!

The basics;

A hammer is a tool for striking another object or substance, whether wood, metal, stone or anything else. The modern day hammer has many variations, looks and sizes. Creating an extremely versatile tool.

Then man created the hammer;

Archaeologists have now discovered the first appearance of a tool used as a hammer was 3.3 million years ago (149 found in Lake Turkana in northern Kenya in 2015) when a “hammer stone” was used to splinter more brittle stones like flint, into cutting and killing tools.  After they began to perfect their technique, they formed and shaped axes, knives, then more intricate arrow heads and spear heads. Still later these proto-humans used the formed shards into carving tools for wood, to break open animal skulls, bones, shells and even make jewellery.

This embryonic hammer, was little more than a heavy elliptical stone between 300 grams to a kilo smoothly formed at the bottom of a river bed, or from the sea.  The stone was used to hit an object, which was sitting on a large flat stone below it, like an anvil.  If a more intricate point was needed, the stone hammer would be replaced with a smaller stone, bones, ivory and antlers using more finesse for finishing the new cutting tools.

 

 

Then around 30,000 BC, an incredible 3.27 million years later. The next stage of the hammer’s evolution came into being. The addition of a handle; the stone being tied to either a piece of wood or bone with leather, vine, sinew, hair or similar substance tying the head to the handle. Creating the more familiar modern day looking hammer, similar to those made by native americans in the 1800’s.

This addition may not seem a big one, but it enabled the user to have more control over what they were hitting, and the accuracy of the strike. It meant that this new hammer could be used for more intricate work and meant the creation of a more artisan society. With the advent of the handle this meant the hammers evolution to what we know today advanced exponentially. Having a handle also allowed the user to have less accidents with the wielded tool.Then hammer’s next advance was the coming of metal and the bronze age. Around 3,000 BC, 27,000 years after the last important update of the hammer. Hammer heads were forged with bronze, making them more durable as far as binding them was concerned. The first hammer heads were probably melted bronze bound with similar bindings to stones, and evolved with the onset of forging and casting processes. This allowed a hole to be put through the bronze to take the handle. With the invention of forges and casting other copper and bronze products were made including nails.

 

Bronze age hammer face.  The hammer was fitted on to a piece of wood or bone, then used as a hammer.

Although iron was around in it’s raw form since the beginning of the bronze age, with meteroic iron. Which was found and used for tools such as hammers. It wasn’t until 1200 BC that iron was properly extracted and used to make tools and weapons. Making the old bronze hammers and equipment obsolete. Hammers started to evolve their shapes at this point in their history. Having round faces, square faces, cutting edges, reliefs, and so on. Among the new shapes of hammer the claw head was created for recovering bent or damaged nails for re-smelting. Also meaning you could reuse the precious iron or bronze nail.

 

Iron age (post medieval) hammer head.

The discovery of Steel was the advent of modern day hammers and tools. From the unrecognisable embryonic eliptical stone of 3million years previously. Originally created around 1800 BC, but spread across the world properly in the 11th century. The process was refined and augmented by the 1500’s with the birth of today’s standard of steel making.

From 1500’s on the evolution of industry came the evolution of the hammer, during which the refining of hammer types and their nuances was developed and experimented with to make a different hammer that was ideal for each job. Coachbuilding, house building, brick layers,blacksmiths, masons, miners and any number of other jobs.

A copy of a steel headed and handled hammer. (circa 1760)

The Hammer’s produced next were “forged” by the industrial revolution starting in 1760 and 1870 the explosion in industry and the need for tools to repair and maintain the new machinery created. Also mass product of hammers, made them all similar and had to be produced to the same standards. These processes also meant that wood, rubber, copper, lead, brass, hide and broze hammers and mallets were easier to make and made more popular. With these new industries came bespoke hammer product such as larger moving and slogging equipment.

With the coming of the new century in the 1900’s came the invention of new materials; Bakelite, casin, and new metal alloys mean hammer faces and handles could be used in a new and different ways. With the development of physics to explain why a hammer works and man has learned to make it more efficient at its job, and so the development of the hammer has continued to become advance, along with its aesthetics. Leading to the modern hammer we see today, made by companies like Stanley, Thor and Estwing, all founded in the early 1920’s. These commercial companies essentially creating the sophisticated hammers the we still see today, from the invention of massive powered steam or electric hammers, to the smallest archeological or surveyor’s hammers.

The modern claw hammer. Mass produced since the 1920’s

 

In the next post I shall go through the best modern hammers, who makes them and where to buy them.

Stanley/Black and Decker to buy Irwin tools!

 

graphics10

Interesting news from the USA!  Stanley/Black and Decker who own Stanley, Black and Decker, DeWalt, Porter Cable, and Facom to name a few.  Are hoping to own another large part of the hand tooling industry.  They’ve put in a $1.95 Billion offer for Newell brands which owns Lenox, Hilmor, Dymo and Irwin tools.

As a result of this bid it’s sent Stanley Black and Decker’s share prices through the roof.  But what does this mean to you? And what does this mean to the tools in your tool box?  Will they be the same?  Will they be as good?  Will the tool lines be streamlined?  All good questions.

If we take Stanley as an example.  When Black and Decker purchased Stanley, they were a world renouned brand and extremely popular; a popularity well earned from years of producing high quality tools.  Unfortunately for some, the new company formed streamlined Stanley’s range.  Getting rid of less used and more expensive items; including their Yankee driver range, various artisan files, planes, rules, and tapes.  Many would say this is updating the company, and is progress to fit a fast passed and innovative industry.   Most of the new stanley range of products is built to the same high standard, and is still very popular.  With the influx of more in the way of power tools, many would say that Stanley is indeed on the front edge of innovation and is keeping the company current and viable.

Personally, I think Stanley products are still excellent and ever evoloving.  If they’re not popular with the customers, why make them?  So I believe that Irwin, Lenox, Hilmor and Dymo are in good hands with Stanley Black and Decker.  They may get streamlined, but hopefully they’ll be around with their most popular products for another 100 years.

If and when the deal goes through, we shall see what happens with both Stanley and Irwin.