Power tools in Europe (long)

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Hi folks,
having read the posts about Ridgid and Metabo I decided to put in my opinion on HAND HELD power tools in Europe. My comments are based on personal experience, conversations with other woodworkers and on the information I received by watching professionals and their tools. Due to the fact that I'm just 18 years old and buy high quality stuff I have, of course, not tried all different tools and brands so my point of view is certainly not absolutely objective.
(Brands are in alphabetical order)
AEG/Atlas Copco/Milwaukee:
http://www.aeg-pt.de / http://www.atlascopco.com http://www.milwaukee.de/ (most annoying site, you can't view the different tools without password) http://www.milwaukeetool.com/site.nsf
I have a 30+ year-old AEG hammer drill with circular saw, angle grinder and orbital sander attachment. There's even a table to use the saw as table saw. At the time these tools were made AEG was independent of Atlas Copco. The quality is quite good, the drill got some new brushes I think and still works after it saw a lot of use when my dad built our house. As far as I know Milwaukee is the professional line of the company since 2003. Many tools, offered in the US, are not available in Europe. As a lack of experience I can't comment on their current tools but in general they make a good impression. Atlas Copco is also known for compressors, pneumatic tools etc.
Black & Decker/Elu/Dewalt:
http://www.blackanddecker.de/ http://www.blackanddecker.com / http://www.elu.de / http://www.dewalt.de / http://www.dewalt.com/us/core/
Let me start with the Black & Decker-Elu-Dewalt-relations (as far as I know), for those who are not familiar with. Long time ago B & D started selling rather cheap tools in Europe. These tools were primarily designed for the hobbyist. But also professionals bought them and where rather disappointed of the quality. Then B & D introduced a "profi line" and hoped that professionals would buy these tools. But these tools were hardly successful because B & D was associated with hobby woodworker quality. Now B & D needed a solution in order to win professional woodworkers as their customers. Then they found this company Eugen Lutz (ELU) which was a highly regarded brand in Europe, especially because of their routers, hand held power planers, mitre saws, ... Finally B & D bought this company and added more and more B & D tools to the Elu line. In other parts of the world Elu products were sold under the Dewalt label. The famous DW 621 router was in fact developed by Elu as OF 97. Personally, I question if Dewalt themselves would have been able to make such a good tool. Anyway, about three years ago (year 2000) B & D decided change Elu to Dewalt and from this time on, Elu was no longer available.
Actually, Black and Decker is a brand name but I regard them more or less as no name tools. They introduced interesting, multi-functional tools in the last year, for example the Versa Pack cordless system and the "Multischleifer" (multi sander). I tried this sander and can say that it doesn't sand very aggressively, nor does it leave an outstandingly smooth surface, has not enough power, poor dust collection and extremely high vibration (out old AEG attachment worked much better). IMO you can't combine ROS and orbital sander if you expect high quality. Elu would be one of my brands if it were still available. I don't really trust Dewalt and their strategies. They constantly change the locations of the factories and I'm not conscious that they continue the famous Elu quality. Elu introduced "power boxes" (= Systainers as we know them from Festool) and Dewalt took them out of program again. I'm not complaining about the Systainers but I don't understand why Dewalt doesn't offer them. More and more companies (Makita, Metabo, Mafell, Lamello, Protool) introduced Systainers and at the same time Dewalt stopped selling them. The Dewalt cordless stuff looks great but I wonder who needs a 24 V drill. It really annoys me that Dewalt is much more expensive here than in the US. For example: DW 980K2 costs EUR 357.6, which is $ 421.36 at today's rate.
Bosch/Skil:
http://www.bosch-pt.de http://www.boschtools.com/homepage.htm http://www.skil.com /
Skil tools are regarded as low-end stuff. Personally, I never used their tools and don't see any reason why I should try them. Bosch has two lines here: Green for the hobbyist, blue for the professional. The differences between green and blue vary from tool to tool. While the blue jigsaw is a completely different tool than the green model, differences other than the color are hardly visible on some circular saws. Again, not all American tools are available here, which is also true the other way round (check the blue jigsaws, for example). IMO Bosch makes good tools but lacks are thorough system thought. Their tool boxes are sometimes too small to hold the tool properly, you need even adapters to make Bosch tools fit a Bosch vac etc. Bosch offers a wide range of rotary hammers, now a huge cordless program and very nice jigsaws. During the past years, Bosch introduced new, innovative tools like the "Varioschleifer", micro dust bags, "Feinschnittsge", etc. Other tools look also good but don't seem to be outstanding.
Duss:
http://www.duss.de/index.html
Famous for rotary hammer drills for heavy duty use. I never used Duss but professionals claim that the hammer drills are comparable to Hilti.
Fein:
http://www.fein.de / http://www.feinus.com /
Finest engineering and excellent quality. I'd go with Fein tools if I were working with metal. Fein doesn't offer many tools for woodworkers but I'd like to see one of their corded screw drivers and the Minimaster in my shop.
Flex/Porter Cable:
http://www.flex-tools.de / http://www.portercable.com /
I know that Flex invented the angle grinder many years ago and that's it. Many PC tools are not available here and I don't even know where to check out Flex locally.
Hilti:
http://www.hilti.de / http://www.hilti.com /
