Wera Screwdrivers, A Comparison and Review

Wera Tools has long been at the forefront of screwdriver design and quality. They also make a ton of different screwdrivers in a vast array of colors and sizes. It can be mind-boggling! Let’s take a closer look and examine the different variations and features of each.

Kraftform

THE FLAGSHIP: Kraftform Plus

The ubiquitous green-and-black Kraftform Plus handle is the flagship of the Wera brand. Heck, it’s even used in their logo! Wera has long believed that the hand should dictate the handle and not vice-versa. If you squeezed some putty or Play Doh in your hand, you will essentially have the shape of a Kraftform handle. This shape prevents blisters and calluses, while the large contact area ensures high torque. The handle is made of multiple materials, all with a specific purpose. The core is a resistant plastic for holding the blade securely. The black hard surface prevents sticking so the hand can be repositioned easy. The green soft surface offers friction resistance, so your grip is firm while exuding less effort.

Options

THE OPTIONS: Lasertip and Hex Bolster

Before we go any further a word about laser tips and bolsters. Lasertips are Wera’s version of anti-cam out technology.  The tip has lines etched into the steel, so that it bites into the screw and doesn’t slip out. There is even a video review by our friends over at Real Tool Reviews where the reviewer pulls a tool cart with only the Lasertip holding on! If you need an extra bit of torque, some come with a hex bolster where the handle meets the shaft. This gives you the ability to attach a wrench for even greater torque. Both of these elements are optional.

Insulated

FOR ELECTRICAL: Insulated

If your needs are of the electrical nature, then to ensure your safety you need insulated tools.  Wera’s insulated tools are in the industry standard red and yellow and are tested in water baths at 10,000 volts, ensuring your safety up to 1,000 volts. They are also impact tested at -40 degrees, so they can be used in extreme environments. Sometimes you may need to get into hard-to-reach places, so there are also slimline versions.  These have a reduced blade diameter and have a seamless joint between the insulation and tip. These also come in a reduced handle size as well, the Wera “Super Slim.”

Stainless

FOR THE ELEMENTS: Stainless Steel

Speaking of water baths, if the handle has light blue soft areas it is made of stainless steel. Stainless fasteners are usually used either outdoors or near water sources. To prevent rust, stainless tools should be used with stainless screws. Through an ice hardening process, the tools are manufactured to industry standard strength, so there is no limit to where they can be used. With the exception of the Square and Torx blades, all the stainless drivers come with a Lasertip. These come in insulated (the red and light blue), too, if you are working on electricity near water.

ComfortClassic.jpg

ON A BUDGET: Kraftform Comfort, Kraftform Classic

If you want the Wera quality but don’t want to spend as much money, a budget friendly option is either the  Kraftform Comfort or Kraftform Classic line. These all have the same grip design as their higher-end counterparts without premium features such as bolsters or Lasertips. They come in standard or insulated. The comfort line has a multi-component handle, while the classic is all one hard material. There is a rumor that the Classic line could be discontinued soon, but as of right now are available to purchase.

Chisel

FOR STRIKING: ChiselDriver

If you have ever used a screwdriver as a makeshift chisel before you know how risky of a proposition that can be. Wera’s ChiselDriver line of drivers make this a much safer action with the addition of striking caps and a shaft that extends through the handle. The tempered material prevents the blade from splintering or breaking. The entire line has hex bolsters, but no Lasertips. Among the ChiselDrivers is also a line with an additional square-shaped socket cap for inserting a ¼ inch ratchet or T-handle for adding extra torque. On a cautionary note, there a few screwdrivers in the ChiselDriver line that don’t actually have socket caps and are not meant to be hammered!

Wooden

THE ODDBALL: Wooden Handles

But oddball in a good way! A straight-out-of-grandpa’s-workshop kinda way. The wooden drivers are shaped differently than any other tool in the Wera line. Though the handles are a different shape, they are still well-designed to fit the hand with indents for fingers and a hex bolster built into the shaft. And just like the chisel drivers, the shaft runs from the end of the handle through to the tip, so striking with a hammer is a safe possibility.

Precisions

FOR PRECISION: Kraftform Micro

Finally the Wera precision drivers combine fast turning zones, along with a power zone that is similar to the larger gripped handles. The rotating cap allows the user to hold it in multiple ways, allowing for use in a broad array of applications. They come in both standard and ESD safe for use on electronics like computers and smartphones.

