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Blog: How to Build a Cordless Tool System

As a contractor, you already own many cordless power tools. You may own several brands of tools and perhaps even tools with different voltage batteries (platforms). No matter what your situation is, though, it helps to adopt a cordless tool system based on one or two brands and one or two platforms. It’s best when you can travel to a jobsite with a couple of extra batteries, too, as well as one charger to serve all your tools. 

To build a cordless system that makes sense for you, consider the following points: cost versus quality, batteries and platforms, and the tools themselves.

Cost versus quality

Because our minds are wired to get the cheapest price, we want to buy the lowest-cost tools. But, generally, price is closely related to quality—you get what you pay for. Ward Smith, product manager for DeWalt Professional Tools, Towson, Maryland, says that durability, tool life, advanced tool features, warranties and tool productivity are all related to price. 

Batteries and platforms

Tim Truesdale, product manager for cordless tools, Robert Bosch Tool Corp., Mount Prospect, Illinois, says that batteries are a large part of the overall cost, so they should be an important consideration when you build a cordless system. Look for backwards and forwards compatibility—or a manufacturer commitment to introducing new battery technology that will still work on older tools as well as the ones to come (both DeWalt and Bosch do this). 

The most popular platforms are 12 volt and 18/20 volts (18- and 20-volt batteries provide the same performance), with the larger batteries powering the greatest number of tools. This is probably the best platform to build a cordless system around. An advantage of 12-volt tools is that they are lightweight and easy to carry around in a tool pouch all day long.

Truesdale says tools with high performance and torque demands such as hammer drills and rotary hammers, once regarded as corded only, are transitioning into battery platforms that can perform as good or better than their corded counterparts. 

You should always be aware of the battery size, weight and run time for a battery platform. If you’re accustomed to less weight and unlimited run time with a cord, you’ll want to be sure your adjustment to cordless meets expectations. 

Tool quality

One of the biggest advances in tool technology is the brushless motor. Truesdale says tools that include them are more powerful, run more efficiently and last longer. They are a mark of high quality and are worth the price.

Working with tools that vibrate for long periods of time causes changes to your capillary blood vessels and the myelin sheaths that surround nerves. Worker safety is increased by tool handles and grips that reduce vibration, and you’ll see this advertised by manufacturers. Improved technology in the making of shafts, gears and bearings also helps to reduce tool vibration. 

Combination packages

Buying the right package can save you money. Impact drivers and drill/drivers are popular tools today and are often found in combination packages along with a variety of saws—all using batteries on the same platform. 

Workers make money for companies with the use of their tools and their craftsmanship, so look for quality and durability first to be even more productive.


Joe Nasvik is a writer and editor serving the construction and concrete industries. He has 18 years’ experience as a concrete contractor. Contact him at jnasvik@sbcglobal.net.

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