Industrial standard in rotary hammer drills. Exceptional quality, I use an old TE 12S which I got from my granddad. Special tools for measuring, fastening etc. Apart from this stuff and the rotary hammers, most tools are made by Bosch.
Hitachi:
http://www.hitachi-powertools.de / http://www.hitachi.us/Apps/hitachicom/co...cts/PowerTools /
To be honest, I don't have any experience with Hitachi and this company is not very popular. Recently I saw simple cordless drill. Some tools on their website make good impressions. I used an old rotary hammer but that's it.
Holz Her:
High-end carpentry and woodworking tools. Offered a nice plunge saws and guide rails. As far as I know TTS bought them in 2000 and now offers some of their tools.
Kress:
http://www.kress-elektrik.de /
Offers two lines: Blue for the hobbyist, red for the professional. I have a hammer drill which I like. It was made some years ago when Kress had only one single line. Some of their tools are average, I'd say, others (biscuit joiner, red ROS, red cordless drills, etc) offer good value for the money. The power cord of the blue line is way too short.
Lamello:
http://www.lamello.com /
Lamello makes the biscuit joiners of my dreams. IMO professionals use almost exclusively their biscuit joiners.
Mafell:
http://www.mafell.de / http://www.mafell.com /
Famous for the Erika Pull-push saws. Mafell concentrates on carpentry tools but offers also great stuff for fine woodworking. It's the only company from Festool (as far as I know) which offers plunge saws. I think it was last year they invented the "DuoDbler" an almost revolutionary product. This year they came out with a new circular saw and a flexible guide rail. This rail is 1.4 m long and can be transported with the saw in a single systainer.
Makita:
http://www.makita.de / http://www.makita.com /
Many professionals use Maktia cordless drills, which might be a kind of tradition because Makita is said to be one of the first companies which offered good cordless drills. Their cordless stuff is still impressive but kind of oversized in some cases IMO. I use an older 7.2 cordless drill and I'm satisfied although I had a problem some years ago. Professionals also seem to like their portable planes which I don't really understand. The dust port is fixed (other brands allow the customer to change it from the right to the left side) and power cords are too short (on other tools too).
Metabo:
http://www.metabo.de / http://www.metabo.com/com/english /
One of my buddies from Germany works almost exclusively with Metabo and is very satisfied with it. Metabo offers stationary power tools (for the hobbyist) too and is also the owner of Elektra Beckum and Lurem. I think Metabo makes high quality tools but nothing really outstanding. Metabo doesn't offer different lines but looking trough the catalogue you can easily discover the premium stuff, check their ROS's for comparison, for example.
Panasonic:
http://www.panasonic.de http://www.panasonic.com/flash.html
Their tools are available but hardly known here.
Scheer:
http://www.cfscheer.de /
Scheer's main field are large stationary power tools but they also make routers. I was looking at their tools before I got mine and that's my impression. The design is often "agricultural", the quality seems very high, the prices are very high. A midsize router (comparable to the DW 621 which seems to be standard in the US) would have cost EUR 673.96, which I wasn't willing to spend. Scheer offers a high-end routing system for stairs. Producing stairs their unit might be worth the cost.
Tooltechnicsystems:
http://www.tooltechnicsystems.com /
Is the name of a company under which three individual companies work together: Festool (tools for woodworking, painting, automotive branch) Protool (concentrates on construction and carpentry) Tanos (invented the famous Systainer)
Festool:
http://www.festool.de / http://www.festool-usa.com/portando/index.cfm
Festool is my - and many professionals' - preference. A few days ago I looked into the car of a company which does remodelling jobs. I found a shelf full of Festool Systainers inside. The reason why Festool has such an excellent reputation is that they offer almost unique tools in some fields. Let me give you a few examples: The cordless drill with right angle and eccentric attachment The jigsaw with the CP guide The plunge saw which is the best example. Mafell is the only company (as far as I know) which offers a comparable saw. Years ago there was a third one - Holzher - but Festool finally bought it. This shows that there are hardly any competitors in the class and while Mafell has excellent saws they don't offer the wide range of accessories for saw and guide rails. Last year Festool celebrated 40 years of Festool guide rails. So they were probably the first or one of the first brands which offered such a system. As a professional who has been satisfied for more than 25 years why should you buy another brand? This might be the reason why Festool is almost alone in this field. A company would be successful at selling plunge saws if they were way cheaper or way better as Festool. Way cheaper is difficult if you want the same grade of quality and way better is apparently difficult too, otherwise Bosch, Metabo, etc would offer such a saw. As for the ROS, it works almost without vibrations, has an excellent dust collection (another Festool feature: you don't need adapters in connection with a Festool hose), VS, .... Festool has a 30 days money back guarantee and a three year warranty, another unique feature.
Protool:
http://www.protool.de/protool/de/index.htm
Is a rather new company within the TTS organization. While Festool concentrates on "fine woodworking", Protool offers tools for rough carpentry and building jobs.
Tanos:
http://www.tanos.de /
I hope I could give you somewhat of an idea what the situation is like in Europe and I'm willing to answer your questions if I'm able to.
Regards,
Christian Aufreiter, Austria
PS: If I forgot an important brand, let me know!
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Christian Aufreiter writes:

