As 2011 comes to a close, we highlight some of the best tools we reviewed this year.
Best 12V line
Winner – DeWALT 12V Max: It was a close decision, but DeWALT really showed off some of its design skills with the innovative 12V MAX line. The ergonomics are second to none, it really makes the tool feel like its a part of your hand. The slide on pack design was a rogue move that paid off and the 3 LED setup on the head of the DCF 610 is the best we have seen. To hold the top spot, next year we will need to see a lot more tools and possibly battery fuel gauges on the battery packs.
Runner-Up – Milwaukee M12: We had a runner up because it was so close, Milwaukee has taken the 12v market by storm with its 35+ tools in the line. The red Lithium technology is really proving itself to be reliable and powerful fuel source. Milwaukee has shown the ability to work closely with the trades and create tools that make the job easier. The M12 Propex Expansion tool amazed us. 2011 proved them to be an innovative company that in 2012 will be a force to reckon with.
Best New 18V/20v line
Winner – Tie Ridgid X4 and Dewalt 20V – The Ridgid X4 line really surprised us with its power and quality. The X4 Drill R8611501K one of the best drills we have tested and the Ridged radio was the best we had tested for its innovative iPod integration. It had no real competition until DeWALT released its highly anticipated 20V line up which also left a good impression on us. The classic DeWALT 3 speed drill had returned with a next generation power system and the DeWALT 20V Reciprocating saw tore through material like it wasn't even under load.. In 2012 we will really see the drill/driver/impact market heat up as Milwaukee will be releasing their new M18 FUEL.
Best inspection Camera
Winner – ACDelco ARZ1204D – There was a lot of cameras on the market in 2011 and they all had a lot of features. We tested a few inspection cameras this year and we both agreed that ACDelco gave us the most bang for the buck. It had a 6ft, small diameter cable and the focus was second to none. It got into spots where other cameras would not fit. Since it was designed for the automotive industry it will fit into spark plug holes with a lot of room to spare.
Best Jig Saw
Winner – 12V – Milwaukee M12 2445-21 Jig Saw – The M12 Jig saw has a hybrid design that really is unique and makes this saw a breeze to control. Don't let its size fool you either. Milwaukee's Red Lithium batteries make this tool fly through material.
Winner – 18V – Metabo STA 18 LTX Jig Saw – The Metabo jig saw went through material like butter and scrolled with minimal effort, combined with Metabo's air cooled charger this tool will provide all day operation with ease. It really has to be seen to believe how accurate this tool scrolls through wood.
Best Circular saw
Winner – Milwaukee 2630-20 18V Cordless M18 6-1/2-in Circular Saw – Milwaukee is all about saws, after all they invented the Sawzall. This cordless saw went though a 3/4″ piece of plywood like it was a piece of paper. This saw is the bad boy on the block.
ACDelco – In this day and age you see a lot of companies selling out and branding their name to cheap chinese crap, not ACDelco. We have reviewed quite a few power tools from them and they have all been professional grade. We have given them to the pros, they love them and are still working with them today. No gimmicks, just good quality powerful tools to get the job done. That's how we like it.
Best New Hand Tools
Winner – Milwaukee – My hat goes off to Milwaukee. When was the last time you got excited about hand tools? Milwaukee has worked with the tradesman and built a tool that will last and is innovative. From their reaming capabilities to their comfortable grips, Milwaukee's pliers are the ones to beat. The Fastback knife is light and innovative. Milwaukee's screwdrivers are tough, include a wire bender, a stripper and the lifetime warranty seals the deal.
Best Nail Gun
Winner – Paslode Framing Nailer – The Paslode roofing nailer was very cool. The Bostich was a great nailer, but fuel was hard to find. The Senco was one of our top picks for innovative product of the year, but some of the parts were cheap on the nailer. Overall the Paslode framer nailer was the clear choice. Very powerful, easy to use, didn't have any jams and is just an all around great nailer.
