Are Milwaukee tools no good any more?
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  1. #1
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    Default Are Milwaukee tools no good any more?

    I probably own 50 hand power tools, more if you count air tools.
    I tend to buy Bosch and Metabo when buying new, but I have a pile of Milwaukees, along with lots of Makitas, some Hitachis, Porter Cables, Rockwells, and some oddball orphans.

    I use my old Sawzall, my milwaukee worm drive, a milwaukee die grinder, and a few others all the time- but most are old enough to be american made. I have completely worn out 2 Milwaukee roto-hammers- took 15 to 20 years, each, but I used them up to the point where, even if parts were available, a new one was cheaper.
    So I have a fair amount of experience with Milwaukees.

    I admit, I avoid buying tools from China if at all possible- but last year, I was building a new house, and needed a 1/2" right angle drill to run the wiring- I did all the electrical.
    I am on jobsites a fair amount, particularly bigger, commercial buildings, and I know a bunch of electricians and plumbers around here.
    And right now, just as for the last 30 years, all the plumbers and electricians I know use Milwaukee drills- usually the cordless 18 volt Fuel models. Every time I am on a jobsite, I see stacks of those big, expensive, and made in China, tools.
    Not for just run of the mill little cordless drills, but for the bigger stuff.

    I looked, and found that I could only buy 3 brands of what I wanted in 2018- Makita, Dewalt, or Milwaukee. I wanted corded- I know, I am old fashioned- but in 40 years of buying cordless tools, I have seen too many systems go obsolete.

    The Milwaukee is beefier, and in my opinion, better built, even in China, than the Makita or the Dewalt. I gotta admit, I am not a Dewalt fan, these days. They are cheap, sure, but I dont trust em.

    So I bought the Milwaukee. And its a great drill. I cant see any difference between it and the older models made in Milwaukee. Maybe it wont last as long, but its not a Harbor Freight tool by any means.

    And Milwaukee, while mostly made in China, isnt a chinese company- its a Hong Kong company, owned by Techtronics, which was started and is still run by a German engineer.
    I even own a few shares of it in my 401k- I tend to do that, buy 5 or 10 shares of companies that make things I use and believe in- I own some Miller, Lincoln, Ford, Cat, Boeing, and Honda shares, not to get rich, but just because I like to.

    So- my question is- have you bought new Milwaukee tools since the takeover by Techtronics in 2005? (Milwaukee was not an "american" company, even then- it was owned by Atlas Copco, which is Swedish- they bought it from Merrill Lynch in 1995)
    And have any of those tools from the last 15 years been total crap, or are they competitive with the other chinese made US brands like Dewalt or the chinese made Japanese brands like Makita and Hitachi?

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    I had a couple dewalt drills that I swore by. They took an incredible amount of abuse, but kept on ticking. Finally, the last battery crapped out so I went and bought a new dewalt 18v drill. Absolute junk piece of shit. Totally disappointed. Maybe I should try Milwaukee.

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    Dewalt, like Black and Decker, have been made in china for some time now.
    I use tools hard- I usually have employees, and we can break most anything.
    Usually we have ten or so grinders on the floor, for example, and Bosch and Metabo outlast anything else I have tried.
    For the Honey-Do list, I have a pair of new Bosch cordless drill/drivers, which I like a lot- but they were made in Malaysia.
    Most of my actual shop Bosch tools are either from Germany or Switzerland, though.

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    I don't have experience with Milwaukee, so I cannot comment.

    But, I do find it interesting that Makita, a Japanese company, can make some of their products here in the USA. Specifically, I know they make some rat tail grinders here.

    When I worked in the automotive industry (major Japanese OEM), all of the vehicle assembly that could be done with common cordless tools was done with a Makita product. Mostly that was hanging body panels and other tasks that did not require very specific torque settings.

    They used so many Makita tools that the plant guys just called everything a "Makita".

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    I've never used up any cordless tools to their mechanical failure point. It's always been the batteries that go for shit.

    I've had good luck with the 18V Milwuakee lithium ion batteries going on 5 years now. They spend a lot of time just sitting around. But, that seemed to kill all the Nicad shit in a couple of years anyways, used or not.

