April 6, 2010

Bosch PS21 Pocket Driver - Review

bosch_ps21.jpgWhen we first heard that Bosch was releasing another 12-volt driver, we sort of drifted off to sleep. We dreamed of a world where tool companies stopped releasing like-tool after like-tool with only minimal upgrades between versions. Then we actually saw the new tool and became convinced that this time the guys at Bosch had really gone around the bend to la-la land. There's no way around the fact that the tool looks pretty silly at first glance (it's the stubby nose that takes the cake). Thankfully though, Bosch sent us one to try out and boy did that put an end to our snooty little preconceived notions.

Our constant caveat with 12-volt drivers is that they're good, but we always want them to be more powerful. We've never understood how 14.4 drills feel closer in power to 18-volt drills than 12-volt drills feel to 14-volt drills. Still, they're handy, so we usually keep a 12-volt on us at all times, for those hard to reach areas or for light duty punch work tasks.

bosch_ps21_w_ps20.jpg bosch_ps21_w_others.jpg

But back to the Bosch PS21. First off, the power out of this little tool is incredible. Not to mention that it's smaller than the competition. We were stunned when it had no problem sinking a 6" Timberlok screw into a 2x6. We tried out a few of the other 12-volt drivers we have around (including the older Bosch PS20) and the results were pathetic in comparison, they could hardly even sink the screw half way. We then used the PS21 as our primary tool building a workbench and it had no problem dealing with 3" screws. Sure, it's not as fast at a 14.4-volt, but it's getting there.

The reason for this is that Bosch has rebuilt the tool from the ground up and this new design gives you 265-in-lbs of torque, more than double that of the older PS20. The new tools also has an LED, a 2-speed drive train and a 21 position clutch. It sits very comfortably in the hand and it's only just over 5-1/2" in length.

bosch_ps21_in_hand.jpg bosch_ps21_toggle.jpg

The bottom line here is that this tool is a real triumph. Not only is it small but it reaches a level of power that we had given up on as far as 12-volt drivers are concerned. It's a giant step in the right direction for Bosch and their 12-volt line. But now, they need to follow it up and start expanding the available tools. The 12-volt drill we tend to carry around is the Milwaukee because in one bag (with one charger), we have our driver, a flashlight, a right angle drill, the Hackzall, the power port and a stereo. It's a tough sell to ask us to add another bag and battery charger to our already crammed truck box. We'll do it for this tool, because it's so impressive, but it would be nice to be able to throw a few other items in the Bosch bag.

The PS21 sells for anything from $130 (Ohio Power Tool) to $145 (Amazon).

At OPT and Amazon.com

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

March 26, 2010

Ryobi Cordless Chainsaw

ryobi_chainsaw.jpgDo cordless chainsaws strike anyone else as a bad idea?

Chainsaws are right up there with table saws on the, "what's more dangerous than a coked-up rottweiler" scale. We actually like that 2-stroke engines can be such a pain in the ass. It's sort of like a built-in deterrent. First you need gas, then you need oil, then you need a handful of dixie cups in order to get the ratio right. The best part is that once you've devoted an entire shelf in your garage to your chainsaw and you've done everything the way it's supposed to be done, there's still about a 20% chance that the saw won't even start. All of this hassle means that chainsaws stay in the hands of those who are really willing to put the effort into tool and engine care. Additionally, the extended preparation time allows for a moment to think about the dangers of chainsaw kickback.

But these days, all you have to do is click your battery off your drill and into your Ryobi chainsaw and ta-da, you're all ready to go with the pull of a trigger

We're sure that the safety precautions are good and all, but it just seems waaaay too easy to get waaaay too dangerous. But hey, table saws only need an outlet and a flip of a switch.

At Home Depot

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (4) | social bookmarking

March 2, 2010

Dremel 8200 Cordless Rotary Tool - Review

demel_8200_hand.jpg

It's funny, but each time Dremel releases a new rotary tool, we think to ourselves, "man, this is the best Dremel evah!" Then they release another one and we think, "Whoa, now this is the best Dremel the world has ever seen!" And on and on. Last year they released their new corded 4000 series tool and we loved it for it's strength and all around 'Dremely vibe.' Well, now they've released the cordless 8200 which seems to be a companion to the 4000. We were happy that they let us check out a pre-release sample. Oddly enough, we got it in our hands, played around with it for a bit and thought, "Hot damn! Now this might be the greatest Dremel we've ever used!"

dremel_8200_battery.jpgThe 8200 operates in a range of 5,000 to 30,000 rpm with the adjustment made with a slider on the back of the tool. Above the slider is a battery fuel gauge so you can keep an eye on how much juice you've got left. It's a feature that we think should be standard in li-Ion tools and it's nice to see Dremel getting on board with it.

