Why use an 18-volt cordless drill for a 12-volt task? That's the main thinking behind DeWalt's new 12-volt Max lithium-ion-powered series, which was recently introduced to the woodworking media at an event in Baltimore.
The Max reference carries a disclaimer, since the tools really produce 10.8 volts when measured under a workload. But the 12-volt category is one of the fastest growing, and DeWalt's line - which includes a 1/4" screwdriver, 3/8" drill/driver, 1/4" impact driver, 3/8" impact wrench, inspection camera, infrared thermometer and LED work light - is the result of extensive product development efforts. The company put prototypes into the hands of cabinetmakers and carpenters, and followed up with more than 1,500 job site interviews last year.
"We've doubled the investment in cordless-tool development," says Frank Mannarino, the brand's vice president of cordless product development. "Initially, what we found was that people were using 18-volt power to perform smaller applications and there was need for a line of light compact tools."
Each tool incorporates features to improve overall performance on the job. For example, three LED lights on the screwdriver, impact driver and impact wrench provide visibility without shadows, according to DeWalt. A new 1/4" hex chuck on the impact driver and screwdriver allows users to simply push the bit in with one hand to lock it in place, and it accepts a 1" bit tip to fit into tight spaces.
A key design consideration was to stand up these tools when not in use, rather than lay them down on their side. The batteries have been placed on the bottom of the tools, providing a standing platform and room for a contoured grip. The batteries will charge in approximately 40 minutes.
The screwdriver, drill/drive and impact tools will be sold as kits, offered with two batteries, a charger and a carry bag. Combo kits will also be available.
The screwdriver ($139) weighs only 2.2 lbs. and can drive 207 2-1/2" cabinet screws on a single battery charge, according to DeWalt. It also features a reversible belt clip.
The drill/driver ($159) offers a two-speed transmission and a single-sleeve keyless chuck.
The impact driver ($159) delivers 950 in./lbs. of torque, while the impact wrench ($159) has a 3/8" hog ring anvil and provides 1,150 in./lbs. of torque. Both impact tools will be sold with one battery, charger and carrying box.
The head of the LED work light rotates 360 degrees and pivots. It also features a magnet, belt clip and kickstand allowing the light to stand on multiple surfaces. It will sell, without a battery, for $39.
"We've seen the numerous ways contractors light their work on job sites, whether it be holding a flashlight in their mouth, duct-taping it to a hard hat or having a fellow contractor hold the light in place," says DeWalt product manager Jason McNeil. "With features like a heavy-duty magnet, belt clip and 360-degree pivoting and rotating head, our new work light offers the versatility contractors need."
The inspection camera ($299) offers the ability to capture video and photos in tight and awkward spaces such as behind walls or inside pipes. It features a removable, wireless 3-1/2" LCD screen, 3' waterproof cable, and camera with three-time zoom capability. Additional 3' cable lengths can be purchased as accessories.
The infrared thermometer ($149) scans for temperature changes, ranging from minus-20 F to 932 F. It has LED hot (red) and cold (blue) spot indicators, as well as audio alarms.
The 12-volt line will be on the market in October, according to DeWalt. The lithium-ion batteries are interchangeable with all tools in the 12-volt Max line. Each tool is covered by a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract and 90-day money-back guarantee.
Contact: DeWalt. Tel: 800-433-9258. www.dewalt.com
This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue.