Building and Construction Tools

Tested and Reviewed by Fred-in-the-shed


Updated 1st May 2019

On This Page

Latest 18v Cordless Combi Drills

10.8v Mini Cordless Drill & Impact Driver

Husqvarna Power Cutter and Cordless Water Unit

Picks, Shovels Forks & Crowbars

Best Mastic Guns

Angle Grinders

SDS Heavy Duty Hammer Drills

Best Builders Phone & Cases


18v Cordless Hammer Drills Tested and Compared


The 18v combi drill is one of the most popular powertools for tradesmen and builders. It is powerful enough to drill into all materials and can drive in screws and fittings too. Dewalt and Makita are the biggest brands.

So which is best? Makita or Dewalt? Well the problem is that each company now make many variants on the 18v combi drill with Dewalt now on another re-incarnation of the XRP and Makita making cheaper lightweight versions and annoyingly changing the fitting system so old batteries don't fit the new tools.

 So to test them properly you need to test like for like - which is not really possible for a number of reasons.

Firstly if you look at the new models from both companies, they now use Li-ion batteries - but...

The batteries and charger technology are not the same. Both offer a range of 18v Li- ion batteries that vary from 1.2 amp hour, to a whopping 5 amp hour! Neither Dewalt or Makita Li-ion batteries retro fit their old drills and tools.

When choosing a drill take time to look at the important stats. Voltage is just current and is not a true measure of a drill's power. Look for its power as torque, represented as Newton Metres. Also compare batteries by amp hour for the same voltage. As you can see below, 18v batteries vary enormously.

Replacement 18v Bosch , DeWalt, Makita  and Ryobi Batteries

Best 18v Li-ion Batteries

Dewalt, Bosch, Makita & Ryobi now have 5 amp hour 18v batteries

use links below


Makita BL1850 18v 5.0Ah Li-ion LXT Battery Pack

DEWALT DCB184 XR Li-Ion Battery 18 Volt 5.0Ah

Ryobi RB18L50 ONE+ 5.0 Ah Lithium Battery

Smaller replacement 18v Li-ion batteries start from 25 for replicas and 50 for originals.






Use links below for the latest Dewalt & Makita drills with brushless motors.

Dewalt DCD795M1 18 V XR Brushless Compact Lithium-Ion Combi Drill

 Makita DHP480RF1J 18 V Cordless Li-Ion Brushless Combi Drill


 Makita DLX2145TJ Combi Drill and Impact Driver 18 V Kit with 2 x 5.0 Ah Batts and 1 DC18RC Charger






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The 14.4v or 18v impact driver is an essential tool for many builders but now most manufacturers are bringing out 10.8v models with high capacity Li-ion batteries.

At the top end of the market these micro tools can have more power than 18v tools and are much lighter and easier to use.

Bosch started the trend with its professional blue tools then Makita and DeWalt following on with twin packs consisting of a drill and an impact driver.

The 10.8 volt batteries can also be used in a range of other powertools so you don't need to buy lots of batteries and chargers.

Makita Li-ion Mini Drills and Impact driver

Makita CLX202AJ 10.8 V CXT Li-Ion Cordless Kit (2-Piece)



This new kit is a superb improvement on the old one and performs as well as many 18v rivals.

Available for around 135 for the pair with 2 batteries, charger and rugged carrying case.

The advantage of the micro tool twin pack is that you can drill with one and screw with the other.

As both tools use the same battery you can still carry on working if one goes flat.

Dewalt make a similar set .

Since getting this Makita kit I have hardly used my 18v drill and can't find one thing I don't like about these tools.


 Makita CLX202AJ 10.8 V CXT Li-Ion Cordless Kit (2-Piece)

 Makita JR103DZ Reciprocating Saw, 10.8 V, Blue

 DeWalt DCK211S2 10.8V Subcompact Combo Drill Plus Impact Driver in Kitbag

Click Here For The Best Deals On The Latest Combi Drills

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New Water Cooled Power Cutter for Faster Cleaner Cutting

Husqvarna K770 Power Cutter

When you need to cut a wall or stone tiles or similar you usually expect a lot of dust.

I am currently testing the latest petrol powered disc cutter on a building refurbishment I am involved in.

