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So you got a flashlight with your last M12, M18, or v28 kit purchase, but you bought before they started shipping LED lights as standard. Then you (or someone else, *cough*Sean*cough*) drops it off the back of a truck and dinks out the little incandescent bulb. You could swap in another incandescent, but more and more often now we’re seeing in-place LED replacement parts like the one pictured above. It’s compatible with pretty much any of the existing Milwaukee incandescents, but we’ve even heard of people swapping it in for other similarly-shaped and -sized bulbs.

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Starting this March, when you buy an M18 Drill Driver or Hammer Drill, you’ll get the mutli-volt charger you see above, which can charge both Milwaukee’s M18 and M12 batteries. If you’ve already got some of both, you’ll be able to buy the charger yourself as an accessory at a to-be-determined price, but what really interests us is the fact that they’re going to ship this model out as the default charger. As far as we can tell, this is Milwaukee saying “If you use our M18 line, we figure you’re likely to use our M12 line, too.”

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It didn’t take long for Milwaukee to upscale the 12v Fuel system up to run the 18v M line. A few months go by, and suddenly Milwaukee has some of the most powerful cordless 18v on the market — at least on paper. Having seen the M12 line work and how the brushless motors are putting the power down, we’re inclinded to believe at least a little of the marketing.  

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I know I’m going to catch some hell from the nice folks at Bosch, but hey — I call it like I see it: the PS60 looks to me like their response to Milwaukee’s Hackzall. That said, I’m glad to see Bosch offering it. Some folks bought into Bosch’s sub-compact line and some bought into Milwaukee’s — probably through something like a drill/driver — so I’m glad to see that each group has access to this incredibly cool little tool type, regardless of their initial brand investment.

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Generally you’ll see two forms of jig saws: barrel grips and top-handle. Milwaukee clearly took a third path with their M12 12V saws, and at least on the surface it looks like a pretty slick idea, incorporating the heavy grip benefits of top-handle with the fine control you get from barrel grips.

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Over the years we’ve written about a number of different devices designed to crack the combination on clamshell packaging, but every year about this time we like to round up the best of the articles and comments on the subject to give you a better alternative to destroying your good scissors or stabbing yourself in the leg.

Way back in 2006 we wrote about the OpenX — arguably the most heavily-promoted of the packaging-specific knives. It’s essentially a utility knife in a captured end. One commenter received the OpenX as a first gift for Christmas that year, all with the plan of him using it to open the rest of his presents. That’s a great idea in our book, and the OpenX worked well for him. But commenters on our piece about the later, more complicated Zibra Open It tool in 2007 differed. One commenter related that he bought a couple of OpenXs for friends, but received tools with dull blades that couldn’t handle average packaging. Most commenters seemed to like the Open It’s cutter-style design, but virtually all of them admitted that they use more classic tools for the job of de-packaging loot. Some of their solutions:

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We imagine the product folks at Milwaukee have a tough sell with some of the newest rollouts this year. The deep cut band saw, for instance, looks just like the old one at first glance, and “2x tougher than the competition” claims based on the copper motor and slightly reformed outer shell armor can’t be the easiest thing to explain when someone is holding both versions side by side.

The deep cut band saw, so named for its 5″ x 5″ capacity, is 14.5 lbs. of 11-amp cutting power encased by the aforementioned armor. The new motor technology, which we’re guessing is going to be making appearances in all the corded line to come, gets its added boost by fitting more copper into a smaller space. This in turn makes the motor housing smaller and allows for the new slimmer profile.

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I really hated being wrong about the Milwaukee fastback folding utility blade. I thought it would be one of the also-rans that always crop up around Christmas as a “Free Gift” in discounted toolkits. Leave it to Milwaukee to follow through with their threat to put muscle behind their hand tool development and make me feel like a jackwagon.

The fastback has proven to be a hardworking addition to the shop, office, automotive garage, and home area. Mention of its name is followed by a reach into my sidepocket instead of a run to the toolbox. It’s a subtle but distinct difference that speaks more to how comfortable it is to carry and use than tales of its battle prowess ever could be.

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At their event this summer, Milwaukee was making all kinds of to-do about their new brushless motors. We were quite literally taken behind a tall black curtain (the kind from which strippers normally pop out) into a hushed little area and shown the brushless rigs. It was our first glimpse of the M18 fuel lineup. I should have been paying more attention to what Steve and the guys were saying, but once behind the curtain I was still hoping for strippers.

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The Milwaukee Fluorescent Lighting Tester is one of those ho-hum looking tools that will drastically change somebody’s day. It doesn’t look like a big deal, but for the maintenance guy who wanders around your building grumbling about fixing lights all day, this will be forever attached to his belt. What it does is allow you to check exactly what’s wrong with fluorescent lighting without touching it or even getting a ladder in most cases. To our way of thinking, somebody should have come up with this a long time ago.

Here’s the deal — should you come across a dark bulb, just extend the 3′ wand and put the cupped plate in contact with the glass. The wand sends a super low current through to the gas inside the bulb, and if it lights, it’s just a bad bulb. If it doesn’t, switch to “Ballast” mode and wave the wand at either connection point. If it beeps, the ballast is good; if not, you have a bad ballast at that end. You can also do a pin check by inserting the pins of a bulb into the checker located at the bottom of the unit and get a tone for good or no tone for bad.

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