Perfect Gifts for the DIY Sailor

Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 09:57AM - Comments: (5)

December 7, 2011

In the January issue of Practical Sailor, technical editor Ralph Naranjo opens his workshop to readers and offers his advice to power tool selection. He also talks tools with Patrick Tewes, owner of Marine Electric Systems in Severna Park, Md., who specializes in custom electrical system installations, work that often entails significant modification and fabrication. Most of Tewes’ favorites are battery-operated, allowing him to take on big projects in small places. Almost all of them would make great gifts, so I’ve pulled four of his favorites here. For the complete list you’ll have to wait until the January issue comes out. It should be online by Dec. 18.

Fein Multimaster

At the top of Tewes’ preferred list is a Fein Multimaster 250Q, a plug-in, variable speed, right-angle oscillating tool that accepts a carbide tipped saw blade, a wide array of triangular-shaped sanding pads and host of other cutting, scraping and filing gizmos. The lock-and-load, quick-attachment process and the “long throw” of the oscillation cycle makes it a very efficient cutter, sander, or scraper. When it comes to cutting out a small rectangular slot in a bulkhead or sanding woodwork in a tight corner this is the tool to tackle the job.

The speed of oscillation of this 2.4-pound super tool ranges from 11,000 to 21,000 rpm. It draws about 250 watts of AC current and the cutting tool options even include a $76 diamond saw blade. The price of the basic kit is about $270.

Milwaukee M12 right angle drill/driver kit

Boring holes in hard to reach spaces often requires a right-angle drill, and this compact Milwaukee cordless tool fits the bill. It has a 3/8” chuck, operates at 0-800 rpm, and delivers 100 inch-pounds of torque. It easily drills through FRP laminates and wood. The unit’s compact size, light weight Li-ion battery and modest price make it an appealing to pros and amateurs alike. It runs about $100.

Milwaukee M12 rotary tool

When it comes to cutting off a fastener in a hard to reach location this slim 9.5-inch-long rotary cutter can get the job done in a hurry. It’s 5,000 to 32,000 rpm range affords excellent control of the cutting tool held in the 1/8” collet and the built-in LED light puts its beam right where the cutting action is taking place. The unit with battery only weighs 1.3 pounds and though not needed as much as a drill/driver this tools earns its keep more often than one might anticipate. Its 30-minute charge time and $100 price tag make it a fast riser on most DIYers' wish-lists.

Rigid 3/8-inch driver/drill 12-volt with lithium-ion battery

This is Tewes' pick of the litter when it comes to 3/8 a power tool that’s “always in his carry bag.” The little Rigid drill/driver may not rank as a pro heavy-duty cordless drill, but it’s light weight and compact versatility is a big plus. It sports a hand operable chuck, two ranges of rpm, and rechargees in 30 minutes in the Lithium power pack. The unit comes as a kit with an LED flashlight, two Lithium-ion batteries and a charger with a discount price of around $150. A lifetime warranty, including battery replacement, make this an appealing tool.


Comments (5)

I have a Ridgid 3/8 12V drill and I like it a lot, the only drawback is the battery don't last very long

Posted by: Hooligan6a | June 27, 2012 7:13 AM    Report this comment

Ah Penumbra, the old cut-the-coupling-off-the-shaft project. A fun one, that one.

Posted by: DARRELL N | December 8, 2011 3:26 PM    Report this comment

I concur the oscillating tool (Fein) is well worth the investment. However, consider Bosch or other makers who have adopted an open standard for the blades. Fein tools cost 150-300% of the competitors and won't accept blades from other makers.

This fall, I borrowed a Fein to sand the teak toerail on my Tartan 34 and based on a positive experience, purchased a Bosch 110v clone. I held on to the Fein and switched between the two to cut the coupling off the drive shaft (rusted in place from the previous owner) and to sand the boom in prep for paint. The Fein was a more refined tool that had less vibration in the grip and had similar power to the Bosch. However, when I needed a new blade, the local big box store had Bosch and Dremel blades that would work in nearly any oscillating tool, except the Fein. That as well as the initial cost has affirmed my choice.

I had lusted after the Fein for several years and when their patent expired, waited to see what would happen. The following is the resource I used to make my decision. They tracked the original batch of other brand (Porter-Cable, Milwaukee, and other) tools in 2008 and the blade interchangeability since then.

Posted by: penumbra | December 8, 2011 12:23 AM    Report this comment

I purchased my Fein MM in April 2010 for my DIY restoration of a 28' Freedom Cat Ketch sailboat. This tool performed exceptionally well at sawing large pieces of fiberglass deck skin to allow removal and replacement of wet balsa coring. I replaced 60% of the deck and cabin top coring, 2/3s of the transom coring and about 10% of the hull coring. All this work and more was completed using the original circular saw blade. I used the knife blade to separate the damaged core from the inside deck skin. The detail sanding attachment has spent countless hours smoothing and sanding various sections of West System "red putty". I intend to use the polishing head to clean and polish all of the SS hardware prior to re-installation.

Posted by: alusig | December 7, 2011 6:39 PM    Report this comment

I love my Multi Master. I saved up for two years to purchase one for my DIY boat projects. One very important feature of the saw blade attachment is the minimal kerf it produces. Also, since it is sawing the particles are larger and heavier than grinding. This keeps the dust to a minimum which is a great benefit when working in small, poorly ventilated spaces.

Posted by: NICK M | December 7, 2011 4:36 PM    Report this comment

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