Cordless life expectancy?

I’m a newbie. I’m interesting in doing some wood working and want to buy some core tools.

I’m trying to decide on a battery platform. I’m leaning toward either Makita or Dewalt. But I’m wondering if cordless even makes sense.

I can see going cordless for an impact driver. But for, say, a circular saw or something, does it really make sense to go cordless? I can see the convenience. But what’s the expected useful life? Is anyone using cordless tools from 20 years ago? If I go cordless, am I expecting to re-buy everything in 10 years?

I’ll just be doing this on the weekend, so I’m wondering if corded makes more sense in this case, the inconvenience notwithstanding.

Anyone going corded and happy with the choice?



Wondering as well if cordless stuff worth it considering the convenience.

I’m slowly going cordless for everything possible, my primary system is DeWalt with multiple impacts and drills, 6 1/2 circular saw(I use shockingly often), and OMT. I also use Ryobi for some less demanding tools, work light, caulk gun, nailer and also some outdoor lawn stuff too. Speaking to longevity, I’m not expecting my cordless tools to give me 20 years of service, I had some DeWalt nicad stuff that while still working, were no longer giving the proformance I needed and the older battery tech just plain sucked.
With the current brushless technology making it’s way into every tool type out there I’d be very confident recommending cordless, one category that still sorta use a cord is saws, however DeWalt is proving that wrong.

I can list some of the Pro’s for cordless Tools:

Go anywhere convenience - can take it out in the woods etc.
No cord or air hose to get in the way or trip over - so better up on a ladder, roof or staging.
Not too much concern in the rain/snow (as long as you are not getting the battery soaked)

I can list some of the Cons:

Limited Battery Life (they’ve gotten better but will not last forever)
Limited run-time on a charge - (also getting better - but still not production tools)
Limited power (also getting better with brushless technology, higher voltages, twin battery schemes etc.) but still hard to beat a 210/108 V class electric motor.
Higher price for the convenience

So my advice:

If you are doing carpentry, home repair, garden/yard construction versus woodworking in the shop - then the convenience of cordless is a big consideration.
If your setting up a shop to do wood working then you might do some mix and match like this:

  1. A cordless Drill/Driver

Selecting from among Dewalt, Makita or Milwaukee will not steer you wrong - but if you want compact 12V - Milwaukee has the edge in terms of the number of different offerings in their M12 lineup. I have mostly Makita 18V cordless - but if I were buying now - I would also be looking at the other 2 brands.- possibly adding Bosch.

  1. A corded 7-1/4 circular saw - but buy a good replacement blade for crosscutting
    While a table saw has been the traditional centerpiece of most wood shops - you can do a lot of decent cutting with a circular saw and a straight edge. You might also consider a tracksaw.

A few sidewinder circular saws that you might look at:

Or a track saw:

  1. A corded R/O sander - lots of choices - but here’s a few

  1. A corded router - take a look at whether a compact

or a larger router that you might use in a router table might be better:

  1. A cordless impact driver. Nice to have to supplement the drill/driver. Also nice to have one of the newer quieter ones:
  1. An 18ga.brad nailer and/or a 21ga or 23ga pinner. Here the choice of cordless and pneumatic become a bit more complicated - since the latter requires you buying a compressor - while the cordless may be tied to your battery platform.

These 6 (I tried to list them in the order of importance IMO) should get you started - but if you seriously get into woodworking then you will probably want to go with stationary tools possibly starting with a table saw, then adding a surface planer, a router table, a miter saw, a compressor for pneumatic tools, a long bed jointer, a drill press, a sanding station, a band saw, a scroll saw, a wide drum sander, a HVLP sprayer - and of course dust collection to work with all of these. I’ve named the woodworking tools in my shop - ones I’ve accumulated over years - but others might add or subtract.

If I was looking into going cordless today I would only look at team red or team yellow. (Milwaukee or Dewalt) I’ve invested into the Dewalt line. Reason I don’t see much appeal to Makita, or Hitachi or whatever else is that once you buy into the system they don’t have much more to offer. And I don’t see any of their tools being so much better than a Dewalt or Milwaukee device to consider running 2 battery systems. I do like hitachi’s new impact driver but I bet it doesn’t actually work any better than my Dewalt. I would give an equal nod to ridgid tools by the way.

That said I’m also only interested in the 18V families. (20 if you do the dewalt Max thing). Though I will say I’m highly intrigued by the Dewalt Flexvolt thing - I’ve not bought into one yet. Now why - If I only have the money and space to have a drill and an impact driver then they might as well be the more capable variety. I would also make sure to end up eventually with 2 chargers and 4 batteries - even if they are different capacities.

