2012 – Tools in Action Tool Awards



Each year Tools in Action brings the best tools of the year to you.  This year we saw a lot of innovation in the tool world.  Things like battery fuel status gauges and tool-less accessory changes were pretty much standard for 2012.  The buzz word was brushless, although it has been around for years.  4.0 battery technology made a debut in 2012 and for 2013 we should really see things take off with these two technologies.  So sit back, relax and check out the best of 2012.




Viewers Choice Award – Milwaukee Electric Tool

It was a close call with DeWALT, but you guys voted and Milwaukee Tool is the winner of the TIA 2012 viewers choice award.  Milwaukee has really come a long way in 2012 and 2013 looks even better with high capacity 4.0 batteries and M12 fuel products.  Milwaukee has really turned around to be a top player in the tool market with industry leading innovative tools. For 2013 Milwaukee will be the one to beat.



dewalt20vmaxBest 18V/20V Platform – DeWALT 20V MAX

The 20V MAX line from DeWALT has the best in class ergonomics and includes features like 3 LED lights and battery status gauges on the battery packs.  The award winning DCD985 hammer drill and the DCS380 reciprocating saw are some of the highlights of the 20V line.  We expect big things from this tool line in 2013.  Check it out over at DeWALT.com.


Best 12V Platform- Milwaukee M12

The M12 line expanded even more this year with trade specific tools like the M12 bandsaw and the M12 Propex tool.  They have more 12V tools than anyone and there is no sign of stopping them.  For 2013 they have announced higher capacity batteries and brushless tools with more run time and power.  Check out Milwaukee Tool.


Best Drill – DeWALT DCD985 

DeWALT really perfected the drill with the DCD985 Hammer Drill.  It is not lightweight nor is it brushless, but the DCD985 lays out major power to get the job done.  It spanked pretty much all the brushless drills we tested for power and with its 3 speed transmission, it is a versatile,rugged solution for any tradesman.  Check it out over at DeWALT.com.


SID 18-A

Best Impact – Hilti SID 18-A

We ran across some great cordless impacts this year, but the Hilti took top honors.  We have been using this for over a month on a basement, shed and greenhouse project.  This impact has a long run time and is very powerful.  Hilti took the best of everything and put it together in this impact.  Check out Hilti.



reciprocating saw

 Best Cordless Reciprocating Saw – DeWALT DCL380 20V Max

A cordless reciprocating saw is one of the most used tools in your kit.  The DCL380 is versatile, lightweight, powerful and has an innovative 4 way blade position system that will get you into any area with ease. It slices through material like butter and the ergonomic grip keeps your hand comfortable. Check it out over at DeWALT.com.



UT80432A_1 c

Best Pressure Washer – Homelite 3100 PSI Pressure Washer

Last year we had a DeWALT commercial pressure washer for the winner.  This year we fell in love with the Homelite 3100 PSI pressure washer.  With a reliable Honda engine, innovative frame design and a folding handle it is ultra portable and powerful.  This is the best option for any homeowner that needs a powerful, reliable pressure washer.  Check out Homelite.




Best Table Saw – DeWALT DW744XRS

This year we reviewed quite a few table saws and each had its own great features like gravity stands and easy to attach guards.   The DeWALT DW744XRS portable table saw really stood out as a perfect saw for the pro.  The rack and pinion fence gives precise movement and stays in adjustment for perfect cuts every time.  The saw is stable, I mean really stable!  This is great for those big long cuts like doors.  And because the saw can be separated from the stand it is easily transported by one person and fits under locking truck covers making it our best portable table saw for 2012.  Check it out over at DeWALT.com.




Best Compound Miter Saw – DeWALT DWS780 

DeWALT understands that the measure twice cut once principle only works if your saw is accurate.  That is why they make the DWS780 durable and with the XPS cross cut positioning system.  It is dead on accurate and shows you exactly where the blade will make the cut.  It has the best in class cutting capacity and will stay accurate for tens of thousands of cuts.  If you want the best 12″ Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw on the market, the DWS780 is your saw.  Check it out over at DeWALT.com.


Bosch Powerbox

Best Radio – Bosch PowerBox

Every manufacturer has a cordless radio on the market, but no one comes close to the Bosch Power Box.  This has everything anyone could ever ask for in a radio and more.  Not only do you get a true 360 degree sound, but you can charge your Bosch batteries and even use it as a power outlet.  You can listen to anything from the radio, a media card or your ipod.  This Power Box has a killer design that will put a smile on your face.  Check it out at Bosch.



Best Nailer – Paslode Cordless Finish Nailer

Not only are there lots of nailer manufacturers on the market, but there are also lots of different types of nailers.  You can have a pin nailer, brad nailer, finish nailer, framing nailer, roofing nailer and more.  This year we just had to give the nailer of the year award to the new Paslode Finish Nailer.  The main difference in the new nailer is the addition of the Lithium battery.  While there are a couple new features, this is a tried and true nailer that gets the job done.  Great balance, long battery life and very user friendly. Check it out at Paslode.



