Many trades have relied on cordless tools for years or even decades. But not the folks who hang drywall; they’ve been tethered to cords since screws began to replace drywall nails. In the years since that time manufacturers have tried to win drywall contractors over to cordless screw guns but failed to win drywall contractors over to cordless screw guns because the tools they offered were noticeably heavier than corded models, lacked sufficient runtime, or were configured for collated fasteners only.
But with the development of brushless motors and more energy dense batteries, cordless drywall screw guns are poised to hit the mainstream. In the last few months Bosch, DeWalt, and Makita have announced or released 18-volt brushless cordless drywall guns. I think it’s happening now because the tool companies have put brushless motors into all the obvious things, mass-market tools like drills and impact drivers, and are ready to extend the technology into niche products like drywall guns. For tradesmen it will mean being able to hang board with cordless guns that are light, compact, and capable of driving enough screws per charge to be legitimate replacements for corded.
The tool companies would like to sell these guns to everyone but are making their strongest pitch to commercial drywall contractors. Cords are a particularly big hassle in commercial settings, where cords must be run great distances and people work off lifts or high staging. They pose a tripping hazard to everyone on the jobsite and the tools they power can trip breakers, interrupting work while someone walks to the panel or spider box to reset the breaker. Cords are frequently damaged by people rolling things over them or by the ever-present scrap from metal studs and must be replaced to avoid citation by OSHA or because they no longer work. Most tradesmen switch to cordless as soon as good cordless tools are available for their trade because it allows them to be more productive.
- Bosch's screw gun is about to come out and will be sold in a one-battery kit and bare. The tool is compatible with an existing auto-feed attachment so it can be used with collated fasteners. The company hasn’t announced a cutout tool for use with this gun.
- DeWalt’s screw gunwill be available in April 2015 and sold bare and in two different two-battery kits. A compatible 20V MAX cutout tool already exists and a magazine for collated fasteners is on the way.
- Makita’s screw gun is out and available for purchase bare or in a two-battery kit. The company does not currently offer a magazine for this gun but is selling an 18-volt cutout tool.
See the stories below for a detailed description of the individual tools. The specs they contain were provided by the manufacturers or came from their websites and I would take the runtime numbers with a grain of salt. Not that I think anyone’s cheating, but tool companies tend to devise test procedures that put their tools in the best possible light. My take on the runtime numbers are this: if the new brushless drywall guns can achieve one of the more modest claims made—1,500 fasteners per charge on 4.0 Ah batteries—then they’re all pretty awesome.