Chandlery October 2009 Issue

Shop-to-Go

Portable 8-in-1 workshop handy for small jobs and compact for easy stowage.

It probably comes as no surprise to our readers that Practical Sailor editors are serious gadget junkies. Our jobs feed our habits with a steady supply of gear to play with, disassemble, and subject to mild abuse. The latest product to evoke the "kid in the candy store" reaction from our staff was the Power8workshop Delux. Powertools, in particular, hold a special place in our hearts, and this was a whole box of cordless powertools, neatly kitted in a plastic and stainless carrying case,

Power8workshop
The versatile Power8workshop includes an assortment of dual-purpose tools.
promising workshop capability anywhere with space enough to put the 23-by-12-by-16-inch setup.

The UK-designed, China-made Power8workshop runs off 18-volt power and includes three cordless handtools—a two-speed drill, adjustable circular saw (with rip fence and protractor), and a metal- and wood-cutting jigsaw—that transform into three cordless benchtop tools—a drill press, table saw, and scroll saw. Two handles/battery packs are interchangeable with all of the tools and can be charged via an AC outlet and the benchtop. The kit also includes a host of drill bits, saw blades, sockets, and fasteners; a push stick (which doubles as the drill press arm); and a swivel-head halogen flashlight that can be mounted for overhead lighting. All of this is stored in a canvas tote bag that fits into the hard case (which doubles as the bench top) for easy transportation from project to project. Fully loaded, the case weighs just over 32 pounds.

It’s obvious that much engineering went into the design. As DIYers at home and aboard, we found it quite appealing to be able to tote all of the tools needed for small jobs in one box rather than loading the car (or boat lockers) with numerous boxes of powertools.

Some features testers were impressed with included the portable, cordless drill press and table and scroll saws, reticulating flashlight, and dual batteries (power handles), which mean no down time as one can be charging while the other is in use. Battery life will depend on usage: Harder woods and metals will eat up a battery faster than soft woods. The bag-in-a box storage was also a plus as the canvas tote keeps tools from rattling underway and helps keep salt air and dust off them.

While the workshop-to-go is a great concept, the reality has its limitations. The Power8workshop is still fairly new to the market and understandably still has some kinks to sort out. The model we tested couldn’t handle cutting woods any larger than about 1.3 inches thick. According to Power8, newer models have been upgraded to handle up to 2 x 4s. Our test model had another kink: A pivoting screw in the table fence was not sunk in far enough, allowing for considerable play in the wood.

Testers questioned the ability of the circular saw (which hooks into the benchtop to become a table saw) and jigsaw (which doubles as a scroll saw) to hold up to regular use cutting hard woods like teak. Power8 assured us the blades were capable. We tested the table saw and scroll saw on teak, maple, and plywood. The tools performed equally well on all woods, but we’re curious to see whether they maintain the same level of performance over time.

Testers also noted that the fence attachment could use improvement. While small rulers on the table sides help to line up the fence, we’d prefer an attachment method that made squaring it and the wood easier and ensured straight cuts. Another very minor drawback, in our opinion, was that the unit does not have a straight-AC plug, and instead always runs on battery power. According to the maker, including an internal DC-AC converter was prohibitive given the unit’s space, weight, and relative low cost.

 

Bottom Line

For the home handyman and dockside DIYer, the Power8workshop is a good all-in-one kit for small projects. Buying the tools separately would run well over the $342 that the kit retails for. Its compactness makes it stowable for those unexpected repairs at sea and its light weight means hassle-free transporting.

While we found the price a little high and one-year warranty a little short, a search for comparable products turned up only the Ryobi four-piece 18-volt kit (P841), which includes a cordless drill, and circular and reciprocating saws, but no benchtop tools or interchangeable handles. It retails for $160 and comes with a two-year warranty.

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