Towards the end of 2008, Porter Cable revamped their 18V cordless tool lineup and came out with all new tools and combo kits. Since then, we’ve been a little hesitant to embrace these new tools for several reasons, but ultimately decided that they’re worth a fair and objective evaluation.
We’re going to kick off a series of reviews about Porter Cable’s 18V Li-ion combo kit (PCL418C-2) with an overview of the tools, and a few words about what we expect to find out.
Porter Cable 18V Li-ion Cordless Combo Kit Contents
Included in the kit is a 1/2″ chuck drill, 6-1/2″ circular saw, reciprocating saw, flashlight, 2 batteries with one being an “extended capacity” unit, charger, kit bag, and starter blades and bit.
Porter Cable 18V 1/2″ Drill / Driver
The PCL180D drill included with this kit feels pretty solid and secure, with loose switches or parts, and no apparent defects (at least not cosmetic). We compared this drill with other 18V drills, and it was comparable in size and weight. To be honest, we were quite surprised that Porter Cable’s drill was only slightly longer than our smallest compact 18V drill.
One of the features that we found most interesting was the knurled metal keyless chuck. With its knurling, the metal sleeve offers a solid grip, and is comfortable to torque tight. A ratcheting chuck would have been better, but most potential users won’t ever feel like it’s missing. Furthermore, the clutch moved smoothly, although we found that the speed select switch takes a bit more effort to slide than we’re used to, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Overall, the fit and feel of the drill was rather impressive, and doesn’t feel cheap at all. The next review in this series will take an in-depth look at the drill’s use, at which time we shall find out if it performs as good as it looks.
6 1/2″ Cordless Circular Saw
Included in the kit is a 6-1/2″ circular saw (PCL186CS) that we immediately noticed goes against cordless norms and is right-handed. Typical cordless circular saws of this size are left-handed with the blade facing left to provide direct line of sight and a better view of the workpiece and cutting line for right-handed users.
Taking a quick look at the saw, we noticed that it felt properly balanced, and that it was smooth, quick, and easy to adjust. As with other cordless circular saws, there is a safety switch that must be toggled/depressed in order to be able to operate the trigger. We cannot yet determine whether this switch will make the tool uncomfortable to use or not, but it does feel slightly awkwardly placed and will be something to keep an eye out for.
We don’t have as much experience with reciprocating saws as we do with other cordless tools, but for the most part we found that the PCL180RS reciprocating saw felt solidly built. The saw is a bit heavy, but that’s what we expected, and besides that, we would rather have a heavier tool of good quality than a tool with weak and lightweight components.
Flashlight with Pivoting Head
The PCL180FL flashlight included with the kit has a rather useful pivoting head, beam focusing switch, and convenient carry handle, but its incandescent bulb will likely banish it from active use. A shock-proof LED lamp would definitely have been preferred.
Batteries & Charger
Included with the kit are two Li-ion 18V batteries: one LX battery with 1.3Ah capacity, and one EX battery with a 2.6Ah capacity. The batteries are both fairly lightweight, and charged rather quickly.
The soft shell carrying case is reinforced at the top to ensure a wide opening every time, and features 3 accessory pockets on the inside and 3 on outside. While the case does include a shoulder strap, it seems to be far too lightweight, and we can imagine that most users will want to use the more robust carrying handles instead.
New Porter Cable Tools at Lowes – an Informal Assessment (an essay we wrote about the new tools back in October)
We’re very excited to kick off this review, and will be testing the tools without mercy in upcoming weeks. If you have any suggestions or test requests, please let us know and we’ll try to fit them into our schedule.