Craftsman NEXTEC Cordless Tools: Real Power Tools or Just Toys?

In this article, I will give you my quick review of all the NEXTEC tools available now. Craftsman just announced that it is greatly expanding the Craftsman NEXTEC 12-volt cordless power tools in May 2011, so now is a good time to review 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 inflator, light of work and a car “Hammerhead” second generation. hammer.

I like the tools. I like the “Tim the Toolman Taylor” tools. Bigger is better! More power! Oo-OoO! So when Craftsman shipped me the NEXTEC 12-Volt Cordless Power Tools last spring, I used them, wrote a couple of articles about these cute little tools, and then quickly dropped them off in my basement shop. They were nice, light tools. They had a lot of power, but I still went back to my “big” tools. I basically forgot about them.

Then I went to my local Sears around Thanksgiving and saw customers literally buying the NEXTEC Lithium Ion Drill/Driver as fast as the store staff could get them out. What was really weird to me is that these 12-volt NEXTEC drills were flying off the shelves, but no one was buying the DeWalt DCD710 12V MAX lithium drill from the display next to the NEXTECs. I knew it was a nice little exercise, but I didn’t think everyone else would like it that much. Same thing with the Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0 volt right angle impact driver that was selling well, but no one was buying the Dewalt DCF815 12V MAX 1/4 impact driver right next door.

During the winter I move to a room in the basement. It’s small, only 10 X 10 feet, so I don’t have room for a lot of stuff. My router, a workbench with a wood vise, some hand tools, and a mounting table. There is no room for my table saw, miter saw, jointer, and drill press. I end up cutting my lumber in the unheated garage, taking it downstairs, adjusting it, going back to the garage to drill holes or put together an edge, going back downstairs… you get the picture.

Well, while winterizing the room, I found the NEXTEC tools and decided to take a closer look at them again.

I decided that I would use these tools exclusively in my workshop downstairs this winter.

What I like:

Weight. NEXTEC tools are only half the weight of my lightest cordless drill.

Size. Easy to handle even for small hands. Don’t feel as small as small cordless screwdrivers for big hands

Energy. It has as much power as the old 15.6 tools and I think much more power than the old 7.2, 9.6, 10.8 and 14.4 tools. More power than C3 model 19.2 volts 17191

In the rest of this article I will give a quick review of each tool:

Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0V Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver Model 17586 What I like: It costs less than half of the DeWalt DCD710 12V MAX drill. Weighs less at just 2.2 lbs. with the 12.0 volt lithium ion battery. It fits in your hand and slips easily into your work apron pocket. This is the most powerful drill on the market for the weight. It has 195 in.-lbs. of Torque that is enough for most tasks around your home. It has a 2-speed gearbox and a 3/8-inch single-sleeve keyless chuck. Many people think they need a 1/2-inch chuck, but if you look at the wall of the nearest hardware store, 95% of drill bits and screwdrivers will fit in this drill. 18 position adjustable torque clutch. Integrated LED work light. 30 minute fast charger What I don’t like: I really like this drill and the only thing I would add to 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: Although Sears claims it has only 700 in. lbs. of torque, many of us feel that 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. You’ll get to places other drills can’t. What I don’t like: The right angle takes a bit of practice to get used to. When using it for the first time… use both hands until you get the feel of the impact driver. After that, you will enjoy using it.

Craftsman 17428 Nextec 12-Volt Cordless Compact 1/4-Inch Impact Driver, Model 17428 What I like: Same weight and feel as the 17586 drill/driver. What I don’t like: Could use a battery meter.

NEXTEC 12-Volt 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 job of a trim saw, jamb saw, drywall saw, detail sander, grout rotary tool, carbide cutter and paint scraper. The Craftsman NEXTEC is one of the lightest of the bunch and will accept Fein accessories. This gives you the most versatility of all the multi-tools out there. It has plenty of power to do all these chores around the house. The batteries last about 20 minutes during continuous use, charge in 30 minutes, and you can get a second battery if you need it for less than $25. What I don’t like: Eventually, I’d like to see a quick release blade change. It only takes 30 seconds to change the tool now, but I want to do it faster!

NEXTEC 12-Volt Lithium-Ion Hammerhead Power Hammer Model 11818 What I like: I don’t use my nails very often anymore. I use screws for most of my woodworking, but I put up a few more lights in the basement the other day and Hammerhead was the right tool for nailing the junction boxes to the joists. It only took 30 seconds to nail the box to the stud and NO BENT NAILS! What I don’t like: Craftsman is going to release a new version of this in May 2011. I’ll wait to give you my thoughts then.

Craftsman NEXTEC 12.0V Lithium-Ion True Finishâ„¢ Sander Model 61326 What I like: This is a “mouse” sized sander, but it has two big advantages over all other sanders on the market. One, it’s wireless! The battery lasts a long, long time. Two, it doesn’t make your hand go numb! The built-in counterweight cancels out the hand-numbing vibration you’re used to. What I don’t like: NO ONE knows about this sander! It comes in a kit and you can get the “basic” 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 only tool in the NEXTEC line that I really don’t like. It has enough power to cut through even hard maple, but the design is wrong. The base plate “shoe” is too large for the saw. Saw mark on shoe is too far from blade. It doesn’t have a laser guide, the light is in the wrong place, the blades are too thick, and there’s not enough variety 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 because of the size, power, and versatility. It packs a lot of power for the size and is really handy for those quick cuts. Uses standard jig saw blades that come in all sizes and styles. What I don’t like: It doesn’t have a “blower” to keep sawdust away from the line of cut.

Craftsman NEXTEC 12 Volt LED Work Light Model 14298 What I like: This is a great work light and flashlight for around the house. It will work continuously for hours on a single battery, and the battery stays charged for more than a year if you don’t use it. The head rotates to work under the sink and is self-supporting. What I don’t like: My wife saw it and immediately stole it to put on her nightstand! Now if only it 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. Lots of power for the size. (as long as your old 14.4 batteries) Will hold a charge for up to a year. With the new charger, Craftsman has just announced that it will recharge to 25% in less than 3 minutes. What I don’t like: I would like a small clip so I can hang a spare on my belt.

Summary: Craftsman NEXTEC 12-volt cordless power tools are great for homeowners. They are light, strong and easy to buy in the wallet. They work surprisingly well for the size and cost much less than other brands. I highly recommend these tools.

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