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Cordless Power Tools Builders Use

Updated on November 18, 2014

What tools do you use?

For years people have been asking me the question, "What tools do you use?" Some think that the tools in my toolbox are too "commercial" or big and bulky for a homeowner. Others think that what I use would be too expensive for them to even consider.

Sure there are tools and equipment that I use that the typical homeowner/handyman would never use on a regular basis. Some tools they would be better off renting if only needed for one project. Yet they are surprised to find out that many contractors use the same tools that they would buy. Good quality tools that work well, last long and are moderate in price. Contrary to popular belief, not every builder straps a super high price tag cordless drill to his side and heads off to work.

So I put together some information on the types of cordless power tools that I use, have used and recommend. I hope this will answer some of your questions and get you on your way to putting together a collection of functional and usable tools.!

Product photo credit by Amazon.

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photo credit by Amazon
photo credit by Amazon

A Timeless Original

The photo to the right is of the "Original Cordless Drill". Not really. It is called a Brace and Bit. The brace is the handle part that you crank and the bit is, well just that, the bit. It has been around for hundreds of years and was used as a drill or as they said in the old days, "a wood boring tool". All you needed was a sharp bit, strong arms and hands, and you too could drill a hole.

A "mini" version was made with a side crank for light duty drilling. It almost looked like something you would find in a kitchen. We always called it a "hurdy gurdy".

My dad was a carpenter. In fact my whole family as far back as we could trace, were carpenters. The brace and bit is what they used to drill holes. No power tools. My dad owned one power tool during his entire life. It was a 1/4" Craftsman electric drill that he got after he retired. All the wood was cut with a handsaw. They were a tough and hardy bunch.

Today, however, we have been blessed with modern technology. Power tools...all varieties, shapes and sizes! Since we are so blessed, let's start learning about them so we can start using them.

Oh and by the way, you can still buy a brace and bit today. They really are a nice sturdy tool.

Product photo credit by Amazon.

photo credit by Senditondown
photo credit by Senditondown

DEWalt Cordless Combo Kits

DEWALT DC4CKITA 18-Volt Compact Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit
DEWALT DC4CKITA 18-Volt Compact Cordless 4-Tool Combo Kit

The DeWalt company makes many different varieties of Combo Kits, from handyman to total professional construction grade. Please note that the circular saws in this and the following two combo packs are all on the left side (my personal preference).

 

My DeWalt Drill

This is where it all began.

My very first cordless drill was given to me in the late 1970s. I won't tell you the brand because I'm sure they are sorry that they ever made them back then. No sense bringing up bad memories. This drill, with a full charge on the battery, had less power than a can opener. You could hold the trigger in and grab the chuck with the other hand and totally stop the drill. You could drive two screws in (and not all the way in either) and then it was time for a re-charge. Not a real good design. But things did get better...much better! Read on.

The next one that I owned was given to me by my wife for Christmas in 1993. It is pictured above. Great tool! But just recently this little trooper quit on me. Now you need to know, this is a 12 volt drill that was used for hundreds and hundreds of hours. It was used for every construction task imaginable, even to drive 3 1/2" screws through framing lumber and drilling holes in concrete. I love this drill. It is well balanced and just one of my favorite tools of all time. By the way, it is a DeWalt. I do want to give credit where credit is due for this fine tool.

Now this drill is still fine and willing to work, but the batteries aren't. Over the years I have gone through four batteries. Not bad considering the workload that they faced. I'm still looking for batteries for it (which are hard to find now) to revive it to active service. In the meantime, my wife bought me a new drill in a "combo" kit. Read on as I explain a little about this type of package.

Instead of buying just one tool, the combo kit usually comes with a total of four tools. Mine included: a 1/2" drive drill, a circular saw, a reciprocating saw and a powerful worklight. All cordless and all 18Volts. The package also included two NiCd batteries, a charger and a zipper tool bag to carry all of this in. A very nice package.

Since I have not tried all of the brands and models on the market today, with the exception of my old 12 volt DeWalt, the Skil, Milwaukee, Black and Decker and my new 18 voIt Ryobi combo, I am speaking generally on my overall observance of these products and the use of mine in particular. Let me share some info with you.!

Photo credit by Senditondown.

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Roybi Tools

Ryobi Combo Kit

Ryobi ZRP809 ONE Plus 18V Cordless 4-Piece Combo Kit
Ryobi ZRP809 ONE Plus 18V Cordless 4-Piece Combo Kit

This is the model of drill, saw and light that I have. However, this combo kit comes with a dust buster vacuum instead of a reciprocating saw. If you already have a reciprocating saw, I would highly recommmend this combo kit. If not, I would suggest one of the kits above.

