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What is the best cordless tool line for a homesteader?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Hello,

This is a topic I have thought a lot about and I thought I would ask here on the gear forum along with these other great threads about tools.  So my basic question is which is the best line of cordless tools for a homesteader to have--assuming one only wanted to be in one battery format.  For the sake of this discussion, I am mostly thinking of the 18-20 volt format, but if a person has strong feelings about 12v, 24v, 36v, 40v, 60v, then by all means, chime in.

For me, if money were not an issue, I would go with the Milwaukee line as they are generally regarded as very fine power tools and have an extensive lineup of tools including everything from your basic drills and saws up to highly specialized tools.  Additionally, Milwaukee has an impressive lineup in an area I think often gets overlooked--lighting.  DeWalt also has an extremely impressive lineup of tools and there are certainly a LOT of DeWalt fans out there.

Personally I am in the Home Depot Ridgid line and I am very happy with it.  I went with this line 13-15 years ago, motivated largely by the warranty on the battery (and for the record, I have successfully used this warranty to get replacements for worn out batteries) and its generally reasonable price.  Ridgid has a medium sized lineup--no where near the shear numbers of different tools offered by Milwaukee or DeWalt--but they do offer all of the basics with a few pluses along the way.  In addition, I think their lights are quite good.  I own a "light cannon" that puts out a staggering 2500 lumens of light, a staggering amount--my daughter refers to it as "the blinder."

Still others like Ryobi.  Ryobi also offers a lot of different options, some of which are in my opinion of questionable use like 18v floating swimming pool speakers, but nonetheless, there are no shortages of Ryobi fans out there.

So what do you think?  Do you have an affinity for any of the above lines of tools, or do you prefer another line?  What makes you like one line over another?  Would you ever switch formats?

At any rate, let me know your opinions, I always like talking about tools and would love to know what others think.

Eric
 
gardener
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I think that's like asking what people's favorite airline is.  There are plenty of choices and if you pick one you kind of are stuck with it (if you pretend that you have to pick only one for the air miles).  I like Ryobi but that's what I started with.  The batteries seems to last pretty long.  I've had 2 die on me out of 8 or 10 in the last 15 years.  I got a couple dud tools - dust buster and something else...  Just got the quiet impact driver.  It acts very different from the normal drivers but my ears are liking it.
 
pollinator
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Hi Eric,   Nothing to add but rather to agree with what you said about the Rigid battery replacement warranty which I also have used many times with success. Unless there is another line that has this same warranty or has a tool that Rigid doesn't carry (that I just gotta have) then I'm sticking with them. Mind you, they are quality and rugged products too, so I don't ever feel like I'm compromising myself.  
The only time I would purchase a lesser quality (and cheaper) product is if I had a very specific job to do and only needed it once. The price is often cheaper to buy it rather than renting one.
 
Eric Hanson
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Mike,

You are right that once you buy you are stuck with it, especially if you start adding to them.


When I was finishing off my basement, I was solidly into the the Ridgid line, but my basement was not yet wired for full electrical power (I had one outlet that was inconveniently placed) and I desperately needed lighting but had no good access to AC power.  I ALMOST bit the bullet and bought into the Milwaukee line solely for a particular area light that looked promising, but that was going to be over $200 after I got the light, charger, and battery.  Fortunately I found an LED work light with a built in battery that put out as much light as one of those 500 watt incandescent work lights but without the dangerous heat.  Luckily I was able to do my painting with that new light.

Just after I finished my painting and after my basement got electrified, Ridgid came out with its own high quality, very bright light for area work.

This is just a little experience I had.  I like Milwaukee tools and almost went into their line for a single light, but in retrospect, I am glad I did not have to.

Eric
 
pollinator
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If you stay within 18 to 20v its hard to get a winner. I ran craftsman c3 19.2 volts for years. If i needed a new tool i pop into sears and they had a tool only option (no battery/charger) for $50 or less. Many of my friends called it junk but it always got the job done.

My thing, which contradicts the 18 to 20v range, is the what if. What if the same battery system can morph past tools and move into quality chainsaws, mowers, and weedeaters. Or morph into tools that replace corded tools completely. I found myself with 2 different systems. Craftsman for tools and stihl for mower/trimmer. More hassle imo dealing with 2 systems.

With those goals in mind (which is different than your scenario) is dewalt flexvolt. Past the 100's of 20v tools you get 60v pancake air compressor , recipro, chainsaw, circular, masonry slab saw. In 120v you get table saw and chopsaw. All using the same battery and/or charger. The only thing missing is a mower and weedeater.

The bad side (currently) is the box stores havent adopted much of the 60v snd 120v tools, so its relatively unknown. We live in an Amazon world now and this may be Dewalts first "screw you" move to the boxes and choose to market it directly via Amazon. Im not sure, but tools are very sporadic at this point.
 
Eric Hanson
pollinator
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Wayne,

Actually the scenario you described was exactly the reason I thought this might be an interesting thread in the first place.

You are right that the 18/20 volt tools usually don't get you much in the way of equipment like chainsaws, thought I have to say that I recently saw a Milwaukee 18v 12 AH battery powered chainsaw that looked absolutely awesome!  At the time they were giving away the saw for free if you bought the $400 18 volt 12 amp hour battery.  Ouch.  The DeWalt flex-volt system might turn into something pretty special, depending on the tools that they may turn out with that monster battery pack.

