This will be a broad look at the DeWalt Combo Cordless Kits. Reviews of the individual component tools will come as I get a change to work with them in the coming weeks.
After reading a lot of reviews, and looking at a lot of the various “Combo” sets in some of the big box home improvement stores, I ended up choosing to go with Dewalt’s 20 V Max “XR” system. Even then, it was a real problem choosing from all the varieties of kits offered. Not only do the tool selections very from kit to kit, but DeWalt also offers them in 18V as well as 20V, and brushless versus brushed motors.
See what I mean…?
I went through a lot of Internet research, and I’ll share some sources that I’ve found the most worthwhile right here in case anyone else is considering a similar purchase.
I finally limited my choice to two six-tool kits: the DeWALT DCK684D2 and the DEWALT DCK694P2. They offer DeWalt’s heavier duty, brushless motors [the lower cost sets have brushed motors], and having the power I am used to from my contractor grade tools was one of my primary criteria. DeWalt claims that the brushless motors run far cooler, and have “run-time” between battery charges that can be more than 100% greater.
Trust me. There is a good bit of difference between these two very similar looking sets…
Since I was already well equipped in terms of drill drivers from the previously mentioned Bosch and Rigid sets [see Part One], the three tools that made the most difference to me as I tried to hone down my choices, were the reciprocating saw, the 7 1/4″ circular saw, and the new multi-use “oscillating tool”. The same three models were offered in each of these kits, so the real choice was down to the other amenities offered by the drill drivers and the battery sets.
[Interestingly enough, all most all of the tools seem to have LED lights built in, so the “work light” DeWalt puts into all the combo kits to boost the “tool-count’ is especially redundant]
There is a basic cost difference between these two sets of approximately $100 due to the bump from a 2Ah battery set in the x84 series of kits to a 5Ah battery pair offered in the x94s. The 694 kit also upgrades you to a hammer drill. A real “buyer’s remorse” concern with many of these DeWalt Combo sets arises from the fact that the prices on these can change up or down overnight and by as much as $50-$100 over the course of a month. If the price on a set “lurched” it could make it more or less desirable in an instant. After much obsessing, and way too much compulsive researching, last weekend it seemed that the price on the 694 set had dropped by nearly $100 overnight, bringing it to within $20 of the cost of the 2Ah one. I made my choice, pulled the trigger and placed my order.
…. And promptly screwed myself.
In my rush to buy I ordered the wrong set. I acted too quickly, and without reading in detail, without looking closely enough [ I probably had my glasses up on my forehead], and I ended up getting one of the x94 series hammer drill kits alright… but it was the four tool one that did not include the oscillating tool… that’s why all of a sudden the price was so inviting. My mistake was compounded by the fact that the particular Amazon vendor my order went through had only a 30 minute window during which you could cancel your order… of course I didn’t see the error until the next morning. And, of course, it was also Memorial Day weekend so their customer service was closed. You can probably guess… the tools shipped on Sunday night, and I couldn’t talk with CS until Tuesday morning. Despite the difficulties, and after some finagling, I actually found myself quite satisfied once the tools came and my final cost evaluation was done.
Eventually, I had bullied my way up through several levels of CS management with the seller and was able to get a 5% reduction in the charge on the cost of the 594 kit. Then I went ahead and ordered the oscillating tool as a “standalone kit” that also came with its own single 2Ah battery, a [2nd] charger, and a tote, as well as a plastic tote box of DeWalt brand O-tool blades, accessories, and some of their own proprietary shaped sandpapers. To finish replacing the corded tools I had sold, I also went ahead and ordered a nice, easily portable DeWalt 2 gallon wet/dry vac that operates both corded and cordless… since this was not included in any of the kits it made no difference in my final price.
This is my shot of the new gear fresh out of the boxes… no blades or accessories attached.
