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Milwaukee M12 non-Fuel quick review

Torn Mind

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Nov 25, 2012
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I bought a non-Fuel drill, impact, and Hackzall set from Home Depot a year ago and recently have been using the drill.

My takes about the drill are that:
It's really good for driving and removing screws. The feature of being able to select speed or more torque via the selector on top has mean I have NEVER needed to use an impact or push super hard to get a screw in or out of wood yet.

It sucks at drilling with larger drill bits reliably. That's because the keyless chuck mechanism has an automatic stop, meaning there will always be a limit on the clamping power on the bit. That means the bit might stop and spin while the drill spins. Such as a 3/8 or 1/2 inch drill bit drilling a hole in aluminum gutter.

Another thing with the keyless chuck is that it feels like it is starting to fall apart after numerous bit swaps. I might need to swap it out for another from Home Depot before they refresh the line.

The charger is light as hell. Whatever is in there doesn't feel like much.

Pretty much feels like a TTI Milwaukee. They aim for performance but not build quality.....
Love the power but don't like the drill feeling like it's beginning to break on me.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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^ Because an impact driver is crap for driving screws if it doesn't (most don't) have clutch settings. I have both and almost always use my drill because of the clutch, and it's good for 50 ft-lbs or so.

If I need more than 50 ft-lbs, it's going to be something that my impact wrench does, a type and size fastener that 1/2" drive sockets are made for. Not sure why I even bought the impact driver because I already had the drill and impact wrench... it's smaller so I can get into tigher areas, yeah that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. ;)
 
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mindless1

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Aug 11, 2001
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It sucks at drilling with larger drill bits reliably. That's because the keyless chuck mechanism has an automatic stop, meaning there will always be a limit on the clamping power on the bit. That means the bit might stop and spin while the drill spins. Such as a 3/8 or 1/2 inch drill bit drilling a hole in aluminum gutter.
Does it have a lock (for lack of recalling a better word at the moment) where you tighten it, then turn the opposite direction a slight bit till you feel a notch?

If you're doing that or it lacks that feature, yes you should replace the chuck. 1/2" into sheet aluminum isn't that much torque till the moment the bit catches on the edge and then it's more of a wrist jolt than a bit twister.
 

Torn Mind

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Nov 25, 2012
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Does it have a lock (for lack of recalling a better word at the moment) where you tighten it, then turn the opposite direction a slight bit till you feel a notch?

If you're doing that or it lacks that feature, yes you should replace the chuck. 1/2" into sheet aluminum isn't that much torque till the moment the bit catches on the edge and then it's more of a wrist jolt than a bit twister.
I can turn it to the left until it is supposed to "lock" the bit with a ratcheting click. The manual says just to do that to tighten the chuck. Right now, after some use, I can sometimes turn the chuck back to the right a quarter turn, but not always. That suggests something is wearing out and failing.

I also used a 1/8 or less drill bit that was a tad blunt and it would sometimes stop spinning.

Also, sometimes the chuck somehow works itself loose after drilling and I have to tighten it up.

I've only just started using the drill substantially for the past 2-3 months. I usually drill pilot holes first as well. I don't think I've swapped bits more than 100 times at the very most, and that is probably an overestimate.

The aluminum gutter event was basically the first time I used it and that was last year.
 

Torn Mind

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Why would you use the drill for driving screws when the set came with an impact driver?
Control and noise. Sometimes I'm removing an older compromised head. And I was attaching plywood to masonry yesterday and wanted the screws just flush against the plywood and did not want to vibrate the cement block. Set the drill clutch to 17 to get the desired results.

I'm a bit of a music geek and don't always bring hearing protection with me.

I did use both when installing fence wood so I didn't have to swap bits all the damn time. Drill for pilot holes, impact to drive in the screws.
 

shortylickens

No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
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Noise is a big issue. I remember one time I was forced to use an impact driver to remove some difficult screws and replace them with newer, stronger screws. The noise in that tiny space was horrible.
 

Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
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Control and noise. Sometimes I'm removing an older compromised head. And I was attaching plywood to masonry yesterday and wanted the screws just flush against the plywood and did not want to vibrate the cement block. Set the drill clutch to 17 to get the desired results.

I'm a bit of a music geek and don't always bring hearing protection with me.

I did use both when installing fence wood so I didn't have to swap bits all the damn time. Drill for pilot holes, impact to drive in the screws.
I haven't driven a screw with a drill in at least 15 years. I don't foresee it happening in the next 15.
 
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Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
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Noise is a big issue. I remember one time I was forced to use an impact driver to remove some difficult screws and replace them with newer, stronger screws. The noise in that tiny space was horrible.
Spend five years going to concerts every month and then forty more in construction and loud noises aren't much of an issue anymore.
 

pcgeek11

Lifer
Jun 12, 2005
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It sucks at drilling with larger drill bits reliably. That's because the keyless chuck mechanism has an automatic stop, meaning there will always be a limit on the clamping power on the bit. That means the bit might stop and spin while the drill spins. Such as a 3/8 or 1/2 inch drill bit drilling a hole in aluminum gutter.

That is why you buy quality drill bits with three flats on the chucking end.

It can't turn in the chuck.
 
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Torn Mind

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Nov 25, 2012
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That is why you buy quality drill bits with three flats on the chucking end.

