Forum Thread

Power tools questions from newbie

lifexpert 1,331 244 April 25, 2016 at 06:04 PM
I am completely new to the power tool like drill and impact driver...stuff. I do have a dremel power tool and loved it very much. I use it for engraving and gun stuff. Now, I wanted to buy a set of drill and impact driver for my home projects, but I can't decide which deal is really good for me.

1. When I went to home depot, I saw a few brands. I think I have heard of dewalt, but the sales guys tried to talk me into buying Rigid power tool. He said Rigid has lifetime warranty and it includes battery. I don't really believe that. How can a manufactory provide a life time warranty on battery? What are the big four brands that people refer to here? Any opinions on pros and cons?

2. What type? What is brushless? Do I need that?

3. Do I need to get 20v or 12v version? People say 20v max is actually 18v. Which one will be good for my home project, like making furniture, drilling holes on walls, wood boards,builting a tree house...

Thanks

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#2
http://www.popularmechanics.com/h...3/4292657/
here is a good overall review of drills. The lifetime on the batteries requires you to register and keep all receipts. Ridged used to be a high quality brand but the quality has gone down a bit.

Here is a who owns what http://toolguyd.com/tool-brands-c...filiations

Hitachi is a great brand but for value hard to beat Ryobi you want to buy a set from the same mfg so you can use the same batteries. Don't forget about corded tools too they will work better for the most part just have a cord. Buy high quality bits and blades that is very important.
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#3
If this is a passing whim about working with tools, then don't overdo it. If you want many years of use then, go for lithium ion batteries.
As stated above, consider what other tools you might need that can use the same batteries. Its very common to start with just a drill, then end up with 4 or 5 other cordless tools and all having the same battery helps a lot. Most times when you buy another cordless tool you will get another battery. It always helps to have extra batteries.
I.E. reciprocating saw, small circular saw etc..
Look into some combo sets that include tools you might use.
If your serious, stay away from Harbor Freight stuff. Unless its a particular tool you may only use once a year or something like that.
In some cases your better off with corded for some tools.
I have bought many refurbished tools off of CPO Outlets and saved a bunch. Most are just open box returns.
Just my 2 cents.
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#4
A general drill is very useful for many projects, screwing, drilling and such. I'd recommend one with a 2 setting gear box allowing a choice between high speed/lower torque and low speed high torque. For most people I think a drill is a better first cordless power tool. You may need to pre-drill holes more of the time but you'll overdrive fewer screws and split fewer boards. If your projects are few and far between, just buy a corded drill, extension cords don't go bad / require maintenance.

An impact driver offers less control but drives screws and nuts with a lot more torque. On a big project it will save a lot of time and effort compared to a drill. They generally aren't as good for drilling holes. Impact drivers vary a lot, but generally they're nosier. The nicer ones behave more like a drill at lower speeds which makes them more useful, a lot of contractors use these.

At this point I'd only recommend lithium ion batteries. This is slick deals after all, find a deal on one with a lithium battery. On voltage anything in the 18-24 volt range will do fine. On a budget, I don't see a problem with brands like Rigid, Hitachi, craftsman (yes sears still exists and sometimes has good deals), and maybe even ryobi.
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Last edited by jkee April 25, 2016 at 10:18 PM
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#5
You don't need an impact driver unless you work on cars. An impact or hammer drill, however, is used for drilling into concrete/masonry and might come in handy. Look for a regular drill that has a hammer option. The higher the voltage, the higher the twisting power (torque). Look for a drill that also has torque settings.

Rigid is very good along with Craftsman and DeWalt. Most hand tools have a lifetime warranty which is fairly easy since most of just a hunk of metal. For Craftsman, if you use your screwdriver as a chisel and break off the tip, just bring it to any Sears and they will replace it no questions asked, no receipt.
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#6
I'll echo what others have said. What you buy (how much $$) depends on what you intend to do with the tools and how long you intend to use them/for them to last.

I'm a VERY big Harbor Freight proponent however there are a few things I wouldn't buy there - not because they suck or are shitty (necessarily) but because I'd rather spend more $$ and get something higher quality that will last longer or be more versatile.

HF sells battery drills which are very cheap but that's it. They don't sell a "system" like Dewalt or Ryobi et al have - one battery but several different tools. PErsonally I have a Dewalt 20V max system I've acquired over a few years which started with a basement finishing I did 4-5 years ago and my (then) B&D system was dying (the batteries, mostly). I bought the first 2 tools of the set in a combo (drill and screwdriver.... man that screwdriver is handy) with a charger, then pieced the rest of it together along the way, ALL from SD (including circular saw, recip saw, second drill (came as part of a set), impact and flashlight (I don't use much).

