There are proponents of corded hand-held tools, but I’m not one of them. I’ll choose cordless every time.

When a new woodworker asked me several years ago for some tool recommendations I told him that if you hold it in your hand, get it without a cord. Yeah, I realize there are some specific jobs in specific trades for which the run time of battery-powered tools is counterproductive – drywall installation, for example – but for just about every other task in a woodshop, a cordless tool with an extra battery does the job faster, easier and with less weight.

I tackled a job yesterday I’ve been putting off all season (and by “all season,” I mean 2011 and the first five months of 2012): trimming the two-dozen or so bushes in my landscaping. To do that, I needed to give my corded hedge trimmer a four-hour workout. No battery-powered trimmer could handle that, and while there are gas-powered trimmers out there, I can’t budget the cash for a tool I’ll only use once every 18 months. So I was stuck with the cord.

Note the use of past tense in that last sentence. The cord is no longer a problem, because it’s in the trash. Before I severed it, I managed to sever another extension cord first. (As an aside, cutting power cords doesn’t happen in Real Life like it does in the movies and on TV: no explosion, no fireball, no shower of sparks or hot plasma. Just a single, dull “pop.” Very disappointing.) When I wasn’t cutting them, I was tripping with them constantly wrapping around my ankles. When I wasn’t tripping, I was snagging the cord on bushes or simply stepping on it. And don’t even ask me how many times the plug pulled out of the outlet. What a pain.

In one respect, cutting all those cords has prompted a decision. Since I have to go shopping anyway to replace them, I’ve decided that maybe it’s time I got a gas trimmer. Expensive, yeah, but I’m beginning to think that the next time I trim bushes that it’ll be a good investment.

But, that’s something I can worry about in 18 months.



  • Frank says:

    I’m with you on most of this A.J. With the price of extension cords today, rechargeable batteries look more attractive. Actually I’ve given up most of my small glass powered tools as well. Too much maintenance to keep them working. Seems like 80% of the time they won’t start.

    Corded tools are also a safety hazard in the workshop and job site. So much so that I’m surprised that OSHA hasn’t outlawed them or come up with some more impossible regulations to follow when using a cord.

  • Al says:

    Think twice about that gas powered trimmer. My son has a landscape business and I’ve used his. They cut great but, not only are they noisy and heavy, you smell like exhaust when you are done. I like corded in the shop when power is required. No battery tool can outperform a corded tool for power.

  • Chuck Riccardo says:

    In the shop, corded for me with the esception of drills. There is just no reason for a battery powered skill saw when there is an outlet 5 feet away. I have never yet had an outlet peter out on me in the middle of a cut.

  • Gary Schmidt says:

    Just a thought, maybe try a gas powered unit by renting one first . See if the negatives mentioned are bearable and save spending big bucks. If you only use a tool once every 18 mos. , that’s a good candidate for rental anyway.

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