DeWalt launches all-new 12-volt compact cordless line

Bright ideas from DeWalt (thanks for the tagline, guys!)


Black and Decker University in Towson, MD was the site of a product launch last Thursday, June 24 for DeWalt's all-new 12V MAX* line of compact cordless power tools. This was our first trip to visit BDU. It is a great facility with a massive two-room training and product testing area and all-around dream workshop. Half of the training space is dedicated mainly to DeWalt tools. The other half can only be described as Norm Abram's dream workshop. It houses every known Delta and Porter-Cable tool, from unisaws, band saws, drill presses and planers to benchtop and hand-held tools and accessories, all fitted with ceiling-mounted central dust collection.

The new DeWalt 12 Volt MAX* cordless Screwdriver.
The DeWalt 12 Volt MAX* Drill/driver.
The DeWalt 12 Volt MAX* impact driver and impact wrench are virtually identical except for their transmissions.
The DeWalt model DCT410S1 12 Volt MAX* Inspection camera.
The new DeWalt 12 Volt MAX* cordless IR Thermometer
The DeWalt 12 Volt MAX* work light is barely larger than its battery.

But the stars of this event, aside from DeWalt's stellar staff of marketing and product pros, were the seven new 12 Volt MAX* Lithium ion cordless compact tools. And make no mistake, these babies are COMPACT. As a matter of fact, they are so compact that people often involuntarily insult them on first introduction, saying, "Aw, look how cute they are!"

I confess, I said it too. Their size presents bit of a learning curve for many U.S. users, who are not as accustomed to using compact power tools as contractors in other parts of the world.

But there is no arguing against their logic: why use a relatively hefty 14.4- or 18-volt cordless tool when a smaller, lighter tool can do the job? DeWalt research shows that these 12 Volt MAX* tools can do roughly 90 percent of the work that contractors typically do with cordless tools on jobsites everyday. So why go in for overkill with your tool when your arms will pay the price at the end of the day?

The new 1/4-inch DCF610S2 Screwdriver is a perfect example. It weighs just 2.2 pounds, battery included, and features a true one-handed chuck, triangulated LEDs for shadow-free illumination and even a half-trigger-pull function to use the tool just as a flashlight if you want.

It can drive more than 200 2 1/2-inch cabinet screws on a charge and its small size lets it fit into tight areas. The tool also accepts one-inch bit tips for extra tight spaces, and to drive home that "point," Dewalt is shipping these tools with a one-inch bit tip already in the chuck.

Comprising seven tools in total, the new line includes:

  • DCF610S2 Screwdriver
  • DCD710S2 Drill/driver
  • DCF815S2 Impact driver
  • DCF813S2 Impact wrench
  • DCT410S1 Inspection camera
  • DCT414S1 IR thermometer
  • DCL510 Work light

Each product has unique features, and they are many.

In addition to the attributes of the DCF610S2 Screwdriver, discussed above, here are some salient selling points on each of the other tools in the lineup:

The DCD710S2 3/8-inch Drill/driver weighs just 2.4 pounds and has a two-speed transmission that delivers 0-400 or 0-1,500 rpm. A single LED illuminates dark work areas. It has a single-sleeve keyess chuck and a belt clip. It accepts either round- or hex-shank accessories.

The DCF815S2 1/4-inch Impact driver weighs a mere 2.3 pounds, has triangulated LEDs, one-handed loading and accepts 1-inch tips. It delivers a whopping 950-inch pounds of torque.

The DCF813S2 Impact wrench has all the attributes of its sister tool above but produces 1,150-inch-pounds of torque. 

The DCT410S1 Inspection camera really snared editors' attentions. More questions were asked about it than any other tool. Not only does it share the same basic body and handgrip design as the other tools in the line, it features a detachable 3.5-inch wireless view screen and video and photo capture capabilities via its use of common Micro SD cards. The tool has up to 3X zoom for better visibility. It comes with a water-proof three-foot cable that can accept up to 10 (or more) optional three-foot extensions.

It also comes with hook and magnet attachments for in-wall item recovery. It is due to hit the streets in Q4 at a list price of just $299 for the tool, cable, one battery, charger, hook, magnet and kit box.

Another truly nifty tool is the DCT414S1 IR thermometer. It features a patent-pending red (hot) or blue (cold) LED spot indicator to pinpoint the area you are reading and audio and visual alarms to alert contractors of temperatures in excess of user-preset min/max levels. It measures temperatures from -20 to 932 degrees F. The tool has a bright green backlit display for easy reading in any light. It records temperatures for later analysis and has user-adjustable emissivity for use across a wide range of materials. DeWalt has set its suggested retail price at $149.

Rounding out the lineup is a product that just screams "Father's Day present," the highly versatile -- and blindingly bright -- DCL510 Work light. This little dynamo is not much larger than its battery, yet produces 130 lumens of LED light. Its head pivots and rotates 360 degrees to get that light pretty much anywhere. It has a heavy-duty magnet for sticking the thing to metal surfaces and a handy belt clip for hanging it off your belt or shirt pocket. A built-in kickstand lets you position it on any surface to direct the beam.

The work light will set as a stand-alone item for $39. It will not sell with a battery, however, so users wil have to buy the battery and charger separately.

One of the most remarkable shared aspects of the new line is the handgrip. DeWalt used digital scanning and 3D technology to great what is arguably the most comfortable handgrip on any power tool in on the market today. The comfort and "feel" of the grips drew impressed murmurs from members of the press at the event, whether they had petite, average, large or ham-fisted paws. Personally, I love ham and I'm not apologizing to anyone for it.

The new 12Volt MAX* tools performed uniformly better than competing models on tests in the DeWalt workroom, exhibiting faster speed, better balance and superior ergonomics. By competing tools, we mean competing 10.2 volt cordless tools. DeWalt's nominal voltage under normal loads is 10.8 volts. The tool generates a MAXimum of 12 volts under no load — thus the asterisk in "12 Volt MAX*." 

The Lithium ion batteries for this line are unique to it, so they won't work in any other DeWalt cordless lines. That said, each tool comes with one or two batteries and a charger. Again, the exception here is the Work light, which sells sans battery. The batteries themselves recharge in 40 minutes. Another major benefit for contractors is that the batteries are expected to be priced at about $45 each.

Naturally, combo kits are coming, too.

Warranties on the tools include a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service and a 90-day money-back guarantee.

DeWalt managers admit they are somewhat late to the party in terms of introducing a compact lineup, but, they also noted, when you are late to the ball you can improve on the earlier arrivals' shortcomings. With the new 12 Volt MAX* lineup, DeWalt seems to have done just that. Check them out and see for yourself.