If you've been watching my social media, you know I had a recent opportunity to attend DeWalt's annual press event in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the event where they make all their big tool announcements, showing off their new and upcoming stuff.
I'm humbled to be invited amongst a group of about 150 bloggers, YouTubers, tool reviewers, and magazine publishers to attend the event. I met a ton of great people and got a hands-on peek at some awesome tools.
They opened the first night with a meet-and-greet reception. I'm not the best mingler, but I held my own with the munchies and beverages. All the DeWalt people I met are clearly in love with their jobs, real tool-loving enthusiasts, proud of what they have to offer. They seem really interested in hearing feedback on what people want and need from their tools.
I talked to one of the DeWalt guys about this blog, how it's not really aimed at professionals, but DIY'ers, the weekend-warriors. I talked about my preference to promote the use of high-quality tools for DIY projects, that there's a set of us that are willing to shell out a little extra for pro-grade.
He grinned, "We love those guys."
When I got back to my hotel room, I found a sweet cooler full of DeWalt swag.
The next day it got real. Really real. Hands-on real.
After an intro, they broke us into groups and started running us through stations of shiny, black and yellow goodness.
My group started with bluetooth featured tools. There's an ability to track them around a jobsite, cool for the pros, but for us weekend warriors, probably not as much of a key point. It's only going to add a few bucks to the tools, compared to the steep upgrade cost from their competitors, so it just may be worth it for knuckleheads like myself who spread tools around the entire house. I've been known to go on an Easter Egg hunt from time-to-time, trying to figure out where I left a key power tool.
This Tool Connect also adds the ability to identify each tool individually and even shut it down remotely or when it strays out of range of the cell phone app. Seems this feature would be a good theft deterrent. I don't think a pawn shop would be excited to buy a tool they can't fire up on the spot, or that could be tracked to their doorstep by a pissed-off victim with a cell phone and a policeman in tow.
I'd personally upgraded to the DeWalt 20V platform in the last year and love my new tools, especially my three-speed impact driver. I adore having the extra speed settings over my old unit, but now, check this next-generation out...
The mechanical switch is gone and replaced with a button pad. Part of this new tool's cool features is the ability to program the buttons. The three settings can be adjusted via an app to control the LED brightness and delay as well as the motor speed and torque. Now that is cool. I'd wanted a setting somewhere between speed 1 and 2 when I recently assembled IKEA cabinetry. This new impact could be dialed in exactly right for a repetitive task.
Beyond the tools themselves, there are the existing bluetooth connected batteries and a new slip-on Connector. The Connector attaches permanently to an existing tool's battery port and adds the ability to identify, track, and shut them down. A stolen tool could amount to a pretty, yellow and black brick. Loan tools to family who doesn't return them timely? Shut 'em down.
There is a new "Tag" device that can be added to other items. These widgets can be tracked through an interconnected web of cellphones and devices running the DeWalt app, so they don't necessarily have to be close to the owner, just someone with the app. The demonstrator tracked one to his colleague's desk, back in Maryland.
I really liked this cool, DeWalt Bluetooth-Enabled 100′ Laser Distance Measurer (DW099S). It can pair to a smartphone app to catalogue room labels and photographs along with the area and volume. It can even do some simple math.
I tried my hand at a 3D, jobsite inventory management game, definitively proving that no-one looks cool wearing VR goggles.
A cornucopia of cordless
DeWalt is really killing it with an effort to demonstrate that, if a tool can possibly be imagined to be cordless, then cordless it shall be!! With the benefit of modern, lithium ion battery technology and brushless motors, they are killing it.
"...Relentlessly pursuing a cordless jobsite..."
I love it. Since I'd already personally invested in the DeWalt 20V line in my arsenal of tools, I found myself positively drooling over this stuff. I'm 100% ready to cut the cord.
Forget just cordless, there's hoseless too. The nail guns are my secret crush from the show.
These glorious bad-boys are high-power, pro-grade beasts. They don't need additional fuel canisters to fire, just the lithium ion battery. I liked the feel of them and will gladly sign the adoption papers.
