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Power Tools for Beginning Tradesmen


Builder16

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Hello Everyone,

I am starting in the trades and am looking at buying into a cordless line of tools. What would you guys suggest? I want find the most complete line I can. I am mostly going to be doing remodeling and finishing. I want to find out what system people have and how they like it. 

Nathan 

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Any route you go will serve you well, if your going to do a lot of carpentry Makita and DEWALT are great options, Dewalts a winner with its flexvolt line of tools, Makita is great as well I run a few of their X2 tools like the cordless Miter and track saw, very happy with it


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Most people will say one can not just have one brand. Technically for a general remodel you could get by with almost any Pro grade brand. Some brands may have a few specially tools that may make remodel tasks easier but might offer them at a premium price. The power tool brands I currently own are Festool 18v, Dewalt 20v Max/Flexvolt, and Milwaukee m12.

 

Milwaukee m12 is nice I don't have much in the line but I expect to get more in the future. About the only remodel type tool I have in the line is the m12 stapler. You could use it to tack up insulation, or a small patch of moisture barrier, etc. The m12 line is nice. Size is good and most of the newer items could probably power through 90% of the tasks you ask it to do.

 

My Festool items are probably the most specialty. I have the cordless tracksaw and the cordless barrel grip jigsaw. You could do a similar function to a tracksaw by using a straight edge and a standard circular saw but I would argue a tracksaw would be more cost effective and deliver better results when cutting sheet material, doors coutertops, etc. even though the price tag is higher. They are a lot easier and safer to use by yourself than a table saw. No one wants to manhandle a 4x8 piece of plywood on a tiny jobsite table saw by themselves. On another note a track saw is not great for cutting framing lumber or casement so a standard circular saw and/or a miter saw would be a better option. The Festool track saw is really nice with good power. I prefer it over the Flexvolt tracksaw I have. The jig saw I got to do a bit of curved cuts. The Festool is alright. It has some nice features and accessories that you can get for it. There are a few corded items in their lineup I have that just don't have a good cordless option right now that I think are worth taking a look into. I have the OF1400 router, CT dust extractor, and the Rotex 150 sander. The router is maybe not that important especially one this nice but it has some of the best micro adjust I have used and has features and accessories that make it a step above the rest in my opinion. The fact it can be used with my guide rails is huge. I can use the guide rail to make dados and shelf pins. The rotex basically makes any heavy sanding task that much faster. You have a gear system that can be engaged to force the sanding pad to spin at high rpm ensuring material is removed as quickly as possible. It also acts as a random orbital sander whether gears are engaged or not. A vac will really extend the life of the sandpaper saving time and money. The CT series of vacs are expensive but nice. They have tool activated suction via power cord or bluetooth, remote activation, hepa certification, antistatic, and low noise. Dust extractors are on a whole different level when compared to your basic "shop vac". They are designed for connecting to tools. Other brands of dust extractors would still be good options.

 

I have the most cordless tools from my DeWALT collection. I have a few 20v max tools but mostly Flexvolt. When I started in the trades DeWALT was really the only brand I had much cordless experience with. I knew of other brands but never really had much knowledge or experience with them. I started with a basic 20v drill and impact kit. I didn't really venture into buying more power tools until around the time I learned about Flexvolt. I started with the Flex recip, then got the flex sliding miter, and got the flex tablesaw, track saw, and rear handle circ saw a bit later. Everything has done a decent job. I have always wanted to cut the cord and Flexvolt was the only option with the tools I wanted at the time. I most recently got the flex grinder. I havent used it on much besides mower blades but it is a tool that would work great on remodels. to cut out plaster, cast iron pipe, small concrete grinding/cutting, tile work, etc. A few years later and pretty much every pro brand has a higher demand battery platform now. Flexvolt, Multivolt, x2, High Output, Core, Lithium HD, Octane, etc.

 

Personally for someone just starting out DEWALT is not a bad option. It averages slightly lower prices than Makita and Milwaukee and it has presence in almost any tool store where Milwaukee and Makita are harder to find. It is easy to get into DeWALT then if you want to upgrade to/switch to/add another brand you.

