Milwaukee Hackzall - Review
The most interesting tool in Milwaukee's newly expanded 12-volt line of tools is, without question, the Hackzall. The easiest way to describe it is to say it's a 'one-handed Sawzall,' but we think that's like calling a sports car a 'mini-tractor trailer.' Sure, they've got some a few functional similarities, but beyond that, they are two entirely different creatures. The Hackzall doesn't just do what the Sawzall does but less of it, but by virtue of its size and reduced power, it creates its own to-do list and excels at tasks that you wouldn't even think of using a Sawzall for.
The Hackzall is roughly the size of a screw gun, but with an angle in the body that causes the blade to stick out at an odd angle in relationship to the handle. The unique shape of the Hackzall creates a whole lot of ways to hold the tool, from the standard pistol-style, to our favorite, with the tool upside down, pinky on the trigger, jigsaw-style that we used while scribing an arc into 1/2" plywood. The chuck is just what you would expect and can accept any standard Sawzall blade even though the tool comes with two mini blades, especially made for the tool. Other features include a little LED that lights up the workpiece (which is great because the tool is perfect for working in cramped unlit locations), and a series of lights which indicate the remaining charge on the battery. This is a nice feature and something that we've been noticing is becoming standard on li-ion tools. Because the battery runs at full strength until it stops dead, it's a necessary feature to have.
So what is the Hackzall good for? The answer is, "a whole lot more than we initially thought." At first, we used it for things like small, rough plywood cuts (using it as a mini-Sawzall), but then, as we got used to the tool, we started using it for everything from dicing up rigid insulation to making precise scribes, things we would never dream of using a 15 amp Sawzall for. We also ended up cutting pipes (ones that we wouldn't have been able to get to with a larger tool) and trimming off excess spray foam. Functionally, the tool ended up landing somewhere between a Sawzall and a super-powered utility knife. Particularly with the rigid insulation, we were able to make very clean, very precise cuts that would have taken twice as long with a knife or with a handsaw.
The one thing that bothered us about the tool is its case. it's one of those over-molded plastic jobbies that leaves no room for anything other than the tool, the batteries, the charger and a few blades. What drives us crazy about this is that there is all sorts of wasted room here, storage space squandered. Why not trim back some of that plastic and give us a place to put more blades, maybe an extra battery, who knows what, but at least give us the option. There's only a limited amount of room in the Job Box, so we like to utilize as much of it as we can. Take the Makita 15 amp recip saw case for example. It's a metal box and that's it. There's room for the tool and the cord and the blades and there's plenty left over for whatever else you want. Want to throw in another tool? If it'll fit, go ahead, the space is available. Over-molded cases are a huge pet-peeve of ours and we have yet to find a single carpenter who likes them.
But we're just being a fussy pain in the ass on that topic and it takes nothing away from the glory of the Hackzall. It's a fantastic tool and, like we said, the more we used it, the more we used it for. As the days went on, we kept discovering different things we could do with it. Whether it's for around the house or on the job site, this thing will get a workout.
The Hackzall comes with a case, two batteries, and a charger. It costs between $150 and $200. this may seem like a lot, but it's not when compared to other li-ion tools, which, by nature, are more expensive than older battery tools. After using the Hackzall for a while, we'd happily pay over $200 for it. It'll make it's value back in no time, there's no question about it.
The Hackzall isn't released yet, but the following suppliers are taking pre-orders. It will also be available as part of a combo kit with Milwaukee's 12-Volt Driver for around $250. Another kit that Amazon is carrying includes the Hackzall, the Driver, Milwaukee's new Pipe Cutter, and a work light. This one goes for about $350 and would be perfect for a plumber.
At Amazon.com, Tool King, and Ohio Power Tools
Combo kit with 12-Volt Driver at Amazon.com, Tool King, and Ohio Power Tools
Combo kit with 12-Volt Driver, Work Light, Pipe Cutter, and Hackzall at Amazon.com
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at September 29, 2008 5:20 AM