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Getting a first-hand look behind the scenes at DeWalt and Delta

I just wrapped up two days at the home headquarters of the Black & Decker family of tools—DeWalt, Porter-Cable, Delta, and B&D—in Towson, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb. While there I got a sneak peek at lots of new tools, some ready for launch this summer, others for later this fall, and still more even farther down the road. I even got to use several of the tools—my job is so COOL!

Most of what I saw for release this calendar year carries the DeWalt brand, but I did see a few from Delta and Porter-Cable. Before you get too worked up with excitement, let me disclose now that I can’t talk about most of these tools today. It was one of those spit-in-your-hand-and-shake-on-it kind of promises. You know the type: If I tell you about those tools now, there will be a team of mysterious yellow-and-black vans following me home tonight. Yeah, I know, too bad, but stay tuned—you’ll really like what’s coming. Some of it I’ll get to write about in August when the company officially launches those products at the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. And you know WOOD Magazine will be all over that show!

WOOD Magazine Tools Editor Bob Hunter tries out the new 12-volt impact driver.

WOOD Magazine Tools Editor Bob Hunter tries out the new 12-volt impact driver.

So what can I tell you? Well, how about a hot new line of cordless tools sporting the familiar yellow and black colors. If you’re familiar with the existing lines of 10.8- and 12-volt lithium-ion-powered drill/drivers and impact drivers from all the other major brands—we call them micro-drivers because they’re not much bigger than your hand, yet plenty powerful—then you’ve noticed that DeWalt has not had a horse in that race. That ends now. The folks at DeWalt launched seven new tools that use these compact 12-volt lithium-ion batteries that charge in 40 minutes. Now these are not to be confused with the standard 12-volt nickel-cadmium line of tools DeWalt’s sold for years. Those are bigger and heavier. This new line, which will be available in October, is very compact, lightweight, streamlined, and stands upright on its horizontal slide-mount battery pack.

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First up in this line is a 2.2-lb screwdriver: essentially a drill/driver with a ¼-inch quick-connect chuck, 15-position clutch, and a belt hook—the first in this class with that feature. It has a variable-speed trigger and a motor capable of up to 1,050 rpms, and also has 3 LED lights built into the clutch assembly encircling the chuck. This driver will sell for $139 with two batteries and charger.

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And because that driver is limited to bits with ¼-inch hex shanks, DeWalt also created a 12-volt drill/driver with a 3/8-inch three-jaw chuck and 15 clutch settings. The two-speed transmission allows you to max out at 400 rpm in the low range and 1,500 rpm in the high, again with a variable-speed trigger. This drill will sell with two batteries and charger for $159.

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Next in this line is an impact driver with a ¼-inch quick-connect chuck. It delivers 950 in-lb of torque, and also has the 3 LEDs and belt clip. The chuck on this driver and the screwdriver lets you easily install bits one-handed because you don’t need to pull the sleeve forward with your other hand. An angled spring retracts the ball catch when you slide in a bit, but it locks into the bit’s groove for a secure fit. It’ll sell for $159 with two batteries and charger.

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A close cousin of the impact driver is an impact wrench, which features a 3/8-inch square drive for powering sockets. This tool tops out at 1,150 in-lb of torque, and has the 3 LEDs, but it does not have a belt clip. It will sell for $159 with two batteries and charger.

DeWalt will sell two kits with multiple tools. You can get an impact driver and screwdriver with two batteries and charger, or opt for the drill/driver with the three-jaw chuck and impact driver with two batteries and charger. Both kits come with a canvas bag and sell for $199.

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Another tool you’ll probably want in this line is a compact LED work light. It has a powerful light in a lamp that swivels 360° while also tilting 180° for convenience. It can stand up on end, leaning against a metal clip, sit flat on its battery pack, or hang from the belt hook or it attached magnet. It sells for $39 but does not include batteries or charger.

