This is an exciting time in cordless tools. Battery technology has experienced unprecedented innovation, while manufacturers are re-engineering their tools to use power more efficiently than ever. The result is an array of cordless choices unimaginable a year or two ago. At one end are tools like compound miter saws, big grinders, and heavy-duty drills that used to draw too much power to make batteries practical. At the other end, super-efficient handheld tools are lighter and do the job with smaller batteries.
The sheer number of these is too many to profile here—of the hundreds of tool-related press releases we've received over the past 12 months, well more than half were about cordless models. Instead, we list some of the more noteworthy new products from a variety of brands. Contractors planning to upgrade their tool collections in for the coming months will want to take a close look at these companies’ offerings.
The most cutting-edge cordless offering is DeWalt’s FlexVolt 12-inch dual compound sliding miter saw (model DHS790). It’s essentially the same saw as the company’s well-known DWS7-9 except that it uses a brushless motor. It’s not strictly cordless: It can be plugged into a standard 120-volt AC outlet or powered by a pair of DeWalt’s new FlexVolt packs, the first batteries that change voltage depending on the tool. When used in 20V MAX tools the batteries generate up to 20 volts (18 volts nominal); in FlexVolt tools they put out a maximum 60 volts (54 volts nominal). The saw weighs 56 pounds, including batteries, which is lighter than most 12-inch saws. dewalt.com
Milwaukee’s cordless dual compound slide miter saw (model 2473) has a brushless motor that can be powered by a single M18 battery or by the company’s new oversized High Demand battery pack. Milwaukee claims that when powered by a 9.0 Ah High Demand pack, the saw can make more than 300 cuts of a 2x4. The 10-inch blade will cut a 2x12 on the flat or a 5 3/4-inch board placed vertically against the fence. Its weight with battery is 47 pounds, several pounds less than the average 10-inch corded saw. milwaukeetool.com
71/4-inch Punchlist Helper
Bigger isn’t always better: Ridgid’s 18-Volt Cordless Brushless Miter Saw (model R48607K) weighs in at a mere 24 pounds. The dual sliding bevel design uses a standard 7 1/4 inch circular saw blade. This combination of price and features make it an affordable, versatile, and portable tool for trim, punch lists, and other small jobs where the contractor would rather not have to lug around a heavy saw. ridgid.com
Although the most powerful impact wrenches have always been pneumatic or corded, Makita’s new 18-volt, 1/2-inch, cordless high-torque impact wrench (model XWT08) is challenging that with a brushless motor that delivers 740 foot-pounds of torque and 1,180 foot-pounds of breakaway torque. The tool weighs 7.9 pounds with battery, has dual LED lights, and speed/power settings of 0-900; 0-1,100; and 0-1,800 rpm. makitatools.com
Lighter Impact Drivers
Bosch’s new 12V brushless impact drivers (models PS42 and PS82) have been engineered with a light weight to reduce fatigue from repetitive work. The PS42 delivers a maximum torque rating of 975 inch-pounds and weighs just under 2 pounds (with a 2.0 Ah battery); the PS82 offers a torque rating of 85 foot-pounds and a weight of 2.2 pounds. No-load rpm ratings are 0-1,200 and 0-2,600 rpm respectively, with no-load bpm ratings of 0-2,700 and 0-3,100. An optimized impact system makes for a compact head length (5.4 inches for impact driver; 5.5 inches for impact wrench) and efficient impact force. boschtools.com
Biggest Angle Grinder
Metabo has introduced the first large cordless angle grinder (model WPB 36 LTX BL 230). The 9-inch model has a brushless motor powered by the new 36V LiHD battery platform. These batteries feature larger cells than previous versions for more Watts output and longer run times. The tool has a large grip with a deadman’s paddle switch, the company’s well-known fast-brake system, and a handle that swivels to allow grinding at various angles. It has a no-load speed of 6,600 rpm and a cutting depth of about 3 inches. metabo.com
Track or Trackless
Festool’s new cordless circular saw (model HKC 55) can be used freehand, with the company’s standard FS tracks, or with the new spring-loaded FSK track. The FSK is designed for quick and accurate cross-cutting of angles up to 60 degrees, and springs back to starting position when the saw is lifted at the end of the cut, allowing rapid successive cuts. FSK tracks are available in 10, 16.5, and 24-inch lengths. There's also a corded model with a 16.5-inch capacity track. festoolusa.com
Lightest Brad Nailer
Grex’s 18-gauge cordless brad nailer (model C1850) weighs in at just 4.4 pounds. Fuel from a fuel cell mixes with air in a chamber that eliminates the need for a fan and reduces electrical draw. Rather than a rechargeable lithium ion, the tool is efficient enough to run on a pair of standard AAA batteries. Grex says the tool will get 50,000 shots per battery pair and 1,300-1,400 shots per fuel cell, and that the nailer will shoot one 1/2- to 2-inch fastener per second. grexusa.com