Best Flooring Fastening System – Powernail

Powernails cleat system is second to none at fastening flooring.  Once nailed it stays tight, no squeaking.  The Powernail 50P Flex is the best flooring nailer we have ever used.  No misfires, and it easily rolled across the floor making our job a lot easier and faster.  Check out Powernail.com.




Best 12V Tool – Milwaukee M12 Band Saw

The M12 bandsaw is just awesome!  Not only does it come with an XC battery, but it is only $199.  For electricians and plumbers this tool is a must have.  It slices conduit like butter and blade changes are a snap it requires no tools.  Check out Milwaukee.




Best Storage System – DeWALT Tough System

Everyone is coming out with a storage system of some kind and none is tougher than the DeWALT Tough Box.  The boxes are made from a 4mm thick structural foam and are Ip65 rated.  They are built like tanks, we tried to completely destroy one and failed.  They keep moisture out and protect all your tools.  Check it out over at DeWALT.com.



Best Job Site Generator – DeWALT DXGN7200

DeWALT really hit a home run with the reliable and rugged DXGN7200.  A Honda GX390 and premium alternator provide clean power and long run times.  The unit is built to be used and worked hard.  The 8 gallon fuel tank will last 13+ hours at 50% load and the electric start will make the unit easy to fire up on the coldest days.  Check it out over at DeWALT.com.



acdeco 8v

Best New Platform – ACDelco 8v

It is not often that an entirely new voltage class of tools is released.  ACDelco saw the need to get high torque into tight areas for mechanics and designed the new 8v line up.  With 12v like power the ARI810 fits into the smallest of spaces and breaks free the most stubborn bolts.  We hope to see a lot from this new line in 2013.  Check out ACDelco.




Best Jig Saw – Metabo STA 18 LTX

For the second year in a row the Metabo STA 18 LTX  takes the best jig saw.   The STA LTX is a precise and powerful jig saw.  The new 4.0 batteries extend run time and the balance is great.  The STA 18 LTX was built to work all day.  Check out Metabo.




Best Vice – Yost Compact Bench Vise

You really don’t appreciate a good vise until you actually use one.  Yost vises are quality and will last forever.  The compact bench vise is great for almost anyone. It precisely grips anything you need to hold and is small for those who have minimal bench space.  Best of all they are made in the USA.  Check out Yost.




Best Workwear – Blaklader

Hands down the best work gear.  If you are looking for not only tough gear, but practical gear, then Blaklader is your style.  With double and triple seams in vulnerable places, they are sure to last a long time.  We have been using these pants and shirts day in and day out.  The pants won’t always make you break free of a tool belt, but there are plenty of times you can.  With the front utility pockets, you can store nails, screws and other tools for easy access.  The side pockets are great for pencils and other tools.  Blaklader designed these clothes right and designed them for the true working man. Check it out at Blaklader.

Bosch Floor Laser

Most innovative – Bosch Floor Laser  GSL 2

This year there were a lot of cool new tools, so it was hard to decide on the most innovative.  Long story short, we came up with a tie between the Bosch Floor Laser and the DeWALT Thermal.  The Bosch is a very cool time saver.  No more time consuming hours of trying to find bumps and depressions in your flooring.  Just set up the laser and mark your spots.  Check it out at Bosch.



bosch_rh228vc_1 (1)

Best Corded Rotary Hammer – Bosch Bulldog RH228VC

Would you expect any other winner?   The Bulldog is just that, a bulldog that will allow you to drill through just about anything.  This is one tough tool and it is hard to make this tool sweat.  Check it out at Bosch.


TE 2-A18

Best Cordless Rotary Hammer – Hilti Rotary TE 2 A-18

We haven’t released the review as of yet, but the TE 2 A18 is easily our favorite cordless rotary drill.  We have been using it for over a month and this is one solid tool.  Another winner from Hilti.  The review will be released shortly.  Check out Hilti.



Best Laser – Bosch 3 Plane Laser GLL3-80

Lasers make your life much easier.  The Bosch 360° makes life a piece of cake.  This tool is accurate, easy to use and highly visible.  How nice is it to finally have a laser that you can use for almost any job and not have to worry about limitations.  Check it out at Bosch.


Coolest Tool – Worx SD Semi Automatic Driver

 You are not going to build a house with this screwdriver, but the Worx has to be the coolest tool of 2012.  Why you ask?  Because it resembles an old fashion 6 shooter with technology of today.  There are two cartridges that hold bits which are interchangeable   Pull back the top and you have a new bit showing.  Pull it back again and bam, a different bit.  Who wouldn’t like this?  Check this out at Worx.



Best Corded Circular Saw – Dewalt DWE 575

The DWE575 is an all around great saw.  Light weight and powerful it is a great saw to have on the job site..  Best of all, this saw feels like it is part of your hand thanks to great ergonomics. Check it out over at DeWALT.com.