Because we're carpenters and not hobbyists, we would have liked to see this tool come with two batteries instead of just one. Were that the case, the 8200 would be fully jobsite ready, but the extra battery would also tack on at least $50 to the price and it would be something that isn't used by a lot of the people who buy Dremels and use them sporadically in the garage workspace and won't mind the 1-hour charger.

(Update: We're dopes. Dremel does indeed offer an 8200 with two batteries. It's the 8200 2/28 and it will be retailing for $140. It also includes a cutting guide, a right angle attachment and 28 accessories. Sounds ideal to us. A thank you to Dremel for pointing out our error.)

dremel_8200_w4000.jpg

In general, the cordless aspect of this tool is fantastic. It makes the use and set-up of it that much easier. And it's powerful too. According to Dremel, the 8200 has a speed of cut that is twice as fast as the leading cordless rotary tool. We didn't verify this, but we did use the tool to cut metal, plastic, and stone and thought it was right up there with the 4000.

dremel_8200_case.jpgThe one thing we're not fond of with the tool is the case. Because the tool we got was an advance copy, the case we got may or may not be the one that is being sold with the tool. We have no reason to think that the production case will be different, but you never know. As our friends at Milwaukee are aware, we can get really hung up on tool cases. The blow-molded jobbies that some companies use drive us crazy, and while the Dremel case does have plenty of room for accessories, there is also this panel piece that creates an odd space for loose accessories to hide behind. And getting them out is like getting a pick out of a guitar. Dremel accessories are very tiny and some of them break down into even tinier pieces, so why make a case like this? No comprende.

But that's just our hangup and all of you who read that last paragraph with glazed over eyes can just walk away knowing that Dremel has made yet another great rotary tool.

it's also worth noting the we received a marketing sample, so the 100% finished "in the store" product may (or may not) have a look that is slightly more polished.

The 8200 isn't available until April, but when it is, it will sell for $100 to $140 depending on the accessory package that comes with it. It's not there now, but it will likely be at Amazon.com

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (5) | social bookmarking

February 22, 2010

DeWalt DCS370 18-Volt Cordless Bandsaw

dewalt_cordless_bandsaw.jpg
DeWalt just hit the scene with a cordless bandsaw and when compared to other models out there, it's a lighter tool, but the trade-off is less cutting depth.

Milwaukee's new cordless band saw cuts at a depth of 3-1/4" and weighs 10.25 lbs and Makita's cuts at 4-3/4" and weighs 14.1 lbs. According the the DeWalt press release, their new tool cuts to a much smaller 2-1/2" and weighs 'less than 10 pounds,' which in press release talk usually means something in the range of 9.7 to 9.9 lbs. We're actually not too confident comparing these weights anyway. Makita's site calls out that their 14 lbs is with the tool and battery while the Milwaukee just lists their number as 'tool weight.' There's no indication how DeWalt is weighing theirs.

Regardless of all that, the DeWalt does have a smaller cut depth, and because of this, it's likely on the lighter side of things. If you're an electrician or HVAC guy and you want a compact cordless bandsaw to compliment the big corded one in the van, it would be worth it to go to Home Depot and take a look at this one.

There's no word on pricing yet, but the Milwaukee goes for about $400 and the Makita $450, so we'd like to think that the DeWalt will be in the $300-$400 range.

The press release is after the jump.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

February 12, 2010

Rockwell 12-Volt H3 Multi-Function Hammer Drill

rockwell_h3_jpg

Rockwell seems to be maintaining its position as the company to watch with their new H3 Multi-Function Hammer Drill. According to the company, this 3lb tool is capable of drilling 1/4" holes in concrete. The fact that it's a mini SDS hammer drill is only part of the appeal though. Rockwell was smart enough to make it an all-in-one by including a 3-jaw chuck and a 1/4" bit holder.

