Pros:Great battery life, Adorable as far as power tools go
Cons:Power is a bit on the wimpy side.
The Bottom Line: I reccomend for any small jobs... not for screws longer than 3" or drilling bigger than 1/4" holes. Great for small stuff!
Recommend this product?
I teach tech theater at a small college in Central NY. We don’t have a theater major, just a minor so our funding is on the low end and I’ve only been teaching there about three semesters. I’m also in charge of the building and painting of all scenery for one show each semester. When I first arrived the assortment of tools was a sorry lot of dead and dying Skil and other low end items. Since then we’ve been working on upgrading a bit.
We were severely short on functional drills when I first started, so one of my first purchases was a couple plug in drills and this little Porter Cable lithium ion powered drill. At the time this drill was fairly new on the market and was on a FANTASTIC sale. With as on and off as our building schedule is, I was hesitant to get a more traditional nicad battery operated drill because the batteries tend to lose life span when not properly charged and drained regularly. On the other hand, in theater it really is rather necessary to have at least one cordless on hand. SO, this was the purchase I made.
I’ve learned through the years that some brands just tend to last better than others. I will never buy Skil, Craftsman, or Black and Decker power tools EVER again. I own a Porter Cable router that I’ve been happy with and while this brand isn’t as cheap as the bottom brand, it is a bit more affordable than the brands I tend to buy for my personal use (i.e. DeWalt.) As you’ll find, I’m rather satisfied with this Porter Cable purchase as well, so I’d be willing to buy them again.
I knew from reading the signs that this drill would have less power than the DeWalt 14.4V that I’m used to using, but I decided it couldn’t be that much less. It is, but that’s ok as long as you understand it’s limitations. This little drill does just fine shooting screws up to about 2.5 inches. With predrilling it can handle a 3 inch screw, but doesn’t really like to. It will drill small holes, but didn’t want to drill a half inch hole recently. The power is really the only disappointment this drill has given me, but the things it does do, it does really well.
The Battery Life
The battery life is the highlight feature of this tool. Yesterday we had “strike” for the fall play. That’s where we take all the scenery down and either store it for later use or trash the parts that can’t be reused. I had three cordless drills in use (and a couple corded). One of the cordless was a brand new DeWalt 14.4v, another was an older DeWalt 14.4v and then this little Porter Cable guy. Strike lasted about three and a half hours total. Each of the DeWalts went entirely through the first battery and then through the second batter before the first finished recharging. This little Porter Cable required one battery swap the entire time. All of the drills were being used constantly.
The charger only takes 30 minutes to fully charge the battery. As long as the battery life remains as long as it currently is I’m pretty sure it would be impossible to drain the first battery before the second is fully charged.
The lithium ion batteries are supposed to retain their full chargability much longer than the traditional nicad batteries. So far I don’t see any evidence to disprove that claim. In a few more years I’ll know for sure.
This drill is one of the smallest I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of cute. It’s also not very intimidating for students who haven’t had tool experience before. I’ve found people with smaller hands have a hard time getting the battery out of the DeWalts, but that’s not the case with this little drill.
The brand new DeWalt we recently bought has a light, but my old one doesn’t. This little Porter Cable Drill has a light. Apparently having a light is a new fad in drills, but I have to say I didn’t realize how useful that light would be until I started using this drill. It’s pretty awesome. In theater we do a lot of work in small dark places, like under platforms and it especially comes in hand then. If you pull the trigger just a tiny bit it’s not enough to make it spin but is enough to turn the light on and that’s super helpful too.
Other “Bells and Whistles"
There’s a little magnetic rectangle on top of this drill, which is perfect for stashing a couple screws on before climbing a ladder with it. There’s a metal “belt hook” on the side, but I’ve never used it.
One of my favorite things about my DeWalt is how balanced it feels in my hand. This Porter Cable drill is so small that the fact it’s top heavy isn’t as much of an issues as with some corded drills I’ve used, but it still just doesn’t feel balanced. I usually ride the grip up when I used it and use my middle finger as the trigger finger because that helps.
We’ve had this drill at the college for a little over a year and for a total of three productions and one tech class. In that amount of time this tool has been abused in ways that only inexperienced college students are capable of abusing a tool and it still works like it did the first day we used it.
It comes with two batteries, a charger a double ended screw bit (Phillips one end and flat on the other) and a soft case. As far as cases go, I really like this one, but as with all cases I tend to take the tools out, give the tool a home on a shelf and never put it back in the case again. This drill was no different, but I keep thinking this particular case might come in handy as storage for something else someday. It’s more flexible on the inside than a plastic case, so its uses should also be more flexible too. I have yet to find that alternative use though.
The Bottom Line
This is a tough and well-designed little cordless drill. It has excellent battery life, is very lightweight and takes abuse like a champ. The only down side is simply its lack of power. If you know you’re going to be doing a lot of heavy duty work, this is not the tool for the job. If you’re a home owner and already own a corded drill, this would be the perfect cordless complement.
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