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Cordless drill recommendation (woodworking / kreg jig)


Yannis

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Hello everyone,

 

I have been doing some market research recently about getting a new cordless drill for woodworking mainly and especially for drilling pocket holes using a kreg (pocket) jig.

So far i have an old Makita 12v 6270D. It feels underpowered and the batteries are very weak after years of use. I also have an old B&D corded hammer/drill from the 70s / 80s (Made in England) which i tried to use but it is too bulky/heavy and might have some wobble since i felt vibrations on low rpm while trying it out for some pocket holes. The Makita is without any vibrations, wobbles etc, perfectly happy with it during all these years , it is just that i need more power and new batteries :). I ll keep it though as a screwdriver.

 

So to cut a long story short i am looking for something compact, light, powerful and reliable for the above tasks (+ everyday DIY at home). Hammer action is not essential (i got the corded one for this). I am after precise construction (of the tool) with minimum chuck wobble worries. Tasks... model railroad benchwork, furniture etc...

 

So far after doing some online (specs, reviews, discussions) research i narrowed down my list to the following models. Bear in mind that i am in Europe (Greece), so local availability/prices led me to these.

 

Dewalt 796D2 (2x 2Ah, 2000rpm / 70Nm, 1.64kg)

Dewalt 790D2 (2x 2Ah, 2000rpm / 60Nm, 1.62kg)

Metabo SB 18 LT Compact (2x 2Ah, 1600rpm / 60Nm, 1.7kg)

Bosch (Blue) 18-2-Li Plus (3x1.5Ah , 1900rpm / 63Nm, 1.5kg)

Makita DHP482 (2x 3Ah, 1900rpm / 62Nm, 1.8kg)

 

I did read about flagship models such as Dewalt 996 and similar but they do seem a bit of an overkill (weight / power) for what i am after. Anyhow, i am looking forward to your input/feedback since i do not have any hands-on experience with any of the above tools. I am very happy with my Makita corded tools (sanders, jigsaws, routers) but they are from another era and my experience with them is irrelevant for choosing a drill today :).

 

Many thanks in advance for your time/replies/help.

Yannis

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3 hours ago, Yannis said:

Hello everyone,

 

I have been doing some market research recently about getting a new cordless drill for woodworking mainly and especially for drilling pocket holes using a kreg (pocket) jig.

So far i have an old Makita 12v 6270D. It feels underpowered and the batteries are very weak after years of use. I also have an old B&D corded hammer/drill from the 70s / 80s (Made in England) which i tried to use but it is too bulky/heavy and might have some wobble since i felt vibrations on low rpm while trying it out for some pocket holes. The Makita is without any vibrations, wobbles etc, perfectly happy with it during all these years , it is just that i need more power and new batteries :). I ll keep it though as a screwdriver.

 

So to cut a long story short i am looking for something compact, light, powerful and reliable for the above tasks (+ everyday DIY at home). Hammer action is not essential (i got the corded one for this). I am after precise construction (of the tool) with minimum chuck wobble worries. Tasks... model railroad benchwork, furniture etc...

 

So far after doing some online (specs, reviews, discussions) research i narrowed down my list to the following models. Bear in mind that i am in Europe (Greece), so local availability/prices led me to these.

 

Dewalt 796D2 (2x 2Ah, 2000rpm / 70Nm, 1.64kg)

Dewalt 790D2 (2x 2Ah, 2000rpm / 60Nm, 1.62kg)

Metabo SB 18 LT Compact (2x 2Ah, 1600rpm / 60Nm, 1.7kg)

Bosch (Blue) 18-2-Li Plus (3x1.5Ah , 1900rpm / 63Nm, 1.5kg)

Makita DHP482 (2x 3Ah, 1900rpm / 62Nm, 1.8kg)

 

I did read about flagship models such as Dewalt 996 and similar but they do seem a bit of an overkill (weight / power) for what i am after. Anyhow, i am looking forward to your input/feedback since i do not have any hands-on experience with any of the above tools. I am very happy with my Makita corded tools (sanders, jigsaws, routers) but they are from another era and my experience with them is irrelevant for choosing a drill today :).

 

Many thanks in advance for your time/replies/help.