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    I've got a set of the M12 Fuel drill drivers and their mini portaband, They are my go to driver set, great power in a nice compact package.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    I've never used up any cordless tools to their mechanical failure point. It's always been the batteries that go for shit.

    I've had good luck with the 18V Milwuakee lithium ion batteries going on 5 years now. They spend a lot of time just sitting around. But, that seemed to kill all the Nicad shit in a couple of years anyways, used or not.
    That's not a fair comparison. NiCad's have a limited life, in use or sitting. They are particularly sensitive to not being drained completely down.

    Tom

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    Ries I don't run cordless stuff nearly as hard as you do, but my shop is heavily populated by robot club students and while not industrially hard on things, they sometimes do weird things.

    That said, the 28volt (V28 and M28) stuff I had for years worked fine. But was huge and heavy and lots of interesting new tools showed up for M18 that were not, and never would be, available in M28. So I sold all my M28 stuff and have been converting to M18.

    *Some* of the V28 batteries did eventually die of old age, but the tools all worked fine - they were just obsolete.

    One thing that as changes, with Milwaukee as an apparent leader but others clearly on the march, is the huge variety of tools that can take the same batteries. This is a big deal for tools I don't use very often - I don't want a whole separate battery and charger for the leaf blower or line trimmer. Having them use common batteries and chargers makes these low use items effectively much cheaper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    I've never used up any cordless tools to their mechanical failure point.
    You obviously arent trying hard enough.
    I have had a few let the smoke out, and the early ones, like my late 70s orange makita 7.2 volt models, had bearings that were just held in place by the plastic housing- smells funny when it starts to burn.

    I have completely worn out, to the point of destruction, hand power tools from at least 3 continents, and many of the major manufacturers. Some are rebuildable- I have Bosch 4 1/2" grinders that have been rebuilt 3 or 4 times- new bearings, sometimes new armatures, and tons of new switches. Others are just not designed to be fixed- several of my Makitas were that way, most recently a belt sander, which, again, had plastic housings that melted. Milwaukees last a long time, but I have had several that have outlasted repair parts availability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bryan_machine View Post
    Ries I don't run cordless stuff nearly as hard as you do, but my shop is heavily populated by robot club students and while not industrially hard on things, they sometimes do weird things.

    That said, the 28volt (V28 and M28) stuff I had for years worked fine. But was huge and heavy and lots of interesting new tools showed up for M18 that were not, and never would be, available in M28. So I sold all my M28 stuff and have been converting to M18.

    *Some* of the V28 batteries did eventually die of old age, but the tools all worked fine - they were just obsolete.

    One thing that as changes, with Milwaukee as an apparent leader but others clearly on the march, is the huge variety of tools that can take the same batteries. This is a big deal for tools I don't use very often - I don't want a whole separate battery and charger for the leaf blower or line trimmer. Having them use common batteries and chargers makes these low use items effectively much cheaper.
    I dont use cordless as much as some people, but I, too, appreciate the range of tools that will take one battery size. Although I still have at least three very different chargers on the charger shelf.

    I just like corded tools better- in my experience with cordless tools, which goes back to maybe 1978, after a few years, the batteries need replacing, and new batteries often cost as much as the original tool cost new. Plus, torque. Although, with M28 batteries you get torque. But the M18 milwaukee hole hawg kit, with two batteries and a charger, is $650, whereas my corded version was a bit over $200. Thats a lot of extension cords, right there.

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    I have milwaukee chorded and chordless tools, I even talked a major fortune 50 company plant into using them, they had dewalt, I wanted Milwaukee, ordered them and about 6 months later the rest of the plant was using them in 2011. I finally wore out an M12 impact driver and replaced with a fuel. I will stick with them, but there is a difference between the home depot and the true industrial stuff. My sawzall is chorded and can take a lot of abuse, but I also didnt buy the cheapest one they had. I recommend that check your model numbers before you buy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ries View Post
    I dont use cordless as much as some people, but I, too, appreciate the range of tools that will take one battery size. Although I still have at least three very different chargers on the charger shelf.

    I just like corded tools better- in my experience with cordless tools, which goes back to maybe 1978, after a few years, the batteries need replacing, and new batteries often cost as much as the original tool cost new. Plus, torque. Although, with M28 batteries you get torque. But the M18 milwaukee hole hawg kit, with two batteries and a charger, is $650, whereas my corded version was a bit over $200. Thats a lot of extension cords, right there.

