Hitachi has made a name for themselves in the past few years with a line of exceptional cordless drills, and the newest model, the Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Driver Drill certainly falls into line in that tradition. From the moment I opened the case and picked up this stout 1/2-inch 18-volt Lithium Ion drill driver, I could tell I was holding a workhorse. Putting the drill to the test only proved it.
What I didn't really know from the outset was the innovation that Hitachi has built into this cordless drill. The drill's motor has the standard 2-speed switch on the top of the motor housing, but at the base of the drill is a push-button speed selector switch that allows the user to set up to four levels of max speed within the high and low settings on the selector switch, thus creating an 8-speed cordless drill.
This allows for exceptional maximum speed control of the bit, which is particularly helpful when drilling in a variety of materials, particularly aluminum, steel, plastics and certain very dense hardwoods.
The Hitachi DS18DBL Cordless Driver Drill features:
- Brushless drill motor with 1/2-inch keyless ratcheting chuck and variable speed trigger
- 4-step Electronic Speed Selector with High-Low Speed Switch delivering the following no-load speeds:
- Low Switch/Low 1 mode: 0-200 RPM
- Low Switch/Low 2 mode: 0-300 RPM
- Low Switch/Medium mode: 0-350 RPM
- Low Switch/High mode: 0-400 RPM
- High Switch/Low 1 mode: 0-1000 RPM
- High Switch/Low 2 mode: 0-1300 RPM
- High Switch/Medium mode: 0-1500 RPM
- High Switch/High mode: 0-1800 RPM
- 22-position clutch
- belt clip
- DS18DBL drill
- 2 - Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries
- Battery charger
- Removable secondary handle
- Instruction Manual
- Hard-sided carrying case
The 18-volt Lithium Ion battery in the DS18DBL carries a 3.0 Ah rating, which Hitachi claims will deliver up to 50% longer run time in between charges.
Additionally, the innovative brush-less design of the motor delivers a stout 593 in/lbs of torque, a respectable amount of power for a cordless drill.
The drill motor with the attached battery weighs in at 4.4 pounds, with an overall housing length of 8.1 inches. This relatively compact design and moderate weight will allow users to put the drill to use overhead without wearing out the operator. When combined with the padded, ergonomic handle and balanced weight-distribution, the DS18DBL can be easily used for a wide variety of tasks.
Hitachi's warranty is one of the best in the business. The tool is covered by a lifetime warranty, and the Lithium Ion batteries are covered by a 2-year warranty to protect your investment against manufacturer's defects.
Using the DS18DBL
The first thing I always check with a cordless drill is the integrity of the chuck, particularly as it equates to gripping and holding power on a drill bit. Some keyless drill chucks will loosen their grip on the bit as the drill is started and stopped a few times, but the chuck on this Hitachi drill held firmly.
I also checked the balance of the unit, as a front heavy drill will increase the fatigue of the user on days when one needs to use the drill a lot, particularly for overhead applications. Once again, I was pleased with the balance of the unit, as not only did the weight seem evenly distributed when in hand, but also when the drill is stood on a tabletop sitting on the flat-bottomed battery.
When drilling, the four-position electronic speed control on the base of the unit was easy to use. To begin, choose the master speed on top of the unit (the standard high-low speed switch) to put the unit into high or low mode. Then, push the electronic speed control on the bottom of the base as indicated on the red LED to set the speed according to the levels listed in the features section above. This easy-to-use speed selector set the maximum speed, although the trigger allowed for any speed up to the maximum as set by the controls. This speed control allows for a foolproof adjustment to avoid drilling too fast in various materials.
The maximum diameter that the unit can drill is pretty impressive, too. When drilling in softwoods (even in the sturdy heartwood sections of the stock, the maximum diameter is 2-9/16 inches. As a cordless screwdriver, the drill will drive a #20 x 4-inch screw, a pretty stout mechanical fastener for any drill to drive.
When working with the Hitachi DS18DBL, there's not many improvements that I'd ask Hitachi to consider. Perhaps an on-board LED light or a bit holder would be a welcome improvement, but for most professionals that would use the tool, I doubt they'd complain too much about those deficiencies. The reversible belt hook and the removable side handle can each be installed on either side of the drill motor, ideal for either left-handed or right-handed users. The batteries will charge from dead to fully-charged in the charger in less than 45 minutes, which may seem a bit longer than some chargers, but considering the extra 50% of run-time per charge, it's doubtful you'd ever run one battery dry before the other one is fully charged. The battery charge indicators on each battery also will show the current level of charge at a glance.
While I'm no longer a professional building contractor, at that time I certainly would've loved to have had a powerful cordless 1/2-inch drill such as the DS18DBL. The unit is stout and sturdy enough to handle the beating and workload that a contractor requires, yet is able to handle the delicate, precise tasks (such as driving screws to mount the doors on a cabinet) in the woodshop. Simply put, this is a very well-built drill, and with the exceptional warranty, would represent a great woodworking investment.