I am blessed with a family that is very generous. My wife encouraged me to pick out a tool or two as an early Father’s Day gift. Gotta love a woman like that!
My son came along to help me pick stuff out. In fact, even the dog wanted to chip in! Fortunately, our local Lowe’s Home Improvement center is only a short drive from home, AND they are pet-friendly!
I had been thinking for a while, about getting a cordless drill & driver combo. I had a couple of cheap battery drills from Harbor Freight, which worked well enough, considering their low cost. However, the Drillmaster tools from Harbor Freight have clearly seen better days, their batteries don’t hold a charge well anymore, and were the most basic of drills to begin with.
I was also in the market for a new dado stack, as my old Craftsman set, good it its day, had only a high-speed steel teeth and chippers. The last time I used it, it made more smoke than chips!
This Irwin-Marples dado stack looked like a good deal, as I have been using the Irwin-Marples 50T combo blade in my saw for about two years, with very favorable results. I’ll come back to the dado set after I have a chance to work with it a bit, but for now, I want to talk about the drill & driver combo.
First, here were my criteria for choosing the set:
- I wanted a drill and driver combo only, no extra pieces that I didn’t need.
- I wanted to keep the price under $200, not too difficult with the Father’s Day sales going on.
- I preferred a brushless motor, more on why in a bit.
- I wanted tools that were considered on the upper end of “consumer grade”. Pro grade tools, nice as they might be, would blow the cost way out of my price range.
Here is my feature comparison score card. All the specifications were lifted directly from the Lowe’s web site. The brand name shown in each column is a link to the associated page, if you’ like to see for yourself.
|LEGEND||1 POINT||2 POINTS||3 POINTS|
|Battery Amp Hours||1.3||1.5||2||2|
|Number of Batteries Included||2||2||2||1|
|Case Type||N/A (no case)||Soft||Soft||Soft|
|Total Kit Weight (lbs.)||7.5||9.2||13.5||7.4|
|UL Safety Listing||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|CSA Safety Listing||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|ETL Safety Listing||No||No||Yes||No|
|Tool Warranty||3-year limited||3-year limited||1-year||5-year limited|
|Battery Warranty||2-year limited||3-year limited||1-year||3-year limited|
|Impact Driver Included||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Battery Type||Lithium ion (Li-ion)||Lithium ion (Li-ion)||Lithium ion (Li-ion)||Lithium ion (Li-ion)|
*Note: The Kobalt includes only one batter. The extra 2.0 amp-hour battery lists for $20:
Kobalt 4 ah battery
So, in my opinion, the Kobalt set is the best value of the group. I did not consider a few of the other brands in the sub-$200 range, because they were obviously of lower build quality. Lowe’s carries Hitachi tools, which are of the build quality and in the price range I was looking for, but the store did not have the two-piece set I wanted in the Hitachi brand.
Bosch and Dewalt offer “Pro Grade” versions of these kits, which are of a heavier construction, but also outside my price range. I also looked at Milwaukee and Makita, as they also have very good equipment, but again, outside my budget.
Kobalt, made by Chervon corporation, is sold by Lowe’s as their high-end house brand. They are aimed at the market occupied by Sears Craftsman tools, in their heyday. It is my opinion that they have hit that mark squarely. The tools seem to be of good quality construction, and very capable of meeting the needs of any homeowner / DIYer. Perhaps even light construction, although I suspect that most construction crews would work their way through these fairly quickly.
The drill and driver both perform well, although only time will tell how they hold up to regular use.
I have included a short video demonstration of both tools:
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Until next time –