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Milwaukee 28V, V28 Hammer-Drill/Driver Kit
Consistent power, multi-function value
Text & Photos by Tom Hintz
The new thing on the battery scene is Lithium-Ion technology that delivers consistent power over the life of a charge, no memory and virtually no voltage loss when the battery stands unused. Milwaukee packed this new battery technology into their new hammer-drill/driver combination that covers many woodworking and home uses in one cost-effective package.
If you are at all familiar with Milwaukee power tools, there are few surprises in the quality of this tool. It is rugged to say the least. Manufacturing and construction of the #0724-24, V-28 is top notch and obviously intended to produce a very long-lasting piece of equipment.
Most surprising to me was that they packed all of this quality and functionality into a drill body that isn't noticeably larger than mere mortal drill/drivers that lack the hammer feature. At 6.7 lbs, the V-28 is considerably lighter than I expected as well.
The surprise over size continues with the battery packs. Though they pack 28V power, their overall size and weight are similar to 18V I-CAD based packs. More power without additional weight is a major breakthrough in terms of rechargeable batteries, especially to those who will be actually using this tool for extended periods.
The V-28 kit also includes a handy belt-mounted, quick-release clip for carrying it to and from the job site. Though perhaps not something woodworkers will use every day, the belt clip comes in very handy by freeing up your hands to carry other supplies or climb a ladder.
The V-28 kit comes with two 28V, (3 amp-hour) Lithium Ion battery packs and a 1-hour charger. With a runtime nearly double that of conventional 18V batteries, the two V-28 packs are more than enough for woodworkers and all but the most frantic contractors.
Like some earlier Milwaukee cordless tools, the battery packs can be installed facing to the front or rear. Installed from the front, the overall length of the V-28 is reduced by a few inches, making it easier to get into confined workspaces. Install the battery from the rear and its weight contributes to the overall balance of the tool.
One of the characteristics of Lithium-Ion batteries is their consistent delivery of power until expended when performance drops suddenly. This means you can work longer without having to compensate for decreasing power.
Another unique trait of Lithium Ion batteries is they do not gradually lose power while sitting on the shelf so when one pack runs out, the spare will still be fully charged, even if it has been weeks, or months since it was refreshed. This will be a welcome change for woodworkers who may not get to the second battery pack for a month or more. Finding the backup fully charged in the midst of a big job is almost like having a nicely dried walnut tree fall into your yard.
To make sure there is enough power in the battery pack for the job, Milwaukee added a "fuel gauge" in the form of four lights on the front of each pack. Press a touch-screen-type button and the lights show the state of the charge. This is especially handy when the job is in a hard to get to spot. Lithium Ion batteries do not suffer the memory problems of other rechargeable versions so when in doubt, you can plug in a fresh pack and put the partially depleted one on the charger without fear of reducing its capacity or life span.
The V-28 incorporates one of Milwaukee's torque-laden, motors channeled through a rugged two-speed gear box to generate 0-600 and 0-1800 rpm with up to 600 In. – Lbs. of torque. Pure numbers can be hard to translate into performance but suffice it to say that if the V-28 can’t drive the fastener, you probably shouldn’t be driving it in the first place.
The V-28 motor is a smooth as it is strong. Power delivery is consistent throughout both rpm ranges and equally predictable in the hammer mode. Whether the job is big or small, the V-28 delivers the power needed with lots in reserve.
The hammer system, built into the motor/gearbox housing, is just as effective as you would expect in a corded tool. Delivering from 0-9000 bpm (blows per minute) in the slow speed range and a whopping 0 – 27,000 bpm in the high-speed setting, the V-28 can be tailored to the job at hand with the flick of the speed selector.
Controls and Grip
The comfortably--shaped grip has rubber over-molds in strategic areas for better control and to cushion the hand during hammer drilling operations. The variable speed trigger and cross-slider reversing switches are located within easy reach and have positive-feeling detents that make it clear you have changed modes. The reversing switch has a center detent that locks out the trigger to prevent accidental activation during transport.
