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Old 10-03-2009, 03:34 PM  
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Default Black and Decker

Are B&D cordless power tools any good? I just got the 18v trimmer and blower (because they are pretty much the only ones at Home Depot) and wondered if I should expand my cordless tools selection with B&D to simplify things with a common battery.


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Old 10-03-2009, 09:33 PM  
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Black & Decker used be one of the most respected names in the tool business back in the 50's and 60's along with Skil. Both started producing junk tools in the 80's and Black and Decker has since expanded their product line into kitchen wares, lawn and garden equipment, portable cordless vaccuum cleaners and other products. Black and Decker's professional line of tools are marketed under the name "DeWalt".

But, it's not reasonable to say that you should only buy professional grade tools. If your idea of a major DIY project is mounting a hose reel to the side of your house, then you would probably do just fine with Black & Decker cordless tools. If you intend to get more involved in home renovations, then you'd be better off going with a professional grade of tool like DeWalt, Makita, Porter Cable, Bosch, Milwaukee, and the newcomer, Rigid, which are the most common of the higher quality names. There's also Sears Craftsman, Ryobi, Hitachi and Panasonic, which are good quality, but less common. (I would rate Hitachi and Panasonic above Ryobi and Craftsman.) And, there is also Black & Decker and Skil that aren't really marketed to professionals or serious DIY'ers. They're more for the person who needs to have a drill to drill the odd hole, but isn't going to do any serious renovating in his house.

Perhaps the best of both worlds would be to check out the 18 volt cordless DeWalt tools at Home Depot and see if they use the same battery pack as your trimmer/blower. If they do, then DeWalt is a quality professional grade tool.

If they don't, then, believe it or not, it might be a good idea to stick with Black & Decker even if you intend to do some serious renovating down the line. The reason why I say that is that is that people new to DIY work will be harder on their tools than the experienced people who have already learned that you can ruin a tool's motor with too much dust or by overheating the tool and things like that. If you're just starting out into DIY work, but intend to continue along that path, it might be better to learn on less expensive tools than on more expensive and better quality ones.

Also, you should be aware that battery packs for the higher voltage cordless tools, like 18 volt and 24 volt, simply don't last as long as the battery packs for 9.6, 12, and 14.4 volt tools. And, I don't think anyone knows why. So, you might as well look in your phone book under "Batteries" and find a local battery distributor that also rebuilds battery packs for tools. A rebuilt battery pack is just as reliable as a new factory part, but will cost half as much or less. And, you can have your battery pack rebuilt with higher rated mAh (milli Amp hour) cells. Those cells will still be 1.2 volts each and you need 15 of them connected in series in your battery pack to get 18 volts. However, the higher the mAh rating on the cells, the more energy you can store in each cell, so the longer the tool will operate on each charge. For example, rebuilding your battery pack with 1700 mAh cells instead of the typical 1300 mAh cells will give you 17/13 or about 30 percent more working time per full charge.

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Old 10-18-2009, 07:29 AM  
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Wow, thank you. Those points are well taken. I think I'll stick with the B&D cordless tools. I don't use them all that much and they are less expensive.
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Old 10-28-2009, 08:19 AM  
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And, you can probably find a replacement B&D battery at your neighborhood Wal-Mart. (I did for my B&D drill.) I use my 9.6-volt cordless all the time, though I am eyeing something that packs more of a punch as it doesn't always manage to do what I ask it.

In fairness, I ask it to do quite a lot. We've been doing "serious" renovation pretty much non-stop the past three years. I finally graduated to a cordless drill about half-way through that.
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:33 PM  
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Black and Decker are good for occasional use, but if you are a professional and use the tools every day; they won't hold up.

The high volt batteries are designed to provide power for high torque applications. They tend to charge faster but they also run out faster as well.

The main advantage is they provide a constant 18V + when they are charged. Allowing manufacturers to provide powerful tools which are portable.
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:23 PM  
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There are multiple components in a cordless drill kit, the drill and its clutch, chuck, gearbox, LED light, and the charger, and the battery pack with its overload circuitry. With a cheaper drill each of these areas is going to be compromised. If all you do is drill holes for cabinet knobs then anything will work, even the tools from Harbor Freight. At the other end of the spectrum are the DeWalt DC D970 drills with a 3-speed all metal gearbox, Li-ion batteries, quick charger, and these 18 volt drills, used properly, can quickly bore a 6-1/4" hole through 1-1/8" thick subflooring in a minute (using a Blue Boar big gullet TCT hole cutter) and hold up with daily use.

The more expensive drills have better chucks and this can make a big difference on drill performance. The Milwaukee and DeWalt drill have excellent chucks but the Hitachi often loosen and fail to hold small drill bits. The DeWalt drills have a self-tightening chuck design that works great but requires some break in as when new the chucks often jam and takes a pair of pliers to loosen them.

At the high end are the few 3-speed gearbox drills with lithium-ion battery packs (DeWalt, Hilti, and Ridgid) and at the bottom end are the single gear range NiCad powered drills. One thing that is very apparent in my testing is that the 14.4 volt are not a great value with some weighing nearly a pound more than more powerful 18v models. The best way to save weight is to have 1/2 sized 18v Li-ion battery packs like the Milwaukee 2611 and the Makita BFD drills.

A big advantage of the Li-ion batteries is that they should survive four times as many recharge cycles as NiCad batteries so you may not need a replacement during the useful life of the drill. There is also a different approach by the different drill companies. With the DeWalt Li-ion drills they will also work with old DeWalt NiCad batteries. With Milwaukee their V models will work with both types of batteries but their new M18 models only work with M18 battery packs and not the V lithium-ion or the old Milwaukee NiCad batteries.

The Milwaukee, Makita, and Hitachi Li-ion batteries take 2-3 times as long to recharge as a DeWalt Li-ion battery which for home use is no big deal. But on a job site it may mean needing more spare batteries to get through the day. I have found that using old fashioned drill bits and hole saws is the worst way possible to get good performance out of any cordless drill. Use a self feed bit or bi-metal hole saw and the drill is going to be limited to 1/10 as many holes and 1/3 the hole size as when using a modern big gullet type of hole cutter (Milwaukee Big Hawg or Blue Boar TCT for example).

We were using 2-1/2" Lenox bi-metal hole saws on a job to make holes in OSB subflooring and it took 40 seconds per hole and after 6 holes the battery from the Milwaukee M18 was dead and it took 40 minutes to get it back to a full charge. I switched to a Blue Boar TCT hole cutter and it took 4 seconds per hole and the battery lasted all day.

Be aware that lithium-ion batteries can catch fire and so the manufacturers put safety overload protection that cuts power when there is too great a load sensed. With some drills it is so sensitive that large hole cutting is a start and stop process that takes three times as long to complete. This is very much true with Makita, Milwaukee, and Hitachi drills. I have learned to start large holes slowly and gradually increase power with these drill and this works well with the M18 but the other drills still cut out.

A lot of the inch lb. specs the manufacturers provide are theoretical and do not seem to indicate the real world power you can get from their drills. And the tests I read online and in magazines are flawed from the start. The tester counts how many screws can be sunk or 1/2" holes made in wood but the gear range they select makes a big difference in performance but this is not considered in the testing. Battery packs are designed to deliver an optimal level of power over as long a period as possible but draining them faster reduces the total power that can be provided which is why multi-speed gearboxes are needed to get as much power as possible out of a cordless drill.

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