Every cordless power tool, at all levels from budget-priced to super-premium, has design compromises.
If you want more speed, you sometimes have to give up torque. More torque? You might need to put up with heavier weight.
Let’s take a l0ok at some of the major factors that guide or are guided by a cordless power tool’s design.
Which of these aspects are most important to you, for your most-used tools?
If there’s one on-paper spec that most people look at more than anything, it’s torque. Heavy duty tasks and larger power tool accessories require more powerful motors and gearing.
Cordless drills benefit from having two or sometimes three gear settings. In other tools, the speed and torque are fixed. Many tools have a variable speed trigger switch, but you can only gain torque if the gearing is changed. Simply slowing down a motor won’t increase its torque or power.
Application Speed or Performance
A perfect tool would be fast and powerful. But for most tools, torque has to be traded for faster speeds.
Application performance is usually dependent on both speed and torque, but it can sometimes be considered separately.
Let’s say you have two identical cordless circular saws. One has a 6-1/2″ blade, the other has a 7-1/4″ blade. Which cuts faster?
Ignoring torque considerations for a moment, if both saws have the same speed rating, the saw with the larger blade should cut faster. Why? The larger blade has a larger circumference, which means that for the same RPMs, more “cutting edge” is passing through the work material in the same amount of time.
To gain a sense of application performance, you have to look a lot closer at the details. That’s where blade size, stroke length, oscillation angle, and other such factors come into play.
Size & Weight
Think about a bench vise, or an anvil, or even just a workbench. If you want greater strength and stability, you need more mass.
If you want more power in a cordless tool, you need a bigger motor. If you have more power, you need a longer handle (or handles). More power, in an electrical sense, often means greater cooling by means of a bigger fan and careful vent placement.
If you want a powerful tool that can speed through work, you’re probably going to have to make do with a larger and heavier tool. And if not, then faster application performance, such as stepping to a larger blade size – that will surely do it.
What are you willing to pay for?
With some tools you can “have it all” – power, performance, and small size and weight – although only brushless impact drivers come to mind. For other tools, more power or performance is only delivered alongside a bigger price tag.
There are some other smaller factors, such as unique features. But are things like LED afterglow customizations ever a primary deciding factor?
What Matters to Me Most
Drill: Size, and torque. I prefer a smaller cordless drill, and as long as it has the torque to do what I need it to, I can live with slower speeds, if it doesn’t affect performance too much. I’m willing to spend more, which can often bump application performance up a little, and without increasing the tool size.
Impact Driver and Wrenches: Size and torque. Again, I prefer a more compact impact driver and impact wrench. I don’t need record-breaking power, but if I can get greater torque in a small package, I’ll take it.
Circular Saw: Size and application performance. 6-1/2″ saws can often handle my tool-to-work cross-cutting needs with ease, but 7-1/4″ saws often have more power and faster application speeds. If shopping for one today, cost would also be a consideration, likely leading more more towards a 6-1/2″ saw than the current breed of can-do-anything premium brushless 7-1/4″ saws.
Reciprocating Saw: Generally, I want the fastest application speed for the money, at least most of the time. Other times, I want the smallest and lightest tool, and without a deep hit to my wallet. That might mean something like an M12 Hackzall and 18V-class full-sized saw.
What Matters to You the Most?
Torque? Performance? Size and weight? Cost?