Five of the best DIY tools
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Household vacuum cleaners can often wilt in the face of hardcore DIY-induced mess: offcuts, bits of rubble and the fine dust that spreads itself over an annoyingly wide area. Danish firm Nilfisk has been producing cleaning equipment for nearly 120 years, and while professionals account for 90 per cent of its sales, there’s evidently nothing to stop hobbyists and DIY buffs from purchasing the right tool for the job. Its European-made Aero 26 range couples a powerful wet-dry vacuum with filters designed to handle hazardous particles; in the case of the 2H model I tried, that includes dust containing germs and carcinogens.
If you want to use it as a top-quality domestic vac, you can: it comes with the standard range of attachments (sweeper, dusting brush and crevice tools) and you can pop a fleece filter bag into the 25-litre container if you wish. When you start it up, its power is quickly evident. A 1,500W motor provides impressive suction without being deafeningly loud (the specs note a working sound level of 61db, which is around the “don’t need to shout to be heard” level). The power cable runs to a lengthy 7.5m (although there’s no auto-retract) and the hose is around 4m, with a little extra stretch if needed.
Whip the filter bag out, and it’s primed for wet-dry operation. The hose was long enough to take up a ladder in order to clean out sludge from our extension’s frequently blocked gutter, which I found profoundly satisfying. Suddenly, every piece of detritus in my line of sight became a potential candidate for sucking up and removing.
A built-in power socket lets you plug in a sander or other tool, connect a hose and have the vacuum switch on whenever the tool is engaged, spiriting dust away. As for hazardous dusts, Nilfisk’s product manager notes with a raised eyebrow the UK’s relaxed attitude to this drilled-out menace in comparison to Nordic countries. The 2H is certified to handle it safely, with a push-and-clean feature that prolongs the filter’s lifespan and keeps the machine primed. Nilfisk Aero 26-2H wet/dry vacuum, £510
Thermal imaging cameras reveal heat loss, electrical problems, plumbing leaks and can even have security applications (because skulking human beings inevitably show up on screen). Most are chunky handheld units, some physically plug into your phone’s charging port, but this light, slim device works wirelessly, beaming pictures and video to your phone or tablet and thence to the cloud. (You can clip it to your phone if that’s convenient, but you don’t need to.) Those images cleverly combine a thermal heat map with data from a second, visual camera embedded in the unit, so you can see precisely what’s hot and what’s not, along with temperature readings accurate to a fraction of a degree. FLIR One Edge Pro, £574.80
Know the drill
My two elderly cordless drills looked mightily threatened by the arrival of this light, compact whippersnapper, and with good reason. Festool – frequently the choice of the pro carpenter – has put this ergonomic, T-shaped drill at the heart of a fully featured set, nestled inside a grey “systainer” (ie, case): two 18V batteries and charger, a 10mm keyless chuck, an angled adaptor for hard-to-reach spaces, and various bits – although your existing quarter-inch bits will play ball. Swapping them out is easy; you can clip regularly used ones to a neat groove on the base; and a handy LED provides light if you’re working in a dark corner. It’s almost hilariously powerful for its size. This is dream drilling. Festool TXS 18 C 3.0 Set, £499.13
I can’t be the only one to find mini-chainsaws satisfying on a purely aesthetic level, but this model from Husqvarna is particularly well-designed, intuitive to operate and safe to handle. Its primary function is garden pruning, which it does with speed and efficiency. When it’s on the end of its adjustable 1.7m pole, jobs that previously involved teetering on a stepladder become a whole lot easier – almost pleasurable. Out of curiosity, I used it to cut a pallet in half to fit in the car, and that was a cinch too. Added bonus: it’s part of the Power For All Alliance, which means it’s compatible with a range of batteries and chargers from other brands, most notably Bosch. Husqvarna Aspire PE5-P4A mini-chainsaw, £289
A clean winner
Once bitten (ie, drenched) by an errant pressure washer, twice shy. Norwegian firm AVA is attempting to rebuild the reputation of these often capricious machines by addressing annoyances such as their tendency to fall over and their short, unwieldy hoses. Both the P40 and larger P57 are weighty, attractive units with a super-flexible 12m hose that winds away neatly. A dirt blaster, vario nozzle and extendable lance come as standard, but if you have Kärcher accessories, they’re compatible too. Its much-praised foam cannon might be considered the pick of the bundle, but my favourite was the patio tool – a neat disc that stops spray going everywhere while lifting grime I didn’t even know was there. AVA Easy P40, £239.90; P57, £294.90