Next month, Black and Decker will be getting into the modular tool arena with something called the Matrix. It's sort of their version of the Ridgid JobMax. It's a battery-powered handle with a PTO end that can accept a variety of different tool heads ranging from a sander to an oscillating tool to a router to a mini-circular saw. It looks like B&D has two different bodies to choose from; one powered by a 12 volt battery and one powered by a 20 volt battery. An AC version in en route and will arrive early next year.
The kits come with a drill/driver attachment and the other available heads are...
From the B&D website:
Impact Driver Attachment
• Up to 1,300 in-lbs of torque** for tough fastening applications
Oscillating Multi-Tool Attachment
• Up to 18,500 OPM (oscillations per minute)** for precision and performance when sanding, cutting, scraping, grinding, or paint removal
• Tool-free release that allows users to quickly change between accessories
• Up to 2,800 SPM (strokes per minute)** for fast straight cutting or detailed curve cutting in wood, metal and plastic
Detail Sander Attachment
• Compact tool for access into tight spaces
• Up to 9,000 RPM (revolutions per minute)**- ideal for use on decorative edging projects, small woodworking projects and more
Trim Saw Attachment
• Up to 3,400 RPM (revolutions per minute)** for use on plywood, paneling and fence boards
One thing that's funky about the Matrix is that they've opted to go with a screw gun-like base, rather than a 'lightsaber' base like Ridgid used. Not sure how easy the router head will be with the Matrix, but we'll see. There are always drawbacks with the 'one-tool-does-everything' scenario and here the handle may cause some issues.
It's doubtful that the Matrix will be able to handle the abuse of a construction site, but that's OK. If it functions as advertised, it could be a nice item for a DIYer looking to consolidate or an apartment dweller who is looking for a lot of functionality but only has room for one or two tool boxes.
Imagine if a Dremel mainlined Human Growth Hormone and anabolic steroids for weeks on end. The result of such an ecstatic binge of doping would be a massive, bulked-up handle with a spinning head capable of whirling an abrasive bit into thick metal. It would be a durable tool that could withstand the constant abuse of a jobsite and remain unfazed at being casually thrown into the back of a pick-up truck. This newly engorged tool would look exactly like Bosch's new cordless die grinder.
Festool has a certain way of reimagining a tool and messing with our heads while they're at it. They've done it with circular saws and they've done it with sanders. Now, they're taking a stab at cordless drills. They sent us one of their new 18 volts to check out and it didn't take long for us to see that this time the Fes-mojo is centered around their FastFix chuck system. This feature basically makes the drill a PTO with a trigger. The removable chucks (of which there are four) click on and off a couple of ways and all of them are beyond useful (and all of them are quite durable). We have...
We were at Home Depot the other day and got a glimpse of where Ridgid is heading with their new JobMax system (our review here). If you're unfamiliar with it, it's a powered handle with a PTO at the end of it, and a series of interchangeable heads. Thus far, the heads have stuck with the standard fare, mostly fastening tools like impact drivers and right angle drills, but now they've branched off into cutting tools with a cool looking jigsaw head.
We checked out the tool a little (but not too much, due to the annoying lasso that Home Depot uses to ensure no one steals their display tools) and it seems like a neat item. The fact that there is now a corded JobMax makes us more comfortable with this kind of thing. It's our experience that cutting tools and 12-volt cordless systems don't pair up too well.
In the late summer we met with one of our pals from Ridgid and they let us know that we should expect a lot out of the JobMax system in the coming year and beyond. Sounds like there is an over abundance of accessories heading down the pike.
It's a cool tool (we closely examined it's capabilities at Popular Mechanics) and it's looking like Ridgid wants to go to the "only tool you'll ever need" realm.
Should be available at Home Depot online, but we can't find it. HD's website ain't the greatest.
Judging by how much we use our Milwaukee 12 volt right angle drill, we'd assume that if we had one one of these new Bosch tools, we'd give it a pretty good workout on a weekly basis. We're not plumbers or electricians, so we don't need a high-powered tight angle drill for chewing 2" holes through 2x4s. We're carpenters, so we need them for hinge tightening, small awkward duct adjustments, and working up on top of door casings and other strange places.
The Bosch takes the right angle concept but, like one of their older 12V tools, adds an articulating head to the mix. The head has five locking positions, which should be enough for whatever it is you want to do. We're down with the whole articulating head idea seeing as there have been a few times when the straight-up right angle drill has been a tad limiting in a constrained space.
This fella is sold with two batteries and is going to set you back about $150-$160.
Our pals at Duo-Fast are handing over a few of their Cordless Roofing Nailers for us to off load onto you guys. If you're unfamiliar with the tool, it's the first legit cordless roofing nailer on the market. This cordless action is good for a lot of reasons, chief among them is the lack of a compressor setup and no air hoses to deal with once you're up on the roof.
Because it can only shoot about 2 nails per second (far slower than a pneumatic-powered roofing crew is used to), the Duo-Fast is meant for small job, and repairs. So it's good for the pro roofer and if you're part of the DIY crowd, it'll probably be the only roofing gun you'll ever need.
We're going to accentuate the cordless nature of the tool, so to enter to win you only need to leave a comment at this post finishing this sentence, "An unnecessary airhose on the roof is as dangerous as..."
If you're drawing a blank, here are a few to get the creative juices flowing:
...applying ammonia-based shellac in a room with the windows closed (trust us on this one)...?
...the guy I used to work with who wrapped wire around his circ saw so the blade guard couldn't close (true story!)....?
...a neck-height tripwire on the bike path....?
Also, if you 'like' Duo-Fast on Facebook, we'll enter your name five additional times in the drawing.
In a week we'll announce a winner and at that time, we'll cook up another ridiculous way to win the second gun.
Duo-Fast has info on the tool here and our original write-up of it is here.
The gun has a retail in the $500 range, so if you judge by price alone, this is a pretty sweet prize.
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...
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.
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