Using power tools is a messy business. Drilling holes, cutting lumber, sanding trim smooth and pretty – everything seems to generate an amazing amount of wood chips and sawdust. And while it’s gratifying to see the result of all that work, someone’s got to clean up the mess at the end of the day. If that someone is you, you may want to take a look at the new Milwaukee M18 Cordless Compact Blower. Milwaukee recently sent one for us to evaluate, so put down your broom and take a look!
The Milwaukee Compact Blower is designed to be used in your shop, garage, basement, or at a worksite, for quick cleanup. It’s very lightweight, at 2.6 pounds, and features a shock-absorbing polymer body and a crush resistant nozzle. The blower has power control that includes a 3-speed electronic switch, lock-on, and a variable speed trigger. For a relatively small unit, this thing can move some air, at a top speed of 160 MPH and 100 CFM. Milwaukee also included an inflator/deflator attachment; we’ll look at that in a minute.
Housekeeping, Milwaukee Style
When you open the box, it doesn’t take long to get set up. As for instructions, they’re included, of course, but if you need instructions to figure this thing out, you probably shouldn’t be out without your attendant. Simply slide the battery into place, slip the first nozzle over the front of the unit, and add the second nozzle if needed. Set the power switch to low, medium or high, pull the trigger, and away you go!
At first, I thought “Who needs three speeds – why the heck would you ever run anything at less than full throttle!”. Then I got to thinking (an activity my wife encourages me to engage in more often) and decided there probably are some times when you’d like to have something moved a bit more gently. An example would be when you’re cleaning up sawdust in your basement or other enclosed space, and you’d prefer it in a pile rather than scattered everywhere, or when trying to herd leaves or other debris with a little more finesse.
To test it out, I slapped an M18 4.0Ah battery on and headed to the great outdoors. My truck bed was full of the latest batch of the 412,000 acorns our pin oak tree drops each fall. I fired up the Milwaukee Compact Blower (on high, of course), aimed it into the truck bed, and watched the acorns disappear. Unfortunately, this meant that now the acorns were all over my driveway (along with several thousand of their brothers and sisters). I kept it on high, set the trigger lock, and blew off the whole driveway, which is about 95’ long.
Now the driveway was looking sharp, but the sidewalk looked shabby by comparison, so I kept going until all the concrete was free of any remnants of nature. It did a great job! For such a small unit, it puts out a pretty good volume of air, and kept those acorns rolling and leaves flying. While I was out there and feeling inspired, I also blew off the porches; it’s one of those tools that makes you wonder “where else could I use this??”.
The Milwaukee Blower Goes To The Farm
The next day, we were up at our farm. We’re redoing the entire house, and there are always at least a couple of projects going on. The garage is my wood-processing area, where I do most of my cutting, sanding, etc. to try and keep the dust down in the house. It’s also our storage/staging/catchall area, so it tends to be cluttered and messy at times. Okay, ALL the time. After a day of cutting hardwood flooring, I brought the Milwaukee Compact Blower out to give it a whack at tidying up. This is a job that’s a pain in the butt to do with a broom, because there’s so much crap everywhere that has to be moved. With the blower, though, wow – a couple of minutes, and I could see my floor again! I actually set it on low, to keep from blowing all the sawdust out into my gravel driveway. Maybe I’m growing up! Naaaah…
Another task on the farm’s chore list was to close the pool for the season. It’s a 24’ above ground pool, nothing fancy, but nice to cool off in after a hard day of making sawdust. When we close it, there’s a cover that goes over the pool, to keep leaves, woodchucks, meteorites, etc. out. It gets kinda frosty up there in the winter, so to keep the water from expanding and blowing the sides of the pool out, we use a big inflatable thing under the cover. Weird, but it seems to work. Anyhow, blowing up this big inflatable thing has always been a long, painful process.
This year, though, with the Milwaukee Compact Blower and one of the inflation adapters, my 85-year-old mother did it in about three minutes. Assuming there’s any air left in it next spring, we can use the deflator feature to evacuate the six-month-old air. Sweet! With the various nozzle sizes, this adapter would be a VERY handy way to blow up inflatable beds or air mattresses, inflatable pool toys (or inflatable pools!), and whatever other air-ingesting items might be lurking around the house.
A Left-Handed Observation
Pretty much my only quibble with the Milwaukee Compact Blower has to do with how they laid out the intake port. If you’re right-handed, like most normal people, you will undoubtedly find the blower sucking the material from your pants/shorts/whatever into the intake port. (Lefties—chill! My wife is left-handed, which she claims is evidence of superior intelligence, skill, and overall wonderfulness. She’s probably right).
This happened to me every time I used the blower, and to everyone else that tried it out – except, naturally, my wife. Maybe there’s something to this left-handed thing… Anyhow, a better design might have been to put it on the top or bottom of the tool, or even on the right side, where it would be bothersome to far fewer users. It’s not a huge deal, more a minor annoyance, and it only happens when you’re walking along with the blower in your right hand, hanging by your side. Move it a bit to the right, and all will be well with the world, or at least the world close to your blower…
Even though the Milwaukee Compact Blower is intended for use more as a shop/garage tool, so far everyone that’s tried it outdoors loves it. Recently, I took it to my daughter’s house, and she used it to blow leaves, dirt, and miscellaneous debris off her back patio, driveway and sidewalks. It’s not what we’ll use to clean up the whole yard this fall, but for day-to-day clearing it’s great. It’s lightweight, convenient to use, and it does a great tidying-up job. When you’re finished with it, it breaks down quickly for storage, and takes up very little space.
The Milwaukee Blower is currently sold only as a bare tool. This makes it a great choice for anyone who already uses Milwaukee M18 tools, as it will work with any M18 battery. This also means that if you don’t already have an M18 battery and charger, you’ll need to get one; Home Depot currently has a combo kit with a 3Ah M18 battery and charger for $99.
At this point, with almost $200 invested, it’s getting to be a pricy way to clean up. If you’re planning to get other Milwaukee tools, though, it’s a great way to start out, as many of their products are offered as bare tools, meaning you don’t have to pay for batteries and chargers you already have. The Milwaukee Compact Blower comes with a five-year warranty, so your cleanups are guaranteed to be easier for a long time to come. Get one, ditch the broom, and breeze right through your cleanup chores, at 160 MPH!
The Milwaukee M18 Cordless Blower is available from our sponsor Ohio Power tool (tool only) for $99.