What's in your toolset?


I'm in the market for some new tools like cordless drill, multitool, sawzall, and a couple more thing. My drill got broken yesterday evening, it was 10 y.o. so I decided to  ask what's decent in the market right now. after reading some reviews de volt 20v max seems nice, but to be sure decided to ask. If you have something else that, as you think, deserves to be mentioned let me know. 

Jan 13, 20 11:31 pm
Wood Guy

I'm not sure this is an appropriate question for a design forum, but I'll answer anyway as I'm a tool nerd (and sometimes-builder). All of the name-brand tools are decent; they wouldn't survive in the marketplace if they weren't. Dewalt is good, just don't be fooled by their 20v designation--they have similar power to 18v tools, they just list the higher start-up voltage for marketing reasons. For very good tool quality and a broad, expanding platform of cordless tools, I chose to go with Makita, including all of the tools you mentioned and more. Many tradespeople I know prefer Milwaukee for professional-quality tools. My brother in law is a very frugal builder and mostly uses a Ryobi platform. 

When I'm looking for a new tool I check Amazon's user reviews, as they usually have a lot more than any tool company. But I try to buy from smaller companies whenever possible. 

Jan 14, 20 8:37 am

hah, frugal's one word for it... Don't buy Ryobi unless you want to spend more time fixing the tool than working.  

I use Makita for corded/cutting tools as well, but the batteries and durability of dewalt for specifically a cordless sawzall and cordless drills are great.  I forget the 20v vs 18v argument and would have to be home to tell you what I have, but get the "small/compact" ones.  

Jan 14, 20 8:58 am
Wood Guy

I used to agree with you re: Ryobi, but my BIL has a 10-man crew and has been using Ryobi tools since we worked together 10+ years ago and they work well for him.

Non Sequitur

I have a 25+ year old Black&Decker corded drill that is indestructible. Only one speed setting (max power!) and it shoots sparks out of the side. I used that bad boy with various sanding drill bits to carve all sorts of models while in arch undergrad. It's still kicking ass even after spending all of last winter in a block of ice on the bottom of my toolshed floor.



We have the same drill, I'm sure. I don't think I'll be saying the same about any of my newer tools in 20+ years.

Wood Guy

Motors with brushes always make sparks, but they shouldn't be shooting beyond the drill body.

Non Sequitur

Wood Guy, what do you have to say about my Milwaukee circular saw that cut its own cord? I just connected it back with some electrical tape and BAM, good as new. Plus, chicks dig battle wounds anyways.

Wood Guy

LOL, I've done the same many times. When at risk of having OSHA visiting my jobsites I'd replace the cord, but tape works too. Now that I have cordless Makita circular saws (worm drive and sidewinder) I'm never going back to the tether, though!


I've also got a B&D corded drill that's probably -only- 20 years old.  No sparks.  Used it yesterday.  It runs today the same as it did when I bought it.  I've got a B&D corded jigsaw also.  Same story.  Used it last week.  Works just as well now as it did 20 years ago.

Jan 14, 20 10:45 am

I bought a laser cutter. It's really fun.

Jan 14, 20 11:43 am

Makita will be the best since they can last decades. I swear, the makita drill set that I have from 10 yrs ago performs the same as I first bought it. You also have ridgid that if you register any of the tools and the batteries, and charger itself, they are lifetime warranty. Any ding or malfunction, Ridgid will happily replace it for you. Battery technology is advancing and expensive so I'd  take a brand that will replace it anyday. 

Jan 14, 20 12:32 pm

I had a Makita cordless drill I purchased in arch school that I loved. Unfortunately, the batteries (NiMH) went bad and won't hold a charge ... probably my fault for improper (long-term) storage. I contemplated getting new batteries and just using it, but I ended up buying a Ridgid one as a replacement because of the battery lifetime service agreement (also smaller, stronger, lighter, more features, etc.). Now I have a bunch of cordless tools in that line because I already have the batteries.


I like rigid products for pneumatic nailers, they add some tweaks (swivel connection, spring release and quick loading for the nails, body is less clunky so hangs off your belt easier) that I find really nice


good info on the rigid warranty. My rigid tablesaw is about 20 years old and still works like it was new. Dad gave it to me after getting a new powermatic as he was getting pretty into furniture at the time

I think it was a pretty savvy business move on their part. I'm basically locked into their tool line because of it, and the newer Li-ion batteries don't have as many issues as the older NiMH ones that crapped out on me. All this at a time when, at least for me, I was looking to change over to the new technology anyway. I'm sure I wasn't the only one. I've haven't needed to make a claim so far, as the batteries have held up well.


