Review By Dean Bielanowski  GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com


GMC
Hobby Tool Kit
Review
By Dean Bielanowski

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Please note: Since this review was published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com appears to still be available online and offers some product information and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support or spare parts for their products.

Whether you dabble in woodwork, electronics, home renovation, general craft, or any other hobby, GMC's Hobby Tool Kit has something you might need. Let's take a look at the package and discover what it contains and whether it offers value for money or suitability for your own "around the shop/home" tasks.

The GMC Hobby Tool Kit
The kit actually contains four individual tools, and these are a soldering iron, a small cordless screwdriver, an engraver and a rotary tool. I'll review each tool separately below.

3.6v Cordless Screwdriver
The GMC 3.6v Cordless Screwdriver is a nifty little tool for a number of tasks. You can use it to drive in screws in woodwork, for general driving and screw removal tasks around the home, and in a number of varied hobby tasks where screws or very light drilling are involved (small model making for example).

Because of its low rotational speed of only 200 RPM, it is not suitable for most drilling/boring tasks, but as mentioned, it can be used for light duty drilling with small drill bits, although you will require 1/4" hex shanked bits for them to fit the driver's chuck.

The screwdriver features a 3.6v, 600mAh Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cad) internal, fixed rechargeable battery. A mains battery charger to suit is included in the pack, and recharge time for a fully depleted battery can be in the order of 5-7 hours, although the first few charge cycles will likely take considerably longer. The manual recommends 10-12 hours for the first charging cycle. Due to the fact that the battery pack and its capacity are quite small in comparison to a regular sized cordless drill, battery life is, as expected, also less. On a full charge however, you can go for an hour or two of fairly consistent use before the battery begins to struggle.

One of the best features of this driver though is its size. It is a tiny tool and very light in weight. While the torque factor is low, the driver is easy to handle and you can get it into tight places with ease. The handle can also rotate to provide either a pistol-type orientation or a more elongated shape (like a crescent moon or a banana!) if you need a little more reach. A small yellow push switch is pressed to unlock the shaft and rotate the handle to either of the two set positions.

Power is applied via a rocker switch on top of the driver. It has forward and reverse positions. The driver chuck rotates at a 200 RPM fixed speed, i.e. there is no variable speed trigger. Not much more to explain there. All fairly simple.

The chuck itself will accept any 1/4 hex shank driver bit (and some small diameter 1/4" hex shank drill bits as mentioned above). A magnetic hex-shank extension bit is included in the kit to help hold driver bits in place and stop them falling out, handy when working in tight areas where a dropped driver bit could be difficult to re-acquire. A couple of double-ended driver bits (philips and slotted) are also supplied, although different types of compatible 1/4" shank bits can be purchased at virtually any hardware store to suit other screw head shapes (square drive, pozidriv etc).

In use the tool works well for light duty driving tasks. It will have trouble driving larger screws into dense woods, but it is handy for removing hinges from doors, re-screwing joints after repair, and for general light duty hobby tasks. It's definitely not going to replace a good 9.6 or 12 volt cordless drill/driver, but it's not designed to do that. It has its limitations, but it is awfully handy in many situations as well. A nice addition to the hobby kit package.

Rotary Tool
The rotary tool is perhaps the most versatile tool in the kit, and to be honest, these things are very handy indeed. They can perform a huge range of tasks and are truly the swiss army knife of power tools for small-scale work. From cutting, to grinding, to shaping, to buffing, to sanding, the rotary tool can do it all, albeit, on a smaller scale.

I have a larger rotary tool kit in the shop and it gets used quite often in both woodworking and general DIY and maintenance tasks.

The rotary tool itself features a 135W brushed motor that is mains powered. Again, this is a hobby tool more than a serious demolition or dedicated power tool, but for small scale work, these tools are hard to beat! The rotational speed is variable from 15,000 up to 35,000 RPM. Two collet sizes are available - 3.2mm and 2.4mm, and this tool will accept most standard sized rotary tool (Dremel) type accessory bits in its collet(s).

A collection of various accessories are included, like sanding drums/pads, various shaped grinding heads, a wire brush tool, buffing wheels, grinding discs and even a drill bit. Attaching the accessories is simple. Just lock the spindle using the spindle lock button and loosen/tighten the collet using the small collet wrench supplied. It works pretty much the same as a router collet. In effect, this is a router, just a smaller version that is much easier to handle.

So what do you use this tool for? Well, in the past, I have used this tool and my other similar rotary tool to perform these tasks:

  • Grind heads off nails and screws - extremely useful for this, particularly when a nail head or screw cannot be easily accessed to be removed by other means.
  • Shape small wooden objects - using the sanding drums and sanding pads, it is easy to shape a square edge round, or for minor detail work on wooden sculptures or gifts. I have also used it to sand down putty lines or smooth joins on plastic model kits, which I occasionally have time to build!
  • Metal work - I have used the rotary tool to enlarge drilled holes for larger bolts in the absence of a larger drill bit, to de-burr cut edges, and to sharpen things like blades, fish hooks, touch up lawn mower blade edges... the list could go on.
  • Buffing - I have occasionally buffed small jewelry items using appropriate compounds (not included), although heat can build up quickly because of the high RPM of the tool, so be careful. Have also used it to buff turned pens to a final finish, although I will admit I have used other easier methods for this.

These are just a small list of tasks. The point I am getting at is that the rotary tool is highly versatile. You will come across many uses for one yourself once you own such a tool.

