I've been re-grouting my kitchen and bathroom recently, not in itself something worthy of a blog post. However, I discovered a power tool to make the job far easier and since a few people have already asked me about it...
The MT3 made by CEL UK is an oscillating Multi Tool with all manner of different attachments, one of which is a carbide grout removal tool. The fact the tool oscillates (rather than rotates, say like a Dremel multi) means you don't fling the grout all over the house as dust. Vibrations from the tool are enough to remove grout and drop the majority of the mess neatly out of the joints in front of you.
I think at this point you probably already get the picture so here's a fun video of someone using the tool before I splurge out a bit more detail on it:
As you can see in addition to grout removal, it can be used for cutting but also sanding, rasping and probably a whole load of other tasks too. There's a bunch of other videos on the MT3 and other tools from CEL on their YouTube channel.
As an alternative, the known branded version of this thing is the PMF 180 E from Bosch. The best deal I found on the Bosch was at Amazon who sell the tool and large accessory pack together for just under 100 quid at the time of writing. This is more or less the same price as the MT3 from CEL so here's my logic for why I didn't go for the big name product.
Accessories are expensive for both products, but the Bosch is even more expensive than the CEL. However, the Bosch is only capable of using bits supplied by Bosch themselves where as the CEL is capable of using bits from pretty much anywhere, including Bosch (they include an adapter for Bosch bits). Given this and the fact the CEL is slightly more powerful I thought I'd go for supporting the small British startup company rather than the large German corporation and if CEL doesn't survive into the future I can always buy alternative bits for the tool from other manufacturers anyway.
Now I've mentioned CEL are a small British startup, it's probably a good point to say they successfully pitched on the Dragon's Den TV programme back in August 2010. You can see the designer and company MD, Chris Elsworthy, making his pitch on YouTube. However, it seems that ultimately CEL didn't accept the offer of investment.
Dealing with CEL while buying the tool was an absolute dream, one of the best Internet buying experiences I've ever had and really shows how the personal service you can get from a small company makes a difference. I wanted to buy the MT3-C Pack which at the time was advertised as "coming soon" and is made up of the MT3 Tool, accessory pack, and a case. Buying all 3 as a pack represented a saving of around £20.
I wrote to the generic sales email address on their web site asking when the pack might be available as I was interested in buying all 3 products together. Within half an hour I had a response back from their office saying they had all three parts, they were willing to put them together as a pack and honour the advertised pack price on the web site. This is where it gets really good, in addition they also sent through a PayPal invoice so should I wish to go ahead with the purchase I just had to complete the invoice and they would send the products out that afternoon for next day delivery! At this point it was a no-brainer, I returned the invoice and followed up via email too. Again, only half an hour later I had a response saying they had received the payment and sent the product out. 8:30am the next morning arrives and I've got my new tool, brilliant!
So far the tool and dealing with the company have both been great so I'm completely sold and wish CEL every success for the future and in creating some more great kit.