Roger Bisby tests the new Milwaukee MI18 CHP-X 18 volt electro pneumatic hammer drill
It occurred to me recently that there is now a whole generation of tradesmen who have grown up with cordless tools and never really experienced the alternative. For them there is no automatic point of comparison with corded tools and therefore no need to constantly ask the questions that older tradesmen might ask: namely – what am I gaining? What am I losing? For those of us who are old enough to remember the days when you would plug a hammer drill into an extension lead there has always been a nagging doubt at the back of our minds. Does this tool really punch with enough force to drive a fairly large SDS drill bit through hard masonry? And will it carry on long enough to get the job done?
Even a few years ago I would have been looking for a 28 or even a 36 volt machine to use as a cordless hammer drill, but this powerful little drill uses your existing 18 volt battery platform.
If it punched as hard as a corded machine, and lasted long enough to get me through until tea break, I would be happy enough, but we have now smashed through that barrier. This drill from Milwaukee actually has more joules of hammer power than my 2 kilo hammer and, it not only gets me through until tea break, it often lasts me all day long. Of course I understand that it depends on the material you are drilling and how many holes you are making. The Milwaukee test achieved 120 x 8mm fixings into poured concrete, but if we take the example of a plumber hanging radiators and a boiler in an average four-bedroom house it would be very easy to get 180 holes from this machine into brickwork on one charge, and still have enough left in that Li-ion 4AmHr battery to put in your pipe clips and drill through the wall for the condensate pipe. The maximum recommended SDS diameter is 28mm, so it is perfect for putting 22mm pipes through walls.
The hammer action is electro pneumatic, so the drill bit is shot forward rather than bashed. This is technology used on road breakers for years so we know it works. The important thing is to lubricate the SDS bit so it can shuttle back and forth in the chuck. You can also turn off the rotary for chiselling, and you can turn off the hammer for drilling in wood and steel.
All this performance is not immediately obvious when you use the drill, because the anti-vibration measures make it as comfortable as it can ever be hammering or chipping into concrete. It is a joy to use and if it earns you a few quid along the way then that is as good as it gets.
For further information on Milwaukee visit www.milwaukeetool.com