Monday, March 25, 2013

Tools of the Trade: Wera

I thought I'd start a new series here on the blog, despite the fact that there are several other series on the go, to one extent or another. It seems like a worthwhile thing to share my experiences with certain tools I've used past and present, to give some affirmation about my support for certain brands that manifest high quality of design and manufacture. I do this without commercial intent or prearrangement with any of the manufacturers - it's an unsolicited endorsement and nothing more. Depending upon the kind of work you do and the circumstances of that work, some of these product recommendations may or may not be of use to you. Your mileage may vary as they say.

Wera.

I was first introduced to Wera screwdrivers in 1984. I was working as a bicycle mechanic at Cap's Bicycles in New Westminster. B.C., and a few days after I started work there the store manger took me down to a local tool supply shop to obtain a toolbox and various hand tools. I still have most of those tools to this day, including this Wera flat-bladed screwdriver:


This screwdriver has been to hell and back, but this battle-scarred veteran keeps on ticking:


I've noticed that Lee Valley has started carrying Wera now, so chances are good that many readers will have also had experience with this German tool company. When I bought the aforementioned screwdriver, Wera was made in Germany, however I gather that much of their production now emanates from the Czech Republic. I have some of their newer products and the quality seems the same to me.

Wera touts several refinements and benefits to their products. Screwdrivers are one of those ubiquitous tools that many would probably think of as being fully worked-out designs. Well, Wera has found ways to make improvements here and there, and I find the differences are meaningful.

The lower portion of the handle is faceted to reduce the tendency of the tool to roll about:


The metal with which the shank of the tool is made has been cryogenically treated -  which means to cool the metal to below 190˚C (−310 °F) to remove residual stresses in the metal and improve the wear resistance of the steel. Durability and fewer failures due to cracking are added bonuses obtained by that process.

The tips of the tools are laser-etched to improve their grip:


The ends of the handles are marked with the tool's tip shape and size to make for easy identification if racked in a tool box:


All those are nice features, and not inconsequential. A product is the sum of its details after all. When I bought the Wera drivers those many years ago, however, a lot of the features just mentioned had not even been developed. What sold me on Wera was actually the handle.

At the time, most screwdriver handles had a shape like this:


Many screwdrivers in fact still have handles like that, as there are many companies out there who tend to stop development once they have a product to market, especially if sales are adequate.

In the tool store, there was a Wera handle demonstrator, which had a Wera type of handle on one end, and a conventional handle, like the one pictured above, on the other. The idea is that you find another person, and each tries twisting the handle, once from each end. Hands-down, so to speak, the Wera handle shape provide far greater torque, and simply felt good in the hand. It sold me right there as the difference was that obvious. Wera contends that their handle shape also reduces blisters, especially with the newer type, 'Kraftform Plus' which have some softer rubber portions built in.

All for today -thanks for dropping in.

13 comments:

  1. I too, worked as a bike mechanic in my younger days. Never had these screwdrivers though. Did have some Snap On wrenches, which were guarded like gold. I have these screwdrivers now, they are great. The right tool in the hand is worth the cost to make it so. Thanks for sharing.

    Tim Null

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tim,

      yes, the right tool in hand can make all the difference, and it certainly doesn't hold you back from doing your best - thanks for your comment!

      ~C

      Delete
  2. Good tool review I'll have to get a set and give them a go!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keith,

      I'm confident you will not be disappointed. The real problem is choosing which Wera drivers to buy, with so many types, sizes, and lengths available. If you use square drive (Robertson) fasteners, Lee Valley has a Wera set available.

      ~Chris

      Delete
    2. Hi Chris,

      I've had my eye on the Wera line of tools for a while and am considering the wrench sets and screw drivers that L-V has in their catalog. Thanks for the review.

      Delete
    3. Tico,

      good to hear from you and I expect that the Wera wrenches will also be good products. Another good German brand for wrenches and sockets is Stahlwille. Oh, and Hazet is good too.

      ~C

      Delete
  3. Chris

    My only question is: how well do they open a paint can?

    Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom,

      I guess I can't cover every base with a tool review - dang! For opening paint cans, I've heard that a chisel is the tool of choice for some...

      ~C

      Delete
    2. Chris

      Not being happy with the ones I take on-site, I will order some of the Wera screwdrivers. I consider it especially propitious that they are named after my grandmother.

      Tom

      Delete
    3. Tom,

      good to hear from you. I just picked up their metric Allen wrench set, which is another very nice product.

      I wonder if the company is named after a person?

      ~C

      Delete
    4. Chris

      Grandma Wera was born in 1902. If the company was founded before that, I guess Grandma was named after the screwdrivers!

      Tom

      Delete
    5. Chris

      I ordered the set of Wera drivers from Lee Valley and they are great. The fit of the tips in the screw-slots is very good and the high-friction finish means that you do not have to waste a lot of energy forcing the driver into the screw. All you need to do is turn. Thanks.

      Tom

      Delete
  4. Tom,

    good news - glad you took the plunge.

    ~C

    ReplyDelete

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