Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn money if you buy from a link. How we test gear.

Every year, hundreds of new tools are released. Some are just updates, with a longer-lasting battery, more torque, or an expanded set of socket sizes or adapters. But some are true innovations—tools that will make your job or project easier. Those are the tools we selected. After two months of methodical testing, these are the best new tools you can buy this year.

▶ The Stihl MS 500i is the industry’s first electronically fuel-injected chainsaw. That might not sound like much, but when you adjust fuel flow and combustion with a microprocessor, you increase engine power, which improves the power-to-weight ratio. With a 20-inch bar, it weighs 18 pounds—at least two pounds lighter than typical saws in this class. The light weight improves handling, and it enabled Stihl’s engineers to optimize its pivot point. In our tests, it limbed as easily and capably as it felled. We were also impressed by its ease of starting, torque, and ease of shutoff. Available in fall 2019.

▶ If you are among the many people who prefer the steering wheel of a front-end-design tractor over a zero-turn mower, the LT42e will make you very happy. Cub Cadet’s LT42e is a 42-inch tractor powered by a 56-volt lithium-ion (60-amp-hour) battery. It has three brushless direct-drive motors (one for ground speed and one for each of the blades). The quality and speed of the cut in our tests was excellent. And it’s a pleasure to operate, thanks to a rugged, vibration-damping cast-iron front axle, cruise control, and a high-back seat. Available mid-summer.



▶ Milwaukee’s Quik-Lok offers an edger, string trimmer, articulating hedge trimmer, ten-inch pole saw, and three-foot extension, and it addresses many of the shortcomings we’ve found in other combination systems. These tools actually provide gutsy performance, vibration-free power, and run time. They’re all powered by a potent 18-volt battery that we found to be rugged and long-running.

▶ Freud’s new Diablo blades are designed for cutting steel and steel-embedded wood with a circular saw, which runs at higher rpm than a steel-cutting saw. The wood-steel blade has 36 teeth while the steel blade has 48. And it’s rated for stainless steel, too. The steel blade’s teeth are made of cermet carbide teeth, which combine the heat resistance of ceramic with the toughness of metal.

▶ The Ridgid R8611506 combines the high-torque characteristics of an impact driver with a chuck, hammer function, and a clutch with more than 100 settings. That micro-adjustment clutch is particularly important given that the tool delivers a startling 700 inch-pounds of torque. We found that to be useful for drilling big holes, but apply it judiciously. Other-wise you’ll snap off bolts and screws rather than tightening them.

▶ The only thing tougher on a drill than making big holes is using it to mix viscous materials such as thin-set mortar. DeWalt’s massive 60-volt DCD130 takes both in stride. The company estimates the tool can mix up to 17 five-gallon buckets of thin-set on one charge of its 6-amp-hour battery. Plus it can power 1 ½-inch spade bits and self-feeds up to an incredible 4 5/8-inch diameter. With ratings like that, DeWalt wisely equipped the tool with an electronic clutch to prevent kickback and motor burnout, and an auxiliary handle with the stoutness of a nightstick.

▶ The Metabo HPT system includes a miter saw, drills, and a reciprocating saw. The cordless 36-volt MultiVolt tools can also run on 120 volts AC. Just plug a corded AC adapter (shaped like a 36-volt battery) into the back of the tool. Switching between the two power sources is seamless and fast. The system also works with any slide-on-style 18-volt Hitachi tool.

▶ A magnificent piece of engineering, Makita’s cordless 10-inch saw has power to spare and dead-on accuracy, straight out of the box. Its 36-volt brushless motor is powered by two 18-volt LXT batteries. The saw’s large blade combined with its slide rails and a space-saving direct-drive gearbox gives it outsize cutting performance. You can cut nearly anything, from 6 5/8-inch crown nested against the fence to 5 ¼-inch baseboard vertically oriented, or a 4-by-12 lying horizontally on the saw table.