I desperately want to add the new 18 GA Brad Nailer (DCN680), the 15 GA Angled Finish Nailer (DCN650), and the 30 Degree Framing Nailer (DCN692) to my bag of tricks. I'm simply not going to be happy dragging out my loud, pancake compressor and uncoiling the air hose any more. I didn't see a coil roofing nailer, but I bet we'll see one in the next year or so.
My personal circular saw is a 6 1/2" 20V unit that handles almost everything I throw at it, but I'm loving the larger, more powerful saws I saw at the show. Some now accommodate, full size 7 1/4" blades, like the the 20V MAX* XR® 7-1/4” Circular Saw (DCS570) giving it a 2 9/16" depth of cut.
There's also a new saw similar to the big, corded worm-drive saws 60V MAX* 7 1/4” Framing Saw (DCS577) with a rear brushless motor and a left side blade that had the framers at the show super excited. See Canadian Carpenter, attempting to slip one under his shirt. I'm fairly sure the TSA would have caught it at the airport.
Circular Saw Racing
This is one of the coolest things I saw today. A cutting race between a corded Skil saw, a Makita twin-18v saw, and a new DeWalt 60 volt MAX 7 1/4" Framing Saw. They're all being pulled by the same 14 lbs of weight. - 2017 DEWALT 2017 Media Event #toughinthesouthPosted by AZ DIY Guy on Friday, August 18, 2017
I totally blew the photograph, but I can't stop thinking about the FLEXVOLT® 60V MAX* 6-1/2" Track Saw (DCS520). I hate ripping sheet goods on a table saw. It's tedious, a little dangerous, and takes a lot of space and time to set up in my constricted garage. I've been eyeballing the track saw idea for a while now, knowing that more and more of us weekend-warrior types are getting on the bandwagon. This one is a thing of beauty. There was a line of us, effortlessly test-slicing off thin strips, laser straight.
I don't do a lot of plumbing, but a major project might be worth investing in these new plumbing tools. If I ever get going on investment properties, I'm sure the cordless drain snake would be an investment that pays for itself by avoiding a couple emergency plumber calls.
It was fascinating stuff, but admittedly best suited for the pro-tradespeople who would get a huge productivity payback on the investment.
Sparky gets toys too!
Again, this is stuff that only the pros would get good use out of, because us DIY'ers don't mess with big feeder cables around the house much. I couldn't help but fall in love with the DeWalt electrical stuff. Regular readers may recall that I spent a few years as a commercial electrician. I'm telling you this collection is awesome; I would invest in a lot of it if I was still out on the jobsites.
I got to try out the cable cutters and the stripper, effortlessly, safely, and beautifully doing tasks I had labored over with hand tools back in the field. The threaded rod cutter is outstanding; it allows one-handed, overhead cutting while leaving the threads perfectly ready to accept a nut. We always had to clean up our rough recip or hacksaw cuts before fumbling one on.
I have spent enough time working in the dark or under blazing-hot, electricity-slurping halogen work lights to know that these portable, battery powered LED work lights are winners. I may consider grabbing 20V MAX* Cordless Tripod Light (DCL079) and chucking my old, corded halogen tower.
"DeWalt tough" they say.
I happened to stroll around a corner, minding my own business, just in time to see this burly dude do a full-on, Donkey Kong, barrel lob with the Job Site Work Light. Slack-jawed I didn't even try to get my camera up in time to for a photo.
Luckily, I found it on Instagram, and have shared it here for our repeated enjoyment. You're welcome.
I thought the 60V MAX* FLEXVOLT® Dual-Handle Paddle Mixer (DCD240) was pretty slick. A powerful, cordless tool for mixing building materials like thin-set, mortar, and concrete could be super helpful. I liked that the battery is housed internally, protected against the spatter of whatever the material of the day may be. The big, dual handles and easy to reach controls just make it seem like a better choice than an awkward old-school corded drill.
