As you well know there are about a gazillion different cordless tools out there. I admit, I don’t understand all of the differences between them, but I get a few of them. We were very fortunate that when Porter-Cable® introduced their new line of lithium ion cordless tools, they sent a kit containing a drill, reciprocating saw, jigsaw, circular saw, flashlight, hand vac and a rotary saw to review. In the world of me, that’s probably every handheld power tool that I can ever imagine using.
The first thing I ended up using was the vac. Now I’m not a huge fan of the cordless hand vac in general. I’ve always found them to have mediocre pick up ability and short battery life. I was EXTREMELY impressed with this hand vac. It has picked up everything that I’ve attempted, including gravel, and I have yet to have the battery quit before I did. One of my favorite things about this hand vac is that the switch can be made to stay on continually, without having to hold the trigger in. I totally dig that.
The recip saw was the bomb when it came to helping out with getting my shrubs and small trees shaped. I had a lot of stuff that was too big for any of my trimmers and too small to even think about a chain saw (can you imagine what kinda damage I could do with a chain saw?). I will have to say that anything bigger around than a wooden spoon handle needs a full charge and you can’t cut more than about 5 of them at that. Let’s be honest though, any job bigger than cutting off a few branches, I dunno – have to really work up the energy for that. I can’t say that a jobber would be that impressed with the run time, but for me, it’s sufficient for most stuff.
The only tool in the kit with which I was completely unimpressed was the spiral saw. Since there’s no on-board tool storage, the wrench got lost between testing at the office and getting the kit home. That is a HUGE black mark in my mind. It cut okay in the test at the office, but then I couldn’t use it again – no bleedin’ wrench! Not happy about that.
The rest of the tools worked as expected. The battery life was just fine and the power (it’s an 18 volt lithium ion kit) was up to my tasks. I don’t think I’ve ever used a flashlight as frequently as I have since testing this kit. I’ve definitely hit that age where I’m a bit vision challenged here and there.
Let’s talk about the battery for a minute. Porter-Cable® offers two batteries that work with these tools. One of them is very short in stature, yet long on run time, referred to as the LX battery. They also have an extended life battery known as the EX. Both batteries are lightweight, but the LX battery is really, really lightweight. I absolutely love it!
You do have to watch out for pinching with both batteries on the circular saw. But really the Circular Saw is designed to be used with the EX anyway. I am also of the manner in which the batteries attach to the tools. That whole bit of having to push in buttons on either side is challenging for me because of the span of my hands. The Porter-Cable® method is a pushbutton on the back of the battery – much easier. Now, what I don’t know is what kind of overall life I’m going to get out of these batteries. I’ll have to let you know when I kill them. One thing I will say is that I’m starting to notice that I have to make an extra effort to ensure the battery clicks in place. I swap them between the tools pretty frequently. If that becomes a real issue, I’m going to have a real problem.
All in all, I dig the Porter-Cable® line of lithium ion tools, with the exception of the rotary saw. The grips feel pretty sweet, as well as the balance and weight on every single one of these tools. While women weren’t the target audience for the line, we definitely get the benefit of the design. Tools in this line that we haven’t tried with the exception of briefly at the PC press event: area light, detail sander and impact driver.
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Check out pricing for the Porter-Cable® Lithium Ion Tool Line at amazon.com.
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