 

In my opinion these tools you should start with or at least acquire within a reasonable amount of time. (lets say everything is cordless)

  • brushless hammer drill/driver with metal chuck
  • brushless impact driver. Multiple speeds is nice but not essential
  • brushless reciprocating saw
  • oscillating multitool. One with Starlock would be nice but limited to only Bosch, Fein, and Festool right now
  • a standard brushless circular saw.

These tools you don't need at first but will be nice to have eventually. (lets say everything is cordless)

  • a tracksaw with 4 foot guide rail and 8 foot guide rail
  • miter saw (sliding to start with)
  • table saw
  • angle grinder
  • lighting
  • nailers/staplers
  • router
  • sander
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To start every line will have a drill/driver and a circular saw. Look beyond those because at $50-100 per battery you don't want to own too many different batteries, although there is nothing wrong with lots of batteries. Do you see yourself doing lots of carpentry? Finish or rough? Plumbing? Electrical? Some lines don't have great support for certain things. Like a PEX expander/crimper if you foresee doing lots of plumbing in awkward spaces where running copper might not be the best plan. Or doing lots of concrete and brick drilling. Or turning wrenches on a lot of large (1"+) bolts. Or having a good demolition saw (aka Sawzall). Or good lighting. Each of the professional lines has its strong suits. For instance as mentioned Festool has some awesome wood working tools but Dewalt does too and is considerably more common. For what you've said so far you can't go wrong with Dewalt or Makita but Dewalt will be lower cost.

I would never consider Milwaukee M12 as your main tool line. What it's goid for is light weight "every day" tools. So if you need a drill/driver, fine. Even a mini demolition saw that's not so mini. It has a circular saw that will go to town on 2x4 and 2x6 but not a common 4x4 where even a corded saw does that. They have the shortest compact impact wrench. It has a band saw but the throat limits you to under 1". Fine for water lines but not DWV. Decent lighting options but short battery life. Eventually you need a good larger circular saw, demolition saw, drill/driver that can do concrete and that's where M12 falls down. This is why M12 is a good secondary tool line. Starting out though I'm not sure this would not be a bad first choice if you have access to larger tools or maybe some older stuff. Going the other way if you buy into a large set with 3-5 tools now in saw Dewalt 20 V line then later down the road buy the small light Milwaukee M12 drill you won't take such a big hit to the pocket the moment you find yourself having to buy a bigger or more specialized tool and getting stuck buying batteries too.

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Hello,

Thanks for all the great advice. I already have a DeWALT circ saw, drill, and impact. I think that I will stick with that system for right now. I also have some of the toughsystem items. I have some experience with Festools and they are very nice tools. I plan on doing mostly rough framing but also some finer work as well. This is where I can see the Festools being good. Another thing that I forgot to mention was nailers. What would you say for those? Battery or Pneumatic? Let me know

Nathan   

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Hello,
Thanks for all the great advice. I already have a DeWALT circ saw, drill, and impact. I think that I will stick with that system for right now. I also have some of the toughsystem items. I have some experience with Festools and they are very nice tools. I plan on doing mostly rough framing but also some finer work as well. This is where I can see the Festools being good. Another thing that I forgot to mention was nailers. What would you say for those? Battery or Pneumatic? Let me know
Nathan   



Dewalt. Cordless nailers do everything I need. Home repair specialist. More akin to remodeling than new construction.

21* framer, 30* framer, 15, 18, 18 stapler.

Cordless framer is great in the trusses. Stapler is great in the crawlspace.

Any of the big brands will offer nearly all of what you need.


The convenience of one battery platform is nearly the same as the convenience of no cords or hoses.




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On 7/10/2019 at 6:27 PM, Builder16 said:

Hello,

Thanks for all the great advice. I already have a DeWALT circ saw, drill, and impact. I think that I will stick with that system for right now. I also have some of the toughsystem items. I have some experience with Festools and they are very nice tools. I plan on doing mostly rough framing but also some finer work as well. This is where I can see the Festools being good. Another thing that I forgot to mention was nailers. What would you say for those? Battery or Pneumatic? Let me know

Nathan   

 

Personally I'm not a fan of cordless nailers yet. Yes, they are convenient, but very heavy and slow IMO, I'm sure they will improve in the future.  I'd rather invest in a good light weight hose and quiet air compressor 

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