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Canadian Woodworking

Craftsman runtime + performance (RP) brushless power tools

Craftsman is back in the game with it's runtime + performance (RP) line of power tools.

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Craftsman is back in the game with it's runtime + performance (RP) line of power tools.

Author: Carl Duguay

Craftsman recently released a new line of 20V (18V max) cordless RP (runtime + performance) power tools. They’re available as bare tools (without battery or charger) except for the 1/4″ impact driver (available in a kit with a 1.5Ah battery and charger). You can purchase 2.0Ah or 4Ah capacity batteries singly or in a 2-pack. There is only one charger available with a 60-minute recharge time for a 2Ah battery.

I had the opportunity of testing 4 of these new tools – jigsaw, circ saw, impact driver and angle grinder. Also available in the RP line are a 1/2″ impact wrench, SDS+ rotary hammer, recip saw and 1/2″ drill driver. There is also a kit that consists of the drill driver, 1/4″ impact driver, two 2.0Ah batteries and charger.

COMPANY: Craftsman
MADE IN: Mexico (circular saw and batteries: China)
SOURCErona.ca
MOTOR: Brushless, 20V
WARRANTY: 3 years (tool and batteries)
These tools are sold bare – battery and charger not included

All Craftsman RP tools feature a brushless motor, which offers a lot of advantages over a conventional brushed motor – because it has fewer parts it’s smaller and lighter; it generates less friction, heat and amp draw, which helps sustain battery run-time; it uses battery energy more efficiently, further improving battery run-time; and it’s virtually maintenance-free. You can expect a brushless tool to have a longer operational life than one with a brushed motor.

Conventional battery size that delivers adequate power and runtime for light-to medium-duty jobs. For heavy-duty applications a 4Ah battery is available.

$179.00
Includes: two 2.0Ah, 40Wh batteries and 60 minute charger
Product page

Craftsman battery and charger

The 2Ah battery delivers 40Wh of battery capacity. Batteries take about 60 minutes to fully recharge, and a fast charger is currently not available. However, a 4Ah battery is also available. The battery 2-pack with a charger is more economical than purchasing batteries and charger separately.

A good combination of speed and stroke length, minimal vibration, orbital cutting action, easy blade tracking and consistently square cuts.

Craftsman CMCS650B jigsaw

There are a number of things that I look for in a jigsaw, with the most important being power delivery, speed control, stroke length, blade tracking, sightline, and bevel adjustment. Quality of cut is, of course, ultimately important, and determined almost as much by the choice of blade as it is by the quality of the saw.

The Craftsman CMCS650B delivers a maximum 3,200 strokes per minute, with a stroke of 1″. This is a standard speed range and stroke length that you’ll find quite a few corded jigsaws. You regulate speed via a variable speed trigger, rather than a dial. For precision cutting, particularly when making intricate cuts, I find that a variable speed trigger offers greater control than a dial. The lock-on button, located on the side of the handle just above the trigger can easily be activated with your thumb or forefinger.

You get to choose from four cutting actions with this saw – straight (0 position), and three orbital modes. In straight mode the blades moves up and down, with the teeth cutting on the up stroke. In orbital mode the blade moves down, and then moves forward and upwards. At the top of the stroke the blade then moves slightly backwards, ready to make the next orbital cut. This method puts less stress on the blade, so that it generates less heat, and cuts faster. The lowest orbital action produces a smoother cut, while the most aggressive action cuts the fastest at the expense of smoothness.

The tool-free blade change mechanism works well. Simply press against a locking lever, insert the blade, and then release the lever. Pretty simple. The blade doesn’t automatically eject when released – a feature I would have liked to see as blades can become too hot to touch when used aggressively.

The CMCS650B accepts both the common T-style shank blades and the older-style U shank blades.

As found on all jigsaws a support roller helps prevent the blade from moving backwards under pressure, and probably provides a bit of lateral support. This helps keep the blade running straight when cutting, particularly in thick stock.

The saw also features tool-free bevel adjustment. You can tilt the shoe from 0° to 45° left or right, and there are pre-set detents at – 0°, 22.5° and 45°, making bevel adjustment that much easier and quicker. I like the integrated dust blower which helps to keep cut line free of dust, and the dual LED work lights that make it easier to follow the cut lines.

I found that the bevel adjustment mechanism worked reasonably well – push the shoe forward to unlock it, tilt the shoe, and then pull it backwards to lock it in place. Works smoothly.

The removable shoe is 3″ wide by 6-1/2″ long, so provides a lot of stability in use. You can replace the plastic sleeve in the event it gets damaged. There is no zero-clearance, anti-splintering insert on the saw. While they aren’t the answer to splinter-free cuts, they do help, especially if you use them in conjunction with a down-stroke blade. I found they make a big difference when cutting laminates.

