Festool now has an Impact Driver

August 24th, 2012

You heard that right.  Festool now has an impact driver.  When I first saw that headline I wondered what Festool would do differently to make their offering stand out.  If you don’t know of Festool, they’re a company know for making awesomely great products that are also quite pricey.  But they’re not just high quality.  The regular Festool T15 comes with 3 interchangeable chucks.  Nobody else does that and that’s what makes Festool stand out (apart from the high quality and price.)

So I knew they’d have to do something to make this “not just another” impact driver.  There are already several great impact drivers out there.  What Festool did was make a great impact driver that’s also a great drill.  That’s the selling point.  The drill that comes with 3 chucks is also now an impact driver.  It’s everything in one package.  This is a good selling point because most impact drivers are not so great at drilling or precision driving.  For most manufacturers the solution is to have both an impact driver and a drill.  I’m not saying that’s a bad solution, but it’s not the Festool way.

Hitachi introduces brushless 18V

August 6th, 2012

I’m almost finished with the review of the Milwuakee 2604-22, their new brushless 18v hammer drill, but before I could get finished Hitachi has released their own 18v brushless drill, the DS18DBL.  The Hitachi has slightly less torque (654 in-lbs vs 725) than the Milwuakee, but other than that the tools look quite similar.  They also have the same MSRP of around $300.  I noticed that a Lowe’s in a nearby town is already carrying the DS18DBL, but my local Lowe’s is not.  So you may or may not be able to see one at your local big-box yet, but I would figure you’ll see one at your Lowe’s sooner rather than later.

New Reviews

June 29th, 2012

I just wanted to let you guys know that I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth.  In the last few weeks I’ve been updating some content on the site, trying to make it better.  Soon I will have some reviews coming up here of some exciting new products.

The one I’m most excited about is the new Milwaukee brushless cordless drill, which they call their Fuel system.  So hopefully it won’t be too long before you get to read that.  I also recently got some cordless yard tools, so you should get some reviews on those too.

A cookbook?

November 29th, 2011

I just learned that Tim Ferriss’ new book is available for pre-order on Amazon.  It’s called The 4-Hour Chef and you can read his post about the book here.  You may be wondering why I’m posting about this book on a cordless tool blog.  Well, I’m a big fan of Tim Ferriss.  Even so I wouldn’t write about the book here if it was just a cookbook.  The book is really about how to learn any skill effectively.  Cooking is the vehicle Tim uses to teach learning skills.  I’m sure this book will be great just like Tim’s last two books.

New Brushless Milwaukee

November 17th, 2011

I read something over at toolmonger that got me rather excited.  Milwaukee is updating their M18 line with a brushless motor.  Brushless motors are more efficient and is one of the things that has previously set festool drills apart.  I don’t know of any other manufacturer that uses brushless motors.  (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

While the M18 is not currently our favorite 18 volt drill, this does mean that I will be giving the M18 a serious second look for that title.  It’s not that I don’t like Milwaukee.  They currently hold favorites in the compact cordless drill and 24 volt drill categories.  And the M18 is already a solid product.  I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from buying one.  But after looking over all of the evidence, the evidence sided with Bosch to have the best 18 volt product.  One advantage Milwaukee has though is more products you can use those expensive 18 volt batteries in.  I won’t go into more details here, but suffice it to say there are reasons you would want to purchase a different drill than the one I recommend for a given category.  Go ahead.  It won’t hurt my feelings.

I seriously hope this update lands the M18 in the top spot, and not because I have an affinity for red tools.  I just want to see cordless drills get better.  And thus I hope the brushless motor turns out to be a gigantic advantage.  And then I hope all of the other high end manufactures follow suit.  Then we as consumers will win.

Christmas Gift Idea

November 7th, 2011

I have come up with at least one idea for a DIY Christmas gift for my son.  As I previously mentioned I made my son a “cubby house” last year.  We had some cardboard tubes from carpet rolls and set them up for him to run trains down those tubes.  He loved it.  I guess he could do this anywhere and not just in a cubby house, but I do think it’s more fun for him to climb up in the cubby house and look out the porthole, then run his train down the tube.  At least that’s the way I see it and I need to justify building that cubby house.

That gave me the idea to install some transparent tubes in the house.  Ideally these would twist and turn in all sorts of cool patterns, entering on one level and exiting on another.  I reality, I’m not sure what material is going to allow me to accomplish that.  I’m figuring I can get transparent rigid pipe, which won’t allow the types of spirals and turns I want.  I know I can get a flexible transparent tube from Lowe’s.  The problem with the tubing I know about is I don’t think the bottom will be uniform enough to allow a toy car or train to run well over it.  If the toys get stuck in the tubing that will just be annoying.  Although, perhaps if the tubing is flexible enough, I could flatten out the bottom by attaching it to a strip of wood?

As you can tell, this project is still in the brainstorming phase.  There’s also the problem of how to attach the tubes/pipes to the cubby house.  Right now I’m thinking clamps will be the way to go.

I’m still open to suggestions, so post ’em below.

Designing for the middle

October 31st, 2011

I had a friend growing up who was tall.  I think he ended up around 6’8″.  You always wanted him on your basketball team.  In fact, you wanted him on your team for just about every sport, except for maybe crab soccer where the smaller, more nimble guys like me could excel.  Most of the time his height was an advantage.  But sometimes he suffered the fate of everyone who has to use a product that was designed with someone else in mind.  His desk at school may be uncomfortably small.  By high school it was hard for him to find shoes.  Every once in a while I wonder what kind of car he drives.  I’m sure his choices are severely limited.

