Products: The best of the best

Products: The best of the best

Some of the most popular articles in Workshop Magazine are the ones that carry our regular product tests, performed and written by Andrew Evans. Over the past 12 months, a huge variety of products have been used and evaluated by Andrew – and now it’s time to assess the best of the best. We are revisiting all the ‘best buys’ from the categories Andrew has looked at over the year – all of which were awarded the maximum five stars. We end our round-up by crowning our overall champion.

Brake cleaner: Wynn’s

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How much: £7
Where from:

This product from Wynn’s was Andrew’s pick of the bunch when he tested brake cleaners in Issue 7. He noted that it ‘just had the edge’ over the Pagid product he also looked at. Commenting on the Wynn’s offering, he said: ‘It didn’t seem to need as much to get the job done either – like the Pagid product, the can has a neat precision jet, but the Wynn’s seemed to have a slightly higher pressure, which worked well when it came to shifting dirt quickly.’

Adjustable wrenches: Draper Redline 67589

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How much: £6.40 (inc VAT – current promotion)
Where from:

For the 20th of his product tests for Workshop Magazine, published in Issue 14 last November, Andrew put adjustable wrenches through their paces. He had no doubt when it came to picking the best one. ‘The Redline wrench is by far our favourite,’ he wrote. ‘The scale is clear, easy to read and accurate and the jaws adjust as quickly as any other item here. It’s a brilliant little piece of kit.’

Dust mask: uvex silv-Air 2110

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How much: £23.78/pack 15
Where from:

Protective dust masks were put to the test in Issue 7 of Workshop, the April 2016 edition. Andrew picked this offering from uvex as the cream of the ones he tested, describing it as ‘easily the best option’. Andrew observed: ‘The uvex mask fitted well and was very comfortable over long periods of time. The foam nose-piece is a nice touch that helps the fit as well as the comfort.’ Andrew noted that none of the masks he tested was rated against fumes, but said that the uvex one did the best job of ameliorating them.

Multitools: Sealey E540


How much: £47.94 (inc VAT)
Where from:

When it came to testing multitools at the start of 2017, Andrew selected as the winner the most expensive of the three that he examined. He confirmed: ‘The Sealey E540 is the priciest option and that very nearly swayed us into placing it second, but ultimately the Sealey product combines the better parts of the other two. It has the same, stepless variable motor speeds as a rival from Draper and its useful presentation box (which seems to be of a higher quality than the others) enables easy location of the various bits you can fit.’

Combination spanners: Sealey AK6313

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How much: £53.20 (inc VAT)
Where from:

The undisputed champion when Andrew tested combination spanners, the 12-piece Sealey set that he selected (with one from the collection pictured above) comes in sizes from 8mm to 19mm. Andrew wrote in Issue 12 last September: ‘It might be nice to see some larger options, but what’s here will deal with most tasks you’d use a spanner for. The tolerances are pretty solid too, but it’s the two-plane construction that impresses us the most.’ Quite a Sealey of approval!

Floor cleaners: Thompson’s Oil & Drive Cleaner

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How much: £8.00
Where from:

Spills are a fact of life when you’re working on cars. The Thompson’s product shown above left was Andrew’s pick of the bunch when he put various brands to the test in Issue 11. He noted that although all the ones he tested were ‘fairly level-pegging’ on painted floors, ‘the Thompson’s did the best job on the brick, concrete and tarmac surfaces’. He added: ‘The difference between this cleaner and the others was most noticeable on the tiled floor. It is used neat, however, so some of the other products offer better value at the cost of outright performance.’

Pressure washers: Karcher HD 5/11

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How much: £559.68 (inc VAT)
Where from:

The Karcher brand is pretty much synonymous with pressure washers and it probably wasn’t much of a surprise to see this Karcher (right) come out on top when Andrew put a variety of options through their paces in December. He noted: ‘Although it’s a pretty weighty unit, the huge 10-metre hose gives you plenty of freedom without having to drag it around.’

Gloves: Sealey MG799L

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How much: £16.95 (ex VAT)
Where from: Discontinued

Andrew got his hands on various pairs of mechanics’ gloves for Issue 9. And when it came to his winner, shown above, he said: ‘You might find it a little too chunky to work your computer but it has a light enough touch for your mobile. There’s marginally better fingertip precision, but no skimping on protection, with a well-reinforced palm. It’s a fine all-rounder.’ Sadly, they’re now discontinued, but some may still be available at your stockist.

