LumberJocks

Fantastic initial build quality, at any price. Tons of power, quirky controls.

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Review by dbhost posted 04-03-2018 02:53 PM 5145 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Fantastic initial build quality, at any price. Tons of power, quirky controls. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have some one off mortar drilling I had to do in order to get some picture hangers up on my fireplace. Which meant that my little 3/8 standard corded drills weren’t up to the task, and heaven knows my 18V 3/8 Cordless wouldn’t even consider doing the job, so I shot on over to Harbor Freight, and picked up my long postponed Hammer drill purchase.

I have been hearing about the Chicago Electric model from a framing contractor friend that owns one and uses it on the job site. And mind you I have no intention whatsoever of making my living drilling holes in concrete, so an infrequent use grade tool is perfect for my needs…. And even if I was, this would be a great quality tool for that job…

Let’s start off with the obvious, compared to a standard 3/8” VSR drill, this thing is MASSIVE. It’s heavy, with a great deal of cast metal construction. The side handle works not just as a holder for the depth stop, but is also VERY effective, and in my personal opinion REQUIRED to control the torque of this drill…

Switches are good, and operate smoothly, although the layout of the forward / reverse switch, the lock button, and the hammer on / off switch are a bit less than perfectly intuitive. Which is why I put this at a 4 instead of 5 star rating…

The forward / reverse switch is a simply toggle right by the variable trigger, it operates with no notchiness, but had sufficient resistance to not just be a floppy piece of junk.

The lock button is in the handle right behind the trigger, and operates smoothly, but isn’t exactly protected from accidental engagement. I managed to lock mine on unintentionally, but it WAS easy to disengage.

The trigger itself does a pretty good job of varying the amount of power / speed relative to the amount of trigger pull with no jerky spots, just one smooth continuous pull.

And the hammer action on / off, is situated on the top of the drill. This one is the least well finished, with some stickiness on operation on my unit. Not bad, but definately not perfectly smooth.

The side handle / depth stop is a pretty simply arrangement that operates like a band clamp that tightens the handle, AND the depth stop at the same time.

To say this thing is torquey is an understatement. at 7.5 amps, it’s scary strong, and very much NOT the right drill for running your small drill bits with. Running this drill single handedly and it can get out of control REALLY quickly. Even with a low speed the torque output is just, well, beastly. I do NOT recommend this for using as a driver. It will snap screw heads off or very quickly overdrive screws.

Running the drill without the hammer action on, and using the HF Hercules masonry drill bit into the mortar and it made extremely quick work of the 3/16” hole needed for the tapcon I was using for the painting hanger. It took a LOT longer laying out the extension cord and chucking the bit than drilling the hole…

The next day I was helping a friend that is building a shed attach the wall footers to the foundation, and with the hammer on, again, quick work of an otherwide tough job.

Now as you may or may not know, Harbor Freight has several different hammer drills, sold under different names. This is the one you want. There is a differrent bodel that sells for about 2/3 the price of this one under the Drill Master name…. Mostly plastic construction etc…

While this thing lacks the finesse that a DeWalt or Milwaulkee would, there is a good reason you see these on job sites, a LOT… I have no doubt this thing will last me probably the rest of my life, and a pro could probably get a couple of years out of it before it got stolen and the next guy used it up… And at the build quality of this thing, it will likely be stolen before it goes bad…

WIth the current sale, of $34.99, the almost ever present 20% off coupon brings that down $6.99 to $28.00 even. The closest competitor at the big box stores is over twice the cost, with less power, and far more plastic used in the construction.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/daves-workshop




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dbhost

5723 posts in 3254 days



13 comments so far

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Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3186 days


#1 posted 04-03-2018 03:07 PM

I have an ancient Skil corded hammer drill. Purchased in the 70’s as I recall, putting it about 40 years old. It has some resemblance to your drill, but without all the gizmos. In any case, I suspect it will outlive me for sure, but it doesn’t get used much these days. Like you say, it isn’t as though we put holes in concrete very often…

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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dbhost

5723 posts in 3254 days


#2 posted 04-03-2018 03:57 PM

My Skil Saw is an actual Skil branded circ saw, that was given to me by my boss when I was in college, it was a “Defective Return” to the hardware store I worked at. The idiot that bought it ran over the cord with the blade and returned it as defective.

I grabbed a $5.00 replacement cord off the shelf at the employee price of something like $3.00 back then, and swapped it around in the stock room… Been working great ever since.

FWIW, it is stamped made in USA…

I haven’t had too many tools just die / fail on me, but some have…. Mostly B&D stuff, had really poor results with their stuff. And probably more than my fair share of drill bits / driver bits of all sorts of MFGs, and a couple of one time use only HF tools. The cheap hole saws etc…

I knew they were one time use disposables going in, and I used them like they were… I just needed to make that one hole in some nasty material kind of stuff…

Having said all that, I do have one B&D tool that just won’t die, and that is the RTX variable speed rotary tool…. It gets a LOT of use, and isn’t babied at all. It should have died a decade ago by the results of the other B&D stuff I have owned…

As much as some folks cry about HF tools, if you are a hobbyist, or even lower production pro, you will most likely never have a HF tool let you down unless you dredge the bottom of the barrel, and even then then are fine for the price paid…

They have several newer lines of product that seem like they are trying to go more upscale. I just can’t see paying HF $400.00 for a Dual Bevel 12” SCMS though!