With those adapters comes the ability to switch the tool from hammer mode to straight drilling mode. The tool is powered by a 12-volt li-ion battery that is part of Rockwell's 'Free Batteries for Life" program (no, really, it's true, free for life), and the charger comes with a USB port so it can also power up a cell phone or an iPod if you need it in a pinch.

We're constantly wishing we had an SDS/3-Jaw adapter for our rotary hammers because it would mean that in some circumstances we wouldn't even have to unpack the drill. But here, in the smaller package, it makes that much more sense. If this tool is as good as it looks on paper, it should join the JawHorse in Rockwell winner's circle.

The tool has a look similar to Metabo's BHE20 Rotary Hammer, which must be what Rockwell is getting at when they refer to the H3 as 'Euro-Styled.'

This looks like a great tool and it will be sold in the spring for around $180 at Rockwell and Amazon.com

The press release is after the jump if you're interested.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

February 11, 2010

Rdigid 12-Volt Lithium-Ion JobMax

R99234_family-A.jpgUPDATE: our review of the Ridgid JobMax is posted up here.

...And the innovations keep a coming. This time it's Ridgid adding some heat to the 12-volt world. It looks like what they've done is made a universal lightsaber base with a number of attachment heads that dramatically alter the function of the tool. From what we can tell, the attachments they have now are:

  • Right Angle Impact Driver
  • Right Angle Drill
  • Ratchet Head
  • Oscillating Tool
  • AutoHammer
This is a cool idea making us think you'll be able to buy all of the parts separately, but at the moment it looks like there are only combo kits available.

There's not much definitive pricing info at the moment. The tools were released at the IBS show last month, and the Home Depot website is behind the curve. They have a graphic showing the JobMax tool available in a kit with Ridgid's 12-volt drill selling for $200 (which is a good price considering the drill alone is $140), but any purchase links they have are dead.

The Ridgid website mentions two different kits; one of them with the JobMax and the drilling/driving attachments and the other with the JobMax, the oscillating head, the AutoHammer head and the 12-volt drill.

Sorry about the dinky image, but it's all we could rustle up.

More info at Ridgid here and here.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

January 19, 2010

Dremel 8200 Cordless Rotary Tool

dremel_8200_Hero.jpgIt's amazing how much mileage Dremel has gotten out of the rotary tool. Each year seems to bring a new and improved version each with significant advancements over the previous models. The company would be deemed completely insane if it weren't for the fact that each tool really is that much better than the last. So it's not like these guys are coasting on a single tool (well, they sort of coasted on the Golf Cleaning Kit), instead they're seemingly on some sort of frenzied quest to create the perfect rotary tool.

Late last year they released the 4000 corded rotary tool (our review here), which suprised us with its jobsite-ready power (we used it yesterday, in fact). So if 2009 was the year of the corded upgrade, 2010 must be the year of the cordless. Which brings us to the new 8200.

It appears that the 8200 is the companion cordless to the 4000. The removable nose has the same look as the corded version and the new tool can handle all of the Dremel accessories, including the new detailer's grip and the sanding guide.

The 8200 is powered by a removable 12-volt li-ion battery that, according to Dremel, gives the tool a speed of cut that's twice as fast as any other cordless rotary tool out there. The battery recharges in 1-hour.

The 8200 will be available in April and will range from $100 to $140, depending on the kit.

At Amazon.com

The press release is after the jump.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 12, 2010

Milwaukee M12 Cordless Grease Gun

milwaukee_grease_gun.jpgMilwaukee has just announced the release of a new cordless grease gun, the latest addition to their ever-growing 12-volt line. Looking at a picture of it, about 20 unprintable jokes instantly pop into our head and although we're sure it's a handy tool, we have a hard time taking it seriously. Thankfully, Jay over at CopTool is far more mature than we are and has a very nice summation of the new item here.

The press release is after the jump.

$200 @ Ohio Power Tool

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

January 11, 2010

Milwaukee M12 Radio - Review

m12_radio_1.jpgWe have mixed feelings when it comes to jobsite radios. On one hand we like having a little background music while we work, but on the other hand, we can't stomach the musical tastes of most other people. Really, how many times can the human mind listen to 'Slow Ride' before there's some mental damage (and don't get us started on sports radio or 'wacky morning DJs')? So we always get a little nervous when we see a sub contractor getting out of their truck with some massive, John-Cusack-from-Say-Anything, boom box.

