This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. There comes a time in every handyperson or mechanic’s life when you have that one fastener that is just out of reach. Or sometimes you can reach it, but just cannot get a good bite on it. Maybe it’s too awkward, or a regular driver won’t fit in the space you have to work with. The Milwaukee Fuel M12 Installation Driver has a knack for tackling those hard-to-reach places.
Ravaging the Arrival of the Milwaukee M12 Installation Driver
Right off the bat, I noticed the packaging for a tool of this caliber is not like the hard case some Milwaukee tools come with. When I first received the package, I couldn’t find it. Unfortunately, the neighbor’s dog got out and laid claim to it. He chewed through the outer packaging, the Milwaukee box, and a portion of the canvas bag holding the tool and its key components inside. It must have smelled delicious. While not at all the fault of the manufacturer, this does make me wonder how well the tool in its original canvas packaging will hold up to a pickup bed or job site if it doesn’t pass the puppy test. I can’t hardly blame the dog, either – I’d have done the same thing. This might just be a good reason to pick up some Milwaukee Packout storage for it.
Thankfully, the tool remained intact and a sight to behold. Especially among the wreckage. All parts and components were accounted for, (thankfully in their uneaten form), and I immediately saw the use and utility of this tool. It has four quick-change heads that operate like an air chuck connector. This aspect is a familiar concept that bodes well for adoption by auto mechanics.
Each head has a different purpose, which allows this single tool to retain several functions. It includes a drill bit chuck, a ¼-drive chuck, a 90-degree drive chuck, and an offset ¼” drive. The drill bit and standard ¼” drive are commonplace and some tools can adapt for either-or. But what really stands out about this set are the offset heads.
The offset heads allow a 90-degree drill or an offset hex bit that rotates 360-degrees from the nose of the gun at 16 set positions. This means you can pre-drill and set fasteners in spaces that you can barely get screwdrivers into – if at all. Or, you can perform awkward drilling with ease. As long as you can reach it and set your bit, you’ve got it made. And each of these awkward positions are far more ergonomic with the overall tool design.
This Driver is Engineered to Best Any Angle
The tool has a pistol-grip, much like any other drill. However, it is extremely light weighing in at only 2 pounds. And that’s with the battery. The weight is extremely helpful, especially when you need one hand to hold an object and the other to drill it in place. I used my middle finger to pull the trigger while using my index finger to guide offset installations.
For repetitive installation work, the Milwaukee M12 Installation Driver is ideal because of its portability and adaptability from one stage of work to the next. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to get off a ladder after using one drill to go pick up a second drill because it had the ¼” driver I needed. And I don’t even want to get into how many bits I’ve lost by switching from a drill bit to a driver, then back, only to realize I’d misplaced one or the other along the way. Never again.
The Milwaukee Installation Driver setup allows you to easily switch from pre-drilling to driving with the pull of a chuck. The interchange is a snap with a simple pull of the collared end near the base of each head where it connects to the tool. The heads are about the size of a racquetball and easily fit in a pocket or tool pouch. You can leave your driver or bit attached so it’s easy to find and switch back and forth.
Milwaukee took convenience a step further with this tool. Those trips up-and-down the ladder won’t be as cumbersome with the help of a simple belt clip. The clip is interchangeable on either side. It takes a little getting used to, but it is much more narrow and less bulky than a traditional drill with a clip that I’ve used in the past. It can clip easily on a pocket or waistband and doesn’t drive down your jeans. Your bystanders will likely appreciate the lack of plumber’s crack.
As an added touch, the tool has a magnetic front that doubles as a knuckle guard of sorts. It took a moment to realize what it was, but once I caught on, I was sold. The magnetic front will keep those fasteners out of your mouth or provide a place for old fasteners until you get to a safe spot. It is useful for holding extra bits or drivers for those odd jobs where you need multiple bits. Like when the handyman before you decided to use both a Philips and a flat screw on the same piece of work.
There’s also a small LED light mounted at the front for working in those odd spots or while working at dawn or dusk. A small battery indicator on the side allows the user to easily see how much juice is left to work with. I set seven wall anchors, set and re-set a wooden window on two hinges at least three times, installed 14 fasteners, drilled through plaster and brick 24 times and tightened or adjusted numerous other anchors or clamps. After several solid days of intermittent use on drywall, plaster, brick, and wood, I still had two bars left. While Milwaukee claims this to be a 4-in-1 tool, it’s an understatement of the variety of needs met by this device.
The Milwaukee M12 Installation Driver – Light Weight, Not Light Duty
Judging by the feel alone, this tool feels like it is the kind of Milwaukee tool I can hand down to my kids. While small in size, it is obvious that it can perform many tasks. The heads are made of metal and the interior geared components that allow for the angled drive are solid with no slop. In addition, the mating surfaces and collar points all appear to be easy to clean and maintain. I plan to keep an eye on exposed metal surfaces for rust potential and may retain a little oil or grease on hand to ensure consistent quality during storage or excessive use.