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The other two tools in this 12-volt compact line aren’t really for woodworking, but they’re cool nonetheless. There’s an infrared thermometer that reads (in digital) from minus-20°F to 932°F. I swear I tried, but no matter where I pointed the laser I could not find anything in DeWalt’s shop in that toasty 900° range, so I’ll have to take their word for it. It sells for $149 with one battery and charger.

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The final tool is an inspection camera with a 3.5-inch LCD screen. You stick the camera—mounted at the end of a 3-foot flexible neck—into a hole in a wall or down a length of conduit or drain pipe—heck, you could even stick it down a gopher hole if you’d like—and it transmits a live color feed back to the screen. The screen detaches from the tool if you like, so you can hold it wherever needed for the best view while manipulating the camera. It also has a port for a micro SD memory card to record the images, but the card is not included. This camera unit sells for $299 with one battery and charger.

All these 12-volt tools come with a three-year warranty against defects in manufacturing, as well as a one-year warranty on anything, including the batteries.

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From the Delta side, I got a first-hand look at the new 18-inch drill press that we alerted you to in our September issue, which you probably just received in the past week. The two features I find most intriguing about this drill press are its industry-best 6-inch quill stroke and its auto-tensioning belt-drive system. Because it’s not a variable-speed unit, you still have to change belts on the pulleys by hand. But instead of unlocking two setscrews and moving the motor forward and back, you just engage or disengage the spring-loaded idler pulley, which puts the right amount of tension on the belt. The motor never moves. That’s a big improvement over existing systems. This table still has the great features of Delta’s 17-inch drill press—it tilts 90° side to side and 45° forward, and has a replaceable wood center insert—but this one comes with an aluminum fence that mounts in the T-slots and can flipped for high- and low-profile uses. The depth-stop system has been improved as well, with easy-to-use preset depth markings as well as a microadjuster. It’s going to sell for about $829.

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In addition to the drill press, I also got to see Delta’s new 20-inch scrollsaw. You might not have known it, but Delta had discontinued its scrollsaws a few years ago. Well, now it’s back with this model. It has electronic variable-speed controls from 400 to 1,750 strokes per minute with up-front controls and tool-free blade changes. It comes with a stand and sells for $599.

4 Responses to “Getting a first-hand look behind the scenes at DeWalt and Delta”

  1. These tools are real great. My only beef is that the sister brands, Porter Cable, Dewalt and Delta, all use a different battery. Why can they not all have a battery that is interchangable between sister brands. A 12V battery that fits all the 12V tools, 18V the same, Etc..
    One charger for all voltages and brands. Sure would cut the need to find a place for two or more chargers when only one is needed.

  2. The NiCad batteries for my DW920 Screw Driver have died. When I contacted DW about getting Lithium they informed me that they were not going to make one for my driver.
    Now tell me, why would I buy another tool from a mfgr who won’t support their products?
    Yes, I know I can get a new NiCad, but Lithium is a superior technology. And they’re making it available for some of their drivers but not mine. Too bad.

  3. I fully agree with Les and Roger. When my FireStorm Ni-Cads died, prior to the Li-Ions coming to market, I thought that B&D would make Li-Ion batteries to upgrade the Ni-Cad tools. Foolish thought on my part. To make matters worse, between the death of my B&D Ni-Cads and the sale of the Li-Ion tools, I purchased a B&D drill thinking that the batteries would be compatible wiht my FireStorms. Bad idea!! When the VSX series of tools appeared, I purchaed some of them, thinking that they were the new fammily of tools only to learn that they were interim tools and that B&D no longer supports thosse tools either.
    As for a universal charger for all 12v, 18v, etc. batteries; my FireStorm universal charger is not compatible with my B&D non-FireStorm batteries.
    B&D has no concern for their customers.

  4. I am in the same boat as Roger. I have the DW920 and both batteries lasted about 1 year and quit. I have been waiting patiently for over a year and a half for a lithium 7.2 volt battery to replace my dead ones and apparently Dewalt is not going to make them avialable. I have a Dewalt 18V drill, and reciprocating saw combo that I upgraded with the lithium batteries, but from now on, no more Dewalt tools for me. I will be buying Makita from this point forward!




 
 
 
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