Shop Talk

Which is a Better Investment, a Cordless or Corded Power Tool?

  • As a crafter in the woodworking and power tooling industries, it is always crucial to stay ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition. To keep this leg-up, one must also have the right power tools with the right high-quality compliments to their specific needs and styles. Knowing just which power tools actually do this though, can present a quandary all its own. For example, which would you choose between a corded and a cordless power tool? Which would offer you the best performance and the most fluid efficiency on the jobsite? Ultimately, the answer, as all important answers do, hinges upon you, your individual needs, and your specific jobs and requirements.

    Just as both types have distinct advantages, both corded and cordless power tools have distinct disadvantages as well. And, because I think most people prefer to get their bad news first, I’ll begin with the disadvantages of each type and move on to the good news once we’ve all become thoroughly dejected. 

    Without any punches pulled or sugar coated, cordless tools have no constant power source. Their power and performance hinges entirely on a battery whose performance, in turn, hinges entirely on the robustness of its charge. Also, with the exception of Lithium Ion batteries, a cordless tool battery tends to lose power continuously as you work; as the charge wears down, the tool’s out-put power also diminishes rendering your tool, and your work as well, at the mercy of a constantly dwindling power source. Additionally, cordless tools tend, simply, to be less powerful. They are heavier, and batteries are usually quite expensive to replace.

    Okay, more bad news: corded power tools are essentially stationary. They are limited by the location of their power source and to the length of their cord, and because extension cords should generally be reserved for emergency use only, your are essentially tethered by the length of your cord. Of course, said power cord is not only limiting, but it is a dangerous electrical hazard, and a villainous tripping hazard as well; an electrical and tripping hazard that is relatively delicate and almost always painful to replace. Additionally, power cords can also be a “mood hazard,” if you will. You see, they are simply inconvenient. They’re awkward and cumbersome, and can weigh down your working momentum.

    ..And the disappointment momentarily overwhelms until exactly right now, your spirits lift, if only slightly, and I commence relation of good news!

    Cordless tools offer superior portability and compact ergonomics on the job. Additionally, as battery technology continues to grow and advance, so do the benefits of working cordless. You see, cordless power tools are now more powerful, longer-lasting, and lighter weight than ever before. They are always simple to store and transport and they allow crafters to not only move about on the job, but to actually relocate from jobsite to jobsite and project to project with zero fear of cord lengths or the (non)presence of electrical outlets. Accordingly, cordless tools are perfect for home-users, for outdoor use, for use in busier areas where a cord might drive anyone completely mad, and are absolutely essential on more rudimentary or preliminary work sites that have not yet been wired for electrical service.

    Corded tools, on another happy hand, have a constant, non-dwindling power source. As a result, they offer more overall power and a heavier-duty performance for the life of the tool and for each individual use as well. Corded tools also have a quite long lifespan and can enjoy many years of good health and hearty performance if well maintained. They also allow craftsmen to work without stops (as long as you remain plugged-in to the same outlet) so each minute you spend on the job is more efficiently spent. Additionally, cordless tools are not only more powerful, but they are lightweight, less expensive, and supernaturally reliable. As they are also, perhaps even supernaturally again, durable and resilient to the bumps and bruises of jobsite living, the corded power tool line is best suited for heavy-duty, high-power jobs that require brute industrial strength and a continuous supply of big power. 

    Ultimately, its best to know what your expectations are of your power tools before investing. Knowing exactly what you need, what you need to do with it, and how often you need to do that, will help you pinpoint the tool that will best compliment your specific work-load and working style.