One of the early and best tools I bought when I got my house was a Makita cordless drill. I bought it as part of a combo pack that also included a cordless circular saw with a 3 and 5/8″ blade. That blade is too small to cut a 2×4, but is enough to cut through plywood, siding, and 1×4’s. I used it to cut siding for the garage and the back of my house. I use it sometimes when I have a bunch of limbs that I am trying to cut down to 4′ lengths, working very well on the tangle of limbs that is privet. But the batteries are really old now and don’t hold a charge for more than a few minutes. New batteries are very expensive: at least $50 for one. The nice thing is they have NiMH batteries with more capacity than the NiCad one I have, but those are about $70. This is kind of similar to my problem with VersaPak tools that I bought at about the same time, actually. I wound up paying extra for NiMH.
Cordless tools nowadays have a lot more power, often 18 volts instead of the wimpy 12 volts of my tools. And with higher voltage you can get more substantial circular saws that will cut a 2×4. But those aren’t cheap either. Combo packs today seem to include a cordless drill and an “impact driver,” which looks like another cordless drill to me.
In its day, the Makita was top of the line. I saw a picture of a drill just like mine being used on the space station one time. I’m not sure Makita leads the field anymore though. I’m not sure who does. I thought about possibly cracking open a battery pack and adding new cells. For a 12V pack, there are 10 1.2V “sub C” size cells in series to give 12V (14.4V would be 12 cells), but if I could do that, somebody else was probably already offering rebuilt battery packs. I found some generic replacement packs with NiMH cells on eBay from a reputable seller (imax_expert, 78,890 items sold and 99.9% positive feedback) that cost about $30. The only problem is that my Makita charger doesn’t support NiMH cells, but I like that the NiMH is more environmentally friendly (no cadmium) and has 3.0 amp-hours of capacity instead of 2 that my NiCad batteries originally had. To avoid overcharging my Versapak cells, I have been using my hobby charger, which can charge just about any kind of battery pack, but it still seems to get the cells pretty hot, so I don’t trust it completely. I wound up getting a temperature sensor for the hobby charger, but I don’t know where it is now despite a lot of searching. I don’t know that it would matter with the Makita battery pack since it is encased in plastic and the temperature sensor might not work correctly.
Anyway, I could get two batteries (the combo pack originally came with two batteries, which is nice because you can be charging one while you use the other), but there isn’t much of a discount, so I figured I would just buy one and make do. I can always buy another one if I need to.