 
Photo credit Amazon
Photo credit Amazon

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Ryobi Drill

As I mentioned earlier, this one of my all-time favorite tools. The new ones are even more powerful. In my opinion every homeowner should have one. I think you will find yourself using yours all the time. From hanging curtains, and putting together boxed furniture, to building a deck or installing replacement windows, this is a tool that will do the trick. The Ryobi has a 1/2" keyless chuck. It is variable speed and reversible with plenty of power in both directions. It even has a little magnetic tray just above the battery slot so that you can put some screws there as you work. I must admit it took me a little while to get accustomed to the design shape and balance of the newer drill, but all in all, I'm very satisfied and highly recommend this particular model to homeowners and builders alike.

When looking to buy a tool, as a builder, I look for two things right up front. The first, does the tool have the "umph" (the go power) to do the job I need it to do all day every day? Then secondly, is it comfortable and manuverable enough in my hands that it is not going to wear me down since I need to use it all day.

Product photo credit by Amazon.

Drill Bits

Pit Bull CHIAU0600 9-Inch Auger Drill Bit Set, 6-Piece
Pit Bull CHIAU0600 9-Inch Auger Drill Bit Set, 6-Piece

Bits for making nice clean holes. Some call them "worm" bits. Once started, they pull the drill along as they go.

 

Hand Brace for Bits

Irwin 44202 Lockhead 7/8-Inch to 3-Inch Adjustable Spade Drill Bit for a Hand Brace
Irwin 44202 Lockhead 7/8-Inch to 3-Inch Adjustable Spade Drill Bit for a Hand Brace

A really great bit. It is adjustable as to its width. Loosen the screw and slide the blade in or out to make your hole bigger or smaller in width. Probably the most versatile bit ever made.

 
photo credit by Amazon
photo credit by Amazon

Ryobi Saw

Next, the circular saw. This little "bugger" is so handy. If you just need to cut a few boards, why drag out the big saw and 50' of extension cord? In just a few minutes you're done and have saved time and effort.

Now this little guy isn't built for all day cutting and framing work, but it is my tool of choice for trimming plywood along a roof overhang, or in hard to reach places. It is lightweight and with a sharp blade and a good charge, chews through wood like a big boy. It comes with a 5 1/2" carbide tipped blade. The saw depth is just deep enough at 1 9/16" to cut through a 2x4, so just be mindful of that as you make your cut.

Product photo credit by Amazon.

Photo credit Amazon
Photo credit Amazon

Ryobi Reciprocating Saw

The reciprocating saw isn't a normal everyday handyman tool, but it should be. Have you ever tried to cut a piece of wood right up next to a wall? You probably tried using a handsaw, right? Then after you tossed the handsaw out of the kitchen window you grabbed your hammer and pry bar to finish the botched up project. Well that won't happen with a reciprocating saw (some people call them by one manufacturer's trade name, "Sawzall"). With this saw, you can get right up to the wall and make a clean cut. It comes with a couple of blades and my favorite feature, the tool-less blade clamp. The clamp latches onto the blade and is just that quick. This tool can be labeled under the heading, "The Right Tool for the Job".

Using the variety of blades available for this type of saw, you can cut wood, metal or plastic. Cutting metal or plastic pipe with a hacksaw gets old real fast. However, with the fine toothed hacksaw blade available for the reciprocating saw, you can make short work of the job and make nicer, smoother cuts.

Product photo credit by Amazon.

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Photo credit from royalty free google images
Photo credit from royalty free google images

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photo credit by Amazon
photo credit by Amazon

Ryobi Work Light

The flashlight. Or to be more accurate, the work light. How many times have you tried working with a regular flashlight just to have it roll off to the side and light everything but what you are working on? Maybe you have a flat bottomed light, but still had to try to prop it up somehow to see what you were doing. Oh, and I love this. You have someone hold the flashlight for you and the person positions it so they can see and you are still in the dark and every time they talk to you, they shine the light in your eyes like they need to see you before they speak!

Well, the light that came with my combo pack (and is similar in function to all the others I have looked at) is very bright, sturdy and the lens is adjustable. You can position it to shine in various directions. The first time I used one of these, I was working under a friend's sink hooking up the water and drain lines for him. He handed me his light (from his combo pack) and I was sold. It lit the whole area and wasn't shining in my eyes.

Product photo credit by Amazon.

Chargers & Batteries

The charger and batteries vary from brand to brand. Some companies have the new Lithium Ion batteries that are quite pricey, but do last longer between charges, with a longer life overall. So far, I am happy with the basic Ni Cd batteries and charger that came with my Ryobi. They hold a good charge and re-charge rather quickly, so I'm never without a standby.

Note: Now after three years of regular use, the batteries are showing signs of weakening, not holding their charge as long as they once did. This is not unique to Ryobi. It happens with most Ni Cd batteries. Still, I'm satisfied with the overall performance of my drill package...just have to make sure that my backup is charged and ready when I need it.

This type of combo pack is a great gift. Whether for Christmas, a birthday, Father's Day, anniversary or a "just because" gift, you can't go wrong.

I've included a selection of combo packs below for you to look at. Each one is capable of doing what I have explained above, and are well worth considering for your next tool purchase.

