No matter what our particular taste in cars, there’s one thing we all share in common: tools. Whether it’s as basic as a ratcheting screw driver or something more elaborate, such as a bench-top belt sander, each one of us has at least one tool—but many of us have, well, many tools in our garage arsenal. And it’s for those of you in that latter group to whom this new column, Tool Time, is devoted … for the guy/gal who loves and appreciates good tools and related equipment. What will set this apart from just regurgitated and elaborated press releases, you may wonder? Simple: hands-on testing and real feedback. That said, don’t expect to read about any so-so stuff, so to speak, because if it’s not up to snuff in the first place, we won’t bother reviewing and wasting our time writing about it!

Porter Cable 12V Lithium Cordless 1/4-Inch Impact And Reciprocating Saw

Let’s face it, we live in a cordless world. Fortunately, today’s rechargeable tools have greatly advanced, and nowhere is that more evident than with the latest from Porter Cable—at least we found that to be the case with both their 1/4-inch impact and reciprocating saws. Portability, user-friendliness, and most importantly, overall performance are all features found in each tool. However, that performance is limited to a certain degree, as these are not suited for heavy-duty applications, such as drilling/cutting relatively thick material—but that obviously can be attributed to their compact size. Every task we perform doesn’t fit into the “HD” category, though, right? Right.

Porter Cable’s 1/4-inch impact packs a respectable 950 in/lb of torque—and unlike others, will not kick like a mini mule in doing so. Its compact design allows use in mighty tight quarters, such as up under a dash, inside a fenderwell, and so on. And as far as controls go, simplicity is “key”—literally—thanks to a quick-release (keyless) chuck, which accepts 1/4-inch hex accessories. Once you’ve attached the selected bit and set the direction (forward/reverse), the variable-speed trigger does the rest. Pressure controls the driver speed—the more you press, the faster it goes—which is ideal when initially drilling or fastening hardware without pilot holes. (Porter Cable strongly recommends that this feature only be used in the above-described situations, as overuse can ultimately damage the tool.) Additional features include an LED work light and a convenient belt loop attachment. Our overall opinion: When used in light- to medium-duty applications, the cordless impact performed very well; its extremely lightweight and compact size both lend themselves to use in cramped quarters, as indicated; and batteries fully recharge in well under an hour.

The Porter Cable reciprocating saw, much like the impact, is perfect for light- to medium-duty jobs due to its compact size and adjustability (or rather “flexibility”, thanks to variable three-position handle settings). It accepts all standard reciprocating—Sawzall type—blades, though it’s recommended that 4-inch blades be used for optimum performance. When it comes to cutting round stock, such as tubing or solid rod up to 1 1/2 inches, the competition doesn’t “hold” a chance in comparison to the Porter Cable’s built-in material clamp, which is a great feature, especially for those of us who like making accurate cuts ... the first time. Additionally, the cordless saw has the same handy LED work light as the impact.

All in all, Porter Cable’s line of cordless tools definitely holds its own—their 1/4-inch impact and reciprocating saw get our vote for garage-worthy tools.

Porter Cable