The 2 stroke Husqvarna K770 has a number of features to reduce dust and improve cutting performance. The big innovation on this Swedish made tool is the water tank that supplies water to the blade via a pump running off an 18v Li-ion battery. Having water on the blade reduces dust but also improves the cutting performance by cooling the blade. The separate tank unit can also be used with other Husqvarna products - more info to follow soon.


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Traditional Construction Digging Tools


Forks Spades and Shovels for Building and Construction Work

Normal garden forks and spades are not strong enough for construction work and will quickly fail. If you are digging foundations in clay or shovelling tones of ballast you need purpose made heavy duty construction tools. Some of the the best are made by Bulldog and have survived to tell their story. These 50 year old tools were solid forged in Wigan from the best steel.

Amazingly these tools are still available and with the same design. Bulldog make hundreds of different models of forks, spades and shovels with the widest variety of handle and shaft variations, including fibreglass, plastic , wood and metal specifically for the job you do.

Typically these tools are heavier than garden tools and may have steel shafts and handles.

Modern versions like the excellent Roughneck pick use fibreglass for even more strength.

If you want to buy top quality British made forks, spades and shovels for building work have a look at my page on Bulldog Tools or buy the tools featured on this page using the links below


 Bulldog 5TFAM All Metal Trenching Fork

 Bulldog BUL5TSAM All Steel Trenching Shovel

 Bulldog 5CLAM All Steel Cable Laying Shovel

Roughneck 64252 Mattock Head 5lb F/glass Handle


New product under testing - all plastic lightweight wheelbarrow

 EcoBarrow -  70L Capacity

Curved one piece moulded handles are comfy and strong


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Best Mastik Guns

Lightweight Dripless Mastik Guns designed in the USA

Over the last 16 years of running Fredshed I have tested many fancy sealant guns including "drip free" and cordless battery powered ones.

Some have worked well for a limited time but none have been worth recommending. Also the standard cheap ones are now such poor quality that they often break or seize up in use. My extensive research led me to the sealant manufacturer Everbuild who also produce a range of guns to compliment their excellent caulks, glues and other sealants. I am a big fan of their Everbuild Weather mate silicon sealant as I use it to seal up the gaps around windows and door frames at my rickety old beach house. The Weather Mate silicon is the most durable I have found and has stopped leaks permanently when standard silicon has shrunk or been broken down by the sun and salty sea air.

Even though the Everbuild guns are good quality they still dribble out goo when you don't want it. Luckily I discovered the Dripless guns from the USA. These really do what they say and the level of engineering and quality is impressive.  There are a couple of models and one is even engineered to have more power specifically for pushing out thicker sealants.

Another great feature of a Dripless sealant gun is the flip out metal pin for cleaning the nozzles.  The guys at Dripless really know their stuff and have thought of everything.

I will undertake long term extensive testing of the Dripless guns and will report back here.


 Dripless Inc. ETS2000 Ergo Composite Caulk Gun

 Dripless Inc. ETS3000 Ergo-Tech Industrial Caulk Gun

Use links below for the best outdoor silicon sealant and also extra screw caps to save waste.

 Everbuild Weather Mate Silicon Sealant 310ml - White

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Angle Grinders Tested and Reviewed

Mains or Cordless? Which is best?


DeWalt 18V Cordless Angle Grinder

Angle grinders are one of the most power hungry tools especially if used to cut brick or concrete so until recently have not been viable as a battery powered tool.

The recent addition of 5 and 6 amp hour 18v Li-ion batteries has been a game changer so for many people the cordless angle grinder is now a must have tool.

The Dewalt DCG412N is superb and uses 125mm discs that can be changed without using a tool.

 DeWalt 18V XR Lithium-Ion Body Only Grinder

 DeWalt DCG412N 18V XR Cordless Angle Grinder 125mm With DS300 Kitbox

DeWalt now even do an 18v lawnmower that runs off their 18v batteries and is now available with 9 amp hour batteries!

 DeWalt DCMW564RN XR Brushless Lawn Mower 18V Bare Unit


Most Durable Angle Grinder for Builders

 Bosch Professional GWS 22-230 H Corded 240 V Angle Grinder

This is my builders angle grinder that gets uses at lot for cutting blocks and wall openings.

It takes the large size 230mm blades and has a 2200kw motor. To make it more durable and to protect it from dust the motor has double sealed bearings and armoured coils. Despite its rugged design with sturdy gears and extra safety features it is quite light at 5.2kg.

Other problems with most angle grinders is that the blade continues spinning after you have turned it off and if there is a power cut can come on again. This can be dangerous but this model has a unique anti restart mechanism.

