Our mission at Tools of the Trade is to feed your endless appetite for new tools, which includes telling you about product introductions as soon as we learn about them. In this latest installment of our regular series of new-tool updates, we're taking a look into the future: Some of these tools won't be available until summer or fall. For more new cordless tools, be sure to read Product Watch. And to keep up with our latest reporting between print issues, check out our blogs at toolsofthetrade.net/blogs or sign up for our e-newsletter.
Bosch is releasing the latest version of its category-starting subcompact Pocket Driver. The tool has a two-speed gearbox for added torque and speed, and its head has been shortened to just over 51/2 inches long. Its bit holder is still the only one we've seen that works with 1-inch bits – a very smart design feature to keep the tool short in use.
The company's corded/cordless job-site radio is even louder and more versatile than before. Besides being compatible with MP3 and satellite radio devices, the new Power Box 360 can read music files right off memory sticks or thumb drives, letting you keep your delicate MP3 player away from the job site. It can charge or be powered by Bosch's 14.4- or 18-volt tool batteries and will also charge most USB-enabled devices.
In the manufacturer's rapidly growing laser tool line, the most interesting development is the more-affordable two-plane laser that projects 360-degree planes without a motorized spinning beam. Instead, projecting the laser beam onto a reflective cone flattens it out into a plane. The company says the unit is the first to achieve a vertical plane with a cone mirror.
Craftsman is pushing the limits of what we thought we would see out of 10.8- to 12-volt subcompact tools by adding a cordless detail sander and even a mini circ saw to its Nextec line. The TrueFinish sander has a belt-drive mechanism designed to improve balance and can run 25 minutes under a typical sanding load, according to the maker. The circ saw has a 33/8-inch blade for small jobs and an LED headlight. Both tools have vacuum-connection ports.
DeWalt is the second major brand to jump into the compact band-saw market, with an 18-volt cordless model that will be sold tool-only or in lithium-ion or nicad battery kits. This saw has a 21/2-inch-square cutting capacity and takes a 327/8-inch blade that is not compatible with the competitor's tools.
Also new is DeWalt's biggest, baddest wormdrive saw, which we are currently testing for our Summer issue.
As part of a licensing deal with Empire, DeWalt now has its name on premium construction levels in 2-, 4-, and 6-foot lengths. According to Empire, these levels have unique features and are their top-of-the-line offering.
Festool is updating its venerable C12 drill/driver and offering a larger C15 version, too. In addition to introducing lithium-ion batteries to the C line – 10.8-volt compact for the C12 and full size 14.4-volt for the C15 – the company has given both tools second-generation features like improved brushless motors, independent clutch and drill mode settings, and trigger-activated LED headlights. The electronic clutch works by reducing the motor output at lower settings, and its dial is in the handle loop.
Festool has also paired with Stabila for an exclusive Festool-branded version of Stabila's 196 series 4-foot level with lighted vials.
Hart hammers are making a comeback under new ownership as part of the TTI family of tool brands. Nine tools are planned for the initial launch, with heads ranging from 18 to 25 ounces and handles made of fiberglass, hickory, or steel. The designs are reminiscent of the old Hart look but incorporate the side nail pullers found on some Stiletto framers. The wood-handled hammers all feature the signature axe-eye handle socket popularized by the Hart brand, as well as its iconic flattened hatchet-style handles and curved axe-style handles.
Hilti has been busy breaking out new demo hammers. From a 26-pound breaker with 16 foot-pounds of impact energy to a 31-pound model with 22 foot-pounds, each is bigger and more powerful than the last. And now the company has added a full-size breaker, which weighs 65 pounds and delivers 50 foot-pounds of impact energy.
Hilti also has new 18-volt cordless tools, including a rotary hammer and a drywall screw gun. The screw gun is designed to run up to two hours and can be used with or without a collated screw magazine.
Hitachi is the second major player in the corded 61/2-inch-blade circ-saw market. It will be interesting to see if other brands get involved and make this size of saw a true tool class. The company's other new circ saw is a 71/4-inch metal-cutting model with a unique stainless steel shoe.
Other standout tools include a long-awaited 23-gauge pinner with a 13/8-inch capacity and a small civilized radio that utters hello and goodbye salutations when you switch it on or off. The radio is compatible with MP3 players and can be powered by many of the brand's slide or tower batteries.
Hitachi also released its first chain saws. Since the company owns outdoor power equipment manufacturer Tanaka, expect to see even more gas-powered tools coming out in green trade dress.
Makita has five new screw guns, with driving speeds of 2,500, 4,000, and 6,000 rpm. All share the same 6-amp motor; three are configured for drywall screws and two for larger fasteners. In true pro fashion, the higher rpm drywall guns are sold with 50-foot-long twist-lock cords.
Makita also introduced a small 7/8-inch rotary hammer that uses the same sequential hit pattern technology as the company's larger hammers. According to Makita, this mechanism pulverizes the concrete more evenly by synchronizing the blows and rotation of the bit so that the bit doesn't strike in the same place twice in succession.
Other big releases include 27- and 42-pound demo hammers with 19 and 26 foot-pounds of impact energy respectively, and a 12-inch version of the award-winning linear bearing miter saw.
Milwaukee entered the painting trades with an airless paint sprayer that does double duty as an HVLP sprayer for fine finishes. The tool can be rolled around the job with a bucket of paint on board, and it fits industry-standard spray tips.
In other corded news, new standard-duty Sawzalls with 12-amp motors are available with either a 3/4- or 11/8-inch stroke length, and the brand introduced its lightest and most compact 4-1/2-inch angle grinder ever. Milwaukee also continues to branch out its subcompact M12 cordless line with specialty tools like a right-angle drill, a no-hub fitting driver, and even a grease gun. The drill has a short 3-
3/4-inch head length and a 3/8-inch chuck. The no-hub driver is a dedicated plumber's tool for torquing down wormdrive clamps on flexible fittings to either 60 or 80 inch-pounds.
Milwaukee has ventured into the hand-tool business, too, with a jab saw, a multi-tip screwdriver, and utility knives. The saw has a unique drywall rasp on the side of the blade, and the driver features a new bit type invented by Milwaukee to better fit the special screw heads on electrical outlet and switch terminals.
Ridgid introduced the latest incarnation of its 10-inch-blade tile saw, which can cut 24-inch tile, even diagonally. The saw's unique motor head adjusts to three positions along its overhead rail to provide a wider cutting range, and its cart extends for extra-long cuts.
Other notably improved products include the easier-to-use MSUV folding miter saw stand, which is 40 percent lighter than its predecessor; an updated portable 10-inch table saw with a UL guard; and a more compact job-site radio supported by a flexible suspension system inside a roll cage. The radio has improved MP3 player adaptability and can run on the brand's 12-, 14.4-, and 18-volt tool batteries.
An impressively small cordless jigsaw is on the way as well. A planetary gear drive in the head of the tool accounts for its compact size, and the saw has settings for blowing away sawdust or – if the tool's attached to a vac – sucking it up.
Ryobi made a few additions to its Tek 4 line of devices, which run off a universal rechargeable battery. The most notable is an inexpensive two-gigabyte MP3 player built for rough use.
The company also has a cutting tool for laminate flooring that consists of a 5-inch-blade saw mounted to a base that holds flooring for crosscuts, rips, or angle cuts.
– Michael Springer