Yannis

I have both of the DeWalt models you are considering, as well as the DCD795, DCD996, and DCD985.  While I will not preclude to know what pricing and availability look like in Greece, DeWalt's offerings offer excellent value here in the U.S.  If you feel that a cordless hammer drill is not essential, I'd recommend the DCD790 over the DCD796.  It is noticeably smaller and offers plenty of power.  In fact, I prefer using it over any of the other DeWalts when possible.  Coupled with a 2Ah battery, it should be enough for nearly any small or mid-size project.  The second battery is just insurance, unless you choose another DeWalt product to use it for.

 

I passed on the chance to buy a Metabo drill last year, despite Lowe's clearing them out for as much as 75% off.  At the time, Lowe's was the only local place that sold them (now they are unavailable anywhere locally), and though the store also carried the grinder, impact, miter saw, and a couple of other tools, I didn't see any point in investing money into that system.  I purchased my first Bosch tool (12v Max drill) a couple of months ago.  Its quality seems outstanding, and the 18-volt drills I picked up feel solid.  As for Makita, while I hear great things, I just don't see the point in buying the brand.  Last weekend my local Home Depot had single 3Ah kits for $65, or half off their original price.  Maybe a few years ago, but not now.

 

So, in short, I don't think you can go wrong with any of the drills you mention, though I'd personally recommend the DCD790.  If you were in the States, I recommend a look at Milwaukee, Ridgid, or even Ryobi, but since you didn't mention any of those brands, I won't waste the time.

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Wesley and fm2176 many thanks for your replies!

 

Dewalt is widely available and has excellent value here in Greece as well. The 796D2 has the same price as the Bosch 18-2-Li Plus. The non-hammer 790 and 791 are not available unfortunately. Having said that, the 796 appears to have the same length as my Makita (190mm) which i consider to be ok (compact enough) for my needs.

 

Milwaukee (such as the 2702) are significantly more expensive over here from what i have seen and this is why i have not mentioned them.

 

As it is now, i am leaning towards the 796D2 with the 2x 2Ah batteries. For 60$ i could get the 2x 5Ah version, but i think could use the lighter weight whereas i don't think i need having 5Ah available at home. Having said that, feel free to chime in if i am seeing it all wrong.

 

I suppose i should not worry about chuck wobbles etc with the 796?

 

Many thanks again

Yannis

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If compactness is what you are after, have a look at Makita 18V compact combos. ChrisK has them and they are known to be really nice and powerful despite the compact size.
I ordered the Dewalt 796 and 887 combo last year and although I also wouldn't have needed that powerful a drill, I would say it has come in handy more than a few times.
If only looking to do cabinet or furniture work, the Bosch 12V line has many competent tools for light work as well as a long line up, which is what one looks for when deciding on a battery platform.

Although I went with Dewalt last year, if I were looking for a powerful compact kit, I would go for the Makita or the Bosch 12V for cabinetry and other light work.

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@Yannis is the two speed premium brushless DeWALT available? The one with the 3 mode led? It should be more compact than the 996 monster. I'd agree with the Makita statement. I like that it is 12v size with 18v power. For my DeWALT drill and impact driver I like using the smallest batteries because it is less weight and bulk. The 5.0 batteries are good. I haven't owned any but would be handy if you decide to get other tools that are more power hungry. Saws are noticeably weaker with the 2.0 packs vs the 5.0 packs. if I were you I would try and find a kit that includes one 2.0 pack and one 5.0 pack. I seen one kit like this but it included an impact driver as well. Any of those option you listed would be good. I would suggest staying away from Metabo. It may be a really good drill but other tools in the line up can be hit or miss depending on if they are German made or China made. My picks are the Europe equivalent of the Makita Sub-Compact or the Dewalt 2 speed  with 3 mode led. I would start with two compact packs then if you need bigger you can get bigger packs later.

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rdst and Jronman many thanks for the replies.

 

I was under the impression that the 796 is the 2 speed premium brushless from Dewalt (996 the 3 speed, and 785, 778 etc the lower end lines).

 

The Makita 18v ones i have seen (with the exception of the 482) are 1500rpm or less, and from what i read for pocket holes etc, circa 2000 is recommended (right?). The rest of the lineup that i have seen here are 10.8V which have more or less the same specs as my current 12V makita.

