Last week we had the honor of attending this year's Milwaukee Product Symposium. It's their big annual to-do where they announce all of their new tools for the coming year. There were big tools, little tools, new tools, classic tools, and most of all embargoed tools. It's this last category that is driving us a little batty at the moment. These are the tools that Milwaukee is on the verge of releasing, but they're not 100 percent ready to make the public announcement yet, so all of us press types got to look at them, play with them, hear about them, but we can't talk about them. It's killing us too, because some of these tools are great. As in really great. One in particular (to us the highlight of the show) is so bizarre and off the beaten path that it makes their 12-volt Pex Expander look like a common everyday item. But enough about the things we can't talk about and on to the things that we can...
Some cool news out of Paslode HQ, especially if you own one of the older model cordless framers...
Now Fuel + Nail Combo Packs Work With
ALL Paslode® Cordless Framing Nailers
Fuel Cell Adapters Allow All Nailers To Use Combo Packs
VERNON HILLS, IL - Paslode® is introducing a new Fuel + Nail Combo Pack with twist-on adapters, allowing users of all Paslode cordless framing nailers to take advantage of the convenient combo pack concept.
Now all Paslode cordless framing nailers can achieve optimized performance with the PowerBoost™ Black Tip Coated Nails (3" and 3-1/4"), which are only available in the Fuel + Nail Combo Packs. The PowerBoost™ Black Tip Coating is a proprietary coating that allows Paslode cordless framing nailers to drive the nail flush into the hardest engineered lumber, such as LVL, something many pneumatic nailers cannot do.
In our post on the JLC show the other week, we mentioned Festool's new 10.8-volt drill. Dave Frane, the editor of Tools of the Trade, was at the same show, and thankfully he had a video camera with him so he hit record at the Festool booth and got a nice run-down on the new drill. Here it is...
A number of years ago, we read a book by Virginia Postrel called, The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, & Consciousness. It's a good book and in it she talks about how, in a more and more diversified culture, the look and feel of something is plays an expanded role in purchasing decisions. Why are we talking about this? Because right now we're looking at an impact driver that no carpenter we know would ever use. But at the same time, it's an impact driver that would be happily be purchased by someone who likes things that look all kinds of clean and sleek and Steve Jobsy.
As you've already surmised, i-drill was nice enough to send us a couple more items to test out (we reviewed their 12-volt drill/driver here) and this time we're going to look at their impact driver and LED Flashlight. As with most of our reviews, we simply put the tools in the rotation and used them when we could. As it turned out, we're in the middle of a room renovation, so these two items got a good workout. Here's what we thought...
UPDATE: The mini circ saw is now available as a stand alone, with two batteries and a charger. Makita's page is here and it's available at Amazon.com here.
Anyone who was on a jobsite in the 90s is probably familiar with the 9.6 volt circ saw that Makita used to manufacture. You know, the one with the long, skinny handle. Yeah, that one. Well, it's taken a while, but they've finally updated it for their new 12-volt platform (they've bundled it with one of their 12-volt drivers). They shipped us a kit to test out and for the past month, we've been driving it like a stolen car and here are our conclusions.
In just a few short years, inspection scopes have gone from, "only the specialists have them" to "my mom's got like three of these things." Actually, that's not true, we're not there yet, but we're getting there. And with its big box store availability and nice price, the Ryobi Cordless Inspection Scope, powered by their 4-volt Tek4 battery gives a solid push in that direction. Ryobi sent us one to check out and after using it for about a month in a variety of settings, here we are writing the review...
So this one was just a matter of time. We're actually surprised it took so long for Milwaukee to get with the oscillating tool program and on top of that, we're actually disappointed that they opted for a cordless version. We privately had high hopes for a corded version that would give King Fein some competition. No such luck.
But still the new Milwaukee Cordless Multi-Tool looks like a nice item and while we're generally uneasy with the idea of a cordless oscillating tools because of the fast battery drain, the Milwaukee is powered by their new Red Lithium battery so it stands a pretty good chance of breaking this curse, or at least making it less obnoxious. So far, cordless oscillating tools seem to drain out within 10 minutes of constant sanding, which to us is just not enough. Powering an oscillating tool is a lot to ask of a battery, and from what we've experienced, the oscillating function, when used in a construction site setting, is simply incompatible with the life that a 12-volt battery can afford it.
So anyway, we talked about Milwaukee's new Red Lithium battery here and according to the company, it supplies the juice for 40% more run time. If this holds true here, then we might finally be in business with the cordless oscillating tool.
It looks like this oscillating tool has all of the trappings of yet another solid Milwaukee offering; a metal gear case, a nice gripping area, and easy controls. The kit comes with two batteries and an accessory adapter which makes it compatible with most available accessories.
Craftsman tipped us off to this new item about a month ago and because they made us promise we wouldn't say anything until its official release today at the Builder's Show, we've been chewing on our knuckles and shoving socks in our mouths in order to not spill the beans. The news is that their new 12-volt Nextec charger can do something they refer to as "QuickBoost."
What this charger does that no other charger can do is put 25% of a charge back on a dead battery in three minutes. That means that in the time it takes you to boil an egg, you could have your tool powered up enough to finish your project.
And don't sit there rolling your eyes thinking that 25% of a full charge isn't that much. According to Craftsman, three minutes of quality time with the QuickBoost means another 70 screws (1-1/4") driven by their Right Angle Impact Driver (which we reviewed here). It also means another 4 hours for their flashlight. So we're not talking just enough to put in one or two more screws, but rather enough to finish the last third of your project.
This three minute charge is twice as fast as their current charger which takes approximately six minutes to get to the 25% mark. Might not seem like a huge difference, but if you're standing there propping up a half-installed upper cabinet, it'll all make sense.
This gives Craftsman a nice step up against their 'one-battery' competitors (companies that offer two batteries with each tool are on a different playing field because, if you're smart about it, you'll always have a full battery ready to go).
So as it stands, all Craftsman 12-volt tools released from here on out will be sold with the new charger. And because it's compatible with all existing 12-volt Nextec batteries, the charger will also be available as a stand alone for a slightly higher price than the existing charger, which currently sells for about $30.
Once you've conquered the massive 12-volt Pex expander market, there's really nowhere left to go but casual outerwear. And that's what Milwaukee has done. Their crushing domination of the 12-volt world is fully on display with the release of their new M12 Heated Jacket. It's almost like they're taunting the other companies at this point. Whether or not that's actually the case (it probably isn't), they nicely sent us one to check out.
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