At just over 6 pounds this is one of the heavier cordless jigsaws that I’ve used. But that extra weight helps with stability and vibration reduction. In use the saw has minimal vibration and I found it very easy to follow the cut line (thanks to the dust blower and dual LED lights). Cuts in hardwood up to 1-1/4″ thick and in plywood and softwood up to 2″ were consistently dead-on square.

Install a top quality blade on this saw and you can cut through sheet goods and dimensional lumber without any trouble, especially when you use the orbital cutting mode. With the right blade you can expect to cut up to about 3″ in lumber, 1/2″ in aluminum, and 3/8″ in mild steel. I like that you can adjust the bevel either to the left or right. And best of all, it’s competitively priced and comes with a 3-year warranty.

$169.00
Speed: 0 to 3,200 SPM
Stroke length: 1″
Shoe: stamped-aluminum with ABS shoe cover
Weight: 6 lbs 1 oz (with 2.0Ah battery installed)
Product page

craftsman jigsaw
Easy blade installation
craftsman jigsaw
Flip a switch to engage orbital action.
craftsman jigsaw
The locking lever for bevel adjustment is easy to reach.
craftsman jigsaw
Large foot for stability.

 

A well balanced saw with ample cutting power, quick and easy depth cutting and bevel adjustments, good sight lines, and easy blade changing.

Craftsman CMCS551B circ saw

The advantage of a corded circular saw over a cordless saw has a lot to do with available power and cutting capacity, and much less to do with features such as ergonomics, blade change, depth and bevel adjustments, and sight lines.

A major advantage of cordless saws is, of course their portability. There is no power cord to deal with, and you can use them on a job site where power still hasn’t been connected, or where there’s only a few circuits available. And, because they’re lighter than corded saws they’re a lot easier to use overhead.

The Craftsman CMCS551B provides a 2-9/16″ cut capacity at 90°, good enough to rip through a triple layer of 3/4″ ply. The cutting depth adjustment lever works fine, but the depth scale is almost impossible to read, particularly in bright light. It’s a moot point for me, as I never use the scale. There is a generous bevel capacity of 56° with positive stops at 22.5° and 45°. And at 45° you get a full 2″ of cutting capacity. The bevel scale, located at the front of the saw, is much easier to read.

There is a lock-off button on either side of the top of the handle that you need to hold down while pressing the trigger in order to start the saw. Once the saw blade is spinning you can release the lock-off button. It’s a very good safety feature.

Blade changing is very easy. The spindle lock button is easily reached and you can depress it with the index finger of one hand while holding the blade guard with your thumb. The other hand is then free to remove the spindle nut.

The blade guards move freely and as you’ll find on most circ saws, there is a chip ejection port on the back of the upper guard, which ejects a surprising amount of dust backways, away from the operator.

The completely flat, smooth low friction 5/32″ thick stamped aluminum shoe has a large sight window and a bright LED light helps illuminate the cut line. The leading edge is slightly beveled, which makes the shoe less likely to get caught when it’s slid along rough stock.

The wide T-shaped front handle is comfortable to hold, particularly when wearing gloves. I found that the saw cut through 2x dimensional lumber, sheet goods, and 8/4 hardwood without loosing any speed or torque.

The Craftsman CMCS551B has a lot going for it. It’s a well balanced saw that has ample cutting power for even the toughest materials. Cutting depth and bevel adjustments are quick and easy to make, and the sight lines are good. Blade change is a breeze, and the thick aluminum base and guards will stand up to a lot of heavy duty use. And, at just over 10 pounds it won’t put undue stress on wrists and arms.

Woodworkers, avid DIYers, renovators, finish carpenters, flooring installers, and most tradespeople will likely find that the CMCS551B provides all the saw they’ll need.

$169.00
Blade diameter: 7-1/4″
Speed: 5,000 RPM
Maximum cutting depth: 2-9/16″ at 0°; 1-31/32″ at 45°
Bevel capacity: 0° to 56°
Shoe, blade guards: stamped-aluminum
Automatic electric brake
Includes: wrench, 24-tooth blade
Weight: 10.2 pounds (with 2.0Ah battery installed)
Product page

craftsman circ saw
Easy bevel adjustment up to 56°
craftsman circ saw
Good depth of cut but the scale is hard to read.
craftsman circ saw
Large depth adjustment lever.
craftsman circ saw
On-board storage for the hex wrench.
craftsman circ saw
Spindle lock is conveniently located for quick blade removal.
craftsman circ saw
Thick, durable stamped aluminum shoe.

