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Thread: Buying new Li-Ion tools - which ones?

  1. #1
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    Buying new Li-Ion tools - which ones?

    I read the recent post about modern Li-Ion tools, but am looking for some specific recommendations.

    I have some Dewalt 18v tools from 20+ years ago. I am very pleased with their performance and durability, but they are huge and heavy compared with more recent tools and I am reluctant to spend more money on batteries given the age of the tools. My last two batteries are on their last legs, so I think I will sell my tools now and upgrade rather than buy more batteries.

    I am aware that I can buy a 20v conversion kit for my tools but, as I said, the tools are old. The price difference between the conversion kit and a new Dewalt 20v Max XR brushless drill & impact driver kit with two batteries is less than $100, so this seems like a reasonable thing to do.

    I am not a pro, but I take on large-ish home improvement projects like building sheds and raised garden beds, working with landscaping timbers, building decks and stairs, etc.

    I need a cordless drill, impact driver, and recip saw. I might add a cordless angle grinder and circ saw to my new set.

    Especially in the winter, I can go a month or more without using my tools. At other times I use them for hours every day for weeks.

    Since I'm starting over I don't mind changing brands, but I'm not necessarily looking to do so. I am most interested in longevity of tools and batteries. I don't need anything beyond basic features, and I don't need a huge selection of compatible tools, or extreme power.

    What are your recommendations or experiences?

    Thanks.


  2. #2
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    I like Makita, Milwaukee and Dewalt. You should go to Home Depot and get your hands on the actual tools you need to see how they feel in your hands. That's one of the most important things to me (aside from overall quality, which is roughly equivalent among these 3 brands)

  3. #3
    I think you'd have a hard time finding any significant difference between the ilks of Makita, Milwaukee, Dewalt, etc. (I assume you're looking at that price point, versus Festool or Ryobi).

    As Phillip said, maybe try holding them and seeing if anything jumps out at you. Otherwise, maybe make a quick spreadsheet comparing the cost of the total packages that you're looking for.

    Although this looks like everything you want (minus a few spare batteries): https://www.makitatools.com/products/details/XT612M

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian W Evans View Post
    ... I am not a pro, but I take on large-ish home improvement projects like building sheds and raised garden beds, working with landscaping timbers, building decks and stairs, etc. ....
    From the prior discussion DeWalt sounds like it is the current favorite among Pros doing those shorts of tasks.

    But, +1 on the go handle them to see how they feel to you advice.

    E.g. I was recently looking for a very compact driver and had pretty decided on Milwaukee 12V based on reviews. Once I handled it, I agree it is very solid and well build and can see how it achieves almost 18V performance. Problem, for me, was that it wasn't really that much more compact. I ended up going Bosch, despite it being whimpy in reviews and having a very fat handle, because *my* primary goal was compactness and it was noticeably smaller. (BTW- the Makita compact 18V was about the same size as the Milwaukee 12V drivers.)

  5. #5
    I went DeWalt 20 volt tools and have been very satisfied. No experience with Makita or Milwaukee.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  6. #6
    I do a lot of construction and home improvement work in addition to woodworking. I've owned and heavily used Makita, Porter Cable, Milwaukee, Bosch and Dewalt. IMO, dewalt 20 volt XR brushless tools are really hard to beat in terms of performance, features, design, reliability and especially price/performance ratio. They probably are not #1 in all those areas on every tool, but across the line I think they are in the top two and given the advantages of buying within the same brand and battery series, these days I will only buy something else if Dewalt just doesn't make it. I bought the first few tools as full kits which got me 3 chargers and at least 6 batteries, and now I buy bare tools. If I had to do it over, I'd buy one of the 4 or 5 tool kits to start and add as needed. Their cordless multitool is amazing and runs rings around the corded Fein that I also own. I've not had one of the XR batteries die on me yet. The ones not in use just sit in the chargers, sometimes for weeks with no ill effect.

    The one exception I would make is the Bosch flexiclick compact driver. I love how it fits in small places and the offset and right angle heads make it usable in many situations where other tools just can't go.

    There is one disadvantage to LION technology and that is the batteries lose capacity rapidly when they get cold, like freezing cold. When I work outside in the winter, I have to keep the batteries warm or they poop out quickly. Using the tool steadily keeps the battery warm though.

    One last point. I know a few pros who swear by rigid cordless tools, mostly because the tools are decent and the battery warranty is excellent.

  7. #7
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    I'm not very loyal to any brand and have some of most of them in various business uses and personal. It is getting difficult to go very wrong with any of them. There are certain brands that have a bunch of tools in certain specialties. For example, Makita has a bunch of yard/landscape tools like chainsaws that others don't have. Milwaukee has a bunch of plumbers tools that other don't. If none of that is important to you, most of them will be fine.
    I've found Ridgid lifetime warranty to be basically a scam in actual business use but it seems to be fine for personal use. Personally, I prefer a good battery to a crappy one with a good warranty that makes you jump through hoops and spend a bunch of time getting replaced for free, but that is a judgement call.
    Do you have any specific requirements?