I’m guessing he often curses the people that design things.  I probably would too.  But I also feel for the designer.  Then again, I’m average height and weight and right handed.  But sometimes I wonder about the decisions made on tool designs.  A lot of the thicker handled cordless drills are just small enough for me to use comfortably.  I’m sure people with small hands can’t (use them comfortably that is.)  There are other factors too.  The trade off between weight and power.  If you’re stronger than average you’d probably like to see that balance go toward power.  And the opposite is true too.  I’ve seen some chucks that are easier to work with small hands because the two areas you have to grip are close together.

Back to my friend.  I never worry whether he can find clothes.  There are stores that cater to people like him.  Shoes?  I’m sure the Internet has helped immensely with that problem and in finding a lot of other niche products too.  And I’m sure he eventually finds a car that is comfortable.  But in all of these things his choices are limited.  Most of the products just aren’t for him.

Back to cordless tools.  Most of the drills I can think of are quite similar.  That is, manufacturers seem to design for the middle, the type of hand that 90% of people have.  If you have bigger or smaller hands, I’m sure you can find a drill.  There are smaller drills and larger drills.  But the 5 best 18 volt cordless drills I can think of are all designed for the middle.  You’ll have to choose something other than the 5 best.

This isn’t a rant.  I’m not saying that manufacturers should change their design process.  (Although, I would like to see more quality niche products.)  This is just me thinking about the design process and the people who have to use the products that have been designed.  So I’d like to hear your stories of tools you couldn’t use or were uncomfortable and the alternatives you went with.

Let’s talk about … saws.

October 24th, 2011

Saws are an indispensable tool for light construction.  There’s no doubt about that.  This site is about cordless drills, namely finding the best cordless drill.  But I have to admit that choice seems easy compared to deciding which saw to take with you to a job.

When selecting a drill you usually don’t have to obsess over which type of drill you’re going to take.  That’s usually clear.  But with saws you first have to decide on a circular, table or miter saw, then electric or cordless, then which specific model you want.  We’ve had cordless circular saws for quite a while now, but I think it’s only recently that batteries have gotten good enough to make them a viable choice for regular use.

Of course, the main question is portability versus versatility.  The electric vs. battery question is straight forward.  How much power do you need?  Is there electricity at the job site.  With today’s batteries there are several drills out that will cut 2×4’s easily.  So you can leave the extension cord behind.  Keep in mind that if you have a lot of cutting to do, you’ll probably need to chard the batteries.  But you can do this with a power inverter in your truck instead of having to take generator along.

As for versatility.  I’ve seen people that are pretty handy with a circular saw.  For me, if I need a cut that’s “right on” I’d rather have a table saw.  They are much bulkier, but they’re more exact no matter who you are.  And then there’s the miter saw.  They’re good at cutting any kind of angle you can imagine.  I’ve never seen anyone imitate a miter saw with a circular saw.  If you have, I’d like to hear about it.  Hopefully you know what you’re getting into before you head out to the job site.  Although I’m sure there are some stories out there of people going to help someone with a job that a circular saw could easily handle and then they’re asked to do trim.  But apart from that, you probably know if you need a miter saw.  And there are cordless miter saws now.

I’m just trying to get the discussion started here.  Mostly I’m wondering what you guys take with you when you don’t know what you’re getting to.  And do you have any tips for handling situations you’re not exactly prepare for.  Tell us in the comments.

Also, you can read more about the different types of circular saws at the Wikipedia page for them.

DIY Christmas Gifts for Kids

October 17th, 2011

It’s getting close to that time of year, the best time of the year ;), and I’ve started to think about what I can make my son for Christmas.  Last year I made him a “cubby house.”  It’s 3 levels, made of plywood, and mostly covered in carpet.  He used it some last year, but it’s the kind of thing you use in the winter when you can’t go outside.  We’ll see how much he uses it this winter.

I have mixed feelings about the project.  It takes up a lot of room in our basement and I felt like he didn’t use it that much.  On the other hand, we’ve already had some good times in it and I think there are more good times to come.  And I’m proud that I made it for him.

So what to make this year?  Someone showed me this cool video of an 8x8x8 LED cube.  That’s 512 LEDs hooked up to a controller that runs various programs to switch the LEDs on and off.  Check out the video at the link.  It’s much cooler than it sounds in text.  But still, I’m not sure how much use my 3 year old would get out of it.  I’ve thought about some modifications to make it interactive.  Perhaps he could push a button and it would show a character he likes and play an audio clip from that character.

I want it to be something he has fun with as well as inspires him.  Anyone have any ideas?

DeWalt 20 Volt MAX line

October 11th, 2011

Recently DeWalt has updated their entire line of lithium-ion tools.  This change has come with new branding which, you might have guessed, is DeWalt 20V Max.  Don’t be confused by 20 volts versus 18 volts.  These drills are comparable to 18 volt drills and should be compared as such.

An interesting note about this change, DeWalt used to have the regular line and the XRP line.  The XRP line was heavy duty, better quality for professionals (or people that like heavy duty and better quality and are willing to pay for it.)  But it seems that DeWalt has merged these two lines into one.  I’m wondering whether it falls closer to the regular line or the XRP line.

If you have any thoughts on the matter, put ’em in the comments.