Drill master cordless drill

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Harbor Freight Drill Master 18V Drill Video Review – Cordless $20 Drill any Good?

  • By Javier
  • June 5, 2017
  • No Comments

Probably one of Harbor Freight’s most popular items in my opinion is their $20 Drill Master cordless 18V drill. How good can a $20 cordless drill be? Let’s find out below.

I bet most of you have pretty low expectations as did I before I tried one out. Most people wonder if it sucks and if you don’t feel like reading the entire article or watch the video, I’ll sum it up by saying this: For $20 dollars price point, it does not suck and you actually get a lot of features for the price. You wont build a house with it and it wont compare to a Dewalt drill or anything like that but that’s not really a fair comparison considering the low $20 price point. If you compare it to $100+ drills it will disappoint, but come on, realistically what can you expect for $20?

I remember my first cordless drill ever (maybe from 2006) was also priced at $20. I got that one from Big Lots and it was also an 18V drill or so it said. I forgot the brand name (whatever it was it was forgettable) but it was cheap, and I’m not talking only about the price. The battery was built in, it had a very basic charger that plugged into the drill itself, it was a single speed drill, didn’t have a torque clutch, didn’t have a light, no electric brake (wasn’t fast enough to need it anyway) it barely had enough power to drive a screw and the battery life was terrible – actually it was garbage – all of it. Worst $20 dollars I ever spent! I was lucky to get $5 dollars back on it from selling it at a yard sale and I feel bad for who ever bought it. I’m sure it’s deep in a landfill by now.

In contrast, the Harbor Freight Drillmaster cordless drill gets you a nice list of features. It has a removable battery! This in itself is a big deal because if the battery dies, you can replace the battery and not the entire drill. It has a built in light, it also is a single speed drill but is variable speed depending on how hard you press the trigger. You get a 21 settings clutch – 20 torque settings plus drill mode. It uses a keyless chuck and one feature that surprised me for a drill in this price range was that it has an electric brake. An electric brake stops the motor upon releasing the trigger.

It even has way better performance than my other $20 drill from Big Lots and can drill up to 5/8 inch holes with a spade bit and had no problems driving 3 inch screws past the surface into a 4×4. It surprised me of what it was capable of.

Sounds like a perfect drill right? Only 20 dollars and has a good feature set. No doubt it’s probably the best deal on the planet but no, it is not the perfect drill. It’s what I would call a light duty drill. In the video above, I said it makes a great gift for your mom and I still stand by that. That’s not to say it’s not useful as it can be very useful given it’s limits but if you’re looking for something more serious with more huevos, there are plenty of other drills that have better performance. If you’re looking for something that can run hole saws, self feed bits, augers, this definitely is not the drill for you.

It might be the perfect drill for you if you are on a tight budget and have very light duty needs, think hanging pictures on a wall, light duty arts and crafts projects, etc.

You also have to remember Harbor Freight had to cut a lot of corners to get a drill in the $20 price point, besides torque performance, the batteries themselves are very old technology. They use ni-cad battery cells which are inferior to lithium ion batteries of today. Ni-cad batteries are more prone to the memory effect which can drastically limit their capacity if you recharge them often before they are fully drained. Also nicad cells self drain much faster than Lithium ion cells.

The charger for this drill is also extremely basic, what I would call a dumb charger. In my testing the charging light stayed on even past the amount of time it takes to fully charge a battery which leads me to believe that might overcharge batteries if left on the charger for too long. In contrast with today’s smart chargers, you can leave the battery on the charger as long as you want without worrying about overcharging because smart chargers stop charging when the battery is full. Although in my short time with the drill, I left the battery on the charger for several hours after it should be fully charged and nothing happened. It seemed to work fine, but keep in mind I only had the drill for a short period of time so I cannot say how well the batteries will last in the long run.

Also the charger is a very slow charger. I’m used to 30-60 minute chargers but the one included with this drill takes 3-5 hours to fully charge a battery. That’s a lot of down time!

Also the chuck is a two handed chuck which means you need two hands to remove and insert bits. One hand holds the base of the chuck while the other hand tightens or untightens.

For the price point you only get one battery but you can buy extra batteries and they’re very inexpensive at $12.99.

To conclude, there’s not much else I can say that I haven’t said above or in the video. It’s performance won’t blow anyone away but it might blow away your expectations of what a $20 cordless drill is. I wouldn’t get it today as I’m spoiled with using cordless drills from the pro brands but this sure would have exceeded my expectations back in the day had I bought this over the Big Lots drill. It might make a decent first drill and ok for those on a tight budget with light duty needs. Those looking for better features and more torque have plenty of options on the market although for a higher price point.

  • Variable speed, reversible
  • Electric brake
  • 21 torque clutch settings
  • Keyless chuck
  • LED light for clear view in dark corners
  • Battery is interchangeable with other 18 Volt Drill Master tools

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Recall: Cordless drills from Harbor Freight could overheat…(News for Thursday)

RECALL: Harbor Freight is recalling some of its cordless power drills. The drill’s black trigger switch can overheat, posing a burn hazard to consumers. The drills were
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Verne Hill

The News Guy – WBFJ Family Friendly Morning Show at WBFJ fm – Your family station! I enjoy many things: Music. Family movie nights. My American flag flapping in the wind. Sunsets at the beach. Snow days. The Sweet Tea Party. Salvation through Grace…
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