Tool prices in Brit magazines have always made me choke a bit...usually, the available models are a step or 2 down from U.S. models, and the prices range from60% to 150% higher. Basically, it seems that you guys need to jump on your politicians about your tax rates.
As for using 24 volt cordless tools, don't make judgments until you're in a position to use such a tool. A 24 volt hammer-drill can be exceptionally useful to a professional, but is primarily a waste of money for any amateur. The extra pwoer gives faster drilling, longer battery life under heavy load. For too many uses, though, the extra weight is a killer.
Charlie Self
"The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf." Will Rogers
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote in message

20 % VAT in Austria, 16 % VAT in Germany. This is only one reason for the high price of tools here. Without tax the DW 980K2 costs still EUR 298 (= $ 349.02 at today's rate)! What exaktly do you mean by "available models are a step or 2 down from U.S. models"? I haven't noticed this. Some tools seem to be the same, of course, they need differnent voltage and some tools are not available (the other way round too). Just check Mafell USA and Mafell Germany or the Bosch jigsaw in the USA and the European model.

For drilling in concrete I'd buy a rotary hammer, if necessary a cordless tool like the Hilti TE 6-A. This tool is certainly heavy but will drill concrete like butter compared to a normal (cordless) hammer drill. I agree, an 18 V cordless drill/driver might be useful for a carpenter. But I see more and more hobby woodworkers using such heavy stuff and wonder why. A *good* (I use a Festool CDD) 12 V or 14,4 V will do everything you could expect from a cordless drill and is certainly sufficient for a hobby woodworker or cabinet maker.
Regards,
Christian
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote in message

I'd say most tools overhere are about 50% more expensive than North America. A lot less choice as well here in the UK. But I suppose it all evens out with free healthcare (you hurt yourself or get ill, go to hospital and hopefully get fixed, all for free), less gun crime...I'm sure there are lots of other advantages but I canny think of any...
Rgds
Noel
noel dot hegan at virgin dot net
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c_address snipped-for-privacy@europe.com (Noel Hegan) wrote in message

Do you have any experience using US tools and a transformer in europe? With the transformer you can get the 220V but you only get 50 Hz, not the 60 as in the US. I could imagine buying a US table saw, prewired to 220V without the need for a transformer, but I am unsure how it will work at 50 Hz.
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I enquired about a JET model that is only available in the US (some JETs are available in the UK) apparently you can't import them because it didn't meet our safety standards. About the only decent table saw I have found (without all the ridiculous attachments that usually just give you bruises where you don't want bruises) is the Sedgewick, it's about the only solid cast iron table saw I could find that didn't come with a billion gimmicks and gadgets that you'd never use.
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wrote in message

Importing US equipment is not a problem. Although most are not CE certified providing they are used in a non commercial environment Health & Safety regulations are not an issue. I got a tablesaw from the States and for $100 Delta fitted a 60Hz motor. Most US machinery has the option of re-wiring to 220V and it works a dream. Cast iron , stacked dado fitment and cost were my main considerations at the time. Obviously there will never be tablesaw sold on the UK European market that will take a dado kit but I see cast iron tablesaws slowly being introduced here, Jet Supersaw, various Axminster offerings etc at reasonable prices. 2,000 odd on a Sedgewick was way too much for my needs.
Rgds
Noel
noel dot hegan at virgin dot net
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hmm this is not what i was informed, unless i suppose you import it yourself. I was told that it was impossible to import it, but this was by a tool company, so perhaps they had their motives. The point is moot because I was shopping for a commercial environment and had to obey directives, the Sedgewick being the only non sticky out gimmick infested table saw I could find that had the qualities that were needed. Plus the only TS that came with an over 4ft blade to fence as a solid, factory fitted standard.
the irony of the dado kit situation is that they are sold here, but specify that they are NOT for use with machines with brakes, yet you can't buy an unbraked machine.
BTW Noel, that Fein cordless is the D'sBs ;-) .. ta for the assistance in the choice
Simon
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Hi Simon,
Didn't recognize you there. Glad you got the Fein and that all is well. Ref tablesaws I don't think the method of purchase is important but the end user situation. In a commercial workshop/factory etc everything has to be CE approved whereas what one uses in the privacy of one's home/garage is not an issue. Agree with you on the Dado - what a load of boll****.
Rgds
Noel
noel dot hegan at virgin dot net
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Simon (or anyone else)
Can you explain the reasoning behind that limitation -- that dado blades are not for use on machines with brakes? I have an Inca TS with the ability to take a dado blade and I'm thinking of adding an electronic brake the saw. If there is a scientific reason why I shouldn't do this, I'd be interested in knowing. But if this limitation is political, then I might persue adding the brake anways.