HF is fine for corded stuff - I have a circular saw and recip saw (and 1/2" electric impact and concrete hammer drill) from there with no issues. For the money spent and how much I intend to use them, they were a steal. For example, the hammer drill I bought for that basement finishing. I could have spent hundreds $$ (literally) @ Home Depot for a similar drill, or rented one for about $40 for a weekend, or borrowed one, but the HF one cost me $60 and not only lasted the entire project (100+ holes) but it's in the cabinet if I ever need it again. It's paid for itself several times. I don't need a $300 hammer drill with a "brand name" on it when the $60 no-name will do. Last year I wanted to remove a small evergreen tree from a corner of a deck and tried using my Dewalt 20V recip saw - it got about halfway through (new blade) and got so hot it shut off. I then switched to the HF recip saw (same blade) to finish the job. The corded tool was probably the better choice from the get go but I didn't want to haul out an extension cord.

BTW I think impact drills are over-rated. Very few times I have needed one, and most of the usage has been in working on SUSPENSION parts on a car. HAndy to have, yes, but for the average homeowner it's not something you're going to use a lot.
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#7
The brush-less is in theory a more efficient motor - from my experience they also don't last quite as long as normal DC motors though, so it's a bit of a wash

The one thing I would recommend is to get one with a variable torque, such that if your driving a screw into something soft, you can adjust it so you don't end up destroying the thread when you suddenly reach the end, but can still use the "high speed" when screwing it in and it doesn't take all day with a light finger on the trigger

the voltage is a poor indicator of battery life and/or power, but pretty much any decent drill will use lithium batteries, which have a voltage that goes from about 3v at empty to 4.2v at full, so a "18v" drill is really 5x of these batteries, with an average voltage taken at 3.6v - now what happened is due to marketing, 20 sounds better than 18, so instead of using the average voltage, they now use the "max" voltage, of 4v, and it multiplies out to 20 - either way, it's a bit of a moot point.. just pick a battery system and stick with it for future tools - swapping a battery isn't a big deal on any of these tools

the real indicator of power/battery life is the voltage times the amp-hours, for which you should use the average (also written as nominal) battery voltage - this is probably written on the battery somewhere, but may not be an advertised spec on the tool - it should however be available on an individual battery
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Last edited by slapshot136 April 26, 2016 at 06:48 AM
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#8
Quote from slapshot136 View Post :
The brush-less is in theory a more efficient motor - from my experience they also don't last quite as long as normal DC motors though, so it's a bit of a wash

The one thing I would recommend is to get one with a variable torque, such that if your driving a screw into something soft, you can adjust it so you don't end up destroying the thread when you suddenly reach the end, but can still use the "high speed" when screwing it in and it doesn't take all day with a light finger on the trigger

the voltage is a poor indicator of battery life and/or power, but pretty much any decent drill will use lithium batteries, which have a voltage that goes from about 3v at empty to 4.2v at full, so a "18v" drill is really 5x of these batteries, with an average voltage taken at 3.6v - now what happened is due to marketing, 20 sounds better than 18, so instead of using the average voltage, they now use the "max" voltage, of 4v, and it multiplies out to 20 - either way, it's a bit of a moot point.. just pick a battery system and stick with it for future tools - swapping a battery isn't a big deal on any of these tools

the real indicator of power/battery life is the voltage times the amp-hours, for which you should use the average (also written as nominal) battery voltage - this is probably written on the battery somewhere, but may not be an advertised spec on the tool - it should however be available on an individual battery
Battery cost was the primary driver why I ditched the B&D system.... why spend $50 on a battery for ~ 6-8 yo technology when I can invest in a completely new system (thanks to a HD) that will be supported for years to come? That's probably most of the benefit in buying tools in "packages" - the batteries are worth as much as the tools themselves in most instances.
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#9
Quote from dealgate View Post :
You don't need an impact driver unless you work on cars. An impact or hammer drill, however, is used for drilling into concrete/masonry and might come in handy. Look for a regular drill that has a hammer option. The higher the voltage, the higher the twisting power (torque). Look for a drill that also has torque settings.

Rigid is very good along with Craftsman and DeWalt. Most hand tools have a lifetime warranty which is fairly easy since most of just a hunk of metal. For Craftsman, if you use your screwdriver as a chisel and break off the tip, just bring it to any Sears and they will replace it no questions asked, no receipt.
are you a salesman?Wink Kinda misleading comments

lifetime warrant on craftsman would be no reason to buy. Soon you'll be paying for shipping
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#10
Thanks guys. I've learn a lot since I posted this thread.