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/daves-workshop

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Mike_in_STL

675 posts in 556 days


#3 posted 04-03-2018 04:16 PM

Had one, couldn’t drill into my porch concrete pad, not enough hammer to the drill. Into soft masonry or mortar, no problem. I burnt it up trying to mix mortar with it, my fault, not enough torque from the motor. It was a glorious cloud of stinky magic smoke. Bottom line, don’t ask too much from this drill. Otherwise, it’ll be fine, as long as you don’t overtax it.

-- Sawdust makes me whole --Mike in STL

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dbhost

5723 posts in 3254 days


#4 posted 04-03-2018 05:38 PM

Like with most tools… YMMV. I got mine because of my friend’s experience with his. 5+ years of commercial abuse with no failure… If you had a dud, and don’t mind, or even a good one, please post up a review…. The more views we get on different tools the better off we are. And mind you, mine is a view of initial build quality and use… Time will tell for sure!

You just brought to mind one HF tool failure I had that I had forgotten about. I had to return my HF Earthquake 1/2” impact wrench as it was super weak out the door. Unit #2. was strong as an ox…

I think the big thing with HF is you the consumer can end up being the QC department.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/daves-workshop

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Mike_in_STL

675 posts in 556 days


#5 posted 04-04-2018 04:53 AM

I don’t knock HF. I have plenty of other tools that originated from that store and they truly hold a value.

I have a mantra that says if you use it once it pays for itself. If you get two uses out of it you’re making money. I got my fair share of uses out of the one I had, I just asked it to do too much.

-- Sawdust makes me whole --Mike in STL

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dbhost

5723 posts in 3254 days


#6 posted 04-04-2018 05:02 AM

So very true…. and let’s face it…. you can buy this thing after tax for what renting a premium brand bottle for less than a day would cost you.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/daves-workshop

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3186 days


#7 posted 04-04-2018 02:51 PM

Back in the day I bought my hammer drill, Skil was the goto brand. I also bought a Skil branded Skil saw that works flawlessly nearly 40 years later. I keep a good blade in it, but it needs no other attention. It is mainly used for dividing up large sheets of plywood.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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Tennessee

2873 posts in 2536 days


#8 posted 04-05-2018 11:56 AM

Had one of these years ago. Sort of worked. Sold it at one of my garage sales. As Mike says, not enough hammer action. Mine did not burn up. It just would not go through concrete as I thought it should, and was too slow with too much torque to be a decent daily drill.
Got a heck of a deal on a Milwaukee Hole Shooter, (free when I got laid off from a job and they let me keep all the tools they had bought me), so I never looked at the HD Harbor Freight drills again.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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dbhost

5723 posts in 3254 days


#9 posted 04-05-2018 03:19 PM

Comparing this drill to say a Milwaulkee which is easily 3x the cost, is an apples to oranges comparison. The price points are way off, as is the intended consumer.

Comparing the HF drill to Milwaulkee for example, which retails for $125.00 more than the $34.00 retail on this drill…. Well for intended use, for most DIYer / Homeowner and even many professionals, their company isn’t going to be buying their tools. So they have to factor the hit to the budget in as well. Wish I had access to one of those Hole Shooters though, it would be a great side by side to give folks a fair view of what they get for the money…

I haven’t had the time for it, but I will be doing a video demo of the drill with the hammer turned on. I do wholeheartedly agree that this thing has far too much torque for it to be a decent day to day drill.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/daves-workshop

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Fallon

90 posts in 3150 days


#10 posted 04-17-2018 03:41 AM

I bought mine 6+ years ago to put in anchor bolts into for a gun safe. My normal drill got me 2ish inches in 10-15 minutes if I recall. Picked up this drill & drilled the remaining 3.5 holes in like 5 minutes or so. So it did what I bought it for & a few jobs since. The impact function works & beats a non-hammer drill by far.

But it’s not a real hammer drill. A real hammer drill has a SDS type chuck. Those have divots on the side that the chuck clips into rather than clamping between 3 jaws. With a friction type drill chuck they have a hard time holding onto a bit. The standard chuck type just isn’t up to the forces from hammering. but it’s a more flexible chuck style than SDS.

I got my money out of mine & don’t regret getting it. I wouldn’t trust it for a lot of work (as with most Harbor Freight electronics), but good if you only have an occasional need for it.

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dbhost

5723 posts in 3254 days


#11 posted 04-17-2018 09:30 PM

Absolutely agree on the concept that this isn’t an SDS rotary hammer. It is a hammer drill. The two are very different things… An SDS rotary hammer is more of a one trick pony…. And simply put, if you make your living poking holes in concrete / stone and / or have to pole BIG holes in said same materials, you will want an SDS rotary hammer.

For those that have drilling concrete as a minor part of their job, or something they have to do on occasion at home, this is a great tool, as long as the hole isn’t too big.

This all goes back to the concept of use the right tool for the job. I bought this thing to trash it. Run big long spade bits for stump rot duties, poke an occasional hole for a concrete anchor that sort of stuff. If I need to bore a hole to run conduit through a slab, this is the WRONG tool for the job….

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/daves-workshop

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SirFatty

542 posts in 2234 days


#12 posted 04-20-2018 06:19 PM

I have one of these and it’s great value for the money.

-- Visit my blog at dave.spalla.com

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dbhost

5723 posts in 3254 days


#13 posted 05-18-2018 02:29 AM

I’ve got a couple of extra projects coming up quickly for this hammer drill. Specifically I am going to be hanging some Mexican Talavera pottery on teh brick of the garage. We are going to be converting the strip of grass between the garage wall and the main walkway to a small flower garden with a shop built / restored cast iron / teak bench.

It won’t get much use, but owning it sure beats renting or borrowing one!

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/daves-workshop

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