Joshua wrote in, asking for help deciding which Milwaukee M12 cordless drill and screwdriver would be best for his needs.
I am a home owner and I want to get into woodworking.
I am only 30 years old and I am trying to buy my first tools. I have decided to go with Milwaukee for all of my cordless tools. I am in the tech industry and things are way different than in the tool industry. When you buy today’s top tech it is tomorrow’s bargain tech. So if you by a Graphics Card or CPU with more horse power nothing changes in how you use, it works exactly like the same but will do it better and faster. So I bought the M18 FUEL™ 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver Kit 2653-22CT. Thinking this will do everything I need it and have more power if need it. I was completely wrong, it is a wonderful tool but it is way more power than I need. It is heavy with the 4.0 battery, and is very difficult to use to put up curtain rods for the wife or install cabinet doors. So now I am asking for help, I am trying to decide what M12 tools would be better for what I need.
- Drill Pocket holes in ¼ – ¾ inch plywood, 2×4, and other stock building materials for furniture and cabinet making.
- Run Pocket hole screws
- Install Curtain Rods
- Assemble children’s toys and store bought furniture
- Repair appliances and bikes
- Run and bore holes for Ethernet cable in wall studs
I like to use two drills at the same time. I want one drill for drilling my pocket holes, and I want one to run the screws.
1. M12™ Cordless Lithium-Ion Screwdriver 2401-20
2. M12™ 1/4” Hex 2-Speed Screwdriver 2406-20
3. M12 FUEL™ 1/4″ Hex 2-Speed Screwdriver 2402-20
1. M12™ 3/8” Drill/Driver 2407-20
2. M12 FUEL™ 1/2″ Drill/Driver 2403-20
3. M12 FUEL™ 1/2″ Hammer Drill/Driver 2404-20
Can you please help me decide what Screwdriver and Drill I will need?
Joshua’s question about which 12V cordless tools would be best for casual DIY and homeowner tasks is quite common, but nevertheless difficult to answer. This time the answer was a little easier since the tool selection was limited to Milwaukee and not open-ended.
Here’s what I replied to Josh via email:
If you’re going to be using these tools occasionally, then you will probably want to consider Milwaukee’s non-Fuel M12 models. The Fuel drills and drivers have brushless motors that give them more power, longer runtime, and sometimes more premium features, but they cost quite a bit more.
The Fuel drill has a 1/2″ chuck, but the 3/8″ chuck on the others should be enough for Kreg’s 3/8″ pocket hole drills.
If you ever plan to use hole saws you *might* need a 1/2″ chuck drill. That’s part of what prompted me to upgrade from my 12V Black & Decker to an 18V Hitachi so long ago – the new hole saws I bought at the time could only be used with an arbor that had a 1/2″ shank. Some brands have larger hole saw arbors with 3/8″ shanks.
As an aside, you generally won’t want to use cordless tools to assemble store-bought furniture. It’s too easy to strip screws unless you’re on the lowest torque settings and go really slow.
I think that your choices are pretty spot-on. If you ever need more power for an application, you can still use your 18V impact driver, if you decide to keep it.
Do you plan on drilling holes in brick? Concrete? Masonry? If not, skip the hammer drill. Eventually, if you find yourself needing a hammer drill once or twice a year, you can borrow one or purchase an inexpensive corded model. My corded hammer drill is still useful, but the cordless drill I bought around the same time is long gone. If I still had it, the cordless drill would be horribly outdated.
Related Post: 5 Reasons to Keep Your Corded Drill
So for the screwdriver, I would recommend the 2406.
For the drill/driver, I would recommend the 2407.
Right now there doesn’t seem to be a combo kit that includes Milwaukee’s newest non-Fuel drill and impact driver, which means one kit and one bare tool will set you back more than $200. In my opinion, that’s a little steep for a 12V 2-tool drill and screwdriver combo.
If you’re not set on Milwaukee, you can get similar Bosch tools (the PS31 and PS21) for quite a bit less. Personally, I really like Bosch’s 12V tools, but Milwaukee’s M12 line offers a lot more in terms of expandability.
It’s hard to say if these are the two options you NEED, but the 2406 and 2407 drill and driver are the ones I would pick if in your shoes.
Also, power tools are actually very much similar to technology products. The computers I built for my wife and as a living room HTPC both have smallish video cards, with one of them even having passive cooling. The video card in my computer is a mid-range model from a few years ago, and is very noticeably larger.
The same goes for power requirements. My computer has an 850W PSU, while my wife’s has a 650W unit. CPUs are similar as well – the faster the processor, the more power-hungry it is and the beefier the cooling solution must be. RAM as well – higher performing RAM requires better airflow. In regard to laptops, consider the differences between a MacBook Air and AlienWare models. There must always be a compromise or tradeoff when it comes to more power and features.
Anyways, if you are really intent on going with 12V tools, Milwaukee’s 2406 and 2407 models will serve you quite well. Right now it looks like one full kit and one bare tool will run you about $213. I feel that’s a little much for a non-brushless drill/driver and screwdriver, but there are no combo kit options to help soften the cost.
Why not the Fuel models? Well, if Joshua is looking to get into woodworking, then the extra money can probably be better spent elsewhere. The cost of an M12 drill/driver kit (or bare tool) and screwdriver bare tool (or kit) is $308. The extra $95 would be better spent on other hand or power tools to better built up his woodworking capabilities.
I hope this helps, and thanks for the great question!
Purchase Links for Mentioned Products:
Milwaukee M12 Kits
- M12 Screwdriver (2406-22)
- M12 Fuel Screwdriver (2402-22)
- M12 Drill/Driver (2407-22)
- M12 Fuel Drill/Driver (2403-22)
- M12 Hammer Drill/Driver (2404-22)
M12 Screwdriver Kit Bonus (This special kit comes with an extra 2.0Ah Li-ion battery, and has been going in and out of stock.)
Milwaukee M12 Bare Tools
- M12 Screwdriver (2406-20)
- M12 Fuel Screwdriver (2402-20)
- M12 Drill/Driver (2407-20)
- M12 Fuel Drill/Driver (2403-20)
(via Home Depot)
Bosch 12V Kits
- 12V Screwdriver (Bare, PS21B)
- 12V Screwdriver (Kit, PS21-2A)
- 12V Drill/Driver (Bare, PS31B)
- 12V Drill/Driver (Kit, PS31-2A)
Right now, the lowest price for a Bosch 12V drill and screwdriver combo is $159 for a screwdriver kit and bare-tool drill add-on.