Written on: 05/10/2008 by Sweepthecat (5 reviews written)
Does what it is sold as, versatile and well made.
Too few accessories included, cheap case.
The Bosch PMF 180 E Multifunction Tool is a variable speed detail sander, with the additional ability to take a small selection of blades adapted to cutting in tricky situations " in situ plunge cuts where you couldn ' t use a router, or flat cuts where it is difficult to use conventional saws, such as the bottom of skirting boards and door frames. Because the tool cuts by swinging the blade through a very narrow angle of about 2.5 degrees, the blade doesn ' t move very far, and there a range of other cutting jobs that it excels at, like cutting floorboards in situ, cutting dry lined walls for switches or cable routings. The tool has a connection for a vacuum cleaner, but this is only functional for sanding, not with the saw blades. It comes with a selection of sanding papers, one almost circular general purpose saw blade, and a plunge cut wood bit about an inch wide " plus an allen key to change the heads. I think Bosch could have been a bit more generous in terms of the accessories (and in particular included a spare sanding base plate). The case the tool comes in is the manky variety that Bosch now use for all their green (DIY) power tools, and can be described as adequate and no more - for DIY use this case is OK, but it doesn ' t look very durable, and it isn ' t very convenient to use, although the tool itself is certainly sturdy enough to take the odd knock.
Overall, this tool works very well for both cutting and sanding. For tricky jobs like the skirting board, and cutting the bottom off door frames, the near circular wood cutting blade works well and reasonably quickly so long as the blades are sharp. However, don ' t expect the machine to cut anything like as quickly as a rotating or reciprocating saw. The plunge cutting wood blade also works well. Neither saw blade makes a huge amount of dust, and the cooling air is directed in such a way that it doesn ' t disturb the dust that is produced. After a fair amount of cutting, particularly in tough materials like MDF, the blades will become blunt, and at £13 a pop for the larger blade, you aren ' t going to want to replace this very often. It is easy, although a bit tedious, to use a fine triangular file to sharpen the saw blades, and I ' d recommend this to both put off the expense of new blades, and to ensure that cutting performance stays reasonable. I ' ve also used the machine to trim copper pipes coming through a wall, and that job went far better than I expected, and didn ' t damage the saw blade.
In terms of sanding, the head is a fairly typical triangular pad, using standard 93mm Velcro fastening sandpaper that is readily available. Sanding performance is good, but if you are doing fine repetitive work on the nib of the triangle, as I was, then the Velcro backing pad does wear out (as it will on any other detail sander). At the time this was a new tool and I had to search fairly hard to find a retailer of replacement pads - these pads are specific to the PMF 180 E, not the same as the other single function Bosch detail sanders, but at £6 a pop they aren ' t unreasonably priced.
In use, the tool is not quiet, but the noise is irritating more because of a very coarse sound rather than the volume as such - I prefer to use it with ear defenders. Vibration is OK " it will leave your fingers tingling after extended use, but the vibration doesn ' t stop it being a very easily controlled tool. As is common with most power tools the manual is full of regulatory compliance statements, and only a small amount of detail on using the tool itself.
If you already have a detail sander, then don ' t buy this on impulse " the applications are not that common. However, if you are doing an extended job that requires in-situ cutting then it is worthy of serious consideration. If you don ' t have a detail sander I would certainly recommend buying this instead on account of its flexibility. Admittedly you can get a cheapy detail sander for fifteen quid, but the price difference between a decent DIY detail sander (say £40) and the PMF180E is only twenty quid, and in my view it is worth every penny.
I bought this on offer from B&Q for £60, in order to undertake a tricky job of cutting the bottom off of skirting boards to fit laminate flooring under the skirting board rather than risk the mess and plaster damage of removing the well established skirting, or the horrible-but-common use of a wood quadrant to hide the expansion gap. It did the job well, although on completing the job I realised that the best use of the tool would have been to cut the plaster above the skirting board to avoid damaging the wall, and then removed the skirting and placed it a centimetre higher up the wall!.
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