Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Drill Accessory Case Comparison 2 - Three From Milwaukee and a Skil

A few years back I did a COMPARISON of a few drill bit / insert bit cases I own. For girlfriend-scrutiny purposes, I like to keep the actual number of cases I own a mystery; however, I can say that it's more than five and less than 15. Anyway, I have a few more to compare today.

Last time, I inevitably came to the conclusion that you can't judge contents by their case, and vice versa. Also, we can't judge case contents by their brand. Unfortunately, everything is hit or miss. A brand might hit the nail on the head, so to speak, with one case, and completely miss the boat with another.

This time, I'm going to review three cases by Milwaukee, and one by Skil. Don't worry, there is enough variety to keep this comparison interesting, despite only two brands between four cases. Also, I'm going to avoid mentioning the quality of the contents. Well, I'll do the best I can.

First up, I have a case of spade drill bits from Milwaukee.
Milwaukee 4220175 8 pc Flat Boring Bit Set

The case is solid. Bits fit firmly, but easily snap into place. There is enough room for even large fingers to remove the bits. Rubber on the outside is slightly gimmicky, but it does help keep the case from sliding around when placed on smooth/wet/slanted surfaces.
When closed, the two halves of the case can shift around with a bit of pressure, but this isn't a big issue by any means.
This is a near-perfect case. Hmm, maybe I should have ended with this one...

Next I have a pretty standard Milwaukee drill bit set.
Milwaukee 48-89-2800 14pc Thunderbolt Black Oxide Drill Bit Set

Again, Milwaukee does a great job here with a drill bit case. Bits securely slide into place and can be removed without too much effort. The case doesn't feel cheap, and the sliding lock has a picture of a drill bit on it so you can tell at a glance what the contents are (this is actually helpful for me and my 5-15 cases). The two holders for these bits can even rotate up for easier access.
Again, nothing major to complain about. The one thing worth mentioning is that this case holds 14 bits, and only 14 bits. It would have been nice if the case was either slightly larger, or had another smaller bit holder for more bits.
Overall, this is a great case, but I feel Milwaukee is missing out on an opportunity to add more storage for savvy users. I've noticed most of their cases are somewhat modular. They aren't all interchangeable, but I wish Milwaukee would sell individual bit holders to help users make custom cases.

The third case from Milwaukee is a set of insert bits.
Milwaukee 48-32-4401 29-piece  Shockwave Impact Driver Bit Set

On the right side of the case, the bits fit snugly, yet are easily removable/replaceable (see a pattern here?). The case closes firmly, and it features rubber pads on the outside as well as a general picture of the contents on the locking slider.
Unfortunately, the left side of the case features a poorly executed storage compartment. First of all, there are three vertical sections with no dividers. That means all of your bits, screws, parking meter change, whatever, will be sliding around. Even worse, the leftmost section gets almost completely blocked by the hinged door! I love the idea, but it just doesn't work.
This case makes very poor use of internal space. The right side seems to have wasted room between the bits, and the storage compartment is a joke. I like what they were going for, but frankly, I wouldn't buy this one again (ok, maybe I would because mine came bundled with that 14-piece drill bit set for a good price).

Lastly, I have a Skil case containing almost every bit imaginable.
Sorry, but I couldn't find a link at this time.

This tri-fold design is the first I've ever seen for a case, and it works pretty well. Overall, it's no thicker than the last Milwaukee set, but it has 50% more space (by my unscientific estimate). It feels fairly sturdy. Drill bit sizes are printed next to their storage locations.
I love the innovative design, but many of the bits are difficult to remove/replace. This case may have a great variety of drill/insert bits, but actually using them can be a pain. Also, the hinge on the back is huge! I'm sure this is due to the tri-fold design, but it does make the case wider than most when closed.
This one is a toss up. I like the overall design but the bit holders could be a lot better. If you're not as picky as I am about these things, then this is a great product.

Milwaukee is generally regarded as a professional, high-quality brand, and it shows with two of their three cases here, but the last one is big letdown. Meanwhile, Skil, which in my experience is often overlooked or at least not well known for drill accessories, has a really innovative case design.


Anonymous said...

I have a few cases like this from Irwin and although the sliding clasp broke on one they are still in service. I have a Craftsman case with simple twist bits where the insert kept falling out and I jammed a little bit of glue on each end so it stays in. Also I have a set of the boring bits from Irwin and I don't think I will ever use a spade bit again unless I need a half-depth hole. They are that awesome.

Bob A.

Blogger said...

Bob, those boring bits from Irwin, are they the auger-style?

I don't find myself using my spade bits all that often, but the extension that comes with my Milwaukee set is very handy. In fact, I should take it out and find a home for it somewhere where I'll use it more.

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