A top-mounted slider changes the gearbox between the low and high ranges. All controls are sized for easy use even when wearing gloves.
Chuck & Clutch
A one-hand keyless chuck makes bit changes fast and easy. The carbide jaws within the chuck accept bits with 1/16" to ½"-diameter shanks and hold them firmly without having to stress test your wrist because of the internal gearing operated by the oversized, knurled locking collar.
A 22-position clutch, operated by turning a large ring, is consistent and effective. Dialing in the needed setting to drive fasteners without breaking or stripping them is easy to get used to and repeats perfectly. The large, easy to read numerals and markings on the clutch collar are easy to read in all conditions. Though easy to turn, the clutch adjusting collar has solid detents that prevent bumps from changing the setting unexpectedly.
One of the features that sets the V-28 apart is the full-on hammer drilling capacity. Since woodworkers are usually responsible for repairs and "fixing up" around the home (and shop) the hammer function will come in very handy. Even better is not having to buy a separate drill. In addition, being cordless simplifies handling many tasks by eliminating the hassle of stringing an extension cord to get power to the job.
The hammer function is very effective and can be used in either the high or low speed ranges. This gives the operator maximum control to apply the right amount of power for the size bit and material being worked with.
To change between drilling and hammer drilling, a collar just behind the chuck is clicked between graphics that indicate the mode. This collar also has a solid detent that prevents accidentally changing from drilling to hammer drilling, an accident that could have serious consequences on smaller woodworking projects or fasteners.
The V-28 kit includes a side handle that attaches to the drill body with a strap, tightened by turning the handle. Installing this extra grip adds a bunch of control when drilling concrete or even using large wood boring bits.
In The Shop
Actually using the Milwaukee V-28 is the only way to fully appreciate the power and versatility of this cordless tool. Equipped with any size or type of bit used in woodworking, there was more than enough power to handle the job in every situation I could come up with. No grunts, groans or other signs of strain. The Milwaukee V-28 seemed to cruise through them all.
Unlike some cordless drill/drivers I have tried, the difference between the high and low speed ranges on the V-28 is significant, making both settings more useful in a wider range of situations. Augmented by the easy to control variable speed trigger, the V-28 makes any drilling job easy to do without overpowering the fastener. During evaluation everything from #4 wood screws to 4"-long lag bolts were driven and the V-28 handled all with ease.
The chuck is first rate in terms of quality and ease of use. It holds bits tightly but loosens easily when they need to be changed. The operating collar seems a little longer than most which may be part of why it is so easy to use. This is a high-end chuck that will serve you well for many years.
The 28V battery packs have lots of power and seemed to run forever in my woodworking shop. The claim that they do not lose power as they near their discharge state is more than advertising hype. When the first pack finally did run down, I was driving a 4"-long lag screw and it went about halfway before the V-28 suddenly slowed down. It finished driving that lag but it was obvious the battery was in need of recharging. A check of the fuel gauge lights accurately confirmed that impression.
Despite its power and capabilities, the V-28 is not overly heavy or tiring to use. With the battery installed in the rearward position, the balance is very good and prevents having to fight a tendency to tip to the front or rear during use. That also makes using the V-28 friendly to the hand and arm, especially during long use periods.
The cutting edge Lithium-Ion batteries are probably worth the price themselves but the Milwaukee V-28 brings lots of other capabilities and features that make this a great tool for the home or shop. Having such an effective hammer capability built in eliminates having to buy another tool for those tasks, extending the value of this outfit even more.
With a street price of $379.95 (3-15-2006) the Milwaukee #0724-24, V-28 kit is not the cheapest kid on the block but considering it takes the place of two tools, it can be the better investment.
If you appreciate tough, quality tools, the Milwaukee V-28 hammer-drill/driver kit deserves a hard look.
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