Cruisers Forum

Join CruisersForum Today

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 13-10-2010, 13:03   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Berkeley, CA
Boat: Pacific Seacraft Dana 24
Posts: 10
Cordless or Corded Power Tools ?

Cordless or Corded? I'm about to invest in a new set of power tools for the boat. Some tools will be corded no matter what, ie router and finish sander. I live aboard, sail frequently, and cruising is the future. Self suffiency and efficiency are top priorities. This means reliable.

Cordless Pros:
Compact and neat (no cables running all over the cabin sole, dock, or deck)
Carry their own power supply (until it runs out)
Adequately powerful
Battery lifespan is quite good

Cordless Negs:
Must carry charger and batteries (Already have charger and huge batteries aboard)
Must eventually replace batteries. This is wasteful and somewhat expensive.
Generally must commit to one brand due to proprietary batteries (in this case Dewalt)

Is it better in terms of simplicity and reliability to just go with corded on a boat?
Is an 800w inverter and a couple of deep-cycle marine house batteries adequate to power them? On my 29' boat I'm never far from the inverter or an AC outlet.

Corded can be more powerful, but I've found that modern, high quality, 18v tools are more than adequately powerful for the small(ish) jobs we encounter on board. The prices are comparable as is the apparent durability.

I've loved the cordless tools I've used over the past several years. My sole cordless tool, a 5 year old 18v Ridgid drill is still going very strong despite heavy dock building work early in it's life (think thousands of pilot holes and long decking screws) and then sitting dormant for months at a time. Go batteries, go.

Boils down to this:
Anyone have any strong reasons to not opt for the cordless version of a power tool when available?

Many thanks. This forum is one of the best tools I've got.


standardhuman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 13:08   #2
Registered User
Microship's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: living aboard in Friday Harbor, WA
Boat: Vic Franck Delta 50
Posts: 699
Images: 7
I have both in various flavors, and ever-so-highly recommend the new Makita LXT series (Lithium). They constantly astound me, and are vastly superior to any NiMH cordless tools I've owned.

I do carry a corded angle grinder and a few other things, though I'm changing to pneumatic for a variety of reasons including size and safety. But I see no reason to replace any of the LXT stuff with corded equivalents.


M/V Datawake
Nomadic Research Labs
Microship is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 13:24   #3
Registered User
Rhapsody-NS27's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: VA, boat: Deale, MD
Boat: 1981 Nor'sea 27
Posts: 1,410
If you are doing projects often enough you could go either way. One thing that comes to my mind is trying to keep up with battery charging when not used in order to keep them from going bad. Since you say that you're not far from AC outlet/inverter, corded tools could be good to plug in and get a job done quickly.
Daniel - Rhapsody Blog,
“A sailor’s joys are as simple as a child’s.” — Bernard Moitessier
"I don't need therapy, I just need my boat"
Rhapsody-NS27 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 13:30   #4
Registered User
Microship's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: living aboard in Friday Harbor, WA
Boat: Vic Franck Delta 50
Posts: 699
Images: 7
I've been amazed at the lack of self-discharge in the Lithium-ion Makita stuff... they're still strong after many months in storage. My not-so-old Hitachi Ni-MH kit dies in a few days.
M/V Datawake
Nomadic Research Labs
Microship is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 13:35   #5
Registered User
ReMetau's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Marathon, FL
Boat: Hans Christian 33
Posts: 652
We don't keep a lot of power tools on board:
Drill, mouse sander, orbital sander, Fein Multimaster, jigsaw, heat gun, and a Dremel.

The only cordless tool is the drill which does come in handy being cordless especially when I installed the mast steps and new tri-color light.

Being away from a dock, I often wondered if the cordless option would use more power to recharge a battery than it would have if it was corded.
Don & Diana
s/v ReMetau - a Hans Christian 33
ReMetau is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 14:23   #6
Registered User
Zednotzee's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Oromocto, New Brunswick
Boat: 1976 Alberg 37 Yawl hull 172
Posts: 394
My own preference is for corded tools. It is a bit of a pain to drag around cords, extension cords & find outlets, but they never go dead in the middle of a job. I work for a large organization & see quite a few cordless power tools in my workshop. Most of the time the problem is a bad battery (chemical memory usually). My research has always shown it's just not cost effective to replace the battery at $70 when you can get a whole new drill for $80-85. That's for the nickel based batteries of course, Ni-Cad or Ni-MH. The lithium batteries tend to prefer being topped up.

Originally Posted by ReMetau View Post
Being away from a dock, I often wondered if the cordless option would use more power to recharge a battery than it would have if it was corded.
Well, since no system is 100% efficient they do use more power- but it's spread out over a longer period. If you only had a 1000 watt inverter, you might get away with a battery charger, but not a corded drill.
Facts are for people who can't create their own truth. Fact.- Bucky Katt
Zednotzee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 14:28   #7
Registered User
Sailabel's Avatar

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Home Base: Seattle; Currently Cruising in Mexico
Boat: Tayana 37- Victoria Rose
Posts: 151
We carry both. Whatever you decide... here's a couple of things to keep in mind: with corded tools, check the tags to make sure they are 50/60hz... which I believe most are.