 Makita GA9062R/2 GA9062R Angle Grinder 230mm 240v, 240 V, Blue

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SDS Heavy Duty Hammer Drills

These tools can chisel or drill!

My Mains Powered Metabo SDS Drill


New DeWalt Brushless Cordless Versions as Powerful but Easier to use

 DeWalt DCH133N-XJ 18V Li-Ion Brushless Cordless SDS Plus Rotary Hammer Drill

 DEWALT DCH033 18v Cordless BRUSHLESS SDS Drill


If you need to drill into lintels or chisel away brickwork then you will need a very powerful SDS drill. Unless you want to spend megabucks a corded one is best value. If you can only afford one drill this type is the best, and should last many years in normal use.

Most drills calling themselves hammer drills are actualy percussion drills and are poor cousins to the superior rotary hammer drill.

The best SDS hammer drills have a "rotary stop" function so the tool just hammers, without turning. This enables the drill to chisel, which is brilliant for brick and concrete. These proper hammer drills take SDS or SDS plus bits which come as drill and chisel bits.

Dewalt D25134K-GB D25134K SDS+ Hammer 2kg 3 Mode with Quick Change Chuck 26mm 240V, 800 W, 240 V,

If you can afford it and want the freedom of cordless there are now many battery powered SDS drills like the Dewalt one shown above that uses large capacity Li-ion batteries that can be used in other builders favorite tools like impact drivers, angle grinder and large recipro saws. A cordless SDS is best used with minimum 4 amp hour battery as it will run down a smaller one quickly due to the high power required for chiselling.


Use the same battery in your impact driver and other 18v DeWalt tools too!

My corded Metabo SDS drill uses a top quality German motor and hammer drill mechanism with rotary stop function for light chiselling. It has 710w of power.

 There are cheaper corded SDS drills about but these are enormously heavy, (4-6KG) whereas lighter weight versions like the Metabo 2KG metal bodied drill shown above start from about 105 up. If you drill or chisel into concrete a lot then it is best to buy a pro quality SDS tool like my Metabo or the more popular DeWalt and Makita brands.


 Makita 240V 3-Mode SDS Plus Rotary Hammer Drill



SDS drills require special SDS bits and can drill AND chisel concrete.

There are currently 3 SDS formats

SDS and SDS Plus are the same - just to confuse us.


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The Ubiquitous Black & Decker workmate

Arguably the best product that Black & Decker have ever made and the most successful DIY invention for an independent inventor.

There are many versions available now but perhaps the quality has slipped a little from the old days.

You still cant go far wrong with the standard no frills models but if you want a lighter version then the Aluminium framed Bosch PWB600 is worth looking at.

The Aluminium frame will not rust if it get used in the damp and can also be folded in 5 seconds to a much thinner profile than the B&D models.

At 11kg the Bosch model is about 5kg lighter than comparable size B&D versions and is suitable for mobile professionals and top end DIYers.

Bosch PWB 600 Workbench

 BLACK+DECKER Workmate WM301

 Black+Decker WM536 Dual Height Workmate




Decking Tips

Put permeable weed stopping fabric under the deck and weight it down with a layer of gravel.

I am told by the real experts that grooved deck boards are not the best as they hold water and are more likely to rot - and get slippery!

Smooth hardwood planks, double kiln dried and pressure treated are the most durable.

Leave a 3-5mm gap between boards and make a spacer to use so that all the gaps are the same.

Use rust proof screws not nails, and allow a bit of space at the ends of each board for expansion when hot and/or wet.

Treat the cut ends of any sawn boards to prevent rot developing.

 Forgefix DS4550 Pozidriv Decking Screw - Green Anti-Corrosion Item in hand is Size: 4.5 x 50mm, Pack of 200

 Forgefix DS4575 Pozidriv Decking Screw - Green Anti-Corrosion Item in hand is Size: 4.5 x 75mm, Pack of :200





Best Mobile Phones for Builders and Outdoor workers


My first tough phone - Nokia 5140i

I now use an iPhone 5s with protective cases.

My first "toughphone"  was my Nokia 5100. It was the most durable and covered in Rubber to protect it from knocks, moisture, dust and clumsy people.

It survived some serious abuse, like bouncing down a flight of stairs and a quick dip in a Jacuzzi.  After it's dip in the hot tub is worked for a week then it had to be repaired - well it is only splash proof and not waterproof!