    When I was running vent pipes in my house, I couldn't get half way through a stud with a hole saw on one full charge. With a corded Milwaukee right angle drill and a self feed bit, I could bore a 2" dia hole through a 4x4 in a couple seconds. Sometimes you just need to plug things in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    When I was running vent pipes in my house, I couldn't get half way through a stud with a hole saw on one full charge. With a corded Milwaukee right angle drill and a self feed bit, I could bore a 2" dia hole through a 4x4 in a couple seconds. Sometimes you just need to plug things in.
    I woud tend to agree, but my plumber, with the big "Super Hawg" milwaukee cordless, drilled all the holes to run the pipes for my kitchen and 2 baths with 2 battery charges- thats the M18 Fuel cordless. Its an expensive tool, and the batteries alone cost seventy five bucks each- but its the one all the electricians and plumbers around here use, running 2" and 3" hole saws for pipes and conduits.

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    I am a big fan of milwaukee cordless tools, but only go for the fuel line myself. Have had nothing but good experiences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ries View Post

    So- my question is- have you bought new Milwaukee tools since the takeover by Techtronics in 2005? (Milwaukee was not an "american" company, even then- it was owned by Atlas Copco, which is Swedish- they bought it from Merrill Lynch in 1995)
    And have any of those tools from the last 15 years been total crap, or are they competitive with the other chinese made US brands like Dewalt or the chinese made Japanese brands like Makita and Hitachi?
    The industrial supply business around here only sell Milwaukee. Been like that for a while. I own and like Milwaukee and Porter Cable.

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    I can't answer the o.p.'s original question as all of my Milwaukee tools were bought right about 2004 (and they have been wonderful) but, since we're telling war stories, here is what I did to my 18v Makita cordless impact a month ago. Normally I take photos of everything but in my disgust I just didn't do it. From 8' up I dropped a 16' long 2"x10" right on top of my impact that was standing upright on the ground. It broke all the way around where the grip flares out to the base at the point the battery attaches. When I picked it up it was like when Data gets damaged in Star Trek -- the whole battery section was hanging by the harness and what looked like a rubber band tendon inside. Amazingly enough, it still worked. The break was fairly clean and I tried super glue and holding it for awhile, but it wouldn't take, so I wet everything again, stood it in my arbor press, and was able to situate it where the weight of the ram was just enough to keep even pressure on it. Went inside, ate dinner, and I've been using it just about daily ever since, including dropping it a couple of times. You can see the break in the attached.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20190608_192652-1-.jpg  

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    Milwaukee pretty well dominates the job sites I visit with a few dewalt holdouts and makita here and there. This would be in an industrial setting.

    Carpenters and the like still seem to prefer dewalt.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk

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    Milwaukees M12 and M18 lines seem to be pretty good value for money with ample of options. Makita and Milwaukee seem to be the most common "professional" cordless tools around here. Some Bosch around too but they seem to have some weaklings in cordless lineup.

    Earlier V28 and M28 had some teething issues with batteries but from what I have seen the M12 and M18 system batteries are pretty damn good.

    Corded tool development seems to be almost non-existent nowadays, emphasis is on cordless tools.
    Good luck finding 110/220v electric impact wrench with ratings comparable to latest offerings in cordless tools!

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    looks like they still make some older style tools, that may still be high quality, I have had an 0234 magnum drill for over 30 years, and it appears they still make it.

    I think the heavy duty tools are still well made, like the D handle drills and such

    Don't buy anything at Home Depot, those are not Milwaukee

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    I think Milwaukee is the best cordless tool right now. Their 1400 ft lb 1/2 18v impact gun is the cats meow for breaking tough bolts. I have been using it quite a bit and really like the tool. Their "fuel" line is variable speed and powerful. I use the smaller impact guns at work all the time and I own several different brands. Ryobi is a really good bang for the buck in this department, but Milwaukee is the best quality in my opinion. Home Depot sells Milwaukee (not your grandpa's, but still good) and usually has a real good selection of the many offerings from them. This is an example of quality coming out of China. The batteries carry a 5 year warranty too.


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