It can't turn in the chuck.
I gotta wear out these Craigslist freebies first unless I'm gonna upgrade to constant steel drilling. I'll buy some cobalt tough bits then....
 

waffleironhead

Diamond Member
Aug 10, 2005
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Id go and exchange your drill. I have 8 different m12 drill/drivers and none of them have chuck problems. Sounds like you got a bad one.
 

Torn Mind

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Nov 25, 2012
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I'll probably do naughty non 1-to-1 "swap" just to stick it to TTI for selling inconsistent garbage at premium prices. HD can handle my "abuse" of the return policy.
 

mindless1

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Aug 11, 2001
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^ I wouldn't come to that conclusion at all. There are tons of youtube videos where Milwaukee is put to pace, even abused till failure, and equals or betters the competition, yet any brand is going to have a defect from time to time.

Consider that Milwaukee is one of the top 3-4 contractor grade brands, when pros would not keep buying same brand if they kept losing money from tools breaking to cause loss of productivity.
 

Torn Mind

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Nov 25, 2012
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^ I wouldn't come to that conclusion at all. There are tons of youtube videos where Milwaukee is put to pace, even abused till failure, and equals or betters the competition, yet any brand is going to have a defect from time to time.

Consider that Milwaukee is one of the top 3-4 contractor grade brands, when pros would not keep buying same brand if they kept losing money from tools breaking to cause loss of productivity.
Perhaps for the tools they intend for contractors, they build things so the points of potential failure can withstand abuse, or they simply don't have the point of failure that is present on the M12. The M12, on the other hand, is clearly not for that audience but rather the DIYers who wants a little more than Harbor Freight's or Walmart's offerings and they think they are buying quality due to brand. Now, the drill's low speed mode does give some more and it is more compact. No need to push uber-hard to drill 3 inch wood screws into a post, but if I don't care about splitting the wood, I'd just hit it with an impact like Greenman mentioned.

Putting in a fancy ratcheting lock and then have it wear out rapidly like this is not good QC at best and systemic poor build quality at worst. The amount of work I put it through might be done in one or two days by a pro. If I set the clutch to 17 or so and drilling concrete screws into pre-drilled holes, the chuck should not be loosening itself sometimes after driving in a fastener.

The charging unit that comes with the drill feels like a literal feather as well.

I don't like Milwaukee's SDS Plus corded Rotary Hammer either. Feels so much more lightweight than its Bosch competition. Did not keep either long term and returned them since the respective projects were one-time.

I just took a look at the $99 M18 version and within the two and three star reviews, the chuck is an issue there as well.

Seems like this Garage Journal thread indicates the chuck can be a weak point indeed on Milwaukees. https://www.garagejournal.com/the-milwaukee-chuck/
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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^ If you mean $99 for an entire kit with battery and charger, sure, they're built to a low price point. If homeowner grade tools were as good as $200+ contractor grade, who would buy the contractor grade?

I've had no problems with my TTI made Ryobi hammer drill (P214), bought it as a bare tool for ~$40 and works great, no chuck issues. Heck, my TTI made Craftsman 7.2V was used professionally ~25 years ago and still works besides the NiCd batt packs I won't be rebuilding again... but I do sometimes think about modding the pack to take an 18650 cell, throw a USB BMS/charge board in it, and delegate it to screwdriver duty because unlike an impact driver, it has a real clutch. ;)
 
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Greenman

Lifer
Oct 15, 1999
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Ryobi tools are respectable. I own four that I've picked up along the way. They were limited use tools and I didn't want to spend the money on pro grade. They make the best Pex cincher tool on the market. I know that because it's the only one on the market.
 

WD89

Junior Member
Jun 30, 2021
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I'm using DeWalt and Bosch impact drill/driver,
But when I checked for the Milwaukee Hammer drill comparing to my drills, they give a long warranty period than mine.
 

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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Well, I had to use the drill yesterday for drilling into some cheap, thin steel on a wire mesh organizer you get from the office supply store(not mine, but someone else's. I'd have returned it if it were my own purchase). The reason I was doing this was that the factory drilled holes that were supposed to be there...were not drilled at all.

The bits get caught in the thin steel, stop spinning, and get trapped in the hole. They were known sharp ones too.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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If it's already established that the chuck is not locking down tight, all you can do is exchange under warranty if still under one, or replace the chuck, or only use 3-flat shank bits but those tend to only have flats for medium to larger sizes.

I'm wondering why you didn't exchange the drill under warranty right after the very first time it showed the problem? Chucks usually aren't self-healing, if a squirt of WD-40 doesn't loosen up any hardened factory grease.
 

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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If it's already established that the chuck is not locking down tight, all you can do is exchange under warranty if still under one, or replace the chuck, or only use 3-flat shank bits but those tend to only have flats for medium to larger sizes.

I'm wondering why you didn't exchange the drill under warranty right after the very first time it showed the problem? Chucks usually aren't self-healing, if a squirt of WD-40 doesn't loosen up any hardened factory grease.
I thought it was a matter of bit size. 1/2 bit with 3/8in shank going into aluminum.
Didn't have anything else to use it on. It's still under warranty.

I might just buy another from HD and swap it that way.

Plus, it was part of a promotional set, so if I might have had to return everything.
 

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