Combo tool kits keep handy people well-equipped, even when space is at a premium …
My wife is the handy one of us. It’s just one of the many ways I married up.
When it comes to building things from whatever’s lying around, or fixing things that have been well-loved, she makes it happen.
Powerful, reliable, easy-to-handle tools are to a handy person what an array of high-quality paintbrushes are to a painter. They make the final project better, and the process more enjoyable.
Combo tool kits save space
One of the side effects of having the right tools at hand is that they take up space. One tool doesn’t make or break things, but it doesn’t take long before the garage, shed, basement, pantry, etc., are chock full.
Which is why my wife was delighted when she got a cordless combo tool kit for Christmas last year.
Instead of having a separate drill, impact driver, circular saw, grinder, etc., the combo tool kit is modular. There is one transmission that accepts a battery and a number of different attachments. To use a different tool, put on the right attachment.
Result: All of the capability in a fraction of the space.
Combo tool kit handheld options
The kit my wife got for Christmas last year is the Black & Decker Matrix platform. (She got her attachments separately rather than in the six-tool kit here, which has drill, sander, jig saw, oscillating tool, router, and impact driver attachments.)
She uses the trim saw attachment all the time. The main selling point for my wife with a combo tool kit (or any other tool, really) is that it’s a good balance of power, weight, and size. She’s willing to give up a little bit of power if it means that working with the tool won’t rack out her hands, wrists, and arms.
In addition, Craftsman makes its own attachments, some of which do fit with Matrix combo tool kits. Although not officially interchangeable with the Black & Decker, this guy talks about how the Craftsman attachments work with the Black & Decker Matrix, and in many cases they do work.
Going a bit bigger
Although my wife was reluctant to go bigger for different tools because of the weight, Ryobi has the One+ system which has more than 70 tools that use the same battery platform. The same 18-volt battery works with a drill, a leaf blower, rotary cutter, hedge trimmer, and lots more.
One thing that can help to lighten the load is to use a smaller battery. The voltage would be the same (about 18 volts) so the tool would work as design, but the charge wouldn’t last as long. Manufacturers quote the capacity of the battery in milliamp-hours (mAh). Let’s say a tool requires 2 amps of current at 18 volts. A 2000 mAh battery will power that tool for an hour, while a 500 mAh battery will power it for 15 minutes.
- Interchangeability. Staying with one brand (like Black & Decker only) should be safe. Mixing and matching other brands, unless it’s explicitly stated that they work together and are covered by warranty, may not work together, and may not be covered by warranty if the tool burns out or the battery bites the dust.
- Weight. I already mentioned this but it bears repeating. If the tool isn’t comfortable, you won’t use it!
- New vs. used. Some pawn shops sell a lot of cordless tools. I haven’t had good luck with the batteries in these tools. They’ve already been spent by the time they get to the pawn shop. You may have better luck than I have. Or, you could get a used tool with the intention of replacing the battery.