Maybe we're not Tim Allen, but ConsumerSearch reviews enough tools to know a good deal from a bad one. If you've got a DIYer on your gift list (or if you'd just like to flesh out your own tool collection), the Black Friday 'season' can be a good time to snap up some deals. We don't yet know what Home Depot will be pushing out, but sneak peeks at Lowe's, Sears and Ace Hardware's Black Friday circulars give us some clues.
Clearly, if you're really in the market for a cordless power tool or a shop vac, you're going to want to wait and see what Home Depot and maybe Walmart will be sticking in their sales circulars, but here's our take on the options from Lowe's, Sears and Ace (at least so far).
Ace Hardware and Lowe's will both have a $30 Shop-Vac wet/dry vacuum included in their Black Friday doorbuster sales. But they're not the same model. Lowe's will have a 14-gallon, 4.5-hp model, the Shop-Vac 5851511 (normally $80). Ace will feature the larger 16-gallon, 5.5-hp Shop-Vac model, the 5852600, which normally sells for $100. Sears will be selling a 12-gallon Craftman wet/dry vac with a 5-hp motor for $40 (it costs $60 at Sears.com today). Sears will also be selling the small 2-gallon Craftsman 917713 as a 4:00 a.m. doorbuster deal for $20 (it sells for $25 right now).
We only found an appreciable number of reviews for the small 2-gallon Craftsman vac, and if you want a tiny car vac, owners seem to really like it. But at just a $5 savings from the regular price, we're not sure it's worth lining up at 4:00 a.m.
As for the other three, the Ace Hardware Shop-Vac looks best on paper, with a more powerful peak horsepower rating, and a larger canister. Of the three, it's the most steeply discounted. We'll look forward to Home Depot's circular, however; the Ridgid WD1450 is the top-rated budget vac in our report and it's a big seller at Home Depot. Right now it sells at Home Depot for $100, but if they can get the Black Friday price down to $40 or so, that's the wet/dry vac we'd want.
Cordless drills and combo kits are often good buys around the holidays, but so far, we're underwhelmed not so much by the prices as by the drills themselves. Lowe's, in it's Black Friday preview circular, features an 18-volt DeWalt cordless drill for $99 (normally $200), along with a Black & Decker 18-volt three-piece cordless combo (drill, circular saw and light) for $60, a $90 value.
The problem with all these drills -- though they look like good deals on paper -- is that they all use old-school Ni-Cd batteries. This type of older battery type is less environmentally friendly than newer Lithium-ion batteries, which are much lighter, more compact and hold their charge better between uses. For example, the 18-volt CD1800SKA at Ace Hardware weighs 9 lbs. while the DeWalt DC970K-2 weighs more than 11 lbs. The 19-volt Craftsman C3 17191 drill in the Sears circular weighs 6 pounds (Sears says this is a $49 doorbuster deal, but it's actually available right now on Sears.com for the same price).
So far, we've only seen one lithium-ion cordless drill included in a big Black Friday sale: the Craftsman C3 Compact Lithium-ion 19.2-volt drill for $80 (normally $100), But this drill also weighs 6 pounds.
Lastly, for a homeowner cordless drill, these models are overpowered. Most experts say that a lighter 12 or 14-volt cordless drill is a better bet for everyday uses like putting together furniture and hanging pictures. In our report, we top-rate the Milwaukee 2410-22, which only weighs 2.6 pounds (but right now costs $130), a 12-volt Lithium-ion drill that's small enought to reach into tight space, yet has enough power for assembling furniture and cabinets.
Again - we don't yet know what Home Depot or Walmart will include in their circulars, but if you can find a good deal on a 12- or 14-volt lithium drill, you'll get something a lot lighter than the items included in this year's circulars so far. If we HAD to choose right now from among the Black Friday drill deals right now, we'd probably go for the super-cheap $20 Black and Decker drill, but a more usable drill would be something lighter that uses Li-ion batteries instead of Ni-Cd.