▶ The Bosch Blaze GLM400C makes other laser measures look like yardsticks in comparison. It reaches up to 400 feet with, Bosch says, accuracy within 1/16 inch. It also reads angles, can determine the length of a roof slope, and calculates volume.

▶ A small plastic latch allows the lower clamping jaw of Bessey’s GearKlamp to slide smoothly and quickly, but what’s really amazing is the power afforded by the new handle design, which conceals a gear mechanism. A few turns of the handle produce as much as 450 pounds of clamping force.

▶ Wiha’s SpeedE is the most precise electric screwdriver we’ve ever used. Although it’s exactly the same size and weight as a manual multibit screwdriver, it’s powered by a small rechargeable lithium battery inside the handle. The tool’s front houses a two-stage planetary gear and a miniature freewheeling clutch that allows you to also torque down screws by hand.

▶ Leatherman’s Free P2 is a thorough overhaul of the classic multitool. It has wire-cutting pliers, scissors, knife and screwdriver blades, can opener, bottle opener, file, and several multipurpose instruments. All tools open from the outside (with the handles closed and the pliers retracted). A simple push on the hinge point begins the pivot-out action. A magnetic latch closes the tools, and improved haptics make the Free a delight to use.

▶ The split-point tip on Ideal’s drill tap keeps the bit centered on the starting point and the deburring edge at the back of the bit finishes the hole edge. Result: a clean, neat hole, with nicely tapped threads in it.

▶ Milwaukee’s Shockwave Matrix carbide impact bits are made from fine-grained carbide particles dispersed in a proprietary tool steel, giving them that elusive combination of fracture toughness and wear resistance—especially useful in an impact driver.

▶ BEST BIT HOLDER: The Apex U-Guard (not pictured) free-spinning sleeve gives you a handhold and prevents the bits from marring adjacent surfaces. This set has four permanently sleeved bits and 24 more that take the included adapter.

▶ Bondhus’s stubby ball end wrenches use a torque-resisting steel alloy with an anticorrosion finish. The most useful feature, however, is the geometry of the tool’s ball-shaped end, which improves access and delivers twice the torque you could normally apply.

▶ Air wrenches punish sockets, but SK FlexZone impact sockets can take it. They have a tip and base that are heat treated for extreme hardness and impact resistance while the middle of the socket is more malleable, actually allowing the socket to twist slightly under load.

▶ The industry’s first worm-gear miter saw marks a new chapter in the saga of man versus lumber. Skilsaw’s 12-inch blade tilts left and right and slides on dual rails. With a 4-by-14 cutting capacity in depth and width, the saw is more than enough machine for trim, but its robust worm-gear drive makes it a particularly good fit for solid lumber, which is often wet and can take a lot of backbone to cut. Fortunately, driving that gear train is a 15-amp motor with dual windings separated by a generous air space to help it run cool.

18V Mouse Sander

▶ Wilton’s massive Mechanics Pro vise employs a needle roller thrust bearing in its spindle assembly to better take the axial loads along the spindle. This allows the user to apply greater clamping power with less force on the vise handle and to release that force more easily. For the front movable jaw and its base, Wilton used ductile cast iron. Because it’s stronger than standard cast iron, less material can be used, giving the vise lighter weight without sacrificing durability.

▶ Ryobi’s compact cordless compressor is a marvel of industrial design. Powered by the company’s 18-volt lithium battery, it can power a finish air nailer, fill a tire, or blast debris with an air nozzle. It’s compact and quiet, and its locking regulator keeps the pressure right where you need it—up to 120 psi. Other pro-duty features on it are a rugged steel rod hose wrap mounted on its front and heavy-gauge tube steel handle and three robust rubber feet.

▶ Load a fuel-gas cartridge and a pair of AAA batteries into the Grex GCP650 nailer and slide the headless pins into the glass-smooth aluminum magazine. When you depress the nosepiece and pull the trigger, you sink the pin into hardwood (even maple) or softwood, almost without noise.

Electric Grass Trimmer, Staple Gun, Air Staple Gun, Cordless Drill - GTL Tools,http://www.gtl-toolsbank.com/