Of course, in some cases, the rotary tool itself can be cumbersome to use, like in fine detail work. This is where the flexible shaft comes into play. I was surprised to see a flexible shaft included in the box at the price point the kit is offered. Sometimes these shafts can cost more than the whole kit alone! Kudos to GMC for including it. The flexible shaft is essentially a collet extension in flexible form. You attach it to the collet and at the other end it spins a second collet with your working accessory attached. It allows you to use your accessory in a pen-grip manner with much more precise control over the bit used. These are great and allow you to get into even tighter spaces with more accuracy. A stand and clamp to hang the rotary tool from when using the flexible shaft is included in the kit. A perfect addition for the model maker or general hobbyist engaged in many types of craft work.

In use we had no issues with the rotary tool, but like a router, it can make a pretty high-pitched sound, so hearing protection is required given that the tool can produce up to 96 decibels, well above the 80 decibel limit we recommend for hearing protection use.

Engraver
Ok so you probably don't need this tool, being a woodworker and all right? When will you use an engraver in your wood projects? Not very often... However, have you marked all your power tools and machines to help re-locate them in the unfortunate event that they are stolen? In many countries around the world, local police recommend engraving valuable items to help identify their owners in the instance they are found or recovered. Engraving your valuables also helps to deter thieves from selling them to certain third parties or pawn brokers. This is just one use for the engraver.

You can also use to to engrave metal, glass, plastic, ceramics, and yes, even wood, although for most wood tasks you would probably use the rotary tool, unless you actually want to engrave in wood, although my experience is that engraving wood with such a small cutting tip generally doesn't work too well, hence the recommendation to use the rotary tool instead.

The engraver itself offers a pen-like grip and is comfortable to use. It is powered by a 13W mains-operated motor. Eh? Only 13W you say? Yes, engravers require very little power to work, because the cutting tip is so fine that it barely removes much material at all, hence not requiring a lot of power to run it.

The engraver works somewhat like a jackhammer, but at very high frequency. Instead of spinning the engraving bit, the shaft pulses rapidly in and out. Hence, how deep you engrave can be controlled by how far the shaft pulses out from the body. A dial setting on the side of the engraver controls this feature. A basic on/off switch rounds out the control and adjustment features. A TCT tipped engraving bit comes supplied and pre-installed on the engraver. It is held in place by a retainer screw, and you can switch out the engraving tip for a new one once it becomes dull. Only one tip is supplied however.

Because of the vibration of the tool, extended periods of use can leave your hand feeling a bit tingly, so keep it to short periods of use where possible if you dislike that feeling.

I am not really a hobbyist engraver, I have really only engraved most of my tools for security reasons, so I can only say that the tool works well on metal and plastics. If you end up buying one and use it on glass or ceramics, let us know how it goes!

Nonetheless, a useful tool to have for a hobbyist or for marking your valued goods.

Soldering Iron
All the electronics junkies can wake up now! Well, if you are an electronics junkie, then you probably already own one, or several soldering irons. Used primarily in the electronics field, a soldering iron is basically a very hot tip used to melt solder (the metal consumable joining material) to make strong electrical connections. Again, I didn't have a lot of use for this tool in the woodworking arena, virtually zero in fact, but I also dabble in beginner electronics and model railroading, and the soldering iron allows me to make semi-permanent wiring connections for model railroad layouts, as well as to fix various components to PCBs (printed circuit boards) to make electrical gadgets and devices.

Normal precautions should be taken when using the tool. Of course, you could obtain a nasty burn if you touch the tip end of the tool as it gets extremely hot, so keep fingers and any other combustible material away from the tip. A large oversized flange at the end of the grip area provides a further safety buffer.

The grip itself has a rubber overmold for slip resistance and comfort and the grip barrel itself is oval shaped. For the purpose it is designed for, the grip is probably as comfortable as it needs to be, unless you plan to be soldering things all day! There are no ON/OFF controls or any other controls on the tool itself. Basically, as soon as mains power is applied, the iron is turned on, and only turned off once mains power is turned off or the power plug is disconnected from the power outlet.

The soldering iron has an input power of 30W and a nickel-coated tip with a stainless steel shaft. These provide it with enough power and features to do the job properly, i.e. heating up the soldering material sufficiently to "melt" it to make a join on your components. The tool is light at only 200 grams, so fatigue in extended use is not a factor, at least it wasn't for me.

The soldering iron is a tool that you either need, or you don't need. But, it is included in the kit nonetheless, so if you buy the kit, it will be yours to do what you want with. It may just come in handy for that woodworking machine re-wiring job, or for fixing wires in a switch box permanently if they come loose.

Hobby Kit - Overall Impression?
The GMC Hobby Tool Kit includes tools that address a variety of hobbyist's needs. While most of the tools are built for the budget conscious, they do perform the tasks they are designed for quite well.
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention is that the kit also comes with a basic plastic stand for all four tools that can be screwed to a wall to keep everything together while not being used.

It is a handy set of tools to have in the workshop or in the home, and worth the total kit price of AUD$99, or about US$69.99 in the USA.

Available to Order through these Companies...
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Australia

MITRE 10
 

 

GMC Hobby Kit Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The four tools included in the
GMC Hobby Kit.


The 3.6v Cordless Driver.


3.6v driver shown assembling a
wood project.


The 135W Rotary Tool.


Touching up scissor edges with
the rotary tool.


The engraving tool.


Marking tools for identification.


The soldering iron shown on
included stand.


Soldering wires to a circuit board.


The basic plastic storage rack included in the kit.

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