I propose a cordless tool hierarchy:

Top Tier:  Bosch, Makita, milwakee 

Middle:   dewalt, craftsman, hitachi, ryobi, rigid

Low:  avoid

Jan 14, 20 2:08 pm

Fine Homebuilding has done some great reviews too

Jan 14, 20 2:09 pm
Wood Guy

Ha, here's one I did for them a long time ago: (Cordless impact drivers were still relatively new at the time.) My favorite was the Panasonic, and it's still going strong.


Nice! my dad got me a 7 piece dewalt set 10 years ago, I didn't even know what an impact driver was at the time, but have gotten a lot of use out of it.  I still remember the crusty old sales guy saying that I'd use it more then anything else.

Wood Guy

They are amazing little tools. I'd put Dewalt on the top shelf--my brother is a builder on Nantucket and a serious tool geek, and went with the Dewalt platform for his cordless tools. To me they just feel cheaper than Makita but it may be subjective.

(My impact driver review is somewhat famous at Fine Homebuilding for being the last time they allowed such a range of specs--there wasn't really a way to gauge them fairly against each other. Now there are a lot more to choose from.)


to me Dewalt = Default.... as in you can't go wrong with their stuff. It might not be the best impact driver, drill, circular saw, or whatever, but it'll be in the conversation.  Some of Mikata's stuff is prob better, and bosch too. But across the board they just make all the tools and they are consistently good.  Not that I use a lot of tools these days!

Chad Miller

Wood Guy - we now know your real name thanks to that review.  Might I add, very nice portfolio sir! 

Wood Guy outs his real name like every other week if you're paying attention. I don't think he's been trying to keep it a secret.

Wood Guy

Chad, like EA says, I post stuff here regularly with my real name. I only use a screen name so clients can't find me complaining about them. I've been writing for Fine Homebuilding for 15 years and for Green Building Advisor since they started 10+ years ago so when it's appropriate (and probably sometimes when it's not) I post links to stuff I've done.

Oh, and thank you for the compliment. I did more impressive-looking work when employed elsewhere and my site really needs a tune-up. A lot of my current projects are fairly mundane, but mostly energy efficient at least. 


Makita is still owned separately from the giant conglomerates, so there's a certain quality there. Ditto for Hilti.

Many brands are owned by separate giants (Stanley Black & Decker, etc) but are actually made on contract by a few of the same manufacturers in China. I think Milwaukee, Ryobi, and Ridgid are all of the same cloth. 

AvE is a hilariously cranky Canadian mining engineer on YouTube who loves to tear down hand tools are whisper sweet nothings into mic. I recommend watching a few vi-day-ohs to get a sense of the quality differences between brands.

Jan 14, 20 2:27 pm

will have to check out AvE, thanks

Drill / Driver combo: Makita sub-compact 18v with lithium ion batteries.

Powerful, fast charging, and light weight - so they don’t wear you out. Tried one and immediately bought a set. 

Jan 14, 20 3:47 pm

I designed some changes for my attic, and yeah, I found the list and saw Makita you are talking about there, and de volt for real seems to be good but it's over $200. Guess, the first one is more preferable. But BOSCH from the list has multiple reviews and 4.5 amazon rating, too. Don't know, after all

Jan 14, 20 11:59 pm

I have the 20v Max versions of Porter Cable and Dewalt.  For light use, I find it hard to justify the price of the Dewalt.  Performance wise, I don't notice when I'm using them.  I just reach for whichever one has a charged battery.  I'm usually working long enough I go through several batteries.  So, I most always end up using both. 

Jan 15, 20 8:26 am

Just got back from two different jobsites with 3 total crews working this morning.  I saw a couple dewalts and a ton of millwakee stuff.  One of the electrical crews was also wearing millwakee shirts.

Jan 16, 20 12:41 pm

Having some direct experience with using drill motors in other applications (robotics), any drill with a speed selector will fail at some point.  The connection is a lousy design. 

Jan 16, 20 4:31 pm

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