Personally I am in 3 battery platforms--the Ridgid 18v, 12, and the lowes Kobalt 40v for a trimmer and chainsaw and a couple of other tools.  No doubt, I think the Ridgid tools are very high quality.  The Kobalt tools seem OK for what I am doing with them.

The ambiguity in the cordless tool arena makes it very interesting to me,

Eric
 
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I’ve been using power tools for projects on my own place and for jobs, since the days when cordless ones were pretty inferior.  Meaning they tended to be underpowered and relatively heavy.  And the batteries didn’t last through very many discharges and recharges, by today’s standards.  These days I may join a work party at a friend or neighbour’s place, but I don’t hire out for construction anymore — so I generally use my power tools on our homestead.

I have access to 120v line power at several positions on our place, so I use corded tools quite a bit.  They provide extra torque, generally speaking.  Their power-to-weight ratio tends to be better, since their power supply isn’t part of the unit itself.  I’ve got a corded Makita circular saw (“skill saw” some people call them).  Also, a one-hand corded 3/8” DeWalt electric drill (lots of power), and a 1/2” DeWalt D-handled drill with detachable side handle (tremendously more power).  Three Bosch angle grinders, of various ages.  And a big-honkin' Milwaukee sawzall.

I like my Makita cordless drill.  I was influenced by what the local carpenters were favouring when I bought my (corded) Makita circ-saw, and it’s given me 12 years of service with no signs of wearing out.  I had a weekend-warrior Makita 3/8” cordless drill — in other words, made for the “homeowner” amateur market — and it disappointed me due to the limited life of the two batteries it came with.  So I bought a replacement 18v Makita 3/8” professional's drill, and have been very happy with it.  I’ve given it lots of use over six years, with its two batteries showing no signs of ebbing.  It is lightweight but has a lot of power for its size/weight.

But I’m not married to Makita, and instead I carefully choose the tool I need.  I have a gas-powered Stihl chainsaw (18” bar) that I use for tree falling or bucking larger logs.  But I wanted to get a cordless electric chainsaw for pruning and small-diameter log bucking, and that sort of thing.  I chose a Husqvarna (model 120i) 37v saw,  with a 14” bar.  It comes with just one battery, but works for at least 45 minutes on a charge — and I’m very happy with the tool.

I gave my wife a very lightweight & compact 12v Ryobi drill that she often uses as a screwdriver.  It’s excellent for her purposes.

The rest of my power tools are stationary ones in my shop area behind the barn.

Having said all the above, I have respected friends who swear by the DeWalt line for the usefulness, variety, and durability.
 
pollinator
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I bought into the Flexvolt line in hopes of having one set of batteries for everything.

I am not well pleased. Some design flaws, and some very stupid cost saving measures on the battery side. They also continued producing a separate line of higher voltage battery tools, I think some of the flexvolt stuff may have been hamstrung to keep the lines distinct.

Doing it again I would go Milwaukee. The flexvolt IDEA is great, but dewalt flubbed the details IMO. I think they may have also managed to copyright the idea and block others from using a similar technique...

The Milwaukee M18 chainsaw appears to be easily on par with the Flexvolt one. Better quality cells in parallel vs series.. less technically elegant, but does it matter, if it works?

If I had to, I'd get another line of tools for chainsaw, blower, trimmer... before going with dewalt again.

I think Ridgid is a strong midrange option, especially paired with a higher voltage line like Ego; no personal experience there, but Dale sure likes them.
 
pollinator
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I'm using the Milwaukee M12 & M18 lines, and just got three M18 tools (circular saw, chainsaw, and leaf blower) for myself for Christmas. I had been considering Stihl, for a battery chainsaw and blower, but then Milwaukee came out with theirs...
I'm glad to have kept things to this system...at this moment...(I still have tools from four other systems through the past 30 years... Makita 9.6, Makita 14.4, Rockwell 12v, Milwaukee V18)

The two new saws were the promo deals with the extra batteries, so I have 4 of the 12Ah high capacity ones, plus a mix 8 others in the 1.5/3/4/5Ah sizes... tools and batteries all compatible. (though mileage DOES vary...)

The circular saw is more powerful than a corded saw (but I still love my Skil HD77!).
The chainsaw is great (bar tighten and chain tensioning like a gas saw, not a gimmicky crank/lever thing) with easily available Oregon bar and chains, and possible to use w/o ear protection.
The blower is capable though handheld is harder on the arms/wrist than a pack blower and just a little less powerful than our 2-cycle gas pack (but NO fumes, and possible to use w/o ear protection.)

The Milwaukee line is full of tools from the ubiquitous drills, drivers, saws, lights; to specialized PEX expanders, pipe cutters, mini bandsaws, and inspection scopes...and more.

I get a lot of use out of the work lights, it's amazing how much... harvesting, loading/unloading, construction, repairs, squeezing in that last 20 minutes needed to complete something at dusk...
 
Eric Hanson
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Kenneth,

You have an enviable collection of tools!  I have seen those 12Ah batteries and they look like absolute monsters!  I did get to see the chainsaw you have in action one day.  I was at Home Depot and it was being demo'd outside.  They were cutting through a bundle of 4 4x4's strapped together.  The saw cut through like the wood was butter without the noise of a similar gas powered saw.  I had said in an earlier post that if I had to do it all over again and money were no issue then I would go Milwaukee.  I agree that in addition to the very nice collection of tools they have some very nice lights, something that comes in handy more often than one might think.  In particular I am thinking of the light towers for area lighting.  All that being said though, I am in the Ridgid line and I am quite satisfied.

Nice review,

Eric
 
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