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JasonS

New Cordless Platform

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My 1st generation Festool cordless drill batteries are finally at the point where they don't hold much of a charge anymore. I got this drill a few weeks after they were released so I've had it for almost 9 years. That's a pretty good run I think. I've looked at getting new batteries for about $120 a pair which is not bad, but then I thought I should consider other cordless tool brands with a wider set of options. I don't mind my corded tools at all, but I have to admit the cords are a real PITA at times in the shop and especially the odd time I need to work where an extension cord isn't possible.

I have several Milwaukee M12 tools and I really like them so I'm considering their M18 line which is very nice, but it's on the high end of the price scale these days (though nowhere the level of Festool). Then there's DeWalt which can be found everywhere. I'm also considering Makita. I had one of their 12v drill drivers for years, bought many batteries, and eventually replaced it with the Festool.

The tools I'm most likely to want are:

  • Drill/driver
  • Planer
  • Router w/plunge base
  • Planer
  • Barrel grip jigsaw
  • Blower

Maybe an impact driver, grinder, nailers, etc but I don't know for now.

So what are peoples' thoughts on the Milwaukee, DeWalt and Makita 18-20v cordless systems? It looks like all three lines offer the tools I'm most likely to want. I'm just not sure of the longevity anymore since I've been good with what I've had.

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Honestly I think they're all decent choices.   I think it really comes down to the individual tools where there are subtle differences.

And then there's no clear lineup which has awesome everything.   You might like the jigsaw from Makita, but the router from Milwaukee.

I just have the M12 tools, and tend to only have cordless where I really need to have a cordless tool.   As I otherwise have a router from Bosch, a circular saw from Makita, sanders from Dewalt, etc... all corded.

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My main go to drill is a Dewalt XRP 18v from 2009 ... 2008? IDK it's OLD. It's still going strong. I got one of the first Li ion 18v batteries before the MAX system came out so it has to be before 2010.

I don't think brand matters two licks. Find the tool with the features you want and base your system around that tool. Or if you have a color you like pick that color.

When my dewalt end's it's useful life i will be diving into the festool system for 1 major reason, batteries are king. I have 4 18v batteries for a cordless track saw and it is high among the useful tools in my shop. The reason that batteries are King is they have generally a set lifespan and it's mostly measured in number of charges. If every tool uses the same battery and you have 4-8 batteries the number of times you discharge each battery is lower and it extends their life. I'll never wear out a tool, I'll wear out the batteries. More batteries = longer lifespan of system.

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Hold on there guys, brand does indeed matter. Milwaukee, Dewalt, Makita (& some others) are definitely not in the same league as Ryobi & many of the other econo-house brands. They are mostly okay for light home handyman type use, but if your serious about decent tools, stick to the better ones.

Before deciding which  ecosystem to join, have a look at what other cordless tools the manufacturer has & go with the one that has what you think you may need in the future. I used to be into Dewalt, but their nicad batteries were so terrible that I bailed & went to Milwaukee when they had LiOn. The only complaint with the many Milwaukee tools I have is that on a couple of the drills some of the rubber trim has come loose. The Dewalt are much better now as well.

I've never used a Festool cordless drill, but have read many reviews that suggest that while they are good tools, they are not worth the price premium. This is a very crowded market & all the big players (Festool is definitely not one of them) seem to be giving it all they have.

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I like the Makita brand. I think it is better to commit to one brand so the batteries interchange. I buy from home depot. If there is a problem they are nearby and will match any internet price. I buy my batteries in December because that is the best sale price. Half off usually. The big 18v is around $50. They don't last for 9 years.

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19 minutes ago, drzaius said:

Hold on there guys, brand does indeed matter. Milwaukee, Dewalt, Makita (& some others) are definitely not in the same league as Ryobi & many of the other econo-house brands. They are mostly okay for light home handyman type use, but if your serious about decent tools, stick to the better ones.

Yes you are right. I guess it should have been noted that the brands among those he noted are all good bets. That said i often wonder if some of the lighter duty household brands are good enough for the light duty work I do. It'd be interesting if the better value for money is the cheaper brand. Alas i bought for the hammer drill and good chuck.

Is any one else somewhat disappointed in the chucks in the drills these days? All of the drills feel cheap compared to what i have.

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All my stuff is the M18 and I am real happy with it.  Most of the time it is more power then is needed but it is nice when you do need the power.  To me one of their most impressive tools that came out in the last few years is the jigsaw.  It has more power then any jigsaw I have used.  It goes thru 8/4 stock with ease, very impressive.  I only test drove a Festool jigsaw once but from what I remember it didn't hold a candle to to what the M18 does.  Anyone that is thinking about the purchase of this jigsaw wouldn't be disappointed. 