 

Currently i am leaning towards the 796D2 (2 x 2Ah batteries). Many thanks for the input! Much appreciated and feel free to comment on the option. Might be a new-drill-day tomorrow :)

 

Yannis

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I have (all weights with a compact 2.0ah/5 cell battery):

 

Metabo BS 18 Quick subcompact (1.3Kg but perhaps more like 1.25Kg, 1,600rpm, 48Nm)

Makita XFD11 subcompact (1.3Kg, 1,700rpm, 40Nm)

Dewalt DCD796 compact hammer (1.6Kg, 2,000rpm, 70Nm)

 

Weight = Dewalt (heaviest), Makita, Metabo (lightest)

Compactness = Makita (smallest), Metabo, Dewalt (biggest)

Balance = Metabo (best), Makita, Dewalt (worst, but hammer drill)

Power = Dewalt (most), Metabo, Makita (least)

Best grip = Dewalt (best), Makita, Metabo (worst, but good)

Power-to-weight ratio = Dewalt (highest), Metabo, Makita (lowest)

Precision = Metabo (most), Dewalt, Makita (least)

Price = Makita (highest), Dewalt, Metabo (lowest, all prices depend where you are)

Build quality = Dewalt (best), Metabo, Makita (worst)

 

Overall I would probably recommend the Metabo (if you are ok with brushed). It has a removable chuck (but only 10mm not 13mm like the other two), and feels a lot more powerful than the Makita. They are very close in size, with the Metabo being more compact in width but longer and taller. The Dewalt is just a beast, often too powerful for what I do (DIY).

 

 

There's also the slightly bigger Metabo BS 18 LT BL and Metabo SB 18 LT BL (1.5Kg, 2,100rpm, 60Nm) which are made in Germany (? precision++). This looks like a good alternative to the Dewalt compacts.

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Jronman, true the 790/791 would be ideal but unfortunately i cannot get it here, it seems that only the hammer-drills are available in my market (796). Having said that, given that i am happy with the balance/size/weight of my 6270D, and the fact that the 796 has almost identical dimensions/weight, i guess i will be happy with it as well. In a few hours i ll get the chance to try them out and most probably i ll be coming back home with an early Xmas present :).

 

I also suppose that with a (hopefully) new home building project in the future, a hammer drill like the 796 will prove handy when dealing with lots of steel reinforced concrete.

 

Dan, many thanks for the detailed feedback! I think i ll get the chance to try both the 796 and the BS 18 Quick & SB 18 LT Compact today. I suppose the BS 18 Quick you mentioned is not made in Germany? What about the 796? China? (i know the 996 is American made).

 

BTW, the BS 18 Quick is like 40$ more than the 796 here. The BS 18 LT BL is significantly more expensive (2x the price of the 796) so unfortunately out of my budget (circa 300$).

 

Thanks again

Yannis

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@Yannis the BS 18 quick is made in China. My 796 (type 1) is also made in China. I ordered a 791 (type 2) that was made in Mexico and frankly it was rubbish compared to the made in China 796. There was significant chuck run out (1mm), the rubber over mold was softer, there were rough edges on the plastic shells, and the yellow colour was noticeably darker, towards a very light orange. I returned it. I couldn't get a 791 locally either, it was imported from the USA via an ebay store based here.

 

All great drills. If Dewalt ever makes a subcompact version of the 791 I'll be queuing up for that!

 

Let us know what you picked. 

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It seems you are mostly set on the 796 so have fun with that.
Would like to just point out that the hammer function won't be of any help in steel reinforced concrete as you were hoping for. I have the 996 and it failed completely in reinforced aggregate concrete. You will have to buy a rotary hammer and appropriate SDS bits for that.

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Just got back home with the 796D2. Awesome piece of gear. I drilled a couple of pocket holes with it and it was night-day in comparison with my old trusty Makita. At the same time though it was just as light and just as compact, so perfect for me.

 

I did try at the shop the 778 and the Metabo SB-18-LT Compact (120$ more expensive than the 796 and brushed). The 796 felt more balanced, lighter and imho more well built than the Metabo. The Metabo was Made in China if i remember correctly. The battery pack on the 796 was made in Japan.

 

Many thanks everyone for the suggestions and the help!

Yannis

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Pretty good choice, you couldn't go wrong with any of them but the Dewalt is nice. Plus that one only has the 2-speed transmission which doesn't have the annoying 3-speed transmission that gets stuck, my biggest pet peeve with Dewalt's drills. It also has a great chuck.

