Recent discussions got me thinking about how some tool brands come out with new products while others push out new innovations. You can usually tell the difference right away.
Some new products are money grabs, “me-too” tools that don’t do or offer anything new. Worse is when the new products are bad designs – or poorly executed designs – aimed at funneling in gift givers around Father’s Day and Christmas.
But then there are the new innovations. The exciting tools that WOW us. The game-changers. Here are just a couple of recent developments that stand out in my mind as being especially innovative. Some are not exactly new, but they’re new enough.
Makita Brushless Impact Driver with Automatic Downshifting
Makita is no newcomer to brushless li-ion impact drivers, and their new LXDT06 brushless impact driver is proof of that. It has everything one would expect from a modern design – brushless motor, compact size, high torque, multiple speed and torque settings – but it also features Makita’s new automatic downshifting technology.
In the downshifting model, the tool starts off at high speed but shifts down to the medium speed setting once it senses fastener resistance. The impact mechanism kicks in at the slower speed to provide for a more precise driving action.
Advancements like this help keep things moving forward at a steady pace. At this time I can only wonder what new features the next generation of impact drivers will bring.
Makita 36V 18VX2 Heavy Duty Rotary Hammer
Another new Makita innovation allows users to use their 36V rotary hammer with 2x 18V battery packs. What this means is that Makita’s 18V li-ion tool users can use a much higher powered 36V rotary hammer without having to buy, carry, and maintain 36V batteries and chargers.
This just strikes me as a great idea, one that other brands must be kicking themselves over, for not thinking of it sooner.
Milwaukee M12 Cordless Tools
Milwaukee’s M12 and M18 Fuel lineups of brushless drills and drivers are more evolutionary than revolutionary, but it’s nice to see a brand step up and completely embrace brushless motor technology. These tools feature cutting-edge technologies and almost unbelievable power ratings, and will have some competitors scrambling to play catch-up for quite a bit longer.
The M12 lineup as a whole really deserves recognition. Heated jackets, compact rotary hammers, a one-hand band saw, the new universal dust extractor, and the list of firsts goes on and on. I keep thinking what will they come up with next? and the surprises keep coming.
In terms of a WOW, they came out with WHAT?! response factor, Milwaukee is miles ahead of its competitors.
Bosch Axial Glide Miter Saw
Bosch has a number of innovations under their belt, but their axial glide miter saw stands out as especially creative. I played around with the saw at a woodworking show and found the mechanism to be ultra smooth and precise. It couldn’t have been easy for engineers to get the design just right, but they did. I really like this type of out-of-the-box thinking and hope to see even more of it from Bosch in the future.
Ridgid JobMax Modular Power Tools
Ridgid’s JobMax modular power tool system allows you to swap tool heads for different tasks, rather than carrying around x-many individual tools. What’s even better is that there are multiple power handle options available: 12V, 18V, AC corded, and pneumatic.
New tool heads added to the lineup every so often, with the latest being a compact reciprocating saw attachment.
Yes, the JobMax platform is somewhat unconventional, but I find that to be refreshing, especially since the tools work very well.
This is awesome, but I have battery fatigue. What about the truly new stuff in HAND tools?
I think the Crescent Code Red nail puller is mighty neat. =P
There are innovative hand tools out there, but there are also a lot of gimmicks. I am definitely fond of the new high performance powder steel alloys.
There’s just so much room for creativity and evolution in power tool designs than hand tools.
Innovative eco friendly Makita 36V 18VX2 Heavy Duty Rotary Hammer.
I hope makita makes also 18V x2 circular saw and a reciprocating saw.
I agree with your comments about Milwaukee – especially as they have done a decent job of targeting the plumbing trade with a number of useful tools in their M12 and M18 lines. Their (2471-20) M12 tubing cutter was one of their first offerings – and we bought a few in 2009 – but found them disappointing for commercial use. Their 2470-20 plastic pipe shear that we tried out in 2010 got more use and we still find it handy in some situations. We had already bought into the M12 lineup for our installation work with cordless drivers and the Hackzall being mainstays for us. We had been doing more and more work with Uponor PEX tubing – but both the hand and powered expanders were pricey and had a tendency to “evaporate” or “grow legs” when left on some job sites. The new Milwaukee tools (M12 2432-20 and M18 2632-20 ) are much less spendy and get the job done for us – although the expansion process (especially on larger tubing) tends to heat the product (some way of cooling the expander head would be a welcome addition). Milwaukee’s M18 Force Logic Press Tool (2673-22) is another step forward – and while its $3100 price tag probably puts it squarely in the commercial realm – it is very competitive with its Ridgid competitor (RP330) and is a bit more ergonomic.
I still don’t follow along with the need for the auto-shift impact driver.
Doesn’t every user instinctively reduce trigger pull on the variable speed trigger at the the end of the drive, or when you feel more resistance or when the tone and speed of the impact mechanism changes?
overall, great list though.
The auto-shifting tech won’t be useful for everyone, but will be immensely useful for some.
I understand it to be more of a hybrid speed mode than a true auto-shifter. What it does is allow you start a fastener at full speed and finish it at medium speed, without having to manually switch settings back and forth. Users that typically set their 3-mode impact driver to the medium setting are the ones that will benefit most from this.
It just seems extremely forward-thinking to me, and something that makes impact drivers even more convenient to use.
Heck no not everyone slows down.. I can see where this would be a great feature.
Some guys just dont know when to let go of a trigger. I dont understand why they cant “hear or feel” what is going on but they just cant..
“I can only wonder what new features the next generation of impact drivers will bring.”
May not be a feature but I believe if someone steps up to the plate and play around in making an impact driver with sound deadening in mind…i would buy it.
I meant this more along the lines of advanced electronic user controls. There might be a way to quiet impact mechanisms, but if there is it’s beyond my imagination. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the noise level without affecting the impact action itself. Even if the gearbox was encapsulated in foam – or an insulating vacuum – the impact noise would still leak out around it.
There is enough room in my dc825 casing for a good 3/16 of an inch for some type of material to lower the hammering noise. Also, there is some more room inside the casing itself. I have taken mine apart before but here is an x-ray video…though kind of hard to see.
Moreover, the casing shell is pretty thin..here is an example…
I still would like any company to take this idea and try to implement…then we would see end users also compering noise dB levels.
I too would love to see a crazy innovative way to dampen the sound on impacts.
Erin's Creative Energy
My husband and I picked up the Bosch miter saw two years ago at a wood show and love it! One of my favorite tools in the shop.
I really want the 10″ axial glide to come out soon… 🙁 But I hope the dust collection is better than the 12″