Professional Builder’s Kieran Nee takes a visit to Fein’s company headquarters in Schwäbisch Gmünd-Bargau, Germany, where the company is displaying its latest developments in oscillating tools.
You get what you pay for. This is the message I came away with when I went to see first-hand what was happening down at Fein’s headquarters in the heavily industrialised Swabian area of South Germany.
And perhaps, with just under 150 years’ worth of experience – having invented the world’s first electric hand drill and holding over 500 patents, it might be worth listening to their advice.
Fein takes its tools seriously, that much is clear, but it’s their oscillating multi-tools that really get the company’s blood going.
First invented by the company in 1967 in the form of a plaster cast saw, Fein soon took oscillating technology to new places, including the automotive industry where the company has worked closely with Porsche, and the multi-tool was born.
Continually updating and improving upon a design which in essence has changed little since the 70s, the recent
explosion in the oscillation market due to the expiry of the original patent has proved to be of little trouble to the company.
Rather than kick and punch like a child might a new sibling, Fein has seen sense in cooperation with other companies, notably Bosch, creating a new standard for mounting accessories.
The company’s new Starlock mounting system is fully compatible with the vast majority of oscillating tools on the market as well as with previous models from the company, many of which are still knocking around.
The new mounting system incorporates a rigid, 3D design for the accessories which allows the maximum possible power transmission. The accessories are laser welded, fired and given a corrosion resistant coating.
This helps ensure they last as long as possible and are fully matched to the power of the tool being used. In that respect, there are three classes of Fein Starlock accessories to look out for: Starlock, StarlockPlus and StarlockMax, with the lower performance accessories compatible with the higher performance tools but not vice versa.
This brings me on to the tools themselves, which is where the Starlock system is really important.
Launched in April, Fein’s MultiTalent, MultiMaster and SuperCut Construction multi-tools have been given the Starlock treatment.
At a presentation in Bargau on the new mounting system, we were told that the average time it took to find an Allen key was 45 seconds – which sounded like something only a German power tool company would know.
The good news is that the new system doesn’t need an Allen key: changing accessories, we are told, can even be completed in less than three seconds. And so, determined to prove them wrong, we took up the challenge ourselves.
Lo and behold, they were right.
Each of Fein’s oscillating tools, all of which come in mains powered and cordless versions, are designed for different levels of work. The MultiTalent is designed for entry level professional work and the MultiMaster for intermediate professional level work, whilst the Supercut is at the higher end of the workload.
The level of research going on in Bargau was astounding. Every person we met there knew everything there was to know about power tools. We were given demonstrations of each accessory and had the engineering explained to us behind the anti-vibration system used in their tools.
We were shown the production of brushless motors which are 30 percent more efficient, and the thorough safety procedures every tool and accessory is subjected to were proudly demonstrated to us.
In short, the engineers at Fein are not leaving anything to chance.
The company’s commitment to progress and to solid, reliable engineering is perhaps something lacking in companies offering the admittedly cheaper options. Oscillating tools are a big deal in Europe and Fein has long been a household name in Germany; whether they will come to conquer the UK market in the same way only time will tell, but what is sure is that those who do opt for the orange won’t regret it.