But like we said, we're not opposed to music at work, so when Milwaukee sent us one of their 12-volt radios to test out, we were predisposed to like it. And as it turns out, we did like it, but there are some caveats. We were into the fact that it's very small and stripped down (no cd player, no race scanner, not even a battery charger). All it is is a radio (with 10 presets), a weatherproof compartment for an MP3 player, and a clock. That's it. Basic and small. Minimal bling.

M12_radio_2.jpgm12_radio_5.jpg

Oddly enough, we had just won an iPod Touch at the company xmas party, so we thought we'd give it a whirl in the Milwaukee. Strapping the mp3 player into the compartment turned out to be a little tricky. In order to prohibit the iPod from moving once it's in, there's a little elastic strap that holds it in place. Because the elastic is so tight, wedging the iPod in is quite difficult and the compartment leaves minimal room to access the power button on the top left of the iPod. Also, the elastic runs across the center of the screen, so using the Touch was also a bit of a pain. Our general thoughts on these drawbacks are that once the iPod is in, it's in. You're not going to be taking it in and out all day long, so we would rather have the iPod well protected and have the twice a day hassle of the tight elastic. We just have to get used to the idea of playlists and shuffle.

m12_radio_3.jpgSo once the iPod was in, we got some tunes going and discovered that the sound is pretty good. Not mindblowing, but really solid. Definitely good enough for a job site, in fact, better than is really needed for a job site. But if you're the type who can talk at length about the subtle production values of Johnny Cash's American Recordings, you're not going to be satisfied.

As we mentioned before, the M12 radio does not having charging capabilities, which is a standard feature on larger radios. It can run off a 12-volt battery or off the AC adapter, but sadly, it will not charge your battery when it's plugged into the wall. This is unfortunate, but our guess is that the miniature size of the radio would be sacrificed were this the case. We've had the radio on site for about a week and so far we've gotten an average of about 7 hours of iPod time per full 12-volt battery. Since we're down with the Milwaukee 12-volt system, we always have at least one battery kicking around so it works out for us.

The radio is also durable. We dropped a few 2x4s on it by accident (they hit hard enough to eject the battery from the back of the radio), and the radio didn't even take on a mark.

m12_radio_6.jpgWe also tested out the weatherproofing of the compartment door by bringing the radio to the sink and giving it a good hose down with the hand sprayer. After a nice drenching, we opened the door and the iPod area was bone dry. It's nice having the confidence that it can handle snow flurries or a light drizzle.

For our needs, this radio is right on target. We like not having to lug around a massive piece of equipment and it's loud and clear enough for our needs. For the low price of $100 it would be tough to ask for anything more.

At Amazon.com

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (7) | social bookmarking

December 4, 2009

Bosch 3-Mode 18-Volt Impact Driver

Bosch_3_mode_impactor.JPGSince reviewing Bosch's 18-volt Impact Driver back in September, we've continued to work the tool harder than the horse from Animal Farm, and each day it shrugs off the abuse like it was nothing. For an essential day to day tool, it's exceeded our expectations for toughness, portability, and power. But still, we need a drill around for all of our precision work. Or do we? Maybe we just need Bosch's new 3-Mode Impact Driver.

Tailor made for today's impact driver-obsessed carpenter, the new tool is an impact driver that has the ability to toggle in and out of impact mode. So now, you theoretically only need one tool for drilling and driving. This is a nice idea, but because the tool has a 1/4" quick-change chuck it means that you'll probably need to go and get a new drill bit set.

We're not sure how much we'd use this tool. To date nothing has ever stopped us from putting a drill bit in our impact driver and, in fact, we find it to be pretty effective, particularly for rough tasks. Also, because the new tool doesn't have a clutch setting (and what impact driver does?), it's not going to replace the cordless drill/driver for all tasks, so you'll still want a regular old screw gun, at the very least, in the gang box - you just might not have to take it out every day. When it comes down to it, the 3-Mode Impact Driver is all about the streamlined work day and productivity. If you're in a fast-paced situation where you're constantly going back and forth between tools, this new item from Bosch might be a good thing for you.

They're calling it a three mode because there's a high speed, a low speed, and the impact setting.

This fella is going to retail for about $370, which includes 2 Fat Pack batteries. With the added technology on the tool, this price makes sense given that the straight up impact driver goes for about $315.

The full press release is after the jump and there's more info at Bosch.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

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