June 8, 2009

Skil 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 4-Piece Combo Kit

Thumbnail image for Skil_4_piece_combo.jpgSkil recently released a 4-piece Li-Ion combo kit and in addition were nice enough to let us test one out. The kit includes 2 batteries, a drill/driver, a circular saw, a reciprocating saw, and a charger. All put together it can be packed comfortably into the carrying bag. For the review, we're going to look at each tool separately and then close with some general thoughts on the kit as a whole.


Drill/Driver- First off, this thing really impressed us. We put it head to head with the Ryobi li-ion and it kept up without any problem. The Ryobi felt a little more durable, but when it came to driving screws or drilling holes, the Skil was right there. The tool has a number of interesting features such as level vials, very nice bit storage, and a handle that can screw into either side. We've never really used the side mounted handles that come with drill/drivers, but if you want to have the option, it's there. The drill also has two speeds and a 20 position clutch.

Circular Saw - We were as impressed with the saw as we were with the drill. It's only a 5-3/8" but it can make it through a 2x4 with little difficulty, so it should be able to handle most around the house and summer project type tasks. The saw has nice visibility and a flip up line gauge in the front to help make a straighter cut. It's also extremely light.

While cutting some rough plywood, we found that the bevel gauge is actually a cut-out of the footplate. This makes the tool that much lighter (by not having an additional piece for the bevel gauge), but the cut-out on the foot plate doesn't have a rounded edge, so it caught on rough wood from time to time. It wasn't really a big deal, but just part of the trade-off for having such a light saw. Other than this small quibble, we really enjoyed using the saw.


Reciprocating Saw - Of the four tools, this is the one that we were the least impressed with. We don't know if it's the fact that we've been using the Makita 15-amp so much and that's made our perspective is impossibly skewed or what. Regardless, we had a few issues with the recip saw. First, we had problems with the tool-free blade clamp, which was difficult to work (it's tough to line the blade hole up with the tool 'dowel'). Also, the saw seemed to drain the battery very quickly. Like we said, we've been using the largest, most aggressive recip saw on the market, but the blade clamping system is awkward no matter how you slice it. Of the four tools, it was the recip saw where the discrepancy between the DIY and the pro tools felt the greatest, which is probably because sheer 'bad-ass-ness' is the cornerstone of any recip saw and that comes at a high price. Less so with the others.

But the recip saw did gain some ground with us when we discovered the on-board blade storage. It's a fantastic idea and something we hope catches on with recip saws.

Flashlight - This is really the unsung hero of the kit. It's a pistol grip style light and projects a pretty bright beam a good distance, making it nice for night-time raccoon/deer spotting as well as crawl space work. With the battery attached, it can easily sit upright and with the pivoting head, you can really direct light anywhere you want to (including straight up). If you're sitting there thinking that flashlights are a waste of space in a kit like this, you're completely wrong. We can just about guarantee that it will be the most used item of the four.

Overall, this is a fantastic set of tools for the money. If you're starting up your DIY career and want a nice kit that all runs off the same battery, this is the one for you. It's a great set because it's really complete and all said and done, the tools are nice and functional with useful features. Perfect for all of those summer projects that you have lined up. The Skil 4-piece set will cost you about $250, whereas pro-quality combo kits can run up to twice that or more.

On a side note, the Skil li-ion batteries are backwards compatible with all older Skil Ni-Cd tools, and are available separately with a charger. So if you're satisfied with your current Skil tools, but want to upgrade the battery, that's a possibility as well. A battery and a charger costs about $100.

More information on the tools at the Skil website.

Skil 4-piece Combo Kit at Lowes and Amazon.com

Read More in: Cordless | Lithium-Ion | Power Tools

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at June 8, 2009 5:07 AM
Recent Comments

I would use these tools to make a fireplace mantle. I just cut down a Norwegian Maple as it was split and dangerous. Some I'll use for firewood, however the large trunk I'm going to let dry, have it cut, then build a nice looking fireplace for a house I'm remodeling, I live in.

Posted by: Don White at June 10, 2009 8:14 PM

Hi. Nice review. The tool kit is one of those combos suited for the DIY and small jobs projects. Just make sure you are fully aware of power tips noted at the end of the review.

Posted by: Anthony at June 10, 2009 10:45 AM
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