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Hi Rob, Here it is to the best of my current knowledge. As I understand it, you've got 2 criteria here. A dado cutter on a table saw = blind cut, which contravenes HSE directives so cannot be used in a workshop where you are responsible for others safety, i.e commercial or industrial shops, Unless the machine has an alternative guard and is designed for this process. In other words, you can't do what Norm does, legally, in a woodworking shop in the UK. I don't have the time to look it up, or investigate, but you're welcome to. http://www.wmsa.org.uk/index2.html http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/woodindx.htm The 2nd thing that comes to mind is probably more important from your safety point of view is that the dado puts added stresses on the braking system and the spindle & collar when the brake is applied. Also, Dado cutters have free moving chipping knives that would not be affected by the brake and would continue to spin after the rest of the blade has stopped, once again causing unwanted stresses on the saw, which could lead to failure of the spindle nut, or spindle and could damage the blade, potentially leading metal missiles.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (James Reed) wrote

No experiences here. May I ask why you want a US table saw? Are you going to import one yourself? If I had space and money for large machinery I'd always go with 400 V in Europe.
Regards,
Christian
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snipped-for-privacy@web.de (Christian Aufreiter) wrote in message (James Reed) wrote

It is very difficult to find a good table saw in europe for anything near the same cost as you can in the US. A DeWalt 744 table saw costs $1100 here in Norway (yes, I need a small saw for a small shop). You can get a US versjon for $500. I can get it shipped here for $150. OK, it will take 3 or 4 months to get it but I am still ahead $450. As you point out, if I had the space and money I would go for something else, but I have very little space and hope to not use all my tool budget for the next few years ;)
James
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James Reed notes:

IIRC, the DW744 has a universal motor, so, like a router, it should work fine on Europe's 110 (120) volt circuitry, if it is 50-55 cycles.
It will take a dado set, so watch your thought police.
Charlie Self
"The income tax has made liars out of more Americans than golf." Will Rogers
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote

In Europe we have 230 V and 400 V so a transformator would be necessary in order to use the DW 744.
Regards,
Christian
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (James Reed) wrote

Now I understand. The DW 744 is no longer available here and Dewalt never offered the DW 746. How about the Scheppach TS 2000 or a small Metabo? Not cheap either but they have more accessories available.
Regards,
Christian
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The 744 is still available on the UK market and the 746 has been out for the past 2 year. The 746 appears to be a great saw but with sliding table etc costs about 1,600 or $2,500 and subsequently has not been a good seller. About twice the price of the US model...
Rgds
Noel
noel dot hegan at virgin dot net
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Portable hand tools with fractional HP universal motors work fine with a transformer and at 50Hz. The RPM of the motor will vary but not by much. I use my Elu MOF177 router (brought with me over from Canada) through a transformer and it works fine.

synchronous or split phase. Either way, they probably won't work at 50 HZ (I forgot all this stuff since school many years ago so I'm sure someone else will pipe in with accurate information). Anyway, it probably is better to change the motor in a stationary machine from US 115V single phase to European 240V 3 phase. Three phase motors are simpler in construction and therefore cheaper than buying a correctly sized transformer to power the US motor.
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c_address snipped-for-privacy@europe.com (Noel Hegan) wrote in message > >

Hi Noel,
I agree with what you said about the pricing here and I'd like to see fixed base routers available in Europe. But I don't think that we have lot less choice here. If you look at high quality tools and machinery many Americans go for European brands, for example Felder, Altendorf, Martin, Bftering, ... As for hand-held power tools *I* limit my choice down to brands like Festool, Mafell, Scheer, Hilti, Fein, ... which are all easily available here. One field where Europe is confronted with disadavantages is router accessories, such as router lifts, bases, ...
Please share your experiences!
Regards,
Christian
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On Mon, 13 Oct 2003 15:55:02 -0700, Noel Hegan wrote:

Wow, free healthcare! Our doctors, nurses and the hospitals insist on getting paid. How do you get yours to work for nothing?
-Doug
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