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Simple savior

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I love when tools are improved and upgraded, but sometimes the simplest enhancements resonate the most with me.

Woodworking tools have improved so much that today’s offerings sometime bear little resemblance to tools available as recently as a decade ago. For example, riving knives on table saws, Lithium-ion batteries and spiral cutterheads on jointers and planers are common now, representing huge leaps in tool evolution. I’ve been both pleased and amazed by all these improvements.

But smaller upgrades are important, too, especially when they’re so simple they have you wondering why no one thought of it before. A perfect example is something DeWalt has just announced.

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See that little strap on the battery? It’s part of the new lanyard system DeWalt’s implemented for portable tools like the drill/driver shown above. Lanyards aren’t new – you can put one on anything at all, and construction trades have done so for years. If you’re up on a ladder and drop a 20-volt tool it’s bombs away dream babies to anyone below, so tying lanyards on tools makes good sense. But molding lanyard attachments directly into the tools themselves (or retrofitting older tools) is something new, and it’s a fabulous idea.

What’s impressed me so much about this is that the thinking here has gone beyond dropping the tool itself. I’ve only rarely dropped a tool but have dropped batteries far more often. Fumble the battery and it’ll be clattering across the shop floor (if it doesn’t hit your foot first). Or, insert the battery not quite all the way and you might get the same result when you least expect it. I’ve cracked the case on more than one battery both ways.

But securing the battery with a short little lanyard ensures that even if you do fumble the battery or it otherwise comes loose from the tool that it isn’t going anywhere. Unlike major tooling, electrical, blade or motor improvements, this is a simple, inexpensive-to-produce upgrade that’s a boon to woodworkers of any level of expertise.

Why did no one think of this before?

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