Any Feedback on Bauer (Harbor Freight) Cordless Tools?

Vaughn McMillan

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Let me preface this by saying I'm a big fan of Milwaukee cordless tools. I have their M12 (12 volt) drill/driver and M12 impact driver and love them. Compact, lightweight, and good battery life. When I was installing pictures for a living my boss and I both carried M12 drill/drivers on our toolbelts and used them daily. We could typically go about a week between charges on the batteries. I still use my M12 drill/driver a lot around the house and shop. I also have Hitachi 14.4 volt drill/drivers and impact drivers, but they have NiCad batteries that have all gone belly up.

Last night I was driving some lag screws to mount a faceplate onto an ash turning blank, and even with pre-drilled pilot holes the Milwaukee M12 impact driver was struggling. In the past I used the 14.4 v Hitachi impact driver for this type of task. I've decided it's time to replace the Hitachi tools with something that uses lithium batteries. (Replacement batteries for the Hitachi tools are pretty expensive, and it looks like I'd still be stuck with NiCad batteries.) I looked at Milwaukee M18 (18 volt) drills and impact drivers, but even the refurbished models are around $150 each by the time I include the tool, a battery, and a charger. So I decided to take a peek at what Harbor Freight has to offer.

HF has their Bauer line of cordless tools, and their 20v stuff seems to have good reviews. By the time I include the 20% coupon, I can get an impact driver, battery, and charger for under $60. Like most people, I've had mixed luck with HF power tools, but my HF dust collector is still going strong after many years of use, and my right-angle Chicago Electric corded drill has spent countless hours of constant running as a bowl sander. (On the other hand, Stu Ablett bought the same right-angle drill when I bought mine and his died on him almost immediately. Unfortunately, he was thousands of miles from the nearest HF store, so a warranty exchange would cost more in shipping than the tool itself.) For tools I plan to use a lot, I'm a firm believer in buying the best tools I can afford. For other tools that I only plan to use occasionally (like an impact driver), I'm willing to cut some price corners as long as the tool will still do what I need.

So...do any of you have any experience with the Bauer 20v cordless tools? I live less than 3 miles from the nearest HF store, so if I need to take advantage of the 90-day warranty, I wouldn't need to travel far to do so. Any feedback/success/horror stories from the rest of you guys?
 

Kerry Burton

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I've been pleased with my Bauer 20V drill/driver, but you might want to check the fine print on your 20% coupon ... I believe Bauer is one of the "brands" that is typically excluded.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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Will do, Kerry. Thanks for the heads-up. (Even without the discount the impact driver is about half the price of the Milwaukee.)
 

Kerry Burton

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Speaking of "brushless", my Bauer drill/driver is definitely NOT. I was a little surprised at the "new drill smell" when I first fired it up.

That has subsided somewhat over time, and the unit works fine; no qualms there. But brushless sure sounds tempting...
 

Brent Dowell

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I have to admit, I got hooked on the milwaukees and have quite the collection now. Seems like everytime I go to the store another poor little milwaukee cordless tool of some sort finds it's forever home.
 

Ted Calver

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I flipped a coin between red and yellow and ended up being happy with my Dewalt cordless tools. Check the amp hour rating of the batteries in those kits. They are often 2.0 amp hour and if you do anything serious, you will soon find yourself shelling out some more money for a higher amp hour rated battery. There are often also a bewildering number of models of each tool, and trying to figure which one is right for you can be frustrating.
 

Darren Wright

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I've been using the Hitachi lithum ion combos for years now, got them refurbished at big sky, currently $99 for the drill, impact, batteries, bag, and charger...https://bigskytool.com/hitachi-kc18dgl-18v-lithium-ion-driver-drill-impact-driver-combo-kit-reconditioned.html

Edit: Nm, just saw it is out of stock
 

Ryan Mooney

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well I am skeptical also BUT the tools appear to have to same part number as the ones at Lowes and it come with the same warranty
I'm thinking its worse than that poking around... I'd bet a goodly amount you put in your credit card, don't ever see a single tool, and get a few "fun' charges later on.

