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Hitachi DV 18DCL 18V Cordless Hammer Drill
A light weight but tough performer
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 6-12-2008
Hitachi's latest entry into the cordless drill market comes with full hammer drill capabilities, keyless chuck and state of the art Li-ion (lithium ion) batteries. The result is a surprisingly light yet powerful and full-featured hammer drill driver that will make life in the wood shop a little easier and more productive.
The Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill has been given the full ergonomics treatment from top to bottom. The grip area is very comfortable and features rubber overmolds that both absorb vibration and give the operator a very secure, no-slip hold on the tool. Hitachi even added a repositionable belt clip at the base of the grip.
The layout of the controls is also very comfortable. The trigger and reversing switches are positioned within easy, natural feeling reach. Both are easy to operate but have a positive feel to them which enhances control, particularly with RPM.
Though many drill drivers tend to feel top heavy, the Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill is nicely balanced. The remarkably low weight of the Li-ion battery makes achieving this kind of balance in a 4.4lbs (with battery) tool difficult but Hitachi has done their homework. Balance is important in a tool that gets used frequently to prevent fatigue that can translate into inaccuracy. The Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill is both well balanced and certainly not tiring to use.
The Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill features a strong motor that generates a surprising 400in-lbs (max) of torque. The variable speed trigger and high/low speed slider switch (on top of the motor) provide 0 to 400 and 0 to 1500 rpm ranges that cover all woodworking needs. Both speed ranges appear to be fully functional in both forward and reverse.
When the hammer function is engaged the low speed range delivers 0 to 5,600 blows per minute. The high-speed range generates 0 to 21,000 blows per minute. Combined with the generous torque and RPM ranges, the Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill is very effective in drilling through masonry and concrete. According to the enclosed literature the Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill can drill 1/2"-diameter holes in brick, 1 1/2"-diameter in wood and 1/2"-diameter in steel.
The Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill comes with two 18V, 1.5 Ah (amp hour) Li-ion battery packs. The small size and light weight of these battery packs is surprising, as is the power they deliver and the length of time the charge lasts.
The battery packs lock into the Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill with finger-operated catches. The keyed stalk-type connectors make it impossible to install the battery packs backwards in the drill or charger.
A 110V quick charger is included with the Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill kit and refreshes one battery pack at a time. The charger has lights that flash to indicate the state of charge. The charger will refresh a discharged pack in approximately 30 minutes. Actual charge times vary wildly based on how discharged the pack is but suffice it to say charging is complete well before the pack being used discharges.
Keyless Chuck and Clutch
The Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill comes with a nice 1/2" capacity keyless chuck. A rubber overmold on the chuck makes installing a bit securely a truly one-handed task. The grip developed by the three hardened steel jaws is substantial and did not allow any bit I tried to slip.
Surrounding the chuck is a 22-position clutch ring. The large number of indexed positions make setting the clutch precisely for the task much easier. This ring has a marking for drilling where slip is locked out. It also has a hammer setting that engages the hammer function. Putting the hammer "switch" in this ring means that accidentally hammering with a regular bit is totally your fault.
In the Shop
Reviewing the Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill turned out to be quite easy. It simply did everything it was supposed to, surpassing the capabilities professed by company literature and did everything without strain. I like a tool that seems to be working easily as that always translates into a long life.
The design of the grip area and the overall balance make this surprisingly lightweight tool very comfortable to use. There is no sensation of fighting balance, which makes long-term use far easier on the hand and wrist. The rubber overmolds are placed correctly and make the grip both comfortable and slip-free. The trigger and other controls are logically placed and easy to reach and use.
The Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill motor and drive system was plenty of power for all woodworking and home-related tasks I could think of. The clutch system is effective and appears to repeat very well when returning to a slip setting.
Despite their small size and light weight, the 18V Li-ion battery packs are solid performers that keep on working longer than I expected. The included charger always had the discharged pack fully charged well before the one in the Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill wore down.
With a street price of $204.95 (6-11-2008) for the Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill kit, (includes blow-molded case) this is a good value for the home woodworker/handyman that needs a solid, versatile hammer drill driver capable of handling the wide-ranging jobs they encounter. The Hitachi 18V Hammer Drill has a nice range of useable features without the glitz and clutter other companies use to cover up their shortcomings.
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