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Craftsman NEXTEC Cordless Tools: Real Power Tools or Just Toys?
In this article I am going to give you my quick review of all the NEXTEC tools available now. Craftsman just announced that they are greatly expanding the Craftsman NEXTEC 12 volt Cordless power tools in May 2011 so this is a good time to go over the entire line. The Craftsman NEXTEC QuickBoost Charger will hit shelves in May 2011 and will be followed shortly by a NEXTEC 12-volt 3-in-1 garden tool, string trimmer, hedge trimmer, vacuum, digital inflater, work light and second generation “Hammerhead” Auto Hammer.
I like tools. I like “Tim the Toolman Taylor” Tools. Bigger is better! More Power! Oo-OoO! So when Craftsman sent me the NEXTEC Cordless 12 volt Power Tools last spring I used them, wrote a couple of articles on these cute little tools and then promptly put them down in my basement workshop. They were nice, lightweight tools. They had plenty of power, but I still went back to my “big” tools. I basically forgot about them.
Then, I went into my local Sears around Thanksgiving and I saw customers literally buying the NEXTEC Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver as fast as the store personnel could put them out. What was really strange to me is these NEXTEC 12 volt drills were flying off the shelves, but no one was buying the DeWalt DCD710 12V MAX lithium drill from the display right along side the NEXTEC’s. I knew is was a nice little drill, but I didn’t think everyone else liked it that much. The same thing was happening with the Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver was selling well but no one was buying the Dewalt DCF815 12V MAX 1/4 impact driver right next to it.
During the winter I move into a room in the basement. It’s small, only 10 X 10 ft so I don’t have room for a lot of stuff. My router, a workbench with a wood vise, a few hand tools and a set-up table. There is no room for my table saw, miter saw, jointer and drill press. I end up cutting my wood out in the unheated garage, bringing it downstairs, fitting it up, going back out in the garage to drill the holes or joint an edge, back down stairs……you get the picture.
Well, while I was getting the room ready for the winter I found the NEXTEC tools and decided to take a good hard look at them again.
I decided that I would use these tools exclusively in my downstairs workshop this winter.
What I like:
Weight. The NEXTEC tools weigh only half of even my lightest cordless drill.
Size. Easy to handle even for small hands. Don’t feel too small like the little cordless screwdrivers for big hands
Power. Have as much power as the old 15.6 tools and I think a lot more power than the old 7.2, 9.6, 10.8 and 14.4 tools. More power than the C3 19.2 volt Model 17191
In the rest of this article I will give quick review of each tool:
Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0V Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver Model 17586 What I like: It costs less than half of DeWalt DCD710 12V MAX Drill. It weighs less at only 2.2 lbs. with the 12.0 Volt Lithium-Ion battery. It will fit in your hand and easily slip into the pocket of your work apron. This is the most powerful drill on the market for the weight. It has 195 in.-lbs. of Torque which is plenty for most of the tasks around your home. It has a 2-Speed Gearbox and a 3/8-Inch Single Sleeve Keyless Chuck. A lot of guys thin they need a 1/2 inch chuck, but if you look at the wall at your nearest hardware store 95% of the drill bits and screwdriving bits will fit in this drill. 18 Position Adjustable Torque Clutch. Integrated LED Work Light. 30-Minute Quick Charger What I don’t like: I really like this drill and about the only thing I would put on it would be a battery charge indicator. It would be nice to know when the battery is about to run out.
Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 Volt Right Angle Impact Driver Model 17562 What I like: Even though Sears states this has only 700 in lbs of torque a bunch of us feel it has as much power as the Dewalt DCF815 12V MAX 1/4 impact driver for a lot less money. We also liked the right angle drive. It will get into places the other drills can’t. What I don’t like: The right angle takes a little practice to get used to. When you first use it…use both hands until you get the feel for the impact driver. After that you will enjoy using it.
Craftsman 17428 Nextec 12-volt Cordless Compact 1/4” Impact Driver Model 17428 What I like: Same weight and feel as the Model 17586 Drill/Driver. What I don’t like: Could use a battery meter.
12-volt NEXTEC Multi-Tool Model 17438 What I like: Multi-tools are quickly becoming the go-to tool for cutting, sanding, grout removal and scraping. This lightweight tool can easily do the work of a trim saw, jamb saw, drywall saw, detail sander, rotary grout tool, carbide cutter and paint scraper. The Craftsman NEXTEC is one of the lightest of the bunch and it will accept the Fein attachments. This gives it the most versatility of all the mulit-tools out there. It has plenty of power to do all these tasks around the home. The batteries last about 20 minutes during continuous use, charge in 30 minutes and you can get a second battery if you need one for less than $25. What I don’t like: Eventually I would like to see quick release blade changing. It only takes 30 seconds to change the tool now, but I want to do it faster!
NEXTEC 12-volt Lithium-Ion Hammerhead Auto Hammer Model 11818 What I like: I don’t use nails very often anymore. I use screws for most of my woodworking tasks, but the other day I put a few more lights in the basement and the Hammerhead was the right tools to nail the outlet boxes into the rafters. It only took 30 seconds to nail the box into the beam and NO BENT NAILS! What I don’t like: Craftsman is coming out with a new version of this about May 2011. I will wait to give you my viewpoint then.
Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0V Lithium-Ion True Finish™ Sander Model 61326 What I like: This is a “Mouse” size sander but it has two big advantages over all the other sanders like it on the market. One, it is cordless! The battery lasts a long, long time. Two, It doesn’t make your hand go numb! The built in counter balancer cancels out the hand numbing vibration you are used to. What I don’t like: NO ONE knows about this sander! It comes in one kit and you can get the “bare” tool online but very few people realize how nice this sander is.
Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0V Lithium-Ion Circular Saw Model 61325 What I like: This is the one tool in the NEXTEC line that I really don’t like. It has enough power to cut even hard maple, but the design is all wrong. The base plate “shoe” is too big for the saw, The saw mark on the shoe is too far away from the blade. It doesn’t have a laser guide, the light is in the wrong place, the blades are too thick and there is not enough of a selection of blade styles. What I don’t like: Oops, I already told you what I don’t like.
Craftsman 14299 Nextec 12-volt Cordless Multi-Saw Model 14299 What I like: I use this saw a lot for the size, power, and versatility. It has a lot of power for the size and is really handy for those quick cuts. It uses standard jig saw blades which come in all sizes and styles. What I don’t like: It doesn’t have a “blower” to keep the sawdust away from your cut line.
Craftsman NEXTEC 12 volt LED Worklight Model 14298 What I like: This is a great work light and flashlight for the house. It will run continuously for hours on one battery and the battery stays charged for over a year if you don’t use it. The head swivels for under the sink work and it stands up all by itself. What I don’t like: My wife saw it, and immediately stole it to put on her nightstand! Now if it only came in decorator colors!
Craftsman 12 Volt Nextec Compact Lithium-Ion battery Model 11221 What I like: You can buy additional batteries for less than $25. A lot of power for the size. (as much as your old 14.4 batteries) Will hold a charge for up to a year. With the new charger Craftsman just announced will recharge to 25% in less than 3 minutes. What I don’t like: I would like a little clip so I can hang a spare on my belt.
Summary: The Craftsman NEXTEC 12 volt Cordless power tools are great for homeowners. They are lightweight, strong and easy on the wallet to buy. They work surprisingly well for the size and cost a lot less than other brands. I highly recommend these tools.
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