CPO has a "get a free charger and 2 5ah batteries if you buy two bare tools" deal.
https://www.cpopowertools.com/gwp-504493

It's entirely possible that my ancient 18v drill finally gave out a couple weeks ago and I MIGHT have replaced it with a 20v 2 speed (sssshh don't tell the boss..). I can't really review it other than to say the 20v 5ah batteries charged waaay faster than my old kit did, and it had plenty of oomph to drive a handful of screws and drill a couple of holes but really haven't had it long enough to make a useful comment.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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I'm with Ryan on this one. Almost all of my scam alarms went off with that website. Any website that is in the .top domain has a good chance of being a scam site. Here's what a Google search mentioned about .top domains:
It's 'safe' to register and use any of the Top-Level Domains but that doesn't make it wise. ... top domains registered are used for abuse like spam, malware and the like. That means that over 1 out of every 3 domains you visit on a . top domain is not a valid website (based on SpamHaus).
Looking at their About Us page doesn't leave me with warm fuzzies reading statements like this: "We use innovative chemistry with modern design craftsmanship to consistently set the standard for next-generation toys, glass, electronics, materials, batteries, and phone accessories." Also, all of the photos shown are stock photos you can easily find on the web. Same story with all of their grand total of 11 items offered for sale (which are all conveniently either $99.99 or $89.99). If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck... ;) I do appreciate you looking around for me, though.

The CPO battery and charger offer looks good, but by the time I get a drill and an impact driver, I'm going over $300, which is more than I want to bite off right now. I've bought a fair number of refurbished tools from CPO and Big Sky and always been happy with them.

For my needs around the house and shop, I think I can do OK for now with the pair of 1.3 amp-hour batteries that come with the combo set that Lowe's has on sale for 20% off. In fact, that's what I went ahead and bought this afternoon. I tested the impact driver this evening, driving 1 1/2" #10 lag screws to mount a faceplate on semi-dry maple. I didn't drill any pilot holes, and the impact driver wasn't even breathing hard to run them right it. Between this pair and the lighter Milwaukee M12 pair I have, I think I'm pretty well covered for the foreseeable future. If I end up taking on a big project like a deck where I need longer battery life (which is doubtful), I'll look into buying one or two 5 amp-hour batteries and maybe an extra charger.

I also realized tonight I have two 14.4 v Hitachi sets...a NiCad set and a lithium set. I'll probably toss the older NiCad set and hang onto the lithium set, and keep my eyes open for some compatible batteries. The sales guy at Lowe's today told me that Hitachi has been bought out by Metabo, so I'm not sure if we'll be seeing Hitachi stuff around for too much longer.
 
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steve ramsey

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Curious why no one mentions Rigid with their free service and battery replacement for life if registered within 90 days. I've had mine for years and never an issue.

On another note if your are replacing an old cordless drill with a keyless chuck remove the chuck. It can be chucked in a keyed drill press chuck for quick bit changes. I also made a handle and epoxied it in and use it for various things on the lathe.
 

Chuck Ellis

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I'm late to the party - as usual - but I have a Porter Cable bag of tools my son gave me for Father's day a couple of year back... 18V consists of a driver/drill, flash light, saws all, circular saw, two battery packs and charger... don't know the battery type but have used them pretty steadily since I got them... the flashlight needs a new bulb right now. I use the drill driver most as I set all my bowl blanks with a faceplate.

I just put down new deck boards on the back deck, plus new steps back and front using 2x12 boards and running 3" screws.... I started off to use my HF corded drill to start with, but it was too fast and stripped out screw heads if they weren't seated well... switched to cordless and other than re-charging one battery midway through, never hesitated...

The saws all does eat a battery pretty quick as does the little circular saw, but for light work does the job.

I also have an old Sears 14.4V drill driver that needs new batteries... have used it for about 20 years and it still works... the batteries just won't charge anymore and new batteries cost more than the tool did. Plus Sears is out of business.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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Curious why no one mentions Rigid with their free service and battery replacement for life if registered within 90 days. I've had mine for years and never an issue.
I honestly hadn't thought of looking at the Rigid stuff. I see they have a brushless set that's comparable to the Dewalt set I bought. It's about $30 more than what I paid for mine, but the warranty and free battery replacement thing is likely worth the extra bucks. That said, that particular set is not in stock anywhere in town, so I'd have to wait until mid-June to get it.
 
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