Cutting the Cord

Many of the familiar jobsite tools are now battery operated, while recent innovations also include multi-tools and portable WiFi access
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Battery advances and a new generation of brushless motors are combining to make life on the jobsite a whole lot easier, and more productive.

Take, for example, the clever new Bosch 12-volt FlexiClick 5-In-1 drill/driver system. It fits into tight cabinets, has an offset head, and even pokes around corners. At just 1.8 lbs., it delivers lots of punch (265 in.-lbs. of torque) in a small package, according to the company. It has two speed settings for quick jobs or precision work, and starts with a standard magnetic bit holder. From there, the four attachments – a locking bit holder, a keyless chuck, an offset angle and a right angle – each attach to the tool securely and easily with a simple clicking mechanism. The right-angle attachment is for tight spaces, and it works with all three of the other adapters. The offset angle attachment allows screw driving close to edges, and both of these attachments rotate to 16 positions without removing them. The locking bit holder locks hex bits for high-torque drilling, while the keyless chuck provides locked-in drilling.

Makita’s dry dust extractor, model XCV08Z

Makita’s dry dust extractor, model XCV08Z

Jobsite lighting is also benefiting from technology. Milwaukee Tool recently introduced the Radius Site Light/Charger, which is a new addition to the company’s family of M18 tools. It’s capable of running on either one or two battery packs, and delivers 9,000 lumens in a 360-degree coverage pattern, according to the company. Adjustable output levels let a woodworker light up a jobsite for up to 14 hours on a single full charge. Designated as the model 2150-20, it has a two-battery charger on board. Plus, plug-in and daisy-chaining means one can connect up to six lights on a single circuit. Milwaukee’s One-Key technology lets users digitally create custom light settings, and even track the tool on or off site. A unique, stackable design makes the Radius Site Light easy to transport and store. It’s built for tough conditions with a high-impact polycarbonate lens and IP54 rated against dust and water.

Festool’s DTSC 400 sander

Festool’s DTSC 400 sander

Festool’s ETSC 125 sanders

Festool’s ETSC 125 sanders

Milwaukee now offers more than 125 tools that are fully compatible with the M18 family. The new Hackzall, model 2625-20, is a cordless, 18-volt, one-handed reciprocating saw. It has a patent pending anti-vibration system and a lightweight design to combat worker fatigue. The 3/4” stroke length, tool-free blade changes, a one-hour charge time, and a built-in LED light all add to the allure.

Cleaning up the jobsite has become a bit easier, too. The newest One+ tool from Ryobi is a six-gallon wet/dry vacuum that delivers corded performance with cordless convenience. Available at The Home Depot ($99 without batteries), it draws 80 cfm and weighs just 15 lbs., according to the manufacturer. A large wheel design keeps it balanced when rolling over cords, thresholds and small shop debris. Onboard storage holds a crevice tool, floor nozzle and extension wands, while a clever dock stores the hose when not in use. There are multiple carrying handles, and the removable top makes it easy to empty debris and even liquids. The One+ cordless lithium-ion system now features over 100 power tools. Ryobi has never changed (and says it will never change) this 18-volt platform, so the company’s newest products and batteries fit original versions all the way back to 1996.

Makita USA is also thinking clean-up: the company has introduced a new brushless, dry dust extractor called the XCV08Z. There’s a three-stage HEPA filtration system, automatic filter cleaning, and it operates on two 18-volt batteries. The model also includes the company’s AWS (automatic-start wireless system), which uses Bluetooth technology for wireless power on/off communication between a tool and the extractor. This intelligent communication system eliminates cords and reduces noise, since the vacuum is trigger-activated.

Makita has also introduced a 36-volt 6-1/2” plunge-cut circular saw, model XPS01. There’s an optional guide rail that turns the saw into a jobsite system. Cut depths are 2-3/16” at 90 degrees and 1-9/16” at 45 degrees, and the base can run as close to a wall as 11/16”. Features include a brushless motor, soft start, and a built-in depth stop that can be used for scoring. It also has Makita’s Star Protection, which allows the saw and battery to talk to each other and protect against overloading, over-discharging and overheating.

A battery-powered wheelbarrow from Greenworks Tools.

A battery-powered wheelbarrow from Greenworks Tools.

