New Tools for the Trades
With the cordless evolution, distinct battery systems have herded us into some brand loyalty just to avoid having 15 different chagers and different sets of batteries. Most manufacturers are finally providing combo chargers to charge most of their batteries in one unit.
The real change is that the move has begun toward greater power in smaller packages that comes with the combination of Lithium Ion batteries and Brushless motors. While Ni-Cad was a vanilla commodity generally supplied by one or two battery companies, Lithium Ion batteries vary greatly in quality and performance and are seriously enhanced by new fine-tuned electronic controllers that protect both the motor and the batteries.
Brushless has been around for a long time (ELU tools circa 1970—my favourite circular saw ever) but is just now getting integrated with Lithium Ion battery technology. Yes, it does cost more to produce. Real performance of this year’s tools have complex and serious differences that will probably only be sorted out on the job sites (because advertising claims are almost impossible to sort through). The quality and performance of brushless motors vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer—and month to month as this technology is evolving rapidly.
Across the brands, don’t be surprised to see some future 12-volt tools outperforming current 18-volt tools.
Brushless Tools on the Shelves Now
High Capacity Hammer Drill/Drivers
Makita: LXRH01Z - 18v brushless SDS
This 3-mode rotary hammer comes in at only 6 pounds with a low 16m/s2 vibration level and 0-950 RPM with 0-4,700 BPM. Its brushless DC motor stands out with less heat build up, making it ideal for prolonged use in high production applications.
Bosch: RHH180-01 - 18v brushless SDS
This 2-mode rotary hammer with a pneumatic hammer mechanism comes in at 5.7 pounds and delivers 360 in-lb torque, 0-1,400 RPM with 0-4,500 BPM. The brushless motor is helping to achieve a 30 per cent increase in run time.
Compact Hammer Drill/Drivers
Milwaukee: 2604-22 - ½” brushless 18v
I reviewed this breakthrough tool last month. It is not only about the power of the relatively small tool, but about the smooth way the whole brushless system delivers that power to the toughest job I threw at it. Until I see better, this is my compact hammer drill of choice.
Milwaukee: 2603-22 - ½” Brushless 18v
This is the same tool as the Milwaukee 2604-22 – 1/2”, just without the hammer action.
Milwaukee: 2653-20 - brushless ¼” hex 18v
After impressing me with their Hammer drill/driver, they have blown me away with this little impact wrench. Just by the size of its rotor and generally robust design, plus electronics that will not let you destroy either the motor or the battery, this tool will stand up to the excessive abuse we tend to give impact wrenches on our construction sites.
DeWalt: DCF895B - brushless ¼” hex 20v
This is DeWalt’s first entry into the brushless competition. It is a respectable tool but they haven’t caught up to the whole systems development shown by Milwaukee and Makita. It is certainly an improvement over all the standard impact drivers in your tool box today.
Makita: LXDT01Z - brushless ¼” hex 18v
Makita gets the credit for bringing the brushless into cordless power tools. Its lighter design is perfect for HVAC and other sheet metal workers but lacks the meat in the rotor for our wood construction sites which tend to task these tools much more.
Makita: LXDT06 - brushless ¼” hex18v w/TEK mode
This is basically the same tool as above with a very unique feature in the computerized control side of the tool— the TEK mode gives it a soft landing at the end of a sheet metal drive—avoiding over torque stripping the screw out of the metal.
More New Tools for the Trades
Fein Oscilating Tool: Same Power as the MultiMaster
Although Fein was the original inventor of the oscillating tool, they refused to bring out a cordless version for a long time. When I asked them why they finally bent to the competition and brought out the 14.4v AFMM they replied that they refused to do it until they could promise the exact same power and durability as the corded MultiMaster, meaning that they have a cordless tool capable of working all day with Fein’s large wood working blades. This is not a hobby tool or a copy that cannot stand up to the high stress gear demands of an oscillating tool. By the way, don’t forget that as powerful as these tools are, Fein has an even more powerful industrial version called the SuperCut, primarily used as a window de-glazer in automotive and high rise window applications, but they do sell wood and metal cutting blades for it as well.
Don’t forget that I have 22 videos on www.JonEakes.com showing how to get good cuts with an oscillating tool.
This is the saw you have heard about that stops with an explosive charge when the blade touches skin. The photo shows a blade that I took home from a sausage cutting demonstration (they never did get through the sausage). The blade is actually fused into the aluminum block in the break. When it trips, you scrap both the blade and the stop break, but save your hand—an economical trade off. Yes we do sometimes have to work on wet wood, so there is a test function to see if you should turn off the break before cutting into something wetter than your skin. This is probably not the best saw for an open (and often wet) construction site, but is fantastic for any workshop or factory type of setting.
Saw Stop made the very intelligent decision to not only have a great blade stopping mechanism, but to build the saw itself to top quality which is allowing it to quickly move in on all the competition. www.sawstop.ca.
New DeWalt TOUGHSYSTEM
Three different sized lockable waterproof tool cases which stack on a wheel rack—that’s taking your whole tool box to the job site and not losing it.
Bosch D-Tect 150 Wall/Floor Scanner
Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) Radar Technology is what Bosch is calling their “x-ray” machine. It will display material type, depth and width information for ferrous and non-ferrous metal, not-metal objects including wooden studs and plastic pipes and live AC—all in concrete, wet concrete, deep concrete, in-floor heating, drywall and metal. No calibration required! One cool addition is “measuring mode” where it acts as a rolling tape measurer from the start of scanning to the detection spot.
Cleanable Nut Driver from DeWalt
The sleeve slides down to allow wiping the magnet clean in a second, assuring that hex head and high hat screws hold tightly to the magnet every time despite metal shavings falling from overhead.
Metabo Angle Grinder Safety: WEPBA14-125 & 150
We work with but don’t think much about angle grinders. Metabo is proud of their second break stop and a slip clutch to prevent kickback when the wheel is bound or pinched. Electronics give them a soft start and electronic speed stabilization under load. Grinders are condemned to the reality that their blades are constantly wearing away, often causing tiring vibrations. Metabo’s auto-balance technology uses a double set of ball bearings to dynamically offset out-of-balance conditions.
Bit of the Month
Blade of the month
Milwaukee: Flush Cut Sawzall blade
This flexible blade will get in just about anyplace and bend to flush—but of particular note is the offset from the tang will bring the teeth right to the floor in a basement when cutting out framing. Note the two sections with no teeth, designed to slide on concrete and save the teeth at the conclusion of a stringer cut-out. You can cut all the way to the concrete and not dull your blade.
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert
Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.