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Thanks Brian!

 

True the chuck is great. The charger was quirky at first (showed batteries as charged). I put it in a different outlet/socket and all good. Then back to the original socket and again all good. Go figure...

 

Opened up a few pocket holes with the fully charged battery using the kreg jig, as you can imagine...the plywood seemed like butter in comparison to the makita 12V i was using.

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Those old Makitas were definitely nice drills and they'll last forever but they really lack power, especially as the battery starts to fade over time...which doesn't take long at all.

 

You just doubled the voltage and increased the current, it's a big jump. It's like going from a 4 cylinder to a V8.

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True Brian, apart from the extra power, i really liked the way the chuck works and the light! I know it sounds like a detail, but (using old tools up to now) it is my first drill with an LED and makes a lot of difference when trying to drive a screw while working under the model railroad benchwork.

 

I ll definitely keep the 6270D alongside the 796 as a driver. For some reason it's chuck has 0 wobble and is super accurate (all of the tools i saw in the shops had some tiny amount of wobble). I ll be getting some fresh (aftermarket) batteries for it though.

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I have been unscrewing what seems like 100s of screws from my old model railroad layout. The drill does work very nicely as a driver.

 

Out of curiosity, it has some sort of electronic trigger right? I am asking because in very few cases the trigger wont get pressed with the first get-go and needs a second try. Sort of like some safety engaging. Is that normal? I cannot replicate this in some specific condition, it just happens on some particular cases where i tried to unscrew some screws.

 

Many thanks

Yannis

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Jronman, I ll definitely post up in the woodworking subforum updates of the new layout construction. Woodworking-wise it not something to write home about (some of the woodworking projects i ve seen here are amazing), but should be a fun project anyway.

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6 hours ago, Yannis said:

Jronman, I ll definitely post up in the woodworking subforum updates of the new layout construction. Woodworking-wise it not something to write home about (some of the woodworking projects i ve seen here are amazing), but should be a fun project anyway.

Trains are awesome. Sometimes I go out of my way to get stopped by a train just to watch it go by.

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9 hours ago, Yannis said:

I have been unscrewing what seems like 100s of screws from my old model railroad layout. The drill does work very nicely as a driver.

 

Out of curiosity, it has some sort of electronic trigger right? I am asking because in very few cases the trigger wont get pressed with the first get-go and needs a second try. Sort of like some safety engaging. Is that normal? I cannot replicate this in some specific condition, it just happens on some particular cases where i tried to unscrew some screws.

 

Many thanks

Yannis

 

Not normal. Another brushless special. 

 

My 796 randomly doesn't lock when trying to undo the chuck (sometimes it will turn a complete turn until it finally locks). 

 

Brushless tools are getting annoying. I've almost started to cross my fingers when I pick one up, hoping that it will work properly today. I don't know what it is, all my brushless tools seem flaky or buggy. The thing is, most work as expected 99% of the time, but that's not good enough imo. 

 

You should have seen my subcompact Makita yesterday. It was possessed. How unsafe is a drill that keeps turning for a few seconds (under power) when you release the trigger? Tomorrow I bet it won't do it again, or ever again. It's just reliably unreliable. 

 

@Yannishave you tested the hammer function yet? It works amazing on this drill. 

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@D W True about the brushless special :). It is my first brushless tool so ...

 

To be honest with you, i tried pulling the trigger 100 times yesterday w/o load and it never stuck... go figure a problem i cannot replicate. Ah well i guess it adds to the character of the tool.

 

I haven't tried the hammer action yet. W/o load i cannot understand any difference, and so far i am working only on wood projects. Will do so soon...

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On 12/9/2017 at 1:21 PM, Yannis said:

I have been unscrewing what seems like 100s of screws from my old model railroad layout. The drill does work very nicely as a driver.

 

Out of curiosity, it has some sort of electronic trigger right? I am asking because in very few cases the trigger wont get pressed with the first get-go and needs a second try. Sort of like some safety engaging. Is that normal? I cannot replicate this in some specific condition, it just happens on some particular cases where i tried to unscrew some screws.

 

Many thanks

Yannis

 

It's not really the trigger but yes there are electronics in the drill that prevent overload and overheating.

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