 

Compact size, light weight and excellent combination of high torque, speed, and impact rate make this a good choice for avid DIYers, renovators, tradespeople, service technicians and the like.

Craftsman CMCF813B impact driver

When you need to assemble a lot of nuts and bolts, or sink hundreds of screws in short order, particularly larger lag screws, an impact driver is generally a much better tool to use. The impacting action of an impact driver generates far less torque reaction than a drill/driver, making it easier to control, and because of the combined rotational and impact force, less likely to strip screw or bolt heads.

The Craftsman CMCF813B delivers variable speeds from 0 to 2,800 RPM, an impact rate of 3,500 IPM and an impressive 1,500 in-lbs. of torque. That’s more than enough torque to sink 3/8″ x 10″ self-drilling lag screws into dimensional lumber.

Like all impact drivers it has a 1/4″ quick-lock and release hex drive chuck – you install a bit simply by pushing it into the chuck and to remove the bit you pull on a spring loaded, ribbed, sleeve that surrounds the chuck. One advantage of this chuck is that it reduces the overall length of the driver head – so that the driver fits more easily into tighter spaces. A second advantage is that it makes bit changeover much quicker.

The comfortable textured grip and light weight (just under 3 pounds with battery installed) means you can use this impact driver for extended periods of time without putting undue strain on your wrist and forearm. The head is only 5-1/2″ long making it easy to work in tight spaces.

The fit and finish on this tool is very good. Coupled with it’s compact size and light weight and excellent combination of high torque, speed, and impact rate the Craftsman CMCF813B is a good choice for an avid DIYer as well as renovators, tradespeople, service technicians and the like.

$179.00
Chuck: 1/4″ quick release
Speed: 0 to 2,800 RPM; 3,500 IMP
Torque: 1,500 in-lbs
Weight: 2 lbs 15 oz (with 2.0Ah battery installed)
LED light
Product page

craftsman impact driver
1/4″ hex chuck with rubber bumper to protect the nose of the tool.
craftsman impact driver
Nicely ribbed handle provides a secure grip.
craftsman impact driver
Side bumpers and large rear bumper protect the tool when laid down.

 

Well balanced and easy to hold in a wide range of positions. It has great power and doesn’t bog down in use.

Craftsman CMCF813B angle grinder

An angle grinder is the tool of choice for cutting, grinding and polishing metal, sharpening lawn mower blades, spades, hoes, axes and the like, removing mortar and cutting almost any kind of masonry material.

The Craftsman CMCG451B, which uses 4-1/2″ accessories, weighs just over 5 pounds and is approximately 13″ long. The removable side handle threads onto the right or left side of the head on straight on top. In use I find the angle grinder well balance and comfortable to use. The handle isn’t padded, which isn’t an issue for me as I always wear gloves when using the tool. It delivers variable speeds from 0 to 8,500 RPM and equipped with the right abrasive disc can easily handle any grinding tasks in the workshop or around the home.

The wrench for removing accessories is conveniently stored in the handle.  The spindle lock is on top of the cast aluminum head. Flip the grinder upside down, press the lock with the thumb on one hand, and then use your other hand to twist off the lock nut with the supplied wrench. You can attach grinding wheels, sanding discs and sanding flap discs up to 4-1/2″ diameter, wire cup brushes up to 4″ and wire cup brushes to 3″ diameter.

The CMCG451B comes with a paddle switch rather than a conventional on/off button. In the middle of the paddle is a tiny lock-off button that you push before you depress the paddle. Once you release the paddle the tool turns off. I love this design – if you drop the tool it just turns off.

The steel wheel guard can be rotated about 270°. The guard release feels a bit sloppy when you release it to move the guard, but it holds securely.

I used the CMCG451B to cut some rebar, grind some sheet metal, and decapitate some concrete pavers. I found the grinder well balanced and easy to hold in a wide range of positions. It has great power and I found that the motor didn’t bog down the motor regardless of how much pressure I exerted.

$169.00
Disc diameter: 4-1/2″
Speed: 0 to 8,500 RPM
Arbor: 5/8″
Overall length: 14″
Guard: Steel, tool-free adjustment
Electronic speed control
Includes: Type 27 metal grinding disc; handle; wrench
Weight: 5 lbs 1 oz (with 2.0Ah battery installed)
Product page

craftsman angle grinder
Lock-off button
craftsman angle grinder
Wheel guard is a bit finnicky to adjust but holds securely.
craftsman angle grinder
Top mounted spindle lock.
craftsman angle grinder
Wrench stores in handle.
craftsman angle grinder
Installing accessories is quick and easy.

Published:
Last modified: September 29, 2023

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.


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