The Fine Print

All of these drivers have the Wera limited lifetime warranty and run the gamut in terms of tips: Phillips, Slotted, Torx, you name it. Check out this YouTube video to see these tools in motion and learn a few more interesting facts! And as always, all your Wera screwdriver needs are best fulfilled by your friends at KC Tool.

long-cg-transparent-bigcommerce

Building A Tube Headphone Amp, A Learning Experience

I’m a music junkie – I’ll freely admit it. And I’ll also admit that I’m old school. I love listening on the couch, in a “sweet spot” perfectly situated between the two speakers. When I reached a point of owning my own house I was ready to invest in a decent way to play my music – and I quickly found out how much this could cost. However, I also discovered whole groups of folks online building their own equipment, experimenting and tweaking. I also discovered that this could cost a whole lot less! Being a tinkerer by nature, I was hooked, and by the time I was done I had built a tube preamplifier, solid state amplifier and speakers, tweaking parts and wringing the best sound out of components I had built myself.

Fast forward to this year when my wife and I sold our house and moved into an apartment. Suddenly I was not at liberty to play my music at the hours (or volume levels) I had been accustomed to. So, I started researching headphones, and learned about using a headphone amplifier to get the best sound. I was immediately excited – an opportunity for a new project!

I decided right off the bat that I wanted to build an all vacuum tube amplifier. I love the sound that tubes offer, and I found a design online, the Bijou, that a well-known audio designer (cavalliaudio.com) had come up with and offered to the DIY community: buy the circuit boards, buy the parts and follow the instructions.

20170610_183349.jpg
Gedore Bolt Cutters Cutting 8-32 Rod

I quickly realized that building the case would be the most challenging part of the project. I used pieces of curly maple for the sides, which not only looked good with the aluminum, but made it easy to screw the front and back panels straight into the wood. Glued on pieces of 1 x 1 made perfect braces to allow the top and bottom to be secured. I was also lucky here in town, as local fixture, Metal by the Foot, cut the pieces of aluminum to size. All would have been well, had I given the correct dimensions. Two pieces were too big, but a little work with my jigsaw and several files had them close enough to fit.

I also knew that the tubes had to stick out of the top, not only for the esthetic joy of glowing tubes, but also to dissipate the fair amount of heat they put off. I carefully marked off the mounting holes on the bottom, lined those up with the top where the tubes would extend, took a deep breath, and got out the hole saws. This arrangement required that the circuit boards be carefully fixed six inches up from the bottom of the case, parts soldered to the underside and tubes extending up. A pair of Gedore small bolt cutters made short work of 8-32 threaded rod, and some lengths of Pex tubing worked perfectly as spacers. The final step was using a power drill and a wire brush attachment to give the aluminum a matte, brushed finish.

After fitting the case together without the parts inside (and a fair amount of filing to get everything to fit just right), I was ready to actually solder. This part went fairly quickly, except for a couple of days lost to needing just one more resistor. Thankfully, Mouser, the electronics supply store, has no minimum order.

Once the parts were soldered on, it was time to do the wiring. Being red-green colorblind, my wife helps out by labelling each color wire on the transformer, which steps up the voltage from the power outlet to 520 volts. The tricky part of the placement of the circuit boards is that one wants the wiring of the signal to be as far away from the wiring for the power, which tends to give off noise which would be picked up and amplified. Not good. So I carefully twisted all the pairs of wires, trying to route them as far away from each other as possible.

20170627_072225.jpg
The Finished Tube Amp, In All Its Retro Glory

Once the wiring was complete, I took a deep breath, plugged in the power cord, and flipped the switch. ZZZZTTT! A spark and smoke was instantaneous. I immediately shut everything off. I had wired the small LED in the power switch backwards by mistake. Luckily nothing critical was broken. I tried a second time and everything was good. The only remaining step was to adjust the main voltage on the power supply. This involved taking a reading of the 250 volts and adjusting by turning a very small screw, very near the bare wires. I brought out my trusty insulated Wera screwdriver and carefully adjusted until the voltage was spot on.

Now it was time for the real test. I plugged in a pair of cheap headphones, just in case, and carefully turned the volume. Everything was good! New electronics always take a few hours of use to “break in”, and the sound has improved with each hour. I’m floored by how you can close your eyes and feel like you can point to the instruments in space: the drums are in the back in the middle, the guitar is nearer to the right, etc. I always learn my strengths and limitations on these types of projects, but in the end building something from scratch that brings me such pleasure is immensely satisfying.

I got all my tools at KC Tool, of course.

long-cg-transparent-bigcommerce

Torx Screws, Torx Tools Available at KC Tool

A Brief Guide to Torx and Its (Many) Variations

­­We have discussed previously on this blog about the highly specific “Pentalobe” screw head and the tools used in conjunction. The Pentalobe shape is a relatively new invention compared to one its cousins, the Hexalobular screw, which many people call a star or Torx. Torx is actually a trademark of Camcar Textron, so the use of its name is another example of genericized trademark, like we use the term Allen Wrench for Hex Keys.

A Torx Screw Up Close and Personal, Made By Spax, KC Tool
A Torx Screw Up Close and Personal, Made By Spax

The original six pointed profile has similarities to a hex-end head but the sides are concave, providing six points opposed to sides. This creates essentially 12 points of contact opposed to the hex’s six, allowing for much more torque to be applied.  There is a theory out there that Phillips screws were INTENTIONALLY designed to cam out, so the screw would not be over-tightened in the end. Torx is just the opposite, as its design prevents the tool from camming out, providing a better grip in the fastener.

