Roger Bisby reviews two brands from Royd Tool Group.
I have seen Acer construction markers in a display unit on the merchant’s counter, but I must admit until now I hadn’t bothered to pick one up and examine it more closely. I suppose my thinking was that there couldn’t be that much difference between the Acer and an ordinary pencil. Having now used both the pencil and the marker I can see it becoming a permanent addition to my tool kit.
The pencil is a retractable lead pencil which takes 120mm refills. The main advantage is that you can poke the tip into places ordinary pencils won’t reach, so you can use it for marking through holes, and because the point is finer you get a lot more precision. The trouble with the traditional wood pencil is that the lead breaks in the wood and you keep sharpening, breaking and sharpening again. I don’t imagine anybody has ever done a study of how much time tradesmen spend looking for a pencil and sharpening it, but I would think it adds up.
You can buy the pencil or ink marker separately, but getting the set is worth it because the ink marker with both fat and thin tip is well worth the investment. If I could only buy one it would have to be the ink marker because, as a plumber, it is useful to be able to mark up pipes and cables on my central heating installations. The ingenious thing about this marker is the ink well, which replenishes either the fat or the thin tip depending on which one you are not using.
The pen and pencil come with site holsters that clip onto your belt, and I would like to think I would use them and have the pen and pencil to hand, but I know me, and they would disappear as I crawled through a loft space or some other hell hole known only to plumbers and electricians.
So as handy as the holster is the pen and pencil would stay safely tucked into my pencil pocket on my work trousers.
There are so many quality screws around these days that it is hard to settle on a brand, but once you do it is then equally hard for other manufacturers to woo you away. If anyone is going to succeed in making you leave your trusted brand I put my money on Optimaxx.
It is hard to find a real design advantage in something as basic as a screw, but Optimaxx seems to have done it. The tip is very sharp, so it locates precisely. The first section has a saw tooth cut on the lower threads that makes for a much faster start in hardwood, with no need for a pilot hole. The deep cut thread is lubricated to reduce friction, and increase run time on your battery driver. The short collar under the head is doubled up to resist snapping on impact driving and the underside of the head had no less than 24 grooves to self-counter sink. Even in hardwood and dense chipboard the heads will drive in flush or even below the surface. All these features put together give the screws a real advantage over many of their competitors.