Best JobSite Radio
Winner – Ridgid JobSite Radio R84082 – The Ridgid is by far the best radio we tested this year. Seamless iPod integration, very easy to use, remote is a huge plus and sound was great. The radio is rugged and has a few videos on YouTube to prove it
Most Innovative Tool
Winner – Senco Fusion – 2011 brought out some very cool ideas and this one was very hard to pick a clear winner. We went with the Senco Fusion. While some of the parts were cheap on the tool, the overall concept of the tool is great. No more hooking up to any type of air from a compressor or cartridge. This is just powered by a battery and reusable cylinder. This is a huge saver of money, time and safety and that's why we went with the Senco. We are hoping they improve some of the plastic parts for 2012 to make this a little more durable.
Winner – Outdoor – WORX JAWSAW – The Jawsaw really took us by surprise, it made little work of what otherwise would be a huge chore. We had a windstorm and it took down a few trees, I single handedly cleaned up the mess in about an hour. The JawSaw is safer than any chain saw I have used. You simply push down and it chops up to 4″ limbs.
Best Miter Saw
Winner – Bosch Glide Saw Hands down nothing comes close to this saw. The innovative space saving glide system is as smooth as silk, accurate and the quality is top notch. Bosch's flagship saw is in a class of its own. Although we are a bit puzzled as why there is no laser guide.
Tools in Action's Most Used Tool
Winner – Rockwell Jawhorse – The JawHorse is awesome! What can I say, we use it constantly for everything. It is like a huge vice, for welding it's invaluable. The available attachments make this tool even more versatile, it grips and stays tight. For storage it can be folded up and stored. I have never folded it up because I constantly use it. I often see the Jawhorse being used by other companies to demo their tools. It effortlessly clamps with a foot pedal and holds solid.
Winner – Maxxeon Pocket Floodlight 220 – We played with a lot of flashlights over the year. Some of them were very cool, but nothing compared to the Maxxeon Pocket Floodlight. It is compact and extremely bright for its size.
Best Safety Device
Winner – Gyros Rotary Tool Safety Shield – You wouldn't run a circular saw without a guard so why would you run a rotary tool without one. The Gyros guard fits most rotary tools and comes in 2 sizes. We tried to destroy one with a hammer and it did not shatter.
Best Tool Bag
Winner – Veto Pro Pack – You want a lot of storage, the Veto is your option. While a little on the heavy side, they do protect your tools from all sorts of environmental and job site conditions. We even shot one up with a barrage of bullets and it still remained intact. Think of a regular tool bag as an SUV, now think of the Veto Pro Pac as a tank.
Best Laser Level
Winner – Johnson 40-6625 Self-Leveling Ultra Bright Cross-Line Laser Level – We have been using this level for quite a while now and love the brightness of it. You can even see it outdoors. We have dropped the level quite a few times and it still works perfect.
Best Cordless Grinder
Winner – Metabo W 18 LTX 4-1/2-Inch Cordless Angle Grinder – This was one of the first Metabo tools we tested after hearing rave reviews from toolstop.co.uk. The grinder is engineered to last and the air cooled charging system keeps your packs cool. Batteries are ready to use as soon as they are charged. The swivel battery pack makes the tool more versatile in tight situations.
Best Pressure Washer
Winner – DeWalt DPW4240 4,200 PSI Commercial Gas Pressure Washer – With it's Honda motor and General pump the DPW4240 was built to last. Add a massive fuel tank to a welded 1-1/4″ powder coated round steel frame and you have one of the toughest pressure washers on the market. DeWALT backs this unit with a 3 year warranty. We have put well over a 1000 hours on our unit and it hasn't failed once.
Winner – Cordless – Milwaukee M12 Multitool 2426-22 – This tool was smooth and powerful. We used this tool a lot this year and it never failed us. The cuts were accurate and clean. The included universal adapter makes it easy to use other manufactures accessories.
Winner – Corded – Porter Cable PC250 MTK The Porter Cable was nice because it was powerful and came with lots of accessories. The tool-less blade change system was one of the best we have seen.