There’s great deal of debate going on in the internet discussion forums about cordless battery-powered tools. Some like the flexibility they offer, while others consider them unreliable and look down on their lack of raw power. Which is true – corded tools tend to be “safer” choices, because they are built simply and rarely break down when you need them. Cordless tools are much more advanced with more moving pieces, so chance of something going wrong with them is higher.
Personally, i don’t think one is necessarily better than the other. I have some tools that are corded, and others that run on batteries. So i think the question should be – which specific tools are better when cordless? Which tools will benefit the most from flexibility that battery provides? I think most saws and other commonly used tools should be cordless. I use them frequently and in different ways, so enhanced flexibility really comes in handy. On the other hand, i think most other tools are better off by being corded. My rule of thumb is that – if a tool requires a lot of power over long period of time, it should be corded. Batteries have improved a lot, but they’re still not as reliable as they can be, so with the kind of tool i’ve described above, you might have to stop in the middle of your project to wait for battery to recharge, and that can waste some time. But it also depends on your style of work. Not everything that works for me will work out for you as well.
There are some ways to improve flexibility of your corded tools as well. One of them is long extension cord. These cords aren’t that expensive, so if you’re used to doing your work far from the house, they’re worth the investment. Of course, it’s not a perfect replacement for the tools that are cordless and don’t need any extension cords alltogether, but it’s worth to consider.
It also depends on what kind of woodworker you are. If you are a casual DIYer who works on weekends and treats it as a hobby, cordless tools can really save you a lot of trouble and there’s a chance that you won’t even notice their disadvantages. But if you’re serious woodworker who works regularly on his projects and does some heavy duty work, i would recommend sticking with corded versions, because they’re much stronger and sturdier.