The exterior material appears rigid and is more than effective in sustaining a 6-foot drop on wood, concrete, or brick. Maybe more – but I didn’t want to scratch it up too bad before I got some decent shots of this machine hard at work. Still, dropping it would be difficult with the stable, rubberized grip. It’s even less likely to be dropped when strapped onto a belt while in motion. The belt clip doubles as a lanyard arrest point to keep the tool from falling too far out of reach or landing on someone below.
The forward/reverse drive direction selector is different than the typical trigger-finger push-button that I’m used to. Instead, it is a one-push button beneath a membrane on the top of the driver. It’s a little tricky to get used to the positioning of this button, which must be pressed with the thumb while in position, or the other hand. I haven’t seen a membrane like this yet that can withstand years of repeated use. I’m curious how well this aspect of the design will perform over time.
How Many Chucks Would a Woodworker Chuck?
So what real benefit is there for having a series of heads? The simple answer is a hydra of convenience in the palm of your hand. But more than that, it is the ability to save time. You can keep track of your bits. Swap uses without swapping tools. Access places that most drills can’t. All-in-all, this means you can carry less but get more done – and get it all done more efficiently.
Some similar drills I’ve used have one or two of these features inherent in the design or function. I’ve seen head interchangeability with full-size drills in the past, and even a few modern competitors, but the size and narrow profile of this tool makes it a more compelling buy in my opinion. My take on this is a new era of modular tool design that could very well become a new standard among power tool giants.
The chucks are designed to fit within the provided tool bag. There’s more than enough room to house extra bits or supplies. However, job site use may dictate that these components share space in a toolbox or bag. Plus, it’s possible to replace lost or broken quick-connect heads through Milwaukee Connect. The bag won’t suffice in my case so I’ll likely swap for a small toolbox or one of my existing tool bags capable of holding each of the four chucks in a similarly secure setup. In the future, it may make sense to incorporate the tool into the One-Key portion of Milwaukee’s tool tracking app. Especially since they’re smaller and easier to misplace.
Drilling Down the Milwaukee Driver
There were some immediate nods and raised eyebrows when I revealed this tool to the guys at work. I offered it up to see what uses it might have and got varied responses across the board. From plumbing to finish carpentry, automotive to electrical, and even highly specific one-use solutions, the Milwaukee Installation Driver made a sound impression.
In my own toolbox, I realized how much it will help out around the house and in the shop. Some portions of my own remodels have been put off due to nearly impossible work inside narrow cabinetry or wood lathe walls. I can see it as an excellent tool for exterior gutters and metal siding repairs. In the shop, I can reach those annoying hose clamps and nuts that are nearly impossible to access thanks to the last mechanic’s sick sense of humor.
The Milwaukee Installation Driver kit came with two 2-amp-hour batteries and a charger. This allows for a significant amount of drilling time and a steady battery change-out. Initial charge time was impressive, with less than an hour for each battery. The charger is almost as big as the tool itself and may need a dedicated space in the shop. But with as much use as I get out of a single battery I’m not too concerned about being a fair distance from the charger.
It is not meant for heavy-duty drilling. But that’s not the goal. As an installation driver, it is better suited for just that – installation. Mounting shelving units, assembling furniture, installing fixtures, setting clamps. That sort of thing. Still, it delivers an impressive amount of speed and force for such a compact driver.
The Milwaukee M12 Driver boasts up to 300 in-lb. of torque, which is enough to drill and seat most fasteners. This proved more than adequate for the challenges I put it through. The trigger pull has a steady, variable acceleration for controlling speeds on delicate tasks. Or, you can hammer down and go to town with a drill bit. Plus, you can change the speed to achieve 400 RPMs up to 1,600 RPMs. Anything more above and beyond the 16-clutch settings can easily be tuned by hand. From what I could tell you’d likely strip a screw by torquing more than what this driver can do.
Making Amends With My Little Milwaukee Friend
This is an ideal tool or gift for any tradesman. It’s also a great sidearm for the home repair kit. For finish work it exceeds expectations. For repetitive work, it takes a fair amount of work out of the job just by the weight alone. And for that random one-off task, I’ve found it gets the job done with flying colors. The hardest part of the Milwaukee M12 Installation Driver may be keeping people from borrowing it.
I’d expect this driver to make its way into just about every quality auto shop. It does well with the clutch settings enough to drive fasteners or dislodge stuck screws. It’s also useful for those tedious, hard-to-reach screws that aren’t torqued down or rusted. The speed and versatility makes this a solid candidate for machine screws and butterfly anchors. And the size including batteries and head components allows for easy storage inside the space of about two VHS tapes. The design doesn’t allow for a solid fit in a drill holster. But it is ideal for a household tool drawer, glove box, or job site. I found it extremely easy to clip to any pocket for quick draw access.
All-in-all, I now have more uses and less excuses. Hopefully in time that will work out in my favor. Either way, I’m confident that the M12 Milwaukee Installation Driver will be the new staple in my shop as the go-to tool for a solid majority of tasks on my honeydew list. Pick one up for about $229 and let us know in the comments below what uses you find for it!
I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.