Power tool technology is the same as every other kind of advancement in the world. New stuff is expensive and exclusive at first, then it gets cheaper and more widely available over time.
So what kind of new and interesting professional-grade tools show the future of tools for mainstream do-it-yourselfers? The newest wave of innovation happening out there now involves cordless versions of power tools that used to have a cord, and one of the most recent and impressive is an air compressor.
Forget the fumbling
It’s surprising how much handier a small air compressor is when you don’t have to fumble with a power cord. That’s the first thing I noticed about DEWALT’s new FLEXVOLT 60V DCC2560T1 cordless compressor when I tried it out earlier this year.
This tool takes the same batteries as the rest of the cordless tools in DEWALT’s 60V line, and it works pretty much like any other small plug-in compressor I’ve used – except no cord.
It’s more than powerful enough to support single-gun finish nailing, and it can operate a framing nailer if you’re not squeezing off shots full tilt.
Weighing 25 lbs. including battery on my scale, the compressor puts out 1.2 cubic feet per minute of air at operating pressure. The only time it can’t quite keep up with trim work is when you’re using multiple guns for bulk jobs such as running baseboard. No big deal though, especially for a home user.
One of my favourite bonus uses for this compressor is topping up vehicle tires. It has no trouble firming up the largest pickup truck tire in short order no matter where you’re parked.
Noise-wise, this compressor puts out the same decibels as a typical small portable plug-in model. And it has become my favourite.
Cordless mitre saws aren’t a new idea, but the appearance of a new model does mean this type of tool is moving more into the mainstream.
Milwaukee’s M18 2733-20 is also the lightest weight cordless saw I’ve seen, weighing 28.4 lbs. on my scale with a 9.0 amp-hour battery, blade and dust bag.
Since decent cordless mitre saws came out a few years ago, I do most of my mitres and crosscuts cordless, and I find the Milwaukee easy to like. The LED work light comes on automatically when you hit the trigger, or you can switch it on manually.
Shining a light on accuracy
The shadow cast by the blade shows you exactly where both sides of the cut will happen. This makes it a whole lot easier to cut accurately when it really matters.
I’m not exactly sure why, but I can cut more accurately with this saw than any of the handful of mitre saws I have in my shop. The sliding design also lets the 7¼-inch blade cut a maximum of 8½ inches of width at 90 degrees, and the motor is powerful enough to easily eat through two-inch-thick rough cherry in my tests.
Check out this video to see how I used the saw to install trim in a cabinetmaking project. While the video isn’t specifically about the Milwaukee cordless saw (it’s actually a detailed lesson in cutting mitre joints precisely), you do get to see this machine close up and in action.
The Milwaukee cordless saw is one of the very nicest mitre saws I’ve ever used for precision work. The LED blade illumination light works exceptionally well, and the blade brake stops the spinning blade in a moment when you release the trigger.
It’s small, light, compact and lasts for more than one day of trim work without recharging using the 9 amp-hour battery.
Cordless impact wrenches are tools similar to impact drivers made to drive deck screws, but they’re stronger and designed to tighten and loosen bolts and nuts using the same sockets that go on hand wrenches.
Think of those air wrenches you hear grinding away in auto garages, except cordless impact wrenches use batteries and need no air hose. They’re also quieter than air wrenches.
I’ve introduced two auto mechanics to cordless impact wrenches over the last few years, and both tell me they hardly use their air wrenches anymore.
Although I don’t know many handy homeowners who own cordless impact wrenches just yet, I’m sure that’ll change. These tools make quicker more enjoyable work when changing tires or working on machinery.
One guy I know restores cars and his cordless impact wrench makes it a whole lot easier to salvage old parts from the junkyard.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to make things happen with your hands, the world of cordless tools makes for a pretty bright future.