What I ended up with:
- 996 hammer drill/ driver
- 887 impact driver
- 367 reciprocating saw
- 570 7 1/4 inch circular saw
- the new 355oscillating multi-tool with the bonus of everything that was included from buying a standalone kit
- the 581 wet/dry corded/cordless vac
- two charger bases [one not shown]
- two 5Ah Max batteries and a single 2Ah one
- [the only tool that has not been replaced so far is a jigsaw. The Bosch version that I sold was their top-of-the-line unit and I got a very good price for it on eBAY… so good in fact that my replacement cost is a “wash” when the DeWalt cordless unit drops back to levels I have already seen. Even more so if I choose to get a re-furb]
My total cost for all of these top-end DeWalt tools was only $65 more than if I had purchased the lower cost set [the one I had originally intended to get] together with the shop vac. I am satisfied because the cost is really deferred by the fact that I got the more powerful hammer drill, a total of three batteries and two bases including the higher powered batteries, and the nice accessories kit that came with the oscillating tool. All of the tools are about as good as I could get, and all of the expense was covered by the sale of the corded “contractors” tools, and the other accumulated tools I let go. [In fact, I will come out quite a bit ahead once all of the other extra contracting and shop stuff has sold or gone to auction]
Why I got the DeWalt lineup:
- All the sites I read reviewing the cordless tool “combo sets” from competing brands always placed DeWalt high at the top of their favorites
- I really wanted to stay with the larger 7 1/4″ Circular saw that I was used to, and I also have have a metric shit-ton of 7 1/4 inch blades for various materials that are still in excellent shape. In the circular saw comparisons that I read, the Dewalt unit was consistently the highest rated unit, and additionally, I had just never warmed up to the 6 1/4″ Ridgid saw despite its smaller, more handy size. Other than the size, the argument is that the left-mount blade is easier to see and keep on track for most right-handed folks. I prefer the wider base on the board that the right-mounted blade on the 7 1/4″ saw gives. I have 40 years of practice looking down the back of my right knuckles. I can hold my speed square in place with my left hand, the saw is rock-steady on the board surface with no tilt-off, and the cut off board end falls away to the right… that’s just “how I work”.
- The DWS570 circular saw unit also has a heavy aluminum base plate with flat edges rather than one that has been stamped out of lighter material where the edge curves up. This may seem like a small thing, but it makes it much easier to guide the plate with a speed square for more true and exact cuts.
- Lastly, I am really excited to try out all the stuff I can do more easily with the new Oscillating tool… small/tight sanding/ flush cuts/ scraping, etc. I want to do some furniture restoration and refinishing when get to Carolina, and I think this tool will be perfect for those needs.
What I like about the tools comes right down to their convenience:
- NO cords/Light weight…. I don’t know how many times I have put off doing a small job around the house simply because the set up, with the extension cords, power cords, the out-of-reach outlets and the heavy tools themselves made it seem so daunting. The trouble I had to go to seemed out of proportion to the accomplishment.
- Anywhere/ Anytime…. I can carry a power tool up to the barn for a quick, one-board job with no hassle. I am done and back before I would have gotten set up with my contractor’s gear.
- Quick Charge/ Long Use… My mistaken order actually got me the larger, 20V Max XR 5Ah batteries that I might have had to buy down the road. They are advertised to charge in only 90 minutes and the brushless motors on the x94P2 series tools are supposed to deliver incredible battery life and up to 100% longer run-time. Right now I cannot see any circumstance in which I could possibly run down all the batteries and end up “powerless” unless I intentionally left the charger or extra batteries behind.
- I am already truly loving how easy the 2 gallon shop vac is to carry around and use. It makes staying ahead of my cleanup much simpler… and that makes the job go quicker.
- the DCD996 Hammer Drill is likely over-kill for my probable use. Any need likely will be so limited that the old Ridgid hammer drill would have done just fine
- I also suspect that time will tell me that I have no real need for any drill/driver chore that is bigger than I could have dealt with using the Bosch pair… those have surprising power for something that small and being only 12V
- the 5Ah “Max” batteries weigh a hefty 1.3 lbs each which is a trade off of a considerable load in the hand for the long use between charges. They make the tiny Bosch pair look mighty inviting for any chore involving the drill or driver. [The whole Bosch drill with its battery only weighs 2.3 lbs.]
Right now, these tools a completely new to me. I have not had any time to put them through their paces and get a feel for them. For that reason I am not going to go any further with “reviews” of the individual tools.
Once they get some use, I will post my experiences and review each one individually.
Bonus Review To Come:
There is actually a fourth tool kit for me to talk about and review. In the things that were left in my barn several years ago [by a man who promised, “only for a little while” and, “I’ll pay you $25 a month”…. and then never did, and ended up unable to return at all] there was a LNIB Dremel 3000 Rotary Tool in a case, and with two full, and different, sets of accessories. I haven’t even had time to power it up, and it is still in the plastic bags inside the case. …Gotta get to that, too.