Recently, Milwaukee introduced the Drywaller’s Dream Duo – a couple of tools designed to make the labor-intensive job of drywall installation a whole lot easier, faster, and more fun. Well, two out of three ain’t bad… In a previous post, we saw how the Milwaukee M18 drywall screw gun made attaching drywall faster – and quieter. If all walls and ceilings were just a beautiful unbroken plane of grayish white, life would be so perfect. But no, people want lights, and outlets, and switches, and windows…waah. The fastest way to get around these pesky obstacles is with a cut out tool, typically a corded one. Today, we’ll take an incisive look at the cordless Milwaukee M18 Cut Out Tool, to see if it has the chops to make the cut…out.
Drywall installers typically get paid per piece, so time is money. While cut out tools are a huge time saver, having to get access to power, and then drag around an extension cord all day, chews up time. Along with being a pain in the butt. After watching numerous drywall crews in action, Milwaukee’s designers went to work. The result was the Milwaukee M18 Cut Out Tool, which Milwaukee says cuts drywall faster than the leading competitive cut out tools on the market – corded and cordless alike. The tool also claims the industry’s slimmest handle, lightest weight and shortest length. Sounds downright dainty – we’ll see about that. Here’s the rundown on features and specs from Milwaukee:
• Most compact tool in the market, with best in class ergonomics for increased comfort during all day work.
• 4-Pole Motor: 28,000 RPM’s, delivers up to 20% faster cuts than other tools in the market
• Up to 120 cuts per charge on a 3.0 Ah battery
• REDLINK™ Intelligence provides overload protection to defend against abusive situations
• Tool Free Depth Adjustment
• LED Light
• Vent on top of tool to blow debris away from the user
• Belt Clip
• Accommodates 1/8” and ¼” spiral bits
• Length: 8.9″
• Weight: 1.8 lbs.
• Width: 2.0″
• Tool Warranty: 5 Years
Time Is Money – Let’s Go!
The Milwaukee M18 cut out tool is available as a bare tool (2627-20), in a kit with a contractor bag, charger and two compact 1.5 Ah batteries (2627-22CT), and in a kit with a contractor bag, charger and two extended capacity 3.0 Ah batteries (2627-22). We received the bare tool, which at least had its belt clip to keep it company. All three versions also come with a couple of 1/8” bits, so you can plunge right in.
If you’ve ever used a cut out tool, you’ll be right at home here. They’re pretty straightforward tools, with an on/off switch, a collet to hold the bit, and a depth stop collar. To get the Milwaukee M18 cut out tool into action, I simply had to loosen the collet nut, slide the bit in, and tighten the nut while holding in the spindle lock button. By the way, when inserting the bit, make sure only the smooth portion of the shank extends into the collet, and leave at least 1/8” of the smooth part exposed. The tool arrived with the 1/8” collet inserted; a ¼” collet is also included.
By the way, I like Milwaukee’s touch of incorporating a bottle opener into the spindle wrench. It provides a classy way to open your bottle of Yoo-Hoo at lunch, with the potential for a more satisfying beverage at the end of the day – AFTER the 28,000 RPM bit has stopped spinning.
There’s also tool-free depth adjustment for the Milwaukee M18 cut out tool. Just push in the depth guide adjustment button, slide the nose ring to where you want it, and release the button. The depth stop clicks into place. There’s a little play to it, but it stays solidly in the notch you choose, and hey – we’re cutting drywall, not doing brain surgery. Hopefully.
The tool feels very well made and sturdy, as you’d expect from Milwaukee. It fits nicely in the hand, and is comfortable to hold. The slide-through power switch is easy to operate, but located where it’s not likely to get accidentally turned on. This is good, in case you don’t have a change of underwear along.
Another helpful feature on the tool is an LED light that comes on when the tool is fired up, and remains on for five seconds or so after powering down. This has the potential to be very helpful on those rare occasions when you‘re not working under ideal lighting conditions. A final improvement gleaned from watching hangers work is the inclusion of a dust blower on each side of the tool. They put out a nice continuous gust of air to keep your target area from disappearing under a quarter-inch of drywall dust. It’s the little things…
The Milwaukee M18 Cut Out Tool Gets Dusty
As part of the never-ending renovations on our old farmhouse, I recently replaced a ceiling in one of the bedrooms. I was using 4’x12’ sheets of drywall, but since my three brothers and two bros-in-law were there to assist, no drywall lift was required. I supervised, naturally.
As we installed the drywall, we had three of those aforementioned pesky protuberances to deal with: Two for lights, and one for a ceiling fan. After getting the sheet into position and loosely screwed, my brother-in-law Joe fired up the Milwaukee M18 cut out tool, and made the dust fly.
And here begins our safety lesson for the day: What’s missing in these pictures? That’s right – safety glasses! Joe has more energy than any other three people I know combined. What he doesn’t have is patience. Let’s go let’s get this done what are we waiting for!! What he also won’t have if he keeps using this kind of tool without safety glasses is eyesight. These things kick up a ton of dust, and it’s only a matter of time before you snap a bit. Joe – and ALL of you – WEAR YOUR SAFETY GLASSES!
Anyway, we got all three cuts made very quickly, with nice, smooth cutouts for the electrical boxes. Using a cut out tool leaves a very small gap around the device box, which requires no patching. Another part of the festivities involved replacing several windows. After removing the old windows, there was a ½” – 1” border of overhanging drywall around the window opening. I used the Milwaukee M18 cut out tool to quickly trim the excess, AFTER DONNING MY SAFETY GLASSES. The tool was comfortable to use, and while not exactly quiet, it seemed quieter than the corded model I’m used to using. Having no extension cord to trip over was a definite bonus, especially with six guys in one room.
So, That Cord…Ready To Cut It Out?
I think the Milwaukee M18 cut out tool is going to make a lot of drywall pros very happy. The design and features are great, with almost no negatives. The only improvements I could think of would be to have onboard storage for the wrench and spare collet, but I don’t see how you could do that and maintain the compact size. Not a huge deal, and a pro will likely have a bag along with extra bits and so forth. If you buy either of the kits, you’re set.
In drywall hanging, as in most trades, the quality of your tools makes a huge difference in how productive you can be. If there’s a cordless version of a tool available that does as good a job, or better, you are immediately more productive. And generally a happier human, for having one less hassle in your day.
The Milwaukee M18 cut out tool meets that bar. It’s a solid, well-made, reasonably-priced tool that’s designed to survive tough job site use, and it promises to be a huge time saver. Milwaukee obviously has confidence in the ruggedness of the tool, as they back it with a five-year warranty. If time is money for you, the Milwaukee M18 cut out tool can help you cut out the wasted moments of the day, so you can get busy with the FUN end of the adjustment wrench.
Buy the bare tool from our sponsor Ohio Power Tool
Buy the compact kit:
Buy the Extended Capacity kit: