Never a company to sit back and rest after launching a line of tools, Bosch instead keeps on finding ways to make their tools better. I spent two days this week at Bosch’s U.S. headquarters in Chicago getting a first-hand look at new cordless drills, random-orbit sanders, a benchtop tablesaw, measuring tools, and lots of other tools related to construction and concrete work.
It’s only been about 3 years since bosch launched its compact line of 18-volt cordless drills and drivers. Nevertheless, the company has debuted the second generation of this series, making the drills more compact, lighter, more powerful, and with different ergonomics—the drive train and body now sit at almost a 90° angle to the handle, where prior versions were tilted up more—than the previous generation. And the batteries sport a new lithium-ion chemistry as well, promising longer run times without changing the voltage or amp-hours of each pack. There are four models in this launch: a standard drill/driver and a hammer drill in each of the Compact Tough and Brute Tough lines. All four feature four-pole motors and a new patented gear train that, according to Bosch, generates more power despite being smaller.
The Compact Tough drill/driver weighs in at 3.4 lbs with the 1.5 amp-hour slim pack battery and 4 lbs with the 3 amp-hour fat pack. The hammer drill version weighs a few ounces more. The Brute Tough drill weighs 4.7 lbs and the hammer drill version 4.9. You can buy these tools with any combination of the battery packs. I used these drills in different drilling and driving applications, and I have to agree that the new design does feel more comfortable, and it allows you to better apply force to the bit in a more natural position. Other new tools for the 18-volt line are a jigsaw, 16-gauge finish nailer, and metal-cutting bandsaw.
New in Bosch’s 12-volt lineup is a right-angle drill with a 3/8” chuck. This model is similar to the I-Driver (launched 4 years ago), with an articulated head that pivots 90° for work in tight areas. It also has an LED light. It comes with two batteries, charger and case for $150. Bosch also launched a mini-reciprocating saw for the 12-volt line that will sell for $160 with two batteries.
The most annoying downside of random-orbit sanders is the vibration produced when you use them. Even though Bosch’s sanders do a nice job of sanding, they do vibrate enough to get tiresome after a while. So Bosch’s team developed a new anti-vibration technology for its sanders. How this new technology works is the motor and pad—which create the vibration—are no longer screwed to the housing that you hold onto. Instead, the housing slips onto foam pads to cushion it from the vibration, with just a couple of plastic tabs holding it in place. I used the sander side by side with the older models, and I’m excited about how little vibration it produced. They’ve also replaced the dust collection canister with a new version that makes it easy to remove the filter and dump the dust. Three models (5” and 6”) will be available at first, with the remaining models to fall in line later in the year.
Bosch has always made a great jobsite tablesaw, but it’s heavy, bulky, and priced north of $600. So Bosch created a new saw that’s light enough (45 lbs) and slim enough to carry with one hand. Selling for $400, this 10” saw has a 15-amp motor, 18” rip capacity, and stores the blade guard, rip fence, miter gauge, push stick, and blade wrenches underneath.
Among the new offerings in digital measuring and reading tools were two that really intrigue me. First is a wallscanner ($80) that detects metal, wood, and live electrical wires in walls up to 4-3/4” deep. It has a nifty digital readout that’s intuitive to use. The second tool is a laser distance measurer ($250). This model measures distances up to 265 feet, and it’s accurate to 1/16” every 33 feet. It also measures angles, making it a valuable measuring tool when cutting molding or fascia on angled ceilings and gables.
I’ll be getting samples of these tools in for testing soon, so watch WOOD magazine for performance reviews.