Be Advised

Not all tools (of any type) are created equally. There are some out there that, to put it bluntly, are just plain useless and not worth the money regardless of how low the price. Also there are others that carry a big price tag and really don't perform any better than the medium priced tools

Oh, and one more thing...

If you see a tool for sale and it says something like, "18V Cordless Drill-Bare Tool", that means that it comes without a battery. Now if you already have a battery to fit it at home, you can get some very good prices buying this way. However, if you don't, remember that you will have to purchase a battery and a charger separately for the tool.

So with those things in mind, be an informed shopper. If I have included a product description with the items for sale, read them. I am giving my honest opinion based on years of experience. I have used various tools from each manufacturer listed below, so I know their quality, and you can't go wrong when you choose a quality tool.

More Combo Kits

Combo Kits - Click on product for details.

Makita LCT300W 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-Piece Combo Kit (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Makita LCT300W 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-Piece Combo Kit (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

Comes with a drill, impact drill and work light. Also features the Lithium Ion batteries.

 

Milwaukee Cordless Combo Kits

Milwaukee 2694-24 M18 18-Volt 4-Tool Cordless Combo Kit
Milwaukee 2694-24 M18 18-Volt 4-Tool Cordless Combo Kit

Power, durability and quality. I have never had a problem with any Milwaukee tool that I have owned.

 

Women with tools.

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Ratchet Brace

Fuller Tool 890-1072 12-Point Reversible Ratchet Brace with 4-Jaw Chuck
Fuller Tool 890-1072 12-Point Reversible Ratchet Brace with 4-Jaw Chuck

You will be surprised just how neat and clean a hole you can bore with a good brace and bit.

 

Here They Are... - I told you that you could still get these!

Robert Larson 10 Inch Swing Bit Brace with 3 Jaw Chuck
Robert Larson 10 Inch Swing Bit Brace with 3 Jaw Chuck

Every woodworker should have one of these. Just a neat and very functional tool.

 

Have you ever heard a hurdy gurdy? - Just for fun listen to this.

Hurdy Gurdy Hand Drill

Schroeder Hand Drill 1/4-Inch Capacity
Schroeder Hand Drill 1/4-Inch Capacity

A handy little dandy. We used to call this hand crank drill a "Hurdy Gurdy". Cute and quiet!

 

Thanks for stopping by. God Bless You All.

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© 2011 Senditondown

Hope this information helped you. - You know what you are going to use these tools for, so shop wisely and stay within your budget.

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    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      I own plenty of power tools most of them are battery operated. My father taught me how to use them when I was a child. He used to says,"the world doesn't need helpless women,"

    • momsANDkids profile image

      momsANDkids 4 years ago

      For sure, my father would want one of those. Thank you for pooling together all these useful cordless tools. It's a nice lens to revisit when I have to give him a gift.

    • KandDMarketing profile image

      KandDMarketing 5 years ago

      I've got to replace some tools that I have had for over 20 years, from when I was a building and remodeling contractor. This farm I have now has finally worn them out! The cordless ones work best for me, as it saves me having to drag a generator all over the property. Thanks for the great lens!.

    • Svdharma LM profile image

      Svdharma LM 5 years ago

      Those are the exact same ryobi tools that I use every day, and the hand drill brings back fond childhood memories.

    • Paperquest5 profile image

      Paperquest5 5 years ago

      Great lens. Planning on buying the son-in-law a cordless drill and accessories for his birthday this weekend. Your lens helped me make some decisions, good job, Pastor Jim!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Well I learned a lot, and I am going to buy some cordless tools someday. (The hurdy gurdy not so much.)

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      thank you very much for sharing this lens. very helpful.

    • profile image

      BigD3575 5 years ago

      I really liked this story! Very informative!

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      Keep on sharing, we need all the assistance we can get!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      ...and out of the blue, a question on a hurdy gurdy...my brain went on 'tilt"...just as you planned. The brace and bit, original cordless drill brought me immediately to memories of my Dad using one and I just wanted to touch it again. I love your advice on the bare tool issue, there sure is no savings there and the the packages being offered today seem to be offering amazing savings as well as extra batteries. 4 batteries in 18 years is amazing, they don't seem to last that long these days.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is a pretty useful review. Nicely done!

    • JK Sterling profile image

      Jim Sterling 6 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      This is a great lens. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      Bahrns 6 years ago

      nice lens. packed with good and useful information! I own a number of cordless tools because their portable, easy to use and very efficient.

      Material Handling

    • TNTbefree profile image

      Loren Gross 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      Good stuff... If I could give you a hint, it would be to start linking your key words to Amazon with your affiliate code in them. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you need to check out my How to Link to Amazon Products page. You have good stuff here and you could be doing a lot more with it. Good luck and God bless...

    • BobBlackUK profile image

      BobBlackUK 6 years ago

      Nice lens. I thought I knew a lot about power tools but I still learned something here.

    • AshwinSajith LM profile image

      AshwinSajith LM 6 years ago

      Very informative lens :) You do know your stuff

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 6 years ago from USA

      I really liked this lens. Good pointers and selections of power tools. Thanks.