I visited the Milwaukee Electric Tools headquarters in Brookfield, Wisconsin last week for a preview of upcoming products set to debut later this year. Milwaukee has 48 new products launching throughout 2009, and I think I saw and tried out most of them during my time with the product teams. With all of their cordless development being for the M12, M18, and V28 lines, Milwaukee's focus on lithium-ion power--that they pioneered in 2006--means that they are no longer making nicad battery tools, even though nicad and their compatible lithium-ion replacement battery packs will continue to be available for years. A few older niche tools like the 14.4-volt caulk gun will probably survive this shift, but LI-Only is the overall strategy at Milwaukee.

Here is a glimpse at a few tools that I found to be the most notable.

Hot on the heels of their new Electronic Test and Measurement product line launch in the spring comes the advanced version of Milwaukee's remote digital video viewer, the M-Spector AV. This watertight video-camera-on-a-cable now has a recording function that can take and store 8000 photos or up to 90 minutes of video with audio. The included two-gigabyte SD memory card can be removed for data transfer or storage, or a cable can be connected directly to the tool to download images and video to a computer. Like its predecessor, the unit runs on an M12 battery pack.

Another interesting M12 subcompact series tool is the PVC Shear. This companion to last year's Copper Tubing Cutter is another unique hand tool replacement for the trades. The cutter slices up to 2-inch diameter schedule 40 PVC in just a few seconds, and can easily handle smaller tubing such as plastic conduit, PEX, and flexible hoses.

An M12 two-speed drill/driver with a 3/8-inch chuck also made its first appearance last week. This tool shares the small stature of Milwaukee's tool-test-winning subcompact driver (Tools of the Trade Winter 2009 issue) but has the ability to take all types of bits and run in two speed ranges.

The 18-volt M18 line's most exciting new development is a compact portable band saw with a throat capacity of 3 1/4- by 3 1/4-inches-sized to handle 85% of the cuts commonly made with portable band saws according to Milwaukee. The big idea behind this little saw is the size and weight benefit of a short, one-handed saw that weighs 40% less than its full-sized counterpart. This new tool also features a sliding shoe that retracts to allow flush cutting against a wall, an impact-resistant, one-piece shroud assembly that is easy to replace, and a novel blade "pusher" you press to release a hot blade from the wheels while protecting your fingers.

In the corded tool arena, a corded model of the compact band saw is available that is even one pound lighter than the M18 model.

Stay tuned for future sneak peeks at the latest tools we can find, including my New Tool Report article in the upcoming Summer issue of Tools of the Trade magazine.

As a product line footnote, Milwaukee is discontinuing their line of pneumatic nailers in the US. This move is part of their increasing focus on tools made for their core trades users. You heard it here first.

–Michael Springer

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M-Spector AV

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PVC Shear

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Subcompact Drill/Driver

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Compact Bandsaw