What is the best Lithium-ion hand tool brand?

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
I saw @Oka 's thread and his mention of his drills and impact drivers:

It made me post my question

I am still using Dewalt NiCad technology and am considering upgrading to Li Ion, but am not sure what brand is best. I know this is a "Ford / Chevy" debate, but I have looked at Dewalt, Makita and Milwaukee, read some reviews, but don't see a clear winner...

From what I have read, I think the Milwaukee Fuel line is probably the "strongest" (higher torque, longer lasting battery etc.) but it is significantly higher priced than the Dewalt and Makita, so I think - is it really worth it?

Opinions appreciated, but real-world recent experience with multiple models is really who I want to hear from...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Oka

KenOfCary

Board of Directors, Secretary
Ken
Staff member
Corporate Member
Festool can't be beat! I have two of their drill drivers. Bought the second one from their refurbished program.
 

Martin Roper

Martin
User
All the major brands of tools are very good these days, much better than just 10 years ago. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. Even Ryobi has stepped up its game with their new compact brushless line.

Consider the size of the battery platform. Does it have all the tools you need? You don't want to mess with a bunch of different brands with different batteries and chargers.

Ergonomics is a big deal to me. If a tool is not comfortable in my hand I'm not going to enjoy using it. Go to the store and handle the tools.

Another big deal to me is a multi-port charger.

1606148960603.png


I'm not a pro and budget is a big concern for me as is a big platform. All my battery-powered stuff is Ryobi and I'm happy with it. Most of my corded stuff is Makita.
 

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
I have been a casual user of these, and more recently a more regular user. my summary likely does not help with the debate, as I have been a bargain shopper for tools rather than a 'best system' buyer.

10-12 years ago I started with <$100 12V Bosch Li-ion hex driver, once I grew tired of picking up seldom used and cmpletely discharged NiCd units. This Bosch has w/ 2 batts - slow drive and low powered but great for in-shop drill and drive. No jacobs chuck, just a 1/4" hex. Now resides with my son for household use.

Then a <$100 12V Ridgid set with drill and impact driver. Impact driver is great, even for a light and compact unit. Slower than an 18V beast, but very compact and usable. Drill in the set is OK, except the chuck is too likely to open and loose grip ... that was/is a PITA. This is now my in-shop tool set.

Next a Metabo (or Hitachi?) 18V driver with 2 batts for $50 on clearance at Lowe's a year or 2 ago; great experience. I have built or done major repairs on a few large decks with this and would consider adding more to this lineup.

Theme so far is I buy tools when I can find 'em cheap.

Continuing that theme, I bought a set of re-con Ryobi One+ 18V tools when the Direct Tools in Smithfield had a 'corporate clean out' sale that I learned about here on NCWW. For <$200 I bought (Reconditioned):
- 5 pc set (5.5" circ saw, sawsall, osc saw, drill + non-LEd 'light' which is useless), + charger and 2 batts
- 2 pc set (hammer drill and impact driver) + charger and 2 batt,
- 'quiet' impact/pulse driver,
- 6.5" circ saw,
- 1-gal compressor - which is light and portable. This with a short coil hose and my old pneumatic nailers has proven to be my solution to a 'just a few brad nails' job, where I don't want to drag out long hoses and a what feels like 70lb compressor
- plus another 12V Ridgid tool and batt
I figure if I ever wear out any of these Ryobi tools then I am using it enough to justify a more expensive brand. I do not think any of these are brushless. None has shown any signs of weakness yet through some heavy use, but mostly occasional use.

SO far my experience with these is the Ryobi One+ impact driver(s) and jigsaw are great,
- sawsall and hammer drill are fine, though I haven't put either through much of a test
- circ saw works fine too, and I love that it is light and controllable; it goes through batts somewhat quickly (I only have 1.5 and 2 Ahr batts),
- osc saw is great for work on a ladder (controllably cutting out rotted window trim), but for longer uses i would likely get out corded version

My use is on the jobsite - with max of 2 people. Neither of us are tool abusers, but these are tools there to do a job, not there to impress others or look pretty; impact driver and circ saw have had most work, and both have held up well. Only useless thing in this whole package is the 'light'.