That who owns who post is very interesting.

From what I've been reading, Makita, Milwaukee, Dewalt might be something I would buy. I think I will start with a drill/hammer drill, impact driver combo. What about the similar corded tools? Are they cheaper by definition?
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#11
Quote from slapshot136 View Post :
the voltage is a poor indicator of battery life and/or power, but pretty much any decent drill will use lithium batteries, which have a voltage that goes from about 3v at empty to 4.2v at full, so a "18v" drill is really 5x of these batteries, with an average voltage taken at 3.6v - now what happened is due to marketing, 20 sounds better than 18, so instead of using the average voltage, they now use the "max" voltage, of 4v, and it multiplies out to 20 - either way, it's a bit of a moot point.. just pick a battery system and stick with it for future tools - swapping a battery isn't a big deal on any of these tools

the real indicator of power/battery life is the voltage times the amp-hours, for which you should use the average (also written as nominal) battery voltage - this is probably written on the battery somewhere, but may not be an advertised spec on the tool - it should however be available on an individual battery
Voltage on drills is kind of like amps on vacuums and power tools, it's mostly but not entirely marketing. I'd say there's a significant difference between tools that still claim to be 12 volt and the higher voltage ones. Anything in the 18-24v range will be fine. Beyond marketing, increasing the voltage is generally an easier/cheaper way to increase watt-hours.

You're right watt-hours matter more, but it can be hard to find that spec. Even amp-hours can be hard to find.
Quote from lifexpert View Post :
From what I've been reading, Makita, Milwaukee, Dewalt might be something I would buy. I think I will start with a drill/hammer drill, impact driver combo. What about the similar corded tools? Are they cheaper by definition?
Those are good brands as is Bosch, but I'm confident you'd be happy with Hitachi, Ridgid, Craftsman, and maybe even Ryobi. I'm very happy with my Hitachi and Craftsman tools. The return on spending more will be negligible unless you use the tools all the time. On corded tools, corded impact drivers aren't as common and they're often fixed speed and WAY too much torque for many applications. Corded drills vary but they will deliver more speed and torque than cordless drills. If you do a lot of stuff with power tools, you'll likely end up with both corded and cordless drills eventually. If you don't use the tools that much just remember to charge the batteries at regular intervals.

Personally I'm not crazy about battery powered saws, it's just hard to beat the power of a plug in saw.
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Last edited by jkee April 26, 2016 at 12:17 PM
#12
Definitely can't beat a corded saw. A Dewalt cordless circular saw is WAY better than a Ryobi one.

The Rigid batteries are covered under lifetime as is the drill etc. you get refurbished batteries
you must register the tool to get this warranty.

you don't get to swap anything at homedepot

lightweight- go for the Dewalts
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#13
Quote from stufine View Post :

you don't get to swap anything at homedepot
lol - just return it!
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#14
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
Battery cost was the primary driver why I ditched the B&D system.... why spend $50 on a battery for ~ 6-8 yo technology when I can invest in a completely new system (thanks to a HD) that will be supported for years to come? That's probably most of the benefit in buying tools in "packages" - the batteries are worth as much as the tools themselves in most instances.
wasn't suggesting to buy batteries separately, but that you are more likely to find the specs as far as power on an individual battery, and then can extrapolate that the tool will come with a similar battery

Quote from jkee View Post :
Voltage on drills is kind of like amps on vacuums and power tools, it's mostly but not entirely marketing. I'd say there's a significant difference between tools that still claim to be 12 volt and the higher voltage ones. Anything in the 18-24v range will be fine. Beyond marketing, increasing the voltage is generally an easier/cheaper way to increase watt-hours.

You're right watt-hours matter more, but it can be hard to find that spec. Even amp-hours can be hard to find.
That's what I meant by a poor indicator - it's still an indicator, but not an absolute guarantee of anything either
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#15
Ryobi 18V is a great bargain and they make good homeowner tools. Batteries are also cheap and plentiful. My dad has a ton of them and he's a big DIYer. I'm a Dewalt man, but all my stuff was bought on clearance.

No, you do not need brushless anymore than you need a Ferrari.

I would check around major holidays, you can sometimes snag some Dewalts or Ridgid for not much more, or just grab a big Ryobi combo set on special.

12V tools are great for smaller to medium projects, I use them sometimes more than my "better" tools.

Corded beats anything and is much cheaper. Get a corded circular saw and corded hammer drill for when you need more power.
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