With cordless, check to insure that the charger will work off an inverter. We fried 2 'Craftsman' chargers before I actually read the owners manual... which stated to NOT use them with an inverter. I assume they mean a modified sine wave inverter.

For us, we've found that cordless drills are quite handy (we have both the regular and 90-degree varieties; but keep a small corded one aboard also. Plus a jigsaw, grinder, dremel tool, fein tool. A heat gun and soldering gun are also necessary and aboard.
Steve Abel
SV Victoria Rose, Tayana 37
Sailabel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 14:33   #8
Marine Service Provider
witzgall's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Eastern Shore, MD
Boat: Camper Nicholson 44 Ketch
Posts: 1,801

We have corded sanders and saw, dremel, Drill. I have one cordless drill, a very small Bosch that came with two lithium Ion batteries. Much lighter and easier to carry then those 18v beasts, and can also get into smaller places. If I need to drill for a long time, the corded one does the trick. Having an 1000w inverter is also a pre-requisite.

witzgall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 14:54   #9
Armchair Bucketeer
David_Old_Jersey's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 10,013
Images: 4
been mulling this one myself recently (for the future). Realised that most jobs onboard (quite a bit of refurb) involve either hand tools or my cordless 18v Drill (Makita).....I have 2 batteries, 1 usually lasts a day of fannying around. Mostly involving drilling (no sh#t ), but also some (rough) grinding.

The one exception to that will be using a (corded) sander to finish off the bulkhead in aft cabin. but that sort of job won't be coming up again so won't be looking to keep that onboard.

Having said that I did recently treat myself to a Cordless 90 degree drill (only a 12v - Makita don't do a 18v at least not in the older (non-lithium) style )........a bit excessive ($$$) for the intended amount of use - but for a couple of places where can't get even a hand drill in will be worth it's weight in gold. and for that willing to trade less power / endurance.......but once those jobs are done won't need it onboard.

Apart from that my conclusion was that I don't / won't actually need any more power tools onboard - whether cordless or not.........I think the biggest difference to my onboard workshop capabilities would be fixing the vice somewhere decent, even if only surprised I have not yet drilled a hole in my leg
David_Old_Jersey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 15:09   #10
Senior Cruiser
rebel heart's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 6,190
Images: 3
I was about to drop a ton on cordless until I realized that three of the biggest items I use don't really work cordless (heat gun, sander, and my multimaster). For any serious work I need to use a generator. Sucks, but true (in my case).
rebel heart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 15:13   #11
Registered User
ozskipper's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: NSW Australia
Boat: Traditional 30
Posts: 1,983
I would carry both if Living aboard. A "good" cordless for at sea or in rainy wet weather when mains power can be dangerous. Then have a cheaper chinese mains drill for backup.

Dewalt are reknowned for being heavy. That weight could be an issue in tight spots (say-reaching long distance through a locker, while youre upside down with both legs in the air) . My son is a plumber and refuses to use Dewalt for this reason. Check the comparible Hitachis-Makitas etc. I also dont recomend a Keyless chuck. (scenario- its been wet and miserable for three days- your hands are now like prunes and you need to drill in an emergency.- Your grip on a keyless chuck will be painful and most likely inefficient.)

good luck

ozskipper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 15:18   #12
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Chesapeake Region and Maine
Boat: 42' Bob Perry sloop
Posts: 4,047
Images: 4
DeWalt 18V system. Hands down. Ask any professional.

btrayfors is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 15:32   #13
Registered User
lorenzo b's Avatar

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Panama
Boat: Steel trawler 63' Eileen Farrell
Posts: 961
I've worked with power tools all my life and really like a cordless power drill, very useful for so many jobs, but all my other tools use far to much power to run off a battery. On job sites you will see some cordless tools, but only for light use. An electrician will have a cordless sawzall to cut conduit but will use a corded drill to bore through studs. Also, the batteries only last a few years and are very expensive, while a good $100 drill will last you a lifetime.
lorenzo b is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 16:21   #14
Registered User
matauwhi's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Boat: Mason 53
Posts: 652
G'day, mates. Battery drill and drummel, plus. 120 volt drill, palm sander, jigsaw, heat gun, Drummerl, 4 inch grinder and vacuum cleaner. The most used tool on the boat, a 120 volt sewing machine! It has paid for itself 25 times over. A tip, we have one of the jump start battery packs with a 300 watt inverter which can work the sewing machine. When traveling to non 120 volt destinations, this gives you the flexibility of using your 120 volt stuff ashore. Cheers.
matauwhi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-10-2010, 16:42   #15
sitting on the dock of the bay

Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,524
Images: 6
Send a message via Yahoo to gonesail
i hate the cordless tools. they are never charged up when you need them or else they are always plugged into a charger. i have had a corded craftsman drill for 30 years and it works great. tossed my cordless drill couple of months ago .. good riddance.

sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most.
gonesail is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Cordless Power Winch beau Deck hardware: Rigging, Sails & Hoisting 2 30-06-2010 06:44
Plotting Tools Tom and Maje Navigation 14 17-12-2009 08:21
Question about tools….?? Interstategypsy Construction, Maintenance & Refit 33 10-08-2008 12:49
What Tools Will I Want? Jay Jennings Construction, Maintenance & Refit 26 06-07-2008 03:47
Dolphins use tools GordMay The Library 2 09-06-2005 19:39

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:50.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.