Dewalt 18V XRP - 6 Piece Tool Set Review
Whether you are boarding up your house for a hurricane, or building a picnic table for your backyard having some basic power tools can speed up the process exponentially. I purchased a Dewalt 18V XRP 6 piece set of cordless tools several years ago to help beef up my tool inventory. The set included a hammer drill, impact driver, reciprocating saw, circular saw, grinder, and flashlight.
This is a robust drill, so if all you want a drill for is hanging pictures and the occasional towel rack this would be overkill and then some. This Dewalt cordless drill has a three position "transmission" with the following settings: hammer drill, drill, and driver. The hammer drill is used when drilling through really hard surfaces like concrete; while the drill mode is used for standard drilling applications in wood or metal, and the driver mode is used when putting in screws or fasteners. I haven't found occasion to use the hammer drill feature yet, but find myself using this tool often for drilling purposes as it is very powerful and with the right bits easily bores through any metal or wood that I have thrown at it. I have also used the driver mode a fair amount for installing screws which it does well; however, it is a bit large and does start to get heavy if working on a project that requires a lot of fasteners.
This is a 1/4" impact driver so you probably won't want to try and use it to change the lug nuts on your truck, (although I've always been going to try it just to see). However, this works great for driving fasteners into a variety of surfaces. Its lighter weight and much smaller overall size compared to the hammer drill make more maneuverable and better suited for projects like building a deck, which can require hundreds of screws. I have also used this to help put screws in a metal roof with good success. It is important to remember this is an impact driver and not like the driver mode on a drill which will let the transmission slip once to much torque is applied, so basically you have to make sure you don't over tighten and strip the fastener heads. Usually if you go slow on the first half dozen fasteners you pick up the feel pretty fast, and stripping heads or over tightening isn't an issue. Despite being smaller this unit has plenty of torque and can easily drive screws into most surfaces without lugging down.
While with the proper blade installed you can cut a variety of different materials, working with wood is where this circular saw is most at home. This saw takes a 6.5" inch blade so cutting 2x4's or 2x6's in no problem; and in fact cutting flat wood surfaces whether it is a 2x6 or a sheet of plywood is where this tool really shines. On projects like building a picnic table, work bench, or shed; this is the tool you will end up reaching for to do the majority of the cutting. This circular saw also has an adjustable guard fence which allows for angled cuts up to 50 degrees, although when cutting steep angles make sure you have enough blade to get all the way through the wood.
If something is an odd shape and needs cut this is the tool I reach for; doesn't matter if it is metal, pvc, or wood. Match the right blade to the right material and as long as the blade is long enough you'll be through it in short order. It is important to keep the blade guide against whatever you are cutting because once you pull the trigger stuff gets cut fast and it is easy to make a crooked cut if you aren't paying attention. I have probably used this more for cutting through random pieces of metal for various projects than anything. However, with a wood blade installed you can remove a lot small to medium tree limbs in a hurry as well.
While all the tools in this set gain some maneuverability from not having a cord attached which often seems to impede the progress of what you are trying to do; I really notice how nice it is not to have a cord on the grinder. With a grinder the variety of angles and back and forth motions make it especially nice not to have a cord in the way. While as the name implies grinding is what this tool is for, and it has been useful for various smoothing of metals; I have actually probably used it more as a cutting tool with a thin cutting blade installed. While the reciprocating saw generally gets the nod for most random cutting jobs, the grinder seems to work better in some cases especially when you can't get the object held tightly like in a vise. This is probably because the rotary motion of the grinders cutting wheel doesn't bounce a loose or flexible object like the reciprocating saw.
Flexible Flood Light
If you have ever had the hood up on your vehicle you know there are some places that light just doesn't find very well, and when you crawl underneath it gets even worse. The flood light itself is pretty lightweight and features a flexible hose like neck which can be bent to shine its beam wherever you want it; once the battery is attached it acts as a heavy flat base for the light and keeps the light upright and anchored. I have used this light mainly when working on vehicles as it can generally be quickly and steadily positioned to shed some light on what your working on. This Dewalt flood light puts out a pretty good amount of illumination, and has a runtime of a couple hours. Furthermore, because it uses the same rechargeable battery packs as the rest of the tools it can be operated very cheaply for a portable light source.
Batteries & Charger
This set came with two battery packs and one battery charger. The battery life varies greatly from tool to tool; and even then runtime depends on both task and material being used. However, the charger can bring a battery back to full charge fairly quickly, seems around an hour usually does the trick. So if you put the first battery on the charger as soon as it is dead, it should generally be recharged by the time the second one runs out. The batteries my tool set uses are the older Ni-Cad models; and while it is about time to replace one of the battery packs, I really have no complaints on runtime or longevity of the batteries. Dewalt is now making cordless tools that use Lithium Ion batteries which are more efficient and provide better performance; however, this comes at a higher price but is something to consider if your budget allows.
While it has been awhile since I bought my set of tools if I remember right it didn't come with blades, bits, or drivers. Obviously you need these for some of the tools to even work so don't forget to budget for them when looking at these or similar tools sets. Here is not the place to skimp either as the quality and variety of the blades, bits, wheels and drivers will directly effect how much use you can get out of these tools. For example, you can't use the grinder for cutting effectively without a cutting wheel, or the reciprocating saw for limbing trees without a dedicated wood cutting blade.
Six tools, two batteries, a charger, various bits, blades, and accessories is a lot of stuff to haul around; fortunately, Dewalt provides a nice large durable duffle bag to haul all this around in. The tools, batteries and charger all fit loosely in the main compartment, but there is various pocket pouches on both the inside and outside for the various accessories; plus some extra room for stuff like a small square and tape measure. With all this gear loaded the bag is pretty heavy; but it is well made and up for the heavy weight if you are. However, do consider there is a lot of dollars worth of equipment in the bag so don't leave it unattended or unsecured.
This set, or rather the newer version of the set I have, sells for right about $500 dollars which can buy a lot of preps. That said once you have the basics covered this would be toward the top of my list, probably behind a backup generator but ahead of many other larger prep purchases. Buying the whole kit does provide significant savings over buying each tool alone; also be aware if you buy a bare tool they do not have a battery or charger both of which are needed to operate the tool. However, if the 6 piece kit is out of your price range you might look at their 4 piece kit which is about 1/2 the price at $250 but lacks a circular saw, grinder and features a different light.