A Day With Milwaukee Tools - Popular Woodworking Magazine

A Day With Milwaukee Tools

 In Feature Articles

Milwaukee Tools invited magazine and newspaper editors to its headquarters in Brookfield, Wis., on June 10 to unveil a number of new tools , 48 during the next 18 months , and a complete new line for the company. The buzzwords around Milwaukee Tools are “Disruptive Innovation.” The company is not looking to embellish a product with a unique switch or a larger over-molded grip; it’s looking to introduce products with such new innovation that we re-think how we use those tools. And Milwaukee is OK if it cannibalizes it’s own product in the process.

Also, Milwaukee Tools reinforced the company focus. Milwaukee made no bones about where the company plans to focus its attention in the coming years. It plans to return to its core customers , the trades. Electricians, plumbers, HVAC and other similar groups are in the headlights of the 85-year-old company. And the headlights are set to high beam.

A big part of the new focus is a new line of “Test and Measure” equipment. Seven new products from this area are released or about to be released. Most of these tools are for electricians, HVAC and the building trades , clamp meters, open-jaw testers and laser temperature guns , and not so much for woodworkers. Noticeably absent were distance-measuring tools. When asked about those, the response was to be patient; those are in the pipeline.

Of the corded tools introduced at the event, angle grinders stood out the most. Milwaukee is releasing many new grinders. There are large angle grinders (7″ and 9″ examples), small grinders (4-1/2″ to 6″ 12-amp tools) and a couple cordless designs, too. And, the company has a cut-off grinder coming out. Again, for woodworking, even though some woodworkers sculpt with grinders, this doesn’t knock our socks off.

With the discussion turning to cordless tools, the event shifted closer to the interest of woodworkers. Milwaukee has three tool platforms , M12, M18 and V28. Tool introductions were made in each platform with the majority of the releases coming in the M12 and M18 platform.

The majority of the new cordless introductions from Milwaukee are hammer and/or impact tools. The largest tool is a 3/4″ High-torque Impact Wrench (0764-22) from the V28 lineup and the smallest introduction is a M12 3/8″ impact wrench (2451-22). While the range in tool size is huge, the choices are even larger.

Also in the mix of cordless tools is the M12, 3/8″ drill/driver. The two-speed 2410-22 drill/driver, according to the company, is the only tool in its class with a metal locking chuck and it can deliver 25 percent more torque and drill 35 percent faster than the competition. For me, it’s small and feels great in the hand. It’s a great choice for all-day-long work or maneuvering in tight spaces. In the hands-on portion of the event, I compared the 3/8″ drill/driver to Milwaukee’s 1/4″-Hex Compact Impact Driver (2650-21) while driving a handful of screws into 2″ material. Both tools did the job.

Because both small drivers did the job, I wonder if woodworkers need impact tools. More than a few companies have introduced impact drivers , a couple companies are set to introduce a full line of accessories developed just for impact drivers , and I’ve found impact drivers mentioned on a couple woodworking forums. But I want to hear from you. Do woodworkers need this tool?

It’s time for a poll. Please take a minute to register your response, then click comment to see more detailed information.

If you are planning to purchase or if you use an impact driver consistently, please leave a comment explaining how you use the driver.

– Glen D. Huey

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Showing 5 comments
  • Dave

    Your survey needs another option: Yes, I have one that I only use occasionally, but it sure comes in handy when I do need it.

  • John Hayes

    Hello Fellow Woodsmiths. I have been in construction for over 30 years and was one of the first to use a cordless drill (Skil) on the job in the early seventies. I bought my first cordless impact driver, a Makita with a Lithium Ion battery last year and am totally happy with it. It is much lighter than conventional Nicad or Nimh battery powered tools. You develop a trigger feel after using electric screw drivers every day. The impact driver requires a good feel so as not to over drive screws when making cabinets. It is still indespensible when assembling cabinet cases, but I use my regular drill-driver when using pocket screws as they can spin out the hole easily. All in all the impact driver is a great screw driver and does a superior job when driving lags and deck screws……..John

  • Chris Friesen

    I have the baby Makita impact driver and drill driver set.

    For me, the impact driver is better used in construction than in cabinetmaking. Exactly because you don’t feel the torque, you don’t really know when the joint is tight enough. (Unless you use the panasonic with electronic torque control.)

    I prefer to have a feel for how tight my screws are.

  • Steve

    I bought a Bosch 10.8 V impact driver a couple of years ago. It is now the only non-human-powered screwdriver that I use. For big, long screws, it’s slower than a heavy-duty drill/driver, but it’s all but weightless, and it doesn’t try to wrench your arm off, either.

    I can’t imagine overdriving a screw using an impact driver. The screw is turning at less than one revolution per second at the time that the joint closes up. Unless you’re really off in outer space when you’re using it, you should be able to tell when to let go of the trigger.

    It’s not a cabinetmaking tool, but for carpentry, it’s a lifesaver.

  • Denny LaVe

    I bought one a few years back. It was a nice blue one that came in a combo pack with a drill/driver.

    I haven’t used the impact driver much because it lacks the finesse of the cordless drill.

    At first I thought it was just me but I was confirmed in my opinion when I chatted with a friend of mine. He’s got a custom cabinet shop and they tried a few of the yellow and black impact drivers. After running a few screws to far into the projects they were working on, the impact drivers started collecting dust on his shelf.

    He said the redeeming feature was that they came with a battery, so he didn’t have to go buy a spare for his trusty old drill/driver.

    Oh well, chalk it up to experience.


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