Glass cleaner: Meguiar’s PerfectClarity

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How much: £10.00
Where from:

When it came to testing glass cleaner in last month’s edition of Workshop Magazine, there was a clear winner: PerfectClarity from Meguiar’s. Andrew wrote: ‘This product is undoubtedly the best, but it’s also the most expensive. On the initial wipe, it foams up ever so slightly – to the point where you might think it would leave a smear – but it buffs away to leave an exceptionally clean piece of glass.’

Gas torches: Rothenberger Super Fire 2

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How much: £55.70
Where from:

Gas torches were tested in our October 2016 issue, with Andrew picking the Super Fire 2 as his winner in this category. He said: ‘It is nothing short of excellent. The long, angled nozzle makes it easy to get the heat where you need it, away from the bulk of the gas canister, and it got our fixings up to glowing heat before any of the others. Unlike the other torches here, once you have done with it, you can switch it off with a single button rather than turn the gas flow down.’

Safety glasses: Sealey SSP612

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How much: £5.65 (ex VAT)
Where from:

Eye protection is crucial in any workshop and various pairs were evaluated in Issue 9 last June. Andrew picked this pair as his best buy. He told us: ‘The shape of the arms is excellent for protecting eyes from anything flinging in from the side and the rubber parts where the glasses rest on your face make them comfortable to use. The key difference is an anti-glare coating, which is a neat addition that makes them look a little more stylish but also gives an extra layer of eyesight protection. These are the specs we picked for working on Workshop’s own projects!’

Ear defenders: uvex K3

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How much: £19.07 (inc VAT )
Where from:

Andrew put on various pairs of ear defenders to identify the top performers in Issue 8. His conclusion? ‘For the very best protection, you’ll want these uvex K3s. They look the business, with big, chunky cups, and are perfectly comfortable to wear for prolonged periods. At the key 200-2,000Hz range, where the majority of workshop noises occur, they’re the best at drowning out the environment, dragging noises that would be at the level of a rock concert down to a conversation.’ Shown left, they’re impressive stuff.

Knee protectors: Site Optimus

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How much: £14.99 (inc VAT )
Where from:

He’s a clever bloke, our Andrew. In Issue 11, he wrote: ‘You probably won’t realise how important your knees
are to your daily life until you injure one of them.’With this in mind, he put knee protectors to the test and of the product below, he wrote: ‘These Screwfix own-brand pads ended up just about head and shoulders (if not knees and toes) above the rest. The bottom Velcro strap is pretty standard fare, but the upper strap hooks into place and has a sliding adjuster.’

Trim removal tools: Power-TEC Trim Remover Set


How much: £17.02 (inc VAT)
Where from:

The five-piece Power-TEC set above took top honours when Andrew tested trim removal tools in February. He noted that they looked identical on the surface to a Sealey set he also evaluated but he said there were some very slight differences that put the Power-TEC set in pole position. Expanding on his theme, he added: ‘The material feels slightly softer and of a higher quality, but more importantly there’s marginally more flexibility in the tools.’

Hand Cleaner: Swarfega Orange

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How much: £2.99/450ml
Where from:

No fewer than five Swarfega products were put through their paces when Andrew tested hand cleaners in Issue 8 last May. And it seemed that the future was orange, to quote an old mobile phone ad. Andrew explained: ‘Out of the array of Swarfega products on offer here, the Orange has to be our favourite. The pump dispenses just the right amount of gel for one wash and it both feels and smells great afterwards.’

Penetration fluid: WD-40

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How much: £4.99/400ml (inc VAT)
Where from:

‘There’s a good reason why WD-40 is the byword for penetrating fluids everywhere: it’s the best.’That’s what Andrew wrote in Issue 10, adding: ‘The WD consistently proved to have the lowest removal torque bar the odd exception, and the now-traditional aerosol-and-straw can set-up means easy, accurate and sparing application.’

