Battery powered tools are some of the most versatile helpers you can have in your garage or workshop. Going cordless means the freedom to go wherever your project takes you, including those hard-to-reach angles, nooks and crannies where air tools or corded units simply can’t fit. You can also throw battery tools in your trunk and bring them with you to help out a friend or take care of business somewhere far away from the nearest outlet, like a camp site, a race track or on the trail. Check out our picks for the top six battery powered tools you need for your garage.
1. Cordless Drill
You’re always going to need to make a hole somewhere — whether it’s to mount a new component on your car, drill out an old rivet or screw in some shelves. A cordless drill is one of the battery powered tools that should definitely be in your garage, and it’s also one of the least expensive and most useful members of the cordless family. When shopping for a cordless drill, keep in mind the kind of drilling you may need to do in the future. A normal drill is fine for making holes in most things, but if you ever need to make a hole in concrete or masonry block you will want a cordless hammer drill. A cordless hammer drill combines the spinning action of the drill bit with the hammering action of a chisel for faster hole drilling. You also want to consider whether you are okay with a normal brushed motor, or want the extra power and efficiency of a brushless motor.
Do you find yourself often changing tires on your car? Or maybe you’re tired of dealing with stubborn bolts that just won’t come off no matter how much elbow grease you apply. A cordless impact drive is a great addition to any toolbox, and it can speed up any number of maintenance jobs you’re working on. You can find cordless impart drivers in a variety of styles. Some use a quick-change chuck that easily accepts various attachments. Others have a 1/4″, 3/8″, or even 1/2″ square-drive for use with a world of impact rated sockets and accessories. Similar to the previously discussed cordless drill you also have a choice between a traditional brushed motor or newer brushless motor designs. Just remember, impact drivers require impact sockets that have been designed to survive the extremes forces created by an impact tool.
3. Cordless Reciprocating Saw
A reciprocating saw is one of the few battery powered tools that is recommended for cutting purposes. Whereas using most saws at an unusual angle is simply too dangerous, the design of this type of saw is almost perfectly conceived to slide in where other cutting implements can’t fit. There are several sizes and designs to choose from, so consider what kind of work you will be doing and how much access you will need. For best performance make sure to match the type of blade to the material you are cutting. Also consider how much you will be using the saw when picking between a traditional brushed motor or newer brushless motor designs. If you will be using the saw a lot and battery life is a concern, an efficient brushless unit may serve you well. Lastly it’s best to stay away from cordless circular saws for automotive work — they are simply too unpredictable — but a cordless reciprocating saw is a great option.
4. Cordless Rotary Multi-Tool
A multi-tool — that is, a device that can use multiple heads — is perfect for taking on smaller jobs or finishing work that a bulkier device would make a mess of. These units are small but mighty. They are perfect for small grinding jobs where a delicate touch is needed but a traditional file would take a long time. Small cutting wheels make for perfect precision trimming or notching. Throw on a wire cup and get into far more places than a handled wooded wire brush could reach. There are even tiny drill bits for making equally tiny holes. Whatever your project a cordless rotary multi-tool lets you take advantage of power tool strength without wrestling with power tool bulk. The ability to use a rotary multi-tool to cut, trim or polish any given surface is what makes it such a useful addition to your garage toolbox.
5. Cordless Grinder
You don’t always need the all-day power of a corded grinder while working on a project. Sometimes, it’s better to have the freedom of using a tool above your head without the cord getting in your way. The mobility of a cordless grinder makes it one of the battery powered tools you’ll be thankful you own. Just remember that cordless grinders can be just as dangerous as their corded counterparts, so wear eye protection and keep the guards in place.
6. Cordless Work Lights
LED technology has brought enlightenment to the garage at an amazingly fast rate the last few years. There are a huge number of cordless LED work lights on the market for almost every work environment. There are long work lights that hang under an open hood to flood the engine bay with light. There are hand-held work lights with for tight work spaces. You can even light an entire work space with cordless flood lights. Plus thanks to the nature of how LEDs work there’s no more worry about burning yourself on a scalding hot shop light!
These are just a few of the most common cordless power tools you will find around most shops. The great thing about cordless tools is that you can operate a wide range of tools from just a small group of batteries if you stay within the same manufacturer. This can also help your wallet when shopping as you may opt to buy just the tool itself and skip the extra battery and charger. There are a huge variety of cordless specialty tools to explore for almost any job you can think of what would benefit from a bit more freedom to move around.
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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.