Smaller, Lighter More Powerful

Lithium-ion batteries and brushless motors come together to boost cordless tool power-to-size ratios to new levels.

For more than a year, I’ve been testing and reporting on the new breed of cordless tools with brushless motors, and earlier this week I found what I think is the most powerful cordless tool for its size. The Milwaukee M12 FUEL impact driver is the only 12 volt tool of its kind on the market with a brushless motor, and I know from testing that this means substantially more power and run time than similar tools with traditional brush-style motors. The really interesting thing about the M12 impact is that it crosses what I call the nail pouch threshold. Not only is the physical size of the tool small enough to fit into an ordinary nail pouch, but there’s even room to spare for a fresh battery.

Power-wise the M12 impact has enough muscle to drive any of the kind of screws you’re likely to encounter in construction and renovation. You’ll find it well able to drive 3 1/2” deck screws, especially with the upgraded, high-capacity battery snapped in place. In my tests this tool even drove 6”-long deck screws all the way in and out of the edge of a 2×8 with ease.

Tools like these are not unusual, though the gap between top performing models and the average tool is getting a lot wider. There are many new models that surprise me, even after using and writing about tools for more than 25 years. Prices are lower than ever, and tool value has never been better. All in all, it’s an exciting time to make good things happen with your hands.