Cordless air compressors

Greenworks Tools, based in the historic Cotton Mills complex in downtown Mooresville, N.C., makes battery-powered air compressors including a 40-volt, half-gallon, oil-free model that is great for small trim jobs. It also makes chainsaws, drills, circular saws, reciprocating saws and even a self-propelled cordless wheelbarrow for jobsite cleanup. The company has 24-, 40-, 60- and 80-volt batteries. Founded in 2007, the company has recently announced plans to invest $10 million in a distribution facility that will create 187 new jobs in North Carolina.

The Bosch Blaze One

The Bosch Blaze One

Bosch USA has two new additions to its Blaze family of laser measuring devices. The One and Pro models both deliver precise laser measurements with a 165 ft. range that is accurate to 1/16”, according to the company. The One is a one-button tool with an Auto Square function that automatically calculates square footage. The Pro provides real-time point-and-shoot measurements plus area, volume, indirect measuring functions and a 10-measurement storage capability. Both models also have a backlit display for low or no-light conditions, and are built to withstand rainy or dusty jobsite conditions. They come with a handy wrist strap, target cards and a carry pouch.

DeWalt Jobsite WiFi Access Point device

DeWalt Jobsite WiFi Access Point device

DeWalt has launched the Jobsite WiFi Access Points (DCT100). Built to withstand jobsite conditions, it is designed to deliver reliable internet access using a company’s existing ISP. Woodworkers on remote jobsites are now able to access files such as 3D models, construction software, change orders, punch lists, collaboration tools and photo documentation. Each Access Point operates on 120-volt AC power and sells for $1,499.

DeWalt’s DCS577 circular saw

DeWalt’s DCS577 circular saw

DeWalt also presents the new Flexvolt 7-1/4” worm-drive saw (DCS577). It has an electronic brake and a bevel capacity of 53 degrees, with stops at 45 and 22-1/2. Featuring a magnesium shoe and a brushless motor, it can cut through 2-7/16” at 90 degrees, according to the company. There’s a rafter hook to hang it up between cuts, an integrated dust blower for the line of sight, and onboard blade wrench storage. It is available with a 6- or 9-Ah battery.

Speaking of saws, the German manufacturer Mafell recently introduced its KSS 50cc cross-cutting system with an 18-volt battery. It’s top of the line, with a price tag of about $1,100. The company is represented in the U.S. by Chicago-based Timberwolf Tools.

Porter-Cable’s budget-friendly tools

Porter-Cable’s budget-friendly tools

Porter-Cable entries

A new and very affordable four-tool kit from Porter-Cable (item PCCK614L4) runs on the company’s 20-volt Max battery system and contains a really useful collection of tools for jobsite work. There’s a 1/2” drill/driver with a two-speed gear box that weighs only 3.5 lbs. and has a built-in LED light; a 6-1/2” circular saw with 2-1/8” cutting capacity and a 50-degree beveling shoe; a reciprocating saw with a 1” stroke length, tool-free blade release, a variable-speed trigger and a compact design that’s only 14.5” in length; and a flashlight with four LED bulbs and a pivoting head. The kit also includes a standard battery, a Max Pack battery, a standard charger, a bag/tote, one double-ended screwdriver bit, an 18-tooth circular blade, and a 6” woodcutting reciprocating saw blade.

Mafell’s cross-cutting system

Mafell’s cross-cutting system

Panasonic’s new EYC18DV42 impact tool and driver kit has a power plant with dual voltage technology. That allows the user to power the tools with 14.4- or 18-volt Li-ion battery pack. Both tools are Tough IP rated, which means they’ve passed company tests that simulate working in extremely dusty work environments, and the effects of water getting sprayed by powerful jets. Panasonic’s 4.2 amp/hour LS battery pack cells have an over-discharge sensor that prevents the user from running the tool after it reaches a point where too-low voltage could damage the battery or the tool. They also have a sensor that flashes a warning light and then cuts off power if the battery temperature reaches critical levels.

Festool’s new hybrid sanders (models RTSC 400, DTSC 400 and ETSC 125) run on cordless or corded power, and feature an 18-volt battery pack, brushless EC-TEC motor, and Plug-It adapters for continuous electrical operation. 

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue.

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