Choosing The Right Power Tools
Starting off as an intern with Lakewood Builders during my senior year at SDSU, I wasn’t overly knowledgeable about the construction industry. While I did have mechanical skills, thanks to my father, from working on cars and DIY projects around the house I knew there was and always will be a great deal to learn.
The whole team at Lakewood took me under their wing, sharing many years of experience with me. Tommy, Brian G., and Alyssa focus primarily on the managerial side of the projects. They were able to show me how the concepts and strategies I’d learned in my management courses were used in day-to-day activities. Darrick our Director of Field Ops and Brian R. our Superintendent helped me transfer this knowledge in the office as well, but primarily in the field.
Since a majority of my development with Lakewood takes place on-site, I knew I had to start building my own set of tools. Before I began this process I did some online research and consulted with the Lakewood team and some subcontractors as well. I came to find out that there are more than 1 or 2 to brands choose from:
Black + Decker
Just to name a few… While hand tools and other small supplementary tools are interchangable, cordless power tools are not. Being that the batteries aren’t compatible across brands. They are also a small investment, so I wanted to be sure that I picked a brand that would best suit and last our projects to come.
Coming to find that a lot of these brands are used by our team and subcontractors alike, I wasn’t able to make a decision on which one to choose right off the bat. This is because many people swore by one sole brand and others said they used a variety of them. After a bit more research I narrowed my choices down to Ryobi, Milwaukee, Makita, and Dewalt.
I headed into the San Marcos Home Depot and began looking around at the tool and battery kits these brands have. I found out that there were significant price differences between the brands and even more so across the multiple models offered by each company. Milwaukee, Makita and DeWalt were all on the higher end so naturally I gravitated my search towards Ryobi at first.
While I was looking around a Milwaukee sales rep named Mike introduced himself and asked if he could help me out. Even though their price point was a bit higher than the others I was considering I figured I should hear him out. To my suprise, he didn’t go right into why Milwaukee was the best and why I should buy their tools. Rather, we started talking about what kind of work I was doing and how much use I’d be getting out of everything.
I told him that I was a bit apprehensive about the cost of them since I was mainly looking at their brushless FUEL models that I’d seen great reviews for online. He understood my resistance and explained that if I was in a trade that required me to use my tools all day every day then it would be worth it to go with a brushless model. However, since I would be using them here and there throughout the day I wouldn’t need to go all out for the FUEL line. We got to talking some more and once I learned that Milwaukee offers a 5 year warranty opposed to 3 like their competitors. The duration of their 18v batteries throughout the day and over the course of their life also surpassed the others on the market, so the price difference didn’t seem too drastic afterall. I decided to take a look at the kits they had on sale to see if anything would work. Thanks to Mike, I was able to find a 5 tool, 2 battery M18 tool set for $299.00. Since they were on sale, I actually ended up spending the same amount I would’ve on Ryobi tools.
The M18 set came with a cordless drill/driver, Hackzall, circular saw, impact driver, work light, 3.0amp and 1.5amp 18v battery with charger. It also included a circular saw, hackzall blade and contractor bag to get me started. I’ve put everything from the kit to work, using the drill/driver and impact driver extensively throughout the week. While I believe this kit is a great starting point for anyone whether it’s for light use around the house or daily work on a job-site, I would recommend buying a couple of 5.0amp batteries as well. The smaller batteries are great to have, but it’s nice to know you won’t be running out of power throughout the day. If anyone in the San Diego area has questions about cordless power tools and what would work best for them I highly recommend giving Milwaukee Mike a visit at the San Marcos Home Depot.