Offcuts: Battery Tools Should All Take The Same Battery By: Don Heisz

The title of this post is very straightforward. I don’t like having to toss away perfectly good tools because the batteries are (1) dead and (2) now impossible to find. My example is my cordless reciprocating saw. I have had it for ten years or so and have not needed to use it very often. It came as part of a massive package of tools. I destroyed the other tools through use. The batteries have been dead for several years. I have kept those things, however, thinking that I may be able to get some use out of the virtually untouched reciprocating saw. After all, I only need a battery.

Am I going to go buy a battery for as much as it would cost to buy a corded reciprocal saw? No.

Anyway, it’s truly irritating that one 18 volt tool required a certain “colour” battery while other 18 volt tools require a different colour. I realize the tool companies need to make money at every turn. But that doesn’t stop me from finding it stupid that one tool’s 18 volts is not the same as another.

They’re just doing what camera and cell phone manufacturers have been doing: a special battery not only insures the consumer will run to you when the battery dies, but it forces a definite lifespan on the tool, since they will not manufacture that battery forever.

But who needs to live with it? I have enough junk to fix the situation. And I have a massive number of perfectly good bluish-green 18 volt batteries that will power my destitute red-coloured reciprocating saw.

The first thing I did was open the dead battery and pull out the cells. Then I cut the rest of it in half on the tablesaw.

This is the bit that’s left.

Then I found a tool that no longer worked. I’m not sure what was wrong with this impact driver but I know it won’t work after chopping the bottom of the handle off.

So, I had to figure out the polarity of the connectors, but that was easily done by just checking it connected to the tool. One orientation made the tool run, the opposite made sparks fly. So, you can guess what was correct.

Anyway, I soldered the two connectors together: Then I neatly arranged how it should be in order to work.

It looks pretty good like that but lacks resilience. As in, if I tried to use it, it would fall apart. What came to the rescue?

The mighty glue gun. My opinion used to be that glue guns were next to completely useless. I have recently discovered, however, that if you let the glue get as hot as possible without bursting into flames and just pump a nearly unmanageable amount into something like this, nothing beats it. It remains flexible but does not let go.

I must say that I only did this because I needed to use the saw today to make some cuts that really can’t be done with anything else. But I have now effectively rescued that tool – at least until these batteries become a thing of the past.

Maybe it’s not as pretty as it was once upon a time, but it works perfectly.

The moral of this story is don’t be afraid to try to make something work. The only thing that could have been lost in this instance was something that didn’t work as it was, anyway. And these tools may be souped up and fancy and have diagnostic circuits and bells and whistles but the important thing to remember is they all pretty much to their actual work being fed by two wires, connected to the positive and negative poles of the batteries in the plastic boxes. And the batteries inside the boxes? They’re pretty much all the same.