Re: Found testicles, now need tools!
I'm sorry that I've jumped in here so late, and you've probably already spent "the farm" by now. However, let me add a few of my thoughts just for the heck of it.
One thing that needs to be clarified. I know it was mentioned in an earlier post or two, but I'm not sure if all the details were there (but there's been a heck of a lot of posts, so I could have missed it).
The Ridgid warranty and the "LLSA": The warranty on brand new Ridgid tools (purchased only from Home Depot) is a 90-day Satisfaction Guarantee... you can return the tool to Home Depot during that period for a full refund or an exchange. You must have the original packaging materials.
Further, the basic Ridgid warranty is three years from date of purchase. No registration is required, but you must have a copy of the original receipt and that receipt must be from Home Depot.
The Limited Lifetime Service Agreement (LLSA) is a free option, that simply requires you to properly register your Ridgid purchase (again, only from Home Depot). To do that, you must register the tool online at the Ridgid website and then you must send a copy of your receipt along with the original UPC that you cut from the product box. Include all the pertinent information, like your name, address, etc.; plus the tool's registration number (from your online registration), the tool's model and serial number. LLSA registration takes from four to six months to be acknowledged.
Now, it is important to understand that LLSA is an option that requires proper registration. If you buy from Amazon or anyone other than Home Depot, then you will be considered the second owner... even it the tool has never been used and is "new in box". Home Depot is the only authorized retailer of Ridgid-brand power tools here in the U.S.!
Now, I know you've gotten a lot of recommendations to buy cordless this and cordless that and "Lithium" is the "only way go". But please realize that you pay a real premium for going cordless. And though "lithium" batteries are nice, you can read through all the posts here on the forum and find that they have more than their share of problems, especially for tools that require heavy loads, torque.
I see you don't like "Ryobi"... which is okay, we all have our peeves and pets. Realize that many (but certainly not all) Craftsman brand tool are made by Ryobi, but to meet the requirement that Sears demands. Somebody mentioned that they buy Craftsman, because of it's outstanding warranty.... but only hand-tools have the Craftsman "lifetime" guarantee, power tools have only one year.
But, I still like a lot of Craftsman tools and I have some "corded" Ryobi-made Craftsman tools that were purchased in the 70's and they are still going strong. I also own over a dozen, all corded, Ryobi tools and generally like them, with only a couple of exceptions. I also own a quite a few Ridgid tools and like them quite well and must tell you that the few cordless tools I own are Ridgid for sure! No problems whatsoever with them. The other thing that you should know, is that Rybobi, Milwaukee, and Ridgid brand power tools are all made by a Hong Kong-based company, Techtronics International (TTI). TTI is an international company with facilities in China, the U.S. and varies other countries. They own Dirt Devil, Homelite, and seveal other brands and make both Ridgid stationary and hand-held power tools under license from Emerson Electric to use the "Ridgid" brand name. Emerson Electric still owns the "Ridgid" brand and makes it's shop vacs, plumbing, and other hand-held tools here in the U.S. independant of TTI.
Now, to the tools that you are seeking and the recommendations:
Impact drivers are a highly recommended "must have". I have one, it's the Ridgid 14.4-volt. Terrific tool.... almost too terrific in many ways as it will literally rip a magnetic bit holder apart! If you buy that tool, you must use it will "impact-rated" attachments. Also, you must realize that for driving a normal woodscrew, it is often way too much power; and, there's no adjustable clutch on it. For example, I used my impact driver to assembly a steel shelf unit. Two problems with that: first, I made a mistake and put a bolt in the wrong hole; second, the darn bolt head was a Phillips. Nut went on terrific, but was so tight from the impact driver that I couldn't hold the bolt head tight enough remove it. Maybe if it had been a hex-head, I would have been fine... but I ended up having to break the nut in order to remove it. I quite imagine that with some of today's poorly made bolts and other hardware, you could easily twist them apart with an impact driver. However, for sizeable, well-made bolts and lag screws, the impact driver could be just the tool. But since most of my projects have been using Spax wood screws, up to 3-1/2"... the impact driver has spent a lot of time in the storage cabinet.
My favorite power driver is my Ridgid 9.6 volt "Pivot driver". Works great, has a clutch, and will drive almost everything I need for general household carpentry, subfloor, shelving, etc. So for me, the "impact driver" is overkill... but to each his own.
Regarding other tools, my first recommendation is to buy what you need, when you need it. Combo's are nice, but generally they offer at least one or two tools in the package that are of questionable need at the time of purchase. Still, I do have a couple of combos that I purchased on an after-holiday closeout that were absolutely bargains; because at the time, they sold for less than just one or two of the tools would cost independantly.
The second recommendation would be to slow down... rarely does one need to purchase a whole shop at one time, or even a whole tool belt full of tools. Power tool-wise, I built my 18 x 25 ft deck with one drill, one circular saw and my Radial Arm Saw (I know, but it was a long time ago). The RAS certainly made the project easier, but I could have done easily with just the circular saw. Of course I did have hand tools like a good tape measure, level, carpenter's square, wrench and sockets, and my trusty old brace and bit set. The latter was indispensible for those long bores through 4 x 4's and other timbers. My level was/still is just a 24" Stanley... and to make sure I cut off all those vertical 4x4's at the same height, I simply used a garden hose, filled with water (the age-old water level is excellent for distances).
Bottom line is that you will learn a lot by doing and you'll have more time to listen to people and analyse your own skills and tool preferances. In taking that time, you won't waste too much money or have a tool that you will look back on as a waste. I also highly recommend that you visit your local library or pickup an occason woodworking magazine or vist a few of their websites to see what the common tools that are used and required. Also, look at a few things that you want to do and figure out how you might make certain cuts, assemblies, etc. and what tools might be required to do that safely and efficiently. the best possible tool you have is your brain and your ability to understand, imagine and innovate. And above all, you need to be safe, think everything through and always consider the safest options.
I hope this helps,