The Nokia 5100 was replaced by the Nokia 5140i which had the added feature of a camera for photos and video.

This feature can be useful to builders as you can send images of components or jobs to other workers or suppliers. The Nokia tough phones were popular with soldiers who liked the torch and compass as well as the dust proofing.

Then came the JCB toughphone which initially got some poor reviews. The JCB phone is in fact a Sonim and they are usually very good and sell tough phones under their own name and also Landrover. Despite using the Landrover and JCB name neither of these phones delivered and were soon made obsolete by smartphones anyway. Next I used an Otterbox defender silicon case to protect my blackberry when gardening or doing DIY.

I have been researching the old breed of tough phones and like the look and feel of the Samsung Solid Extreme range.  It has all the vital features, great user reviews and is reasonably priced. There have been several updates with increasing IP rating for water and dust resistance. Check them out using my links opposite. I used a Samsung B2100 solid extreme for a year and liked using it.

 Most of us don't need a phone to use underwater or park a truck on, but just want one that can survive a drop on the floor or  spilled cup of tea occasionally .

The latest Tough Smart phones

Due to the popularity of iPhones and certain Android models the dedicated tough phone has been largely replaced by protective cases for standard phones.

Smart phones have large touch screens and these are very easily damaged and also hard to protect without preventing their use.

The most heavy duty metal and rubber "military grade" cases may provide good shock protection but they may also cut down the strength of the signal received by your phone. Since all smartphones have a touchscreen there is a limit to the thickness and strength of screen protectors so if you drop your phone the screen is still vulnerable. I now favour a leather case that closes over the phone completely. Moral of the story, try not to drop your phone!

iPhone SE, 5S & 5 Shock Proof Heavy Duty Defender Builders Workman Case Cover with built-in Screen Protector - Blue Green

 Samsung Galaxy S6 - Stylish Heavy Duty Shock Proof Dual Case Cover with Back Stand & Screen Protector (Carbon Black)

 OtterBox Defender Series Cover for iPhone 5S - Black

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The first test for the Draper Ground Buster was this stump.

With the Tamper attachment shown right can use the Ground Buster to compact soil.

The "Ground Buster" is a massive hollow chisel with a counterweight inside that can smash through the hardest surfaces.

Also available is an attachment to cover the chisel head with a flat tamper for compacting the ground.

My team have been testing this product and are seriously impressed!

The Ground Buster tool is available in 2 sizes.

My team recommend the smaller size as it is plenty heavy enough for even the strongest and fittest men who soon tired and moaned when using it for more than 10 minutes.


 Draper 20779 1.55m 10.2Kg Heavy Duty Ground Buster


Best Crowbar - Lightweight Prybar -Wrecking stick!

 Estwing 18 inch Pry Bar

This tool is a must have for any builder or DIY fan. Before you can  build something you often have to wreck something else - and this is the tool to do it with!

This prybar is superior to most others due to its "RSJ" profile design that makes it stronger AND lighter! Most prybars weigh a ton and are a real pain to cart around.

This new type prybar also has two heads at different angles and an inbuilt nail puller.

I have used this and many other crowbars and it's strength and lightweight made it a favourite with all my testers.

If you just want a cheap small crowbar and are not bothered about the weight then the Roughneck one is well made and a total bargain at around 6

 Estwing Epb/18 Pry Bar 18in

 Roughneck 64418 Wrecking Bar 18-inch




Widening A Driveway?

Making a Path for Wheelchairs

Plastic Ground Reinforcing Grids

As a gardener and wheelchair user for 30 years I have had to make many paths on many different substrates.

I have used many different plastic paths and honeycomb type grids and have finally found an affordable one that is easy to lay and very strong.

It is also made in Britain and available online in large and small quantities.


 20 x Black Plastic Paving Driveway Grid Turf Grass Lawn Path Gravel Protector Drainage Mat (5 Square Meter)

 40 x Black Plastic Paving Driveway Grid Turf Grass Lawn Path Gravel Protector Drainage Mat (10 Square Meter)








If you found my advice helpful and would like to support my work, please return to this page and use my links when purchasing your tools.

Also any other products bought from Amazon at the same time will produce a small commission that helps cover my hosting costs.


Or if you prefer, you can make a small donation using the PayPal button below.

 Thanks - Fred




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                     Fred Walden 2019