October 15, 2010

Fein WSG 10-115 T Tip Start 4-1/2-Inch Angle Grinder - Review

fein_grinder_hero.jpeg

You want bizarre?

We'll show you bizarre.

Fein, a company known to most of us as the originators of the MultiMaster also makes a load of other tools, grinders included. They've also recently come up with the freakiest switch system that we've ever seen on a power tool. It's called the Tip Start and, really, why bother with switches when you can turn on the tool just by touching it? They sent us one to check out and we happily did....

fein_grinder_buttons.jpegSo, the deal is that the body of the tool has four touch pads (they're actually buttons in dust-proof covers) and when there is pressure applied to them, the grinder activates.

The first thing through our head when we saw this tool (and the first words spoken by the few carpenters we showed it to) were, "whoa, that's dangerous." The initial impression is that you'll pick up the tool, accidentally press a pad and all of a sudden you've got a whirling grinder on your hands. This is (thankfully) not the case at all. In order to unlock the mystery of the Tip Start, you have to press one of the pads at the top of the tool (up by the grinder wheel) and then one at the bottom of the tool (down by the cord). It actually doesn't matter which order they're pressed, but when they've both been pressed the grinder activates.

fein_grinder_buttons2.jpegOnce the tool is on, you only need one of the four buttons activated to keep the tool going, which frees you up to hold the tool any number of ways. When you let go of the button, the motor kicks off and the wheel starts to slow down. Now, here's the coolest part of the tool: as the wheel is slowing, you only need to use one button to get the grinder going again. This means that when you're shifting hands (which happens a lot during grinder work), you don't have to keep restarting the grinder.

The tool has a 12.7 amp motor so it's right up there with the most powerful 4-1/2" grinders out on the market. The Fein was plenty strong enough for everything we did with it and it performed well in every situation we put it in (grinding welds, cutting nails, cutting plate metal, sanding wood, etc).

The wheel guard has a tool-free adjust that is good (because it's tool-free), but could be better because it's difficult to operate with gloves on. There is also a fairly lame secondary handle. It's small, snugged up to the grinder wheel and looks cheaply made. The Fein is not an inexpensive grinder, in fact, it's by far the most expensive 4-1/2" grinder we've ever seen, so you'd think they could have added a little cushion to the side handle, or at least spruce it up some. And while they're at it, they should throw in a case as well, nothing fancy like the MultiMaster case, just a small duffel or something to hold the tool when not in use.

fein_grinder_one_hand.jpegfein_grinder_two_hands2.jpeg

In the ergonomics department though, this thing is a champion. There's no doubt that it's unusual and there's a learning curve, but once you've got it down, it's great. Being able to split the difference between having motor control and having the freedom of a lock-on switch is something we got used to very quickly. It got to the point where we got frustrated when we switched back to our old grinders with their archaic slide switches.

fein_grinder_two_hands.jpeg

So the bottom line here is that this grinder is fantastic and the Tip-Start is innovative and just plain cool. Is it necessary to have? If you're a part time grinder user, probably not. Seeing as a decent grinder can be bought for about $80 (and a semi-disposable one for about $20), the fact that this one is over $200 will likely steer you clear. But if you spend all day with a grinder in your hands... yeah, we think it is worth a serious consideration.

At Amazon.com

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at October 15, 2010 9:55 AM

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Recent Comments

... is a good idea.

I'd far rather have a more powerful motor than the sensors.


Posted by: John at October 21, 2010 1:13 PM

What's wrong with a trigger? And those capacitive sensors start going funny if there's damp around.

Given the brutal price tag on Fein gear, I don't really see how making something like a grinder far more complex than it needs to be.


Posted by: John at October 21, 2010 1:12 PM
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