The Daily Grind
DeWalt has re-worked their line of grinders, offering both corded and cordless models of high-power, brushless motored tools . They're launching 15 new models in a variety of sizes and features. We watched them grind angle steel to absolute nothingness in seconds. A shower of sparks, and it was gone.
Other notable cordless delights
If you are so attached to pneumatic air tools, there's a cordless air compressor that seems to really do the trick. It was much quicker and quieter than my old, electric pancake. Intriguing.
This is the first time I've seen big, cordless concrete nailers without fuel cylinders required. It's incredible that they can get that much driving power with just a battery.
No Dust in My Eye
OSHA has launched a new rule regarding silica dust control that has employers scrambling. Silica is a byproduct of drilling, cutting, crushing, or grinding silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone. DIY'ers are not required, but generally should frown upon breathing in a substance known to cause lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease. Right?
DeWalt has reacted quickly and has launched solutions for their drilling and grinding tools, including on-board, powered HEPA filtration units that can be added to their SDS hammer Drills
They let me give one a rip. The little vacuum motor came on with the slightest trigger pull, running off the tool's battery. A little ring around the tip of the bit pistoned inward as I drilled into the monster concrete slab. I didn't see a whiff of dust escape.
They also demonstrated a vacuum attached ring that suction attaches to the concrete and allows for drilling with all manner of tool brands and bit sizes.
It doesn't stop there. There's a new dust collector / shop vacuum for the system that can either charge batteries or run off of them in a cordless environment.
They've added hollow drill bits (!!!) for the big rotary hammer drills; dust gets sucked in through holes at the tip and routed up and out through a vacuum port up by the chuck.
Even the grinders have dust collection shrouds available.
The Best of the Rest
Most of us have seen the new, super-tough 25 ft XP™ Tape Measure on display at the home centers. I'm even running one through its paces at the house now, although I don't have access to a 60' drop to test out the impressive impact protection. I'll share more detail on it later. I had to wipe more framer drool off my shoulder as they revealed a drawer full of 35 footers coming out soon. I believe I heard that they'll have an even longer one following, 60 foot perhaps?
They've heard from the commercial trades and are working on an add-on magnet tip too.
Awwww.... then they showed off the 9 footer. It's mighty but small, magnetic with a belt clip. A perfect pocket sized tape for woodworking or small room remodeling eh?
Check out the laser maze! These new green lasers are easier to see than the old red ones (like the one currently hanging on my kitchen wall).
Heaps of tools of all sorts adorned this heavy duty garage racking. I know of a certain Arizona based garage with plastic shelving drooping from the heat that could benefit from this stuff.
I also found Thor's hammer lying unattended for a moment. I was able to lift it with my Norse god strength to admire the heavy-duty beast. It has one angle-faceted face to direct energy like a shaped charge.
Doesn't every home deserve a gorgeous tool storage chest? Mine does.
I really liked this long bench / chest combo unit.
Although I'm not a mechanic, I do get to turn a wrench now and again on my projects. These ratchets are smoooooth.
Honestly, I didn't see anything I didn't like at the show. There's so much more I didn't get good photography on, like a sweet demo hammer, a cordless heater, a superb, compact reciprocating saw, hammer tackers, software revelations, fasteners, etc. There were hundreds of new and upcoming tools and products, enough to make the head spin.
I admit I may be a bit of a DeWalt fanboy at this point, since I've invested in their tools over the years and have committed to the brand as my primary cordless tool platform. I've been through several brands, over the years, mostly good, but here's the thing, DeWalt sticks with you. To this day, they still support their older 18 volt NiCad battery line. You can still buy it if you want to stay with it, but I encourage you make the leap to lithium ion / brushless if you can! You may recalI I initially made the transition using their adapter for using the new 20V MAX batteries on my old 18V tools.
What do you think? See anything that has you drooling? Hit me in the comments if you have any questions, I have a bunch of tech data and press releases on the stuff.
Watch this space, I hope to get my hands on some review units and push them through their paces for you as I continue the never-ending remodel projects.