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I have a few M12 tools, but mostly Makita.   We're still using every Makita 18v LIon battery that ever came with a tool, including the half-sized batteries that came with the white, and black drill/driver combo.  I don't know how old those are, but they came out before any of the LXT tools, so might be as old as 8 years, or possibly even older.

I recently bought a Makita 1/2" impact driver, that takes the lug nuts off my dually without breaking a sweat.  I bought it tool only, but when it came, it was for some newer, larger 18v battery, and I was afraid to even try my old LXT batteries.  I ordered some knock-off 5ah battery off ebay for $28, and it's working like it should.

edited to add about chucks:  Yes, I changed a chuck, on an old Makita 9.6v drill, that I only use with Cobalt bits for drilling out stainless pop rivets on sailboats, to a keyed Jacobs chuck, sometime in the mid 1980's.  That 9.6 battery has been replaced multiple times, but they were made before LIon.  The stock keyless ones might have gotten a little better, but I'm still not a big fan.

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Whatever you get, you might as well wait a couple of weeks until the Black Friday deals are around. Watch out for the cheaper made versions of the pro-level tools. I would go pick up whatever you want and see what feels good in your hands. I'd guess Dewalt, Milwaukee and Makita are all similar in terms of quality these days.

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As said, all are probably a good choice.  Makita has the largest range of tools going, including lawn and garden, that run off the same platform.  If I am not mistaken they are coming out with a new generation of batteries too, so a wait and see attitude won't hurt for a little while on that front.  DeWalt are readily avalible as noted too.  I can't comment on the Mil brand due to lack of knowledge.

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1 hour ago, curlyoak said:

I like the Makita brand. I think it is better to commit to one brand so the batteries interchange. I buy from home depot. If there is a problem they are nearby and will match any internet price. I buy my batteries in December because that is the best sale price. Half off usually. The big 18v is around $50. They don't last for 9 years.

I'm a Makita guy as well. My most used tools are the drill/driver/6" skill saw but I have a light and also tried the grinder too but it was no bueno (was returned). Also have one Festool cordless tool which I use all the time its the smaller drill/ driver. I also agree one should pick a color and stick with it. Finally I agree with the others that Festool is probably not worth the extra money but I really wish I had the cordless track saw and again I really like that little drill/driver:) 

I also have a router problem (11 and counting) and have really been wanting to try a cordless one but haven't picked one up yet...

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1 hour ago, Jim DaddyO said:

Makita has the largest range of tools going, including lawn and garden, that run off the same platform. 

Both Milwaukee & Dewalt also have and extensive line of yard and construction tools, and the selection seems to grow monthly. Just last week Milwaukee announced a line (MX) of cordless heavy construction tools including a light tower, 14" cutoff saw, full sized coring drill and a heavy concrete breaker. I didn't see battery specs, but they are big.

Like I said previously, competition is fierce among these 3 and they all make some great tools.

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29 minutes ago, drzaius said:

Both Milwaukee & Dewalt also have and extensive line of yard and construction tools, and the selection seems to grow monthly. Just last week Milwaukee announced a line (MX) of cordless heavy construction tools including a light tower, 14" cutoff saw, full sized coring drill and a heavy concrete breaker. I didn't see battery specs, but they are big.

Like I said previously, competition is fierce among these 3 and they all make some great tools.

Yeah...Milwaukee and Dewalt claims 200+ tools for their 18V lines.

 

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Does Mil and DeWalt have a router in their line ups?  I believe that was one of the tools the OP was looking for.  I think DeWalt has a small router, but I am not sure.

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Jim, my budget lands me in the home handyman class of tools. After careful comparison and consideration, I dove into the deep end of the Kobalt line. Brushless motors and higher volts (24) give me great bang for the buck. The 2ah batteries are just $20, sometimes on sale for $10. I have the 1/2" drill, 1/4" impact driver, jigsaw and oscillating multi-tool. Plan to eventually collect the circular saw, and small leaf blower. I only wish they offered a trim router.

If you'd like a comparison in that price range, check the Father's Day 2017 tool roundup blog post on the web site link in my signature. That drill and driver carried me thru a 1000 square foot deck build, none the worse for wear.

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@pkinnaeb, I think 11 routers might just be considered border line addiction and help should follow. :D

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I've got two Dewalt 12v cordless screw guns from 2001. Batteries went bad I expect from constant trickle  charge when not being used weeks at a time. $60 each from home depot for the Dewalt XRP batteries. I'll continue to buy unless I move up to Makita....

