Selecting the top 10 best new tools and products of 2012 took a lot of thought and deliberation. Here are the ones that made the cut, followed by our reasoning:
- Milwakee M12 FUEL
- Craftsman XCP
- Black & Decker Gyro
- Leatherman OHT
- Proto Ratcheting Spline Wrenches
- Gearwrench 120XP Ratchet
- Festool CMS Router Table
- Veritas PM-V11 Chisels and Planes
- RoboReel Powered Cord Reel
- Dewalt Tstak Tool Boxes
Cordless Power Tools (Professional): Milwaukee M12 FUEL
Milwaukee’s M12 FUEL lineup won’t be released for another month or so, but the new drills, drivers, and impact wrenches are so highly anticipated we couldn’t leave it out. These compact and lightweight tools have great torque and technical specs, but they also sport improved ergonomics and runtime.
Milwaukee’s top competitors MUST come out with brushless 12V drills and drivers of their own in 2013 to remain competitive. Bosch and Dewalt haven’t shown their hands yet, but we know they’re working on something.
Cordless Power Tools (DIY/Prosumer): Craftsman XCP Heavy Duty Drill
Craftsman’s new XCP drill/driver is a heck of a great product. We liked everything about it, and were impressed by its build quality and power for the price.
It’s a bit of a secret, but we know that Craftsman will be expanding the XCP line in 2013. The XCP drill/driver – and pending XCP tools – are designed as a step up from Craftsman’s C3 cordless tools but the batteries and tools are also cross-platform compatible.
We like the direction Craftsman is heading in with the XCP drill/driver and are eager to see what they have in store for 2013.
Cordless Power Tools (Homeowner): Black & Decker Gyro
Black & Decker’s Gyro screwdriver delivers 1/5th the torque of a 12V drill/driver and 1/10th the torque of a compact 18V drill/driver. It has no adjustable clutch and the battery charges overnight.
But sometimes all you need is an easy-to-use compact cordless screwdriver that you can slip into a pocket.
The Gyro is a smart cordless tool that is intuitive to use. Twist right to tighten, left to loosen, and how much you twist is how fast the motor spins. Yes it comes off as a gimmick, but underneath the marketing is a very well designed tool.
What will they think of next? Cordless tools that interface with your smartphone.
Hand Tools: Leatherman OHT Multi-Tool
Leatherman’s OHT multi-tool is absolutely fantastic. It’s not perfect, but it has quickly become my second favorite multi-tool for a number of reasons. Most notably, I love that the pliers deploy and close quickly and how all of the tools lock open.
A couple of design and configuration tweaks are needed to make the OHT better for consumers, tradesmen, and industrial users. Hopefully we’ll see another version come out in late 2013.
Mechanics Tools: Proto Ratcheting Spline Combination Wrench
Proto sent along two samples of their new ratcheting spline wrenches, and they left quite the impression on us. If I didn’t already have more wrenches than I know what to do with, I would be seriously pining for a set.
These new wrenches feel great in-hand and the refined open-end has proven its value in tight quarters. They are superb.
Mechanics Tools: Gearwrench 120XP Ratchet
The more teeth a ratchet mechanism has, the finer the ratchet’s minimum swing arc will be. But there’s a limit as to how fine-toothed you can go without compromising strength. Gearwrench’s 120XP ratchets have 120 positions thanks to a stacked dual-pawl mechanism.
We liked the new ratchet tech in theory, but its performance exceeded our best expectations.
Woodworking Power Tools: Festool CMS Router Table
We haven’t been able to execute our big plans for Festool’s CMS router table yet (quick review here), but it only took a few uses to make something very clear: Festool’s engineers and industrial designers are masters of detail.
The CMS router table is the best woodworking tool to hit the market in 2012. It excels at dust collection, but almost every routing operation is quicker, easier, or simpler on the CMS. There isn’t another off-the-shelf router table – portable or otherwise – that comes close.
Woodworking Hand Tools: Veritas PM-V11 Chisels and Planes
This chart by Veritas shows why their new PM-V11 chisel and steel alloy beats the other popular steels on the market. While not as easy to sharpen as O1 alloys, it’s quicker to sharpen than A2 with superior edge retention and impact resistance.
What does this all mean? If you’re in the market for new woodworking chisels, planes, or plane blades, Veritas’s new alloy provides the best of all worlds. You’ll pay more than you would for A2 or O1 bladed and products, but thus far it looks to be very well worth it.
Garage & Shop Accessories: RoboReel
The RoboReel isn’t just an extension cord reel, it’s a portable power cord system. Okay, so it’s a fancy power cord reel. At the surface the RoboReel seems like an expensive accessory for guys that have run out of things to buy for their garage or shop. But that’s not to say it isn’t incredibly useful.
Spring-mounted reels must be securely mounted, but the motorized RoboReel can be positioned out of the way or anywhere you need it. Plus it’s a lot easier to use than spring-rewind reels.
Air and water hose reels are also available, but this 50′ 15A version seems most practical.
Tool Storage: Dewalt Tstak Tool Boxes
Dewalt’s Tstak tool boxes are convenient, inexpensive, durable, and versatile. They’re not quite as robust as Dewalt’s Tough System cases or as versatile as Bosch’s L-Boxx system, but they offer better bang for the buck.
Tstak cases are currently only available at a few independent distributors, but we hope to seem them hit mainstream retailers. They make for great tool boxes and compact tool and accessory kits.