Protective goggles: uvex u-sonic

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How much: £12.97 (ex VAT)
Where from:

Protective goggles came under the spotlight for the 12th of Andrew’s product tests in Issue 10 (July 2016). The uvex pair above left got his vote as best buy, and he wrote: ‘Fitment and comfort is unrivalled here and the screen does an excellent job of resisting all kinds of damage. They also come with a neat shaded screen that attaches magnetically, which provides an extra layer of protection.’

Ratchet spanners: Laser 6296

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How much: £110.98 (inc VAT) for a 12-piece set
Where from:

In December 2016, Andrew described the ratchet spanner as a ‘fascinating hybrid’ before revealing the winner of his 22nd product test for Workshop Magazine. Choosing the 12-piece Laser 6296 set, he said its ‘pure precision’ had led to it being named our best buy. ‘Simply put, the Laser ratchets fit the best and will work in the smallest spaces,’ he added.

Safety boots: CAT Spiro ST

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How much: £90.49 (VAT-free)
Where from:

Good safety footwear is a must in any workshop and Andrew picked the CAT pair of boots below as his winner when he tested various makes in Issue 12 last September. In fact, he noted at the time that it was ‘a bit of a stroll to victory for the CAT boots’, adding: ‘Although they’re not the best outright in any one of our test categories, they’re consistently near the top in every one. They could perhaps do with a little extra width for broader feet, but otherwise there’s nothing to take away from them. These would be the boots in our locker.’

Angle grinders: Clarke CAG800B


How much: £29.99 (inc VAT)
Where from:

The humble angle grinder is one of the most important tools in a mechanic’s arsenal, Andrew noted in Issue 16 at the start of 2017 – and the result of this test took him by surprise. He wrote of the winner, the Clarke CAG800B: ‘We weren’t expecting the Clarke to put up much of a fight, but it’s rather a stroll. Although it seems inconsequential given the price of consumables, it comes with a grinding disc included and it has an additional, pre-packed guard that allows you to switch between grinding and cutting with a single screw. But it’s the operation of the Clarke that impresses the most.’

Workwear: Würth Modyf Basic

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How much: £29.33
Where from: Würth supplier

Andrew had no trouble choosing his overall winner when he put workshop workwear to the test in Issue 13 last October. The Modyf Basic set from Würth (shown right) was his pick, and he wrote: ‘Although this set of overalls relies on a zip as the main fastener, the fact it’s a nylon affair with wide teeth makes it a very sensible prospect in a busy workshop and gives you the extra protection of a fully sealed front.’

Socket sets: Clarke PRO340

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How much: £10.79 (inc VAT)
Where from:

The festive season was approaching when Andrew tested socket sets in Issue 14 of Workshop Magazine last November. The winning set was the colourful one pictured above, with Andrew noting: ‘This bright set of sockets neatly sidesteps the problem of picking up a 15 when you need a 16 by having each socket in a different colour. Unexpectedly, the tolerances are among the best too – also proving a pretty snug fit in the real-world tests. They were not the best set when it came to rounded-off bolts, but otherwise performed well enough to be our favourites.’

Screwdrivers: Clarke PRO122

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How much: £28.79 (inc VAT)
Where from:

When Andrew put screwdrivers to the test in Issue 17, he described this 10-piece Clarke PRO122 set as ‘absolutely our favourite’. He added: ‘The Clarke PRO set has everything you’d need or want in a driver. Along with the handles being a perfect size to provide exactly the torque you want and with a great grip to make them comfortable in the long term, each driver has a hex nut on the top of it to provide extra drive if necessary and a decent face for hammering to perform a drive-through function.’

Our overall winner: the Sealey Rechargeable Soldering Iron SDL6


How much: £74.94 (inc VAT)
Where from:

Our overall winner for 2016-2017 is this soldering iron from Sealey – so congratulations to the manufacturer for developing such an excellent product. Andrew put it through its paces just last month, in his 28th product test for Workshop Magazine. He wrote: ‘This is one of the neatest ideas we’ve seen in a while. It combines all of the convenience of other gas irons with the traditional electric-powered soldering iron by using lithium- ion batteries that you’ll find in other cordless tools. It does have a little chink in the armour in that it takes a little over 20 seconds to heat up – but for a four-hour charge you’ll get well over an hour of use out of it. The charging dock doubles as a stand and a small LED perfectly lights up the target.’ Well done to our overall winner – a great achievement by Sealey.

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