Then I would say not all tools need to be cordless - there is some major price differences. Take the circular saw to be fair you’ll probably be that much more careful with one if it had a cord. I know I think about it more when I use one. Vs however I do love the cordless OMT. WHy - the OMT is meant for small tasks and often things you can’t fit larger devices for and well often in places where maneuverability is king. SO I’d buy a cordless OMT before I bought a cordless circ saw.

My take is that when you say you want to do some woodworking, that means you have a specific location that you plan to make your shop, not that you are going to use the tools all over the place. I could be wrong, but I’ll address that plan.

If you are starting from scratch, start with dust collection. Cleaning up sawdust takes valuable time away from your craft and inhaling it is bad for you. If you are inside the house, it will get everywhere in the house if you don’t have good containment. If it gets on the floor you will track it around and it is a slipping hazard.

Buy a good dust collector, plan your shop around it, and make good dust collection one of the highest criteria in choosing your tools.

So with that in mind if you are going to have a hose going to your tool (router, chopsaw, jigsaw, etc…) go with a corded tool because you are going to be tethered by the hose anyway.

I’ll agree with Benjamin in that dust collection is a prime consideration for a woodworking shop. But with some hand tools it may take some ingenuity to control it effectively. The Festool offerings start out with dust collection as a consideration - not an afterthought. Buying a Festool tool collection, however, does not come cheap. A corded Festool dust extractor or more moderately priced one from Fein, Bosch or others should have been on my list. While I have both dust extractors and shop vacs, my shop uses a cyclone and baghouse system - ducted to each machine to handle particulate matter. Starting out with a portable solution is probably more practical for you. True dust extractors with HEPA filters are way better for your family’s health and house cleanliness than the less expensive shop vacuums. Using either to clean up while you cut with a typical circular saw, many routers and power planes - can be a challenge - especially if you are working alone.

I’m not sure that I agree with all that Napalm says - but certainly Dewalt and Milwaukee seem to be locked in a head to head competition to decide who can introduce more new cordless tools. In the 12V lineup - powerful enough for most woodworking tasks - and useful because of its compactness - Milwaukee’s M12 lineup is way ahead of any competition in terms of shear numbers of different tools. But I agree with Napalm in saying that a few 18V tools may suit you better - because they might be better suited to heavy carpentry or construction tasks that you might want to tackle beyond woodworking. As far as Makita is concerned - they offer all the core tools and then some - and while they may not be introducing as many tools per day as Milwaukee, I would not leave them out of your hunt.

BTW - I did not include on my list a few tools that are often purchased by homeowners and/or woodworkers, like the OMT that Napalm mentioned. Others like a jigsaw, a biscuit jointer, a Festool Domino machine, a belt sander, a pad sander, an oscillating spindle sander, a mortising machine, a trim router, a reciprocating saw, a powered hand planer, an angle grinder, 15ga or 16ga trim nailer, narrow crown stapler - and others may also have some functionality in woodworking - but probably don’t need to be in your starter set until you know that you need them (like a jigsaw for cutting curves when a bandsaw or scrollsaw is not available). Beyond common hand tools like a claw hammer and screwdrivers - you will probably want to invest in and learn how to use a few good hand tools, like a block plane, a smoothing plane, a few chisels, a bunch of clamps, a quality combination square, a tape measure a long straight edge, and some waterstones to keep your edge tools sharp and honed. .

TO add - since I think I missed the point of the OP’s question. I assumed he was going get into some power tools for all sorts of use not just wood working.

ALso he asked about longevity. I missed that part. Yes most of the cordless tools today will last a long time - if you buy into a good set. ANd yes I’d say a makita drill and driver today should last a long time. As should a Dewalt or Milwaukee, or Ridgid. I would still consider sticking to team yellow or red though.

because the issue with cordless longevity isn’t so much the tool but the battery availability and charger life. SInce Milwaukee and Dewalt have invested much into their platforms - those batteries and chargers should exist for a long time - such that if your drill is 10 years old and your battery set doesn’t hold up you can buy another. This incidentally is what happened to my milwaukee 14.4V drill I bought when I bought my first house. Loved that drill - it was great still works - batteries however barely hold on.

SO the factor on longevity I would tell you is to get into something that is larger enough - common enough you can get batteries and or chargers for quite some time. Again I think Dewalt or Milwaukee would serve you well there.