Better Than a Broom
Construction projects create an abundance of all sorts of filth: sawdust, insulation fibers, drywall dust, shingle grit, dirt. It's everywhere. Sure, you'll always have to keep a broom and dustpan in your truck, but consider adding a blower to your cleaning arsenal. It's great for clearing floors during rough framing, blowing shingle grit or slippery sawdust off a roof, cleaning up that miter saw before packing up, blowing out the inside of your work truck...you could even use it to dust yourself off before heading home for the day.
If you're already running the Milwaukee's M18 battery platform, check out the new M18 Compact Blower. It has three speed settings, a max airflow of 100 cfm and air speeds up to 160 mph!
Pole Saw Attachment
Last year we bought a 40-volt Ryobi string trimmer. It worked so well that when our gas-powered pole saw died, we decided to ditch the gas and go cordless. We figured we'd stick with Ryobi but were disappointed when we didn't see a 40-volt model at The Home Depot. But then a pole saw attachment without a power head caught our eyes. It turns out that we had unknowingly bought a stringer trimmer that was part of the Expand-It line, which works with all sorts of different attachments, including a pole saw.
We bought the Ryobi Pole Saw Attachment and abused it all afternoon with excellent results. The best part was that it cost about half as much as one of similar quality that required a power head and battery?sometimes it's better to be lucky. Other Expand-It attachments include a hedge trimmer, brush cutter, edger and more.
Milwaukee Brushless Drivers
We love Milwaukee's new impact driver and hammer drill: brushless motors for longer run-times, Milwaukee's best batteries and all the bells and whistles (LED lights, power meters, belt hooks, etc.). We've used these tools hard for a few months now and they haven't let us down. We were particularly impressed by the impact driver's speed selector, which can give you better control when it's set for slow speed.
The two tools are available as a set, with two batteries and a charger. Plus, you'll find lots of other pro tools that use the same excellent battery platform.
165-Foot Laser Measure
If you do much estimating or working alone, a laser measure can be a real time-saver. It's easy to operate: Hold the laser to one surface, turn it on and measure to a distance of up to 165 ft. You can also use it to calculate area, volume and angles, and record all your results wirelessly on your phone. There's also a handy digital level.
For many contractors and real estate agents, a laser measure is an essential tool. But DIYers may also find one handy: It's like a super-long, one-handed tape measure that you can slip into your pocket. You can buy the Bosch 165-ft. Laser Measure at The Home Depot and other retailers.
Clear Drainpipes Like a Pro
Professional drain augers cost anywhere from $300 to well over $1,000. That's just not in the price range of most homeowners, even for us hard-core DIYers. But now every homeowner with finicky drainpipes can play professional plumber with Ryobi's new battery-operated Drain Auger. It runs on an 18-volt ONE+ battery and costs less than $60 (for the tool only). That's about half of what a plumber would charge just for showing up at your door.
It's a Utility Light, Lantern, Flashlight and More...
Here's another product we received that initially elicited a shoulder shrug, this time from our senior editor, Travis Larson. His reaction changed once he started playing with it: 'Hey, it can work as a flashlight or a lantern. Cool, it's rechargeable and the cord stays attached so it doesn't get lost. Wow, you can charge your phone with this thing. Neat, it has a magnet on the bottom as well as a hook.' Needless to say, he was impressed.
You can buy the Cat brand CT6515 Rechargeable Utility Light/Lantern for about $45 at some home centers, hardware stores and online retailers. You can also find them at truck stops (truckers love them).
Cordless Glue Gun
Black & Decker has transformed a useful tool into one that's super handy. Its new 20V MAX Cordless Glue Gun feels like a real tool in your hand. And it heats up in 90 seconds.
Unlike most glue guns, which lie on their sides, this model stands up straight, keeping the business end out of harm's way. And as the name says, it's cordless! It runs off a Black & Decker 20V MAX lithium battery and has a run-time of up to three hours. You can buy just the tool online for $40 or get the tool and battery for $80.
Powerful Saw, Smart Batteries
Pros have been reluctant to cut the cord on larger tools because of a reduction in power and limited run-times. But DeWalt has addressed those concerns with a pro-grade double-bevel compound sliding miter saw equipped with a brushless motor run by two powerful FLEXVOLT batteries. And if there's a plug-in handy, the saw can be converted to a corded saw by means of an adapter.
The versatility of the new smart FLEXVOLT batteries that power this saw is another big plus. Two of these 60-volt batteries can be combined to produce 120 volts in larger tools like this miter saw. Or one battery can be used to power 60-volt tools like a cordless DeWalt circ saw or grinder. But here's where it gets interesting: This very same 60-volt battery knows when you plug it into a 20-volt tool and will provide 20 volts of power with 6.0 amp-hours of run-time. That's up to four times the run-time of previous batteries (a 9AH version will be available soon).
Now you only need a couple batteries to power a whole arsenal of tools, including the tools you already own. Purchase the complete package, including the DHS790AT2 saw, two FLEXVOLT batteries, dual-port charger and corded power supply, at home centers, tool stores and online retailers.
Robotic Lawn Mower
The Automower from Husqvarna works great. The guide wire that runs around the perimeter of your yard is held down with stakes, so no trenching was necessary, and programming is simple. The whole setup took less than 90 minutes. What makes this machine excel is the retractable, razor-like cutting blades. They're just a fraction of the size of thick steel blades, which results in clean cuts, longer run-times and super-quiet operation.
Unplugged Housekeeping Assistant
If you hate cleaning and are looking for something to make the job less painful, this just might be the assistant you need. Black & Decker's 36V MAX Lithium Stick Vac (No. BDH3600SV) is a cordless upright that's fun to use and does a great job on carpeted stairs and in tight spaces. What's even cooler is that it doubles as a handheld vacuum. You just pull the motor away from the handle to create a powerful handheld cleaning buddy. It works great around toilets and tubs ? many people's two least favorite spots. The cleaning wand on the handheld part extends another 4-1/2 in., making it easy to get into closet corners.
The fully charged 36-volt lithium battery lasts 17 minutes?an indicator light lets you know the remaining battery capacity. A lightweight upright/handheld won't replace the full-size plug-in vacuum that I use for heavy cleaning (accompanied by heavy complaining), but it makes a midweek touch-up easy. Plus, you'll love not tripping over the cord. The 36V MAX Lithium Stick Vac is available at home centers, many stores and online.
Powerful Yard Tools
Not that long ago, battery-powered outdoor equipment was a promising idea, but not all that practical. But battery technology has improved, and the power of modern lithium-ion batteries has grown substantially. First there was 18 volts, then 36 volts, then 40, 56 and now even 80 volts from a single battery! When you combine these honkin' big batteries with new motor technologies, you get tools that compete favorably with their gas-engine cousins. Chain saws powerful enough to cut 18-in. logs all morning. Mowers you can use for huge yards. Trimmers that will run longer than you can.
And boy, do we love the benefits. Reliable push-button starting, quieter operation and no messing with gas (or worse, mixing gas and oil!). You'll find most of the major manufacturers making these next-generation tools. Each offers many tools that take the same batteries: mowers, trimmers, chain saws, blowers, pole trimmers, hedge trimmers and more. The new 80V battery from Greenworks will even run a snow blower! Cordless tools cost more up front, but they are super-handy! If you've ever doubted that battery-powered tools would pack enough power for you, give these new ones a try.