Torx screws are used in several applications, from automobiles to computers. They also come in a number of varieties. They come in external versions (for use in a socket wrench or ratchet), security (with a pin in the center of the screw head to prevent tampering), and what is known as Torx Plus. When the patent to the original Torx design was about to expire in the early nineties, Textron improved on the design by squaring off the lobes slightly to minimize wear and maximize torque. A standard Torx driver will fit into a Torx Plus screw, but a Torx Plus will not work in a standard so be sure to know which one you will be working with.

Finally, a note on sizing and nomenclature: One of the beauties of Torx sizes is that they are universal, meaning there is not an SAE vs Metric version. They are all the same. For the standard Torx, sizes are distinguished using a T before a number. The number is a point-to-point dimension that runs from T1 all the way up to T100. Some of the most common sizes are T10, T15, and T25, but there are many specialized sizes including T47 and even T5.5. If you need the security version, an S is added to the end of the number. External Torx use an E before their size, but do not correspond to the internal sizes. For example, an E8 external Torx is equivalent to a T40 internal Torx. And then rounding it all out is Torx Plus, which uses IP (internal plus) and EP (external plus) for designating size. Kinda complicated, huh? OH! Did I mention you can get them with a Ball-end as well?

Torx, Torx Plus, External Torx, Ball-End Torx, KC Tool
Left to Right: Torx, Torx Plus, External Torx, Ball-End Torx

There is one thing that is not complicated, though, and that is the best Torx tools can be found in one place, KC Tool.

long-cg-transparent-bigcommerce

Ball-End Hex Tools: A Guide

Hex Key, Allen Wrench, L-Key, no matter what name you call it, if you have ever assembled anything you have probably used one. You can get them in Metric or SAE and they come in all kinds of sizes, from the tiny .028 inch to massive one inch. They are commonly used for furniture assembly because they are cheap to manufacture and can be tossed in the box for the customer to use (evidently they are like paperclips at IKEA and they will give you one if you ask nicely).

We have grown so accustomed to getting free L-keys in our furniture boxes that we take for granted the inferior quality of them and are very likely just to throw the tool away with the plastic bag it came in when we’re done. As any reader of this blog should know though, we buy good quality tools and demand only the best, so why use that freebie in the first place? A good set of L-keys will last you decades without showing wear and tear. But there is one big advantage to buying a quality set of L-keys and that’s the ball end.Read More »

What is a DIN number?

There are various sets of standards in the tool world.  In America we have The American National Standards Institute or ANSI for short.  On a global level, there is the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO.  Since this is a blog about specifically German made tools we will look at the German version: DIN.

DIN stands for Deutsches Institut Für Normung or German Institute for Standardization in English.  They have been operating for literally 100 years and have always been highly regarded in the standards community.  Though the name implies an exclusively German operation, the DIN standards have been adopted across the world and influenced many other standards organizations including the ISO.  The best example of this is the DIN standard 476 from 1922 introducing the A sizes of paper which would later become ISO 216 in 1975.Read More »

Winter Sale Final Days

Hurry before sales end on March 31st!

All of our manufacturers handle their promotional items/seasons differently, but they all remain pretty tight lipped about when the sales are ending and new ones (fingers crossed) will begin. Rest assured not all the same items from Wera and Wiha will remain on sale beginning April 1st. Take advantage of great deals from Wera and Wiha now!

Shop Wera Sale Items:IMG_2602.jpg

Shop Wiha Sale Items:
IMG_2703

 

Color Coded L-Keys Trending on Social Media

Color Coded L-Keys from Wiha & Wera

Proudly distributed by KC Tool

Some of our hottest selling products are the color coded L-keys manufactured by both Wiha and Wera in Germany and the Czech Republic respectively. These L-keys are a combination of strength, craftsmanship, and color. The strength and craftsmanship of Wiha and Wera products aren’t new. However, the color coding of L-keys is relatively new, and they are becoming more and more popular. The color coding allows for instantaneous recognition of L-key size as well as being easy to locate in a crowded tool box or bag. Banish your old L-keys and try these color coded L-keys from Wiha and Wera today!

Check out the variety of Wiha and Wera L-Key options here or view them individually:

Red Bull Racing Tool Sets Made by Wera

Exciting news out of Wera this week.  They were proud to announce that they have partnered with Red Bull Racing.  They are one of the top teams in Formula One racing led by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.  Red Bull Racing and Wera both have a record of branching out of their respective industries norms (i.e. Wera’s Advent Calendar, Wera Tool Rebels slogan, Red Bull’s Flugtag, New York Red Bulls MLS soccer team etc…) which makes this pairing so very cool.

Read More »