SO I have been on what many consider the low end of tools - but they have made money for me reliably (BTW not years and years) - without impressing anyone. I do a wide variety of work and so I am not doing one thing day after day with one or three tools.

The biggest surprise (and bargain at $15) is the One+ compressor. For the occasional trim work, like a single window or door or similar, this is a far better solution IMHO than the quite expensive batt driven nail drivers (assuming you/we already have the pneumatic versions). Of course we all have our preferences, and I can see many good reasons to make different choices than I have.

So I have gone low up front cost, and have not been disappointed in the performance of any of these choices. These have been value choices, not absolute performance at more cost choices.
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
All the major brands of tools are very good these days, much better than just 10 years ago. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. Even Ryobi has stepped up its game with their new compact brushless line.

Consider the size of the battery platform. Does it have all the tools you need? You don't want to mess with a bunch of different brands with different batteries and chargers.

Ergonomics is a big deal to me. If a tool is not comfortable in my hand I'm not going to enjoy using it. Go to the store and handle the tools.

Another big deal to me is a multi-port charger.

View attachment 197891

I'm not a pro and budget is a big concern for me as is a big platform. All my battery-powered stuff is Ryobi and I'm happy with it. Most of my corded stuff is Makita.
yes, that is a real problem, I have 18V Ni Cad (or NiMH...) drill impact and circular saw - so those are the ones I would definitely replace... also I consider that I will have to spend $100 to get batteries (soon - 6 months or less) so I would discount any platform by $100, but I am trying not to regret my decision in 6 months...
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
Home Depot is running a sale on 18v brushless multi-tool sets from Dewalt and Milwaukee for $299.

View attachment 197893View attachment 197894
Thanks, but my research has me believe these sets are not at the same level of product that has longevity...

For example - you are getting multiple tools for $299 and the Milwaukee fuel line has drill and impact for $399!

then on the third hand :p as Henry W points out - the amount you spend may not be equal to the work you get out of the tool!
 

Oka

Casey
Corporate Member
Funny you'd should ask Henry ....... my destructive curiosity got me wondering about this. It started with ordering the wrong battery for a laptop and they would not allow any returns, so I took it apart, which after this 1st time I did this many more times. As it turns out, most if not all these battery packs are constructed from 18650 maybe 10% are either the 17500 or the 16650, which are a bit smaller. Makita, Dewalt and Milwaukee all use the these batteries in their battery pack connected in series. That Laptop battery? it was 9 of the batteries shown in the pix, set in series and a few in parallel to increase amp hours. I used those batteries in my LED flashlights.
Anyway, the Lithium Ion batteries are best on the market. They charge faster and discharge faster and hold their charge better.

You can take a battery apart and rebuild it with these batteries. Trivia I know but interesting that they all use these kinds of batteries. Bottom line I guess the quality of that battery would be the determiner, not the face brand. Because, none of them make the battery, they all buy from a 3rd party and slap their name on it.
 

Attachments

Graywolf

Board of Directors, Vice President
Richard
Corporate Member
I’m using the Dewalt products 20volts. As things wear out I up grade. However, all the others suggested are strong products. I use mine everyday and have few complaints.
 

Oka

Casey
Corporate Member
One tool I recommend getting is the grinder. You will be surprised how useful it is. Outside the drill, screwgun and circ-saw it is the most used in my shop. You can cut metal with a .040 blade or use it as a shaper or smoother with a flapper wheel. It is really a useful add to the shop.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Hank, I have the Bosch 18V 1/2" Drill/Driver and really like it. I noticed that Lowes currently has a BOGO on certain Bosch tools but didn't stop to read the details - you might want to look at that offer.
 

awldune

Sam
User
FWIW, I also like the Bosch 18V. But be aware that there are some limitations of their offering on that platform. No yard tools, if you care about that. No palm router. Ryobi One+ (for example) is much more versatile.
 

Our Sponsors

LATEST FOR SALE LISTINGS

Top