IT MIGHT seem an unusual way to start a review, but - the three HiKOKI tools I reviewed this month - I can't recommend them enough, writes PETER BRETT.
I was fitting a kitchen for a client when I was offered the choice of some tools to review. I chose the new HiKOKI C3606DA brushless circular saw, the DV36DAX combi drill and the WH36DB impact driver, because they were basic tools most fitting trades would use.
They were all given a thorough workout for several weeks and they did not disappoint on any of the tasks they were given.
A general workhorse – the 36V Combi Drill
I would say no toolbox should be without a cordless drill or combi of some description, because there is always a need to drill holes or drive screws - or maybe even something slightly different like using a sanding drum in the chuck to sand edges.
Looking at this combi it follows a similar pattern to every other cordless driver. But picking it up and feeling the weight and power of it proves this tool is in the big leagues when it comes to power and performance.
With the 36V battery pack mounted, it tips the scales at 2.7Kg. With a max torque of 138Nm available, the extra-long auxiliary handle is necessary when using that extra big holesaw.
To help the handling, the combi has excellent ergonomics via a handle that balances the weight of the motor on the top and the battery pack on the bottom.
There is enough grippy rubber for a comfortable and strong handgrip, and the strategically-placed ‘bumpers’ on the casing protect from the inevitable knocks and falls that will occur on site.
The powerful brushless motor has two ranges of speeds via the sliding switch on top of the casing (low: 0 to 500 rpm, high: 0 to 2,100 rpm), and the trigger is not only well placed for ease of use, but is also quite sensitive to the feel of the drill when it performs.
My workmate noted that he could feel when he was getting near to the end of drilling a 50mm hole in an oak worktop and was able to 'ease up' on the speed to avoid breakout.
Drilling specs are impressive too. In brick, this combi will drill up to a 20mm diameter, in mild steel up to 16mm, and up to 102mm in softwood.
It is also capable of driving 12 gauge woodscrews 10cm long.
I did try some of these extremes and these specs are genuine, but more to the point, whatever drilling job we used this combi for – 50mm holes in oak worktops, holes for drainage pipes or driving 75mm long fixing screws – we were left with the feeling this machine has such capacity that it became our favourite ‘go to’ tool.
This is a genuine, hardworking, powerful, well-designed combi drill that would suit the heavy demands that trades would make on it.
Making an impact
By contrast the WH36DB impact driver is designed to be as compact as possible, but it certainly surprised me with its capability and power. It weighs in at 1.6Kg and stands 24cm high with battery pack. It is only 13cm long from the chuck to cooling slots - no doubt made possible by the brushless motor.
Again, it handles well courtesy of the ergonomic handle and grippy rubber overmouldings.
Selecting a soft, normal or power mode via the switch at the base of the handle can control the impressive tightening torque of 210Nm.
For many jobs where impact drivers are routinely used, normal or soft modes are really what you need to avoid simply breaking the heads off screws in power mode.
The most difficult job I used this driver for was drilling holes in masonry for concrete screws when hanging cabinets and fixing battens to walls. It performed extremely well, and I really appreciated the short length, easy handling and LED light when working under and inside cabinets.
Like the combi drill, it comes with a reversible belt hook and wrist strap and the new HiKOKI battery level checker is now on the battery pack itself rather than on the machine. Much better!
Circular saw – more than cutting edge
Most of the time I work with wood and boards. So, I use a lot of circular saws and I have found the more powerful and accurate they are - the better I like them.
The 36V battery pack on the C3606DA easily manages the claimed spec of 66mm cutting depth. With the aid of a straight edge as a guide, I made accurate cuts in 50mm thick oak worktops that left a whistle clean finish on the endgrain.
It was also good at long grain cuts that needed a bit more care to avoid burning, but it performed better than my cordless plunge saw on this test. So I am starting to wonder when HiKOKI is launching a plunge saw and rail combination.
The saw has a couple of clever modes – Power and Silent. In Power mode, you get full speed from the first press of the trigger, but in Silent mode the blade spins more quietly and more slowly until you apply load by starting a cut.
Then the electronics takes over to provide full power. The very efficient motor brake stops the blade in a fraction of a second – a safety feature I like very much.
Like other previous Hitachi circular saws I have tested, the new HiKOK retains a solid and rigid alloy base with tool-less adjustments for bevel cuts and depth of cut.
There is a simple lever operated spindle lock for blade changes, and the hex key for it is safely hidden away next to the motor until needed. My failing eyesight does not see the provision of a bright LED light focused on the cut line as a gimmick. If you do not need it, you can turn it off. A simple fence is provided for basic guided cuts.
My overriding impression of this little saw (only 165mm blade diameter) is that it has 'oodles of power' and is robust enough to take the knocks of a working life.
HiKOKI – the future
In my view the choice of these three basic tools from the new HiKOKI branded 36V range is a powerful statement of intent.
There is no doubt these products (and others to come) are intended to be tough, capable professional tools that can be bought with confidence. I always rated Hitachi tools, but on the above evidence, I think I am going to like HiKOKI tools even more.