In 2014, I wrote about Li-ion batteries and brushless motors revolutionizing the cordless power tool industry, and I mentioned a few of my favorite tools from Bosch, Ryobi, and Milwaukee [Tape Op #102]. Since then, I've acquired dozens more tools from these lines for my DIY home and studio endeavors that now span the country. In one location, I've standardized on Bosch 12V Max, while filling in the gaps with items from Ryobi In another, I've gone all Milwaukee M12 My favorite (and most used) tools are still the Bosch PS22 Driver and PS32 Drill that I discussed here years ago. They have plenty of power for home and studio use, and importantly, they're super lightweight— so even my geeky arms aren't fatigued after installing hundreds of drywall screws overhead. My second favorite is the Bosch 12V Max Flexiclick 5-in-1 Driver that comes with modular offset and right-angle heads for tight situations. Bosch has a brushless version of it now, but I bought mine when it was only available with a brushed motor. After a few uses, I found the tool to be so crucial that I converted it to brushless (for more torque and runtime) by swapping its body with one from a standard 12V Max brushless driver. I also own the Bosch PS42BN Impact Wrench, which is great for driving lag bolts or self-tapping screws; but it's also surprisingly useful for finessing small fasteners when it's switched to low-torque mode. I'll quickly mention the oscillating multi-tool, palm sander, jigsaw, reciprocating saw, vacuum, worklights, and other Bosch 12V Max tools that I absolutely love. They all fit into Bosch/Sortimo L-BOXX Cases, and specific inserts for the cases are included with the tools. With that said, I own three times as many Milwaukee M12 tools as Bosch. Bosch North America imports only a subset of the tools that are available from Bosch Europe. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is expanding and updating its catalog at a dizzying rate, and the brand offers about ten times what Bosch N.A. does. Generally, my Milwaukee tools have more torque than the Bosch counterparts, but they're also larger and heavier— which also means they're not as maneuverable. My modular Milwaukee M12 Installation Driver, for example, can't fit into tight corners as well as my Bosch 5-in-1. In the past year, Milwaukee updated many of its drivers and drills to what it's calling a "sub-compact" form factor. The new M12 Stubby Impact Wrenches, and particularly the Surge Hydraulic Driver, have piqued my interest. I have various cordless tools from Ryobi that a typical homeowner would want, including some for lawn and gardening. But what I'm most excited about are the Ryobi P3100 Soldering Station and P305 Hot Glue Gun that I purchased recently. Both are awesome enough that I would recommend diving into the Ryobi ONE+ battery system just for these two tools. The soldering station can operate from AC or battery power; on battery, it heats up to the selected temperature (400–900°F) in less than a minute. The "pen" is comfortable to hold, and it's shaped so it doesn't roll when placed on a flat surface. The base includes a pen holder, as well as the battery attachment, temperature control, and a small tub for a cleaning sponge, brass loofah, or rosin. The glue gun also heats up quickly and has a well-designed trigger for accurate control— and it's angled in such a way that it doesn't drip when it's sitting idle! Hot glue is so useful in the studio for tacking things down, and the Ryobi gun makes it so easy to get a quick fix completed in a minute or two, in between the countless other studio tasks that need attention. –AH

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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