Best Cordless Circular Saw – Milwaukee M18 2630-20

This is the second year in a row that the Milwaukee M18 cordless circular saw took top honors of the Tools in Action awards.  This saw has everything from a great feel and balance to the power to cut through just about anything.  A close second was the Bosch CCS180.  Check it out at Milwaukee Tools.


Bosch Oscillating

Best Corded Oscillating Tool – Bosch MX30EC-21

There are some great corded oscillating tools, but the Bosch took top spot for the quick blade change system, soft start, balance and low vibrations for the user.  Bosch hit it spot on with the design of the Bosch Oscillating MX30EC-21.   Check it out at Bosch.



 Best Cordless Oscillating Tool – Milwaukee M12 2426-22

For the second straight year the Milwaukee M12 won Cordless Oscillating Tool. With the soft start, great balance and reliability, this is hard to beat.  Power and ease of use make this tool stand out.  We only wish they would add a tool-less accessory change system.  Check it out at Milwaukee Tools.

How to Sharpen Oscillating Blades

Want to extend the life of your oscillating blades? Read our article Sharp Pog – Oscillating Blade Sharpener Review or buy it on Amazon.




Most Faithful Tool – Stiletto Hammer and Speed Square

We love power tools, but the simple hammer and speed square are always there.  They never run out of batteries and they never need to be plugged in.  Using these tools always brings you back to the old days and there really isn’t too much you can’t do without these two tools.  Well there is, but I am sure you get our point.

 450 e-series

Best Chain Saw – Husqvarna 450 e-series 18″ Chain Saw

With all the storms and crazy weather of 2012 one thing that we got a lot of requests for was chain saws.  One brand really stood out, Husqvarna.  The 450 e-series was a great all around saw, it started easily thanks to a Husqvarna engine and had more than enough power to cut through the toughest of oak trees.  The simple tool-less blade tightener was a great feature to have.  We also fell in love with the 455 Rancher chain saw that we reviewed here.  Check out Husqvarna.


Well that’s it, congratulations to all the winners and we look forward to what 2013 brings.  If you want to get retro you can check out the 2011 Tools in Action Awards.




  1. No real surprises here. I think the Bosch LBox system should have edged the Dewalt system though.

    The Bosch workwear line should have received some sort of award for that promotional video they put out. It was classic, lol.

  2. Great list but I don’t think the DeWalt drill should have been the pick. I think the Milwaukee Fuel 18v hammerdrill is the top drill from 2012. It’s got the power and battery life to get the job done every time.

  3. We need more cold steel on list. Regular hand tools are often over looked but sometimes its the only thing that will do the job.

  4. Husqvarna has nothing on Stihl when it comes to chainsaws. You must only need a saw once every other year to cut up one tree branch. Try cutting six cords of wood with a 450!

  5. The Drill is a tough call I have used both and both are really nice drill. I had both for awhile, but I moved over to the Milwaukee side this year for my 18 volt tools this year. I loved the 3 speeds on the dewalt, but the weight of the tool gets to you after using it awhile. I know this is not a huge deal but the sound of brushed tools is not nearly as annoying as a brushed tool.

  6. Surprised there is no Makita on the list. They have the largest 18V lithium line up from what I can tell. They also have some of the newest technology out before the others. I have been pleased with my Makita 18V since buying it in 2008. I think some categories may have been overlooked here.

    • Hi Johnny, We reviewed a few Makita products before and they were nowhere close to being award winning. The last 2 Makita drills we used smoked on us. Makita concentrates on their race team and the Makita girls, they need to concentrate on building a better tool. I used to love Makita, but as of late the tools are just subpar compared to other tools available on the market, I don’t even give them a second look anymore.

  7. I like Makita stuff, but they have kind of sat around and twiddled their thumbs the last couple of years. Beating everyone to the punch was what made Makita great. They haven’t beat anyone to anything lately. They’ve been 2 steps behind everyone else and when they have put stuff to market it’s failed to wow anyone. What tools did they release in 2012? Multi-tools (at least a year late) a new 18V hammer drill, what else? Makita is a great brand but they need to get their head out of their ass and get with the program.

  8. Hi. I give a 2 thumbs up to Milwaukee. There FUEL range is just awesome and the products are exceptional. When do you guys think you’ll get to review the new M12 FUEL products and the new batteries, M12 and M18? Cannot wait to see the reviews. Thanks!

  9. Dan it sounds like your not a Makita fan at all. That’s too bad, as all of their cordless that I own is more ergonomic, fast charging, and they have a full line. Battery issues with the FUEL, bulkiness, and longer charge times turn me away.

    • Hi Tim, I had a Cordless Makita right angle drill for years back in the early 90’s It was great. I just think Makita has been in a slump the past few years. The non overload protection situation we encountered in one of our videos was a bit alarming lol.


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