  8. #8
    I switched to Dewalt from Rigid a few years back. My tools get used daily and I hands been very happy with them. The one thing that bothers me is that Dewalt doesn't have a right angle impact driver in their line up. In my line of work I never know what I'll be dealing with and a right angle impact is a life saver in tight spaces. I was also happy with my Rigid tools and beat on them for years with no problems. I only decided to switch because I saw how Dewalt supported their tool lines forever.

  9. #9
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    I'll chime in with Porter Cable. I've been adding to my collection for some time now. My latest purchases was a 1/2" impact for the car lug nuts and suspension parts and a battery wet/dry vacuum. Both work incredible. I've got a good mix of 2ah, 4ah, and a 5ah battery. I have a mix of OEM and 3rd party batteries and haven't noticed a difference.
    Current collection includes;
    Drill
    impact driver
    Reciprocating saw
    circular saw
    1/2" impact
    wet/dry vac
    flash light
    DA sander

    Next purchases will be a jigsaw.
    Best advice I can give is to plan for the future. Go with a brand that has all the tool you're going to want as you add to your collection. The greatest part is all of mine share the same battery and charger. I ALWAYS have a battery on the charger ready to swap out.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Mitchell View Post
    I like Makita, Milwaukee and Dewalt. You should go to Home Depot and get your hands on the actual tools you need to see how they feel in your hands. That's one of the most important things to me (aside from overall quality, which is roughly equivalent among these 3 brands)
    Phillip,

    Good advice. I will definitely do this. I checked out the Makitas last night and liked how they felt. I'm a little wary of Makita since so many people in the other thread said they had problems with the batteries. In googling around, I see that Makita added a 3 year warranty to their batteries in 2015, so maybe the problem has been fixed...


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Friedrichs View Post
    I think you'd have a hard time finding any significant difference between the ilks of Makita, Milwaukee, Dewalt, etc. (I assume you're looking at that price point, versus Festool or Ryobi).

    As Phillip said, maybe try holding them and seeing if anything jumps out at you. Otherwise, maybe make a quick spreadsheet comparing the cost of the total packages that you're looking for.

    Although this looks like everything you want (minus a few spare batteries): https://www.makitatools.com/products/details/XT612M
    Dan,

    Thanks for the link. That set has everything I want and nothing I don't.


  12. #12
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    Ive been using mainly Makita (and others) for many years working as a timber framer, carpenter and woodworker and the batteries are better now than they were 5 years ago. I bought the top of the line 3 speed, brushless Makita impact driver with a pair of 3 amp hr batteries about 6 years ago that has seen continuous use and the batteries are amazingly still going, though the freezing cold does drain quickly at this point. I have since bought newer batteries (2.0 and 5.0 amp hr both with the red battery indicator lights and they’ve been great.) The newer 5.0 are the same size and weight as my not-so-old 3.0

    Im partial to the feel of Makita personally, but I’ve used Milwaukee and Dewalt 20V enough to know that they are all comparable in terms of power and performance and it comes down to small details and personal preference.

    For woodworking / shop use / lighter duty carpentry I’m a huge fan of the Makita sub-compact, brushless 18V impact driver and 1/2” drill. They are black and basically in between regular 18v and 12v in size and feel, but have 90% of the performance of the regular 18v line.

    3 year warranty on all Li-Ion tools is nice and I’ve used it once or twice on a 1/2” drill, don’t know how that compares to other brands.



    Quote Originally Posted by Brian W Evans View Post
    Phillip,

    Good advice. I will definitely do this. I checked out the Makitas last night and liked how they felt. I'm a little wary of Makita since so many people in the other thread said they had problems with the batteries. In googling around, I see that Makita added a 3 year warranty to their batteries in 2015, so maybe the problem has been fixed...

  13. #13
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    I have about 10 batteries for my Makita stuff and only recently had one start to go bad. That was one from when Makita first came out with the 18 volt LXT series many years ago. I think the entire battery issue is a non issue based upon my experience and of other people I know.

    What I look for is a company that doesn’t keep replacing their series of battery tools with “upgraded” new designs that are not backward compatible. All of my Makita tools can use batteries from years ago or current. They did add a tiny plastic bump to prevent certain low amp batteries from being used with higher amp draw tools but that is easy to fix with a knife.

  14. #14
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    I have used Makita for years in the same manner the OP stated. Love their yard tools also. If I were starting over I would look for tools that feel good in hand. Have battery life indicator, lights that stay on w/o tool running, and are ergonomically designed.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie Kopfer View Post
    I have used Makita for years in the same manner the OP stated. Love their yard tools also. If I were starting over I would look for tools that feel good in hand. Have battery life indicator, lights that stay on w/o tool running, and are ergonomically designed.
    I was always amazed to hear about issues with Makita batteries. With Makita being the most heavily counterfeited, i think that is the source of the problem. I've seen a lot of people using Makita where I can see the batteries are counterfeit. The tools, kits, or batteries bought on ebay, CL sellers selling "new" stuff, etc.
    I have about 20 Makita 18v batteries personally and we have most of 100 in use in business and the failure rate has been very low. We must have 30 Makita Fans that mostly run 1-3 batteries to exhaustion every day in the summer and in SoCal summer means 200 days a year. Tried some of the new Milwaukee fans due to the 9ah and now 12ah batteries and have had some failures way too early on a $250 battery.

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