Battery powered hand drills have become a mainstay to almost every aspect of working with wood. In building construction they are an important tool especially for carpenters, plumbers and electricians. For woodworkers who are almost always working in a shop and with electricity, battery powered tools are handy, but not always vital. I like the portability and how handy they are so even though I have a couple of corded drills, my cordless easily gets the bulk of drilling usage.
I purchased a set of 12 volt drill/drivers a few years ago and fell in love with the system. Before long I also had the radio, the multi-tool and recip saw, all of which used the same battery packs. I loved the system but the only tool that I struggled with for power was the drill. I just didn't have the power I needed for a few jobs, especially when I was drilling into oaks and maples.
A short time ago I found myself in one of the home reno box stores ... again looking at Milwaukee drills, but this time 18 volt. I really didn't want to move to another battery size when I have so many great tools that work with the 12 volt. I discovered they had one of the Milwaukee 18 volt drills on sales for $99.95 but the catch is it only comes with one battery, and it is smallest 18 volt at only 1.5 Amp hours ... but still the price was attractive.
After talking on my friend Mike, who works in the tool department there, he pointed out that the extra batteries in 1.5 Amp Hr were only $50 which makes that drill pretty attractive now. He also explained that this was what is known as a "one time buy" which happens when manufacturers put together specific packages at reduced prices to help sell their tools. They are only available until stocks run out, but we have all seen this in the past with other things.
He showed me that the normal 18 volt drill comes with the 2 amp hr battery, but that that battery alone sells for $100 I asked how long it took to charge a battery which he could not recall off the top of his head, but "pretty quickly" was the general answer.
When I checked out the drill I discovered that the battery charger for this model also charged my 12 volt batteries without having to have 2 chargers set up all the time. That was all the info I needed to make the decision ... I bought that 18 volt drill.
I was anxious to test it out and compare it with the 12 volt system and see just how long it would take to recharge the battery.
As you can see from the video, the little 12 volt still did an awesome job of drilling 3/8" holes in 2" oak by working all the way to 46 holes. The 18 volt of course out performed it by drilling 59 holes in the same oak beam. I tried to keep the testing as accurate as possible by making sure the drill bit was sharpened each with each new test, and by keeping the bit from heating up too much by cooling it with water after every hole. The cooling of course helps to keep the bit sharper longer.
There were no real surprises between the two drills, but it was interesting to see the number of holes that each could drill on a full charge. What was even more interesting was to see how long each unit too to recharge their batteries. As it turned out, both the 12 volt and the 18 volt in the 1.5 Amp Hr both took 35 minutes. I know the batteries that hold a larger charge, like the 2 Amp Hr will take longer to charge, but I was more concerned about getting a working battery back in the drill and how little time it could take.
Of course, larger holes would drain the battery quicker, but I also have the option of using corded drills for very large holes where convenience is not as critical.
In the end, it seems that if I am only drilling pocket holes or using my doweling jig, it's quite possible that if I had 2 batteries, I would never run out of power because in the time it takes to drain one battery, the other one is already charged, which is a nice place to be with drills.
All in all I'm pretty happy with the new drill, knowing that in the scheme of Milwaukee 18 volt drills, this is lowest powered one, but for the kind of work that I do ... it's perfect. If I was a using a cordless drill in a construction site, I would want something with more battery capacity and Milwaukee has drills to fill those needs as well.\
Copyright Colin Knecht