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The Milwaukee drill driver kit is high quality and complete.
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Milwaukee #0612-22, 14.4V, Compact Cordless Drill/Driver

Text & photos by Tom Hintz

Initial Impressions

   The Milwaukee #0612-20 cordless drill driver is a very nice looking kit that comes complete with two batteries, a fast charger, belt clip, the drill and a solid case to store it all in.
   The workmanship looks first rate throughout. The design is thoroughly modern and yields a tool that is as effective as it is comfortable to use.

Drill Driver

The grip is comfortable, secure and the controls easy to reach.
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   The basic drill driver is nicely designed to be comfortable to the hand. The controls are easy to reach and logically laid out. The handle area features a rubberized insert that absorbs vibrations while giving the operator a solid, slip-free grip.
   A top-mounted slider switch changes the #0612-20 between the high speed range (0-1400 RPM) for drilling and the lower (0-400 RPM) range that develops a bunch of torque that drives large screws and small lags with ease.
   The variable speed trigger has enough throw to make controlling the RPM simple. Above the trigger is a cross-sliding button for changing between forward and reverse. The selector button is accessible from either side. The directional button can be left in the middle of its travel to lock out the trigger to prevent accidental activation during transport.
   A two-position, snap-in holder on the right side of the body provides on board storage.

Belt Hangar

Though it is more for contractors, the belt clip can be handy when moving about the home woodshop with your hands full.
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   The #0612-20 kit also includes a belt clip that mates with an easy to use V-shaped socket on the side of the driver. The button on the belt clip clicks into place, holding the drill driver securely until you pull the release handle to free it.
   The belt hangar can be a great feature for contractors who would rather have both hands free to climb ladders or carry other materials to the job. Woodworkers will also find this useful in the shop as a step saver.

Chuck and Clutch

   A ½"-capacity, one-handed ratcheting chuck is standard on the #0612-20 drill driver and allows quick, secure bit changes. A rubberized outer ring insures a good grip to lock the bit tightly in the chuck with minimal effort.
   A 20-position clutch helps tame the considerable power of the #0612-20 when driving smaller screws. The 20th position locks the clutch to eliminate slip when using larger drill bits. Throughout our testing, the clutch

Being able to install the battery from the front or rear makes using this driver much easier in tight spots.
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settings worked as expected and seemed very consistent.

Two-Way Batteries

   An interesting design feature of the #0612-20 is the bidirectional battery mounting that allows configuring the tool to best fit the workspace. Mounting the battery in the forward position shortens the drivers overall length when space is tight. When room is not an issue, mount the battery to the rear, moving it's weight back for a better feel of balance that also makes it less tiring to use.
   The #0612-20 driver will stand upright on the battery with the battery in the front or rear position.

Charging

The included charger brings an exhausted pack up in about an hour but then kicks over to a trickle rate that keeps the pack fresh for when you need it.
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   The #0612-20 kit comes with two, 14.4V high capacity NiCad battery packs. While dual battery packs is becoming standard in cordless drill/driver outfits, it remains an important feature. We all know that regardless of the capacity, the battery will always run out of power when you need it most.
   The included fast charger handles all Milwaukee battery packs from 12V to 18V. Built in diagnostic circuitry delays charging batteries that may be too hot or too cold to be refreshed properly. The charger "waits" for the battery temperature to stabilize before automatically beginning the charging cycle.
   After the fast charging cycle is completed, usually in one hour, the charger switches to a maintenance charge mode that keeps the battery topped off until you need it. Rechargeable batteries slowly lose power when not in use. The chargers maintenance feature insures a fully charged battery every time.

In the Shop

The 1/2"-capacity, one-handed chuck means virtually any bit in the shop can be installed quickly.
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   Using the #0612-20 drill driver around the shop showed it to be easy to use, comfortable in the hand and very powerful. The grip fits the hand well and the rubberized insert makes it easy to control without having to clench your hand.
   Changing the battery pack from the rear to the forward position makes getting the #0612-20 into confined areas much easier. While there is a different feel in balance with the battery in the forward position rather than the rear, it is not as drastic as I anticipated. However, during extended use, moving the battery to the rear delays fatigue noticeably.
   All controls are easy to reach, have a positive feel and work as expected. The trigger speed control is very consistent and makes holding a specific RPM very easy. I found this particularly useful when drilling larger holes for getting the bit started at low speed and then speeding it up for actual drilling.

This Milwaukee drill has plenty of power to handle large spade bits with ease. The clutch and variable speed trigger make it just as easy to drive small, delicate screws.
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   The chuck and clutch are both first rate in how they work. The one-handed chuck grips bits tightly without straining. The clutch is effective and consistent in how it controls torque. Adjusting the clutch for a particular screw size or to sink a screw head below the surface is easy. After a little use, making these adjustments is very simple.
   The instructions warn that the battery packs will need several charge cycles to come up to full power, as do all rechargeable packs. During our evaluation, from the first charge they never seemed to lack endurance.

Conclusions

   The Milwaukee #0612-20 cordless drill driver kit is a well-made tool with the capabilities and quality a woodworking shop needs. From the nice storage/carry case to the dual batteries and fast charger, the #0612-20 kit includes everything except the bits (one #2 Phillips bit is included) to handle your drilling/driving chores.

The #0612-20 is very comfortable in the hand and has a solid feel of control that makes using it accurately easier, even in tight spaces. Power is more than ample for woodworking and the dual RPM ranges make controlling it easy.

   The tool-free chuck and clutch are first rate. The chuck works easily and holds bits securely. The clutch makes applying just the right amount of power a matter of dialing in the setting you need.

  With a street price of $179.99 (5-27-2005) the Milwaukee #0612-20 drill driver kit is a good choice for the home woodworker. It already is a favorite of contractors, which is further testament to its durability.

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