 

Dewalt-dc940ka_01_1800x1800.jpg

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I am invested in the Bosch line up of 18V tools.  2 drills, a socket ready driver, jig saw, light, radio.  They do not have a router in the battery line up, nor an 18 ga nail gun which I would like to see.  I haven't got any of the new Core batteries yet, but from what I see it is one heck of a good upgrade and can be used in the older system (except the older circular saw, which there is a new housing available, the new one already has it).  I have a lot of their corded models too.  2 routers, Glide Mitre saw, OMT plus an 18 ga nail gun to hook to the compressor.  Pretty good tools, the only issue I have is the cheezy switch on the 1617 router (the MR 23 router with the switch on the handle is genius though).  There may be a couple I have not mentioned, old guys memory here.

I really don't want a variety of chargers hanging on the wall, so I will stick with one brand.  I am also hoping that they will expand their line up of tools, but they seem to be slow at bringing more to market.  I suppose they concentrate on other trades.

Just added that for perspective.  I don't know if one top tier brand is any "better" than any other.  I suppose they all have their stong and weak points.  

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12 hours ago, Jim DaddyO said:

Does Mil and DeWalt have a router in their line ups?  I believe that was one of the tools the OP was looking for.  I think DeWalt has a small router, but I am not sure.

I just looked and they both do. Even Ryobi has a cordless router now.

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Jason,

I bought into the DeWalt 20V line a couple of years ago.  I have a couple of drill/drivers (one "standard" and one "compact"), an LED light, a circ saw, a miter saw, and a reciprocating saw.  Compact router is on its way from the BORG :)

I've been very happy with all of the tools.  I have a half-dozen batteries that either came with the tools or were bought when they were deeply discounted - never have to worry about running out of juice.

I don't know whether DeWalt has anything on Milwaukee or Makita - just the direction I went.  But, no regrets.

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I am still using a series of Dewalt 14.4v tools (two drill/drivers 3/8" and 1/2" chucks, right angle, and impact driver).  These are old and pre-dated even the 18v nicads.  I have rebuilt every battery I have at least twice and a few 4 times at battery plus.  They rebuild for about 60% of a new price and I seem to get pretty good service out of the re-builts.  Since all of the tools are still working well after all the years, just can't quite give up and go to a new platform, but if the tools die that's a different story.  I would probably go with Milwaukee if I was going to start over.  I like having cordless drills/drivers/impact driver, but really don't think I need other cordless tools as I don't do a lot of remote work.

 

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This is all about what I expected. They all get good reviews, they all have massive product lines, they all have good battery life.

On 11/4/2019 at 2:37 PM, Chet said:

All my stuff is the M18 and I am real happy with it.  Most of the time it is more power then is needed but it is nice when you do need the power.  To me one of their most impressive tools that came out in the last few years is the jigsaw.  It has more power then any jigsaw I have used.  It goes thru 8/4 stock with ease, very impressive.  I only test drove a Festool jigsaw once but from what I remember it didn't hold a candle to to what the M18 does.  Anyone that is thinking about the purchase of this jigsaw wouldn't be disappointed. 

I have a US made top handle Porter-Cable jigsaw I bought in '99 or '00 and it's still going strong. Trouble is, and this is tough to believe, it's too powerful - it motors through everything so easily it's tough to control. I've never been great with top handle jig saws though - I find them all difficult to use. Barrel grips though, those are great. My PC also has a poorly designed blower that can't compete with the force created by the blade and sends the dust up at your face. 

On 11/4/2019 at 3:00 PM, legenddc said:

Whatever you get, you might as well wait a couple of weeks until the Black Friday deals are around. Watch out for the cheaper made versions of the pro-level tools. I would go pick up whatever you want and see what feels good in your hands. I'd guess Dewalt, Milwaukee and Makita are all similar in terms of quality these days.

That's why I'm asking now! :D

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This is all pretty much what I expected: Can't go wrong with any of the 3 I'm considering. In a way that help,s in another it's no help. I think I need to go get my hands on more of the tools and see how they feel for weight and ergonomics. Then it's look for the best deals I guess. Thanks all! Greatly appreciated.

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Our Home Depot seems to promote Makita cordless tools more than the other brands.  This has worked out for me in another way.  In the back of the store, they have a set of shelves where they sell opened boxes that have been returned.  Stuff sits back there long enough, and the price keeps getting marked down.  Evidently, people bought the tool only tools thinking they included a battery when they didn't, and returned it.   I bought an 18v Makita reciprocating saw (sawzall) for $21, and a 4-1/2" grinder for $15.  Since I already had batteries, and chargers, the torn up boxes didn't bother me a bit.  Those tools were brand new, and looked like they never had a battery in them.

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