Milwaukee, Metabo, and other power tool brands have been striving for a cordless jobsite, where every tool – or nearly every tool – is cordless.
While I love the convenience that comes with cordless power tools, and some of today’s premium cordless tools – especially brushless ones – can match the power and performance of corded tools, are the bulk of US tradesmen ready for a completely cordless workflow?
Most power tool brands have focused their research and development energies on cordless tools, and those same tools are now often better featured than corded equivalents.
I do agree that more cordless tools are in use than ever before, and that a lot of tradesmen will continue to upgrade some of their tools moving forward.
For certain tools, it makes little sense not to go cordless. For example, I don’t think any drywaller would pick up a corded screwgun vs. a cordless one, such as Dewalt’s recent 20V Max brushless screwgun, after trying both.
But corded tools will remain for quite some time, and for good reason.
A few months ago, we asked: When is the Last Time You Bought a Corded Power Tool? Cordless?, and received a lot of great responses. It’s perhaps too soon to touch upon the subject again, but all this marketing talk about cordless jobsites has me a little concerned.
I don’t want brands to abandon their corded power tool developments.
First, there are certain tools that either don’t exist in cordless form, or don’t work as well. Where are the cordless worm drive saws? Show me a welder that uses a cordless angle grinder for the bulk of their work.
Second, going cordless limits your options. It ties you into a battery platform, and not only that, you won’t get much choice when it comes to features and capabilities.
Let’s say you bought into Dewalt’s 20V Max platform and wanted a barrel grip jig saw. They don’t offer one, and while they had (have?) offered a corded barrel grip jig saw, it doesn’t seem to be available in the USA.
Not many brands offer cordless barrel grip jig saws (Makita does, but I don’t think it’s available here), but even if they do, that might mean buying into a completely different cordless power tool lineup.
If you only need to use a jig saw occasionally, you might not want to futz around with multiple battery brands and form factors, especially if that’s the only tool you buy from a brand.
Personally, I still buy and use corded tools. My personal Bosch jig saw is still going strong, although I don’t use it as often these days. I bought that saw 9 years ago, and would have went through multiple sets of replacement batteries if I instead went cordless.
Even buying a cordless jig saw today, will the battery packs hold up to 5 years of use and disuse? 10 years? Charge and discharge cycles, time, and idleness can wear out battery packs.
Some professional users are slow to upgrade their tools. You might see a beat up worm drive saw, or something like an ancient palm router – another tool that isn’t very available in cordless form – in a tool bag with the latest and greatest cordless brushless drill/driver.
Some pros upgrade and sell old tools as frequently as they do their smartphones, which might be when something newer and better is out, but I am under the impression most have much longer replacement cycles.
Then there are the heavy use and continuous duty tools that are not great candidates to go cordless, such as air compressors, routers, dust extractors, belt sanders, hand sanders, and things like that.
While there will be even more cordless innovations this year and beyond, I don’t want to see brands give up on corded tools entirely. That hasn’t quite happened yet, but brands have already turned their main focus towards cordless tool developments.
Would you go completely cordless if given the chance? Have you already done so?
If you ask me, I think that hybrid tools is one way things could go, where every tool is designed to be cordless, and that brands might release AC power adapters such as the one Los Gatos came out with (and recently improved upon).
That might be the only hope for users who still use and buy corded tools, whether for their longevity, performance, or cost benefit.