Skil 18V Lithium Ion Combo Kit

Everything you need to undertake just about any home improvement or maintenance project

skil_2895

Skil 18V Lithium Ion Combo Kit



The Skil 18V Lithium Ion Combo Kit (2895LI-20) is designed for the home owner/DIYer. As with most 4 tool kits it comes with a drill/driver, circular saw, reciprocating saw, and flashlight. You also get two 18V lithium ion batteries, a fast charger, circular saw blade, two recip blades, two bit drivers, auxiliary handle (for the drill/driver), and a soft side carry all bag. The bag has small pockets for storing the charger and batteries, and a larger pocket for storing odds and ends.



What powers the tools in this kit are a pair of low profile 18V 1.3 Amp-hour (Ah) batteries. As you might expect, the higher the Ah rating, the longer the battery will last between charges. While you'll find higher rated Ah batteries on professional power tools, this 1.3 Ah battery is strong enough to handle just about any task around the house or home shop. Because of its slim, low profile, it's also very light (just under 15 oz), helping further reduce overall tool weight. On the back of the batteries are three charge indicator LED lights. By pressing a button below the lights you can determine roughly, how much life is left in the battery - when only one light glows you know your about ready to put the battery back in the charger.



The 2895LI-20 ships with a fast charger. Fast charging automatically stops when the battery is fully charged (the green indicator light on the charger stops blinking and glows steady). During the testing of the kit I re-charged the Li-ion batteries five times; average charge time was 54 minutes. If you have any Skil SB18A Ni-Cad batteries you can also use them on any of the tools in this kit.



All the tools in this kit primarily have hard plastic bodies, with rubberized grips. They aren't meant to withstand the kinds of abuse that you would expect on a job site; drop one of these tools and the housing will likely chip or crack.


2895 Drill/Driver
Skil_2895_800
The 2895 is a VSR (variable speed reversible) drill that offers an impressive 400 in/lbs of torque (giving you enough power to drill holes of just about any size, easily sink large screws and set lag bolts); a 1/2" chuck (so you can use large hole saws and spade bits); a two speed gearbox (a low gear delivering 0 to 450 RPM for high torque applications, and a high gear delivering 0 to 1,400 RPM for drilling holes and setting screws); and a 21 position clutch (to prevent screw head stripping or driving screws too deep). Variable speed is controlled by the trigger, and acceleration is constant across the full range of trigger movement. The clutch moves smoothly without any slop, and there is an audible 'click' at each setting so you know when your on the mark. The gear shifter atop the drill housing isn't very prominent, making it a bit awkward to move with a thumb; you need to exert a fair amount of force. The chuck is made of a high impact ABS and is a single-sleeve keyless design; you can easily tighten or loosen the chuck with one hand.



A detachable side handle comes with the 2895; it's a useful accessory when you need to exert extra pressure sinking large screws or bolts or to steady the drill. The handle can be mounted on either side of the drill.
 

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Gear shifter somewhat awkward to move
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1/2" single-sleeve locking clutch
There is on-board storage for three driver bits; one on the bottom of the handle, and two on the removable auxiliary pod that sits on the top of the drill. Also on the top of this pod is a built-in bubble level so you can ensure the drill bit is level when drilling or driving horizontally. This is a very useful feature, particularly if you are not experienced using a drill/driver; it enables you to drill holes straight and sink screws so they look their best. If you remove the pod you'll find a bit size index. This would have been a very convenient accessory, unfortunately its useless; the holes are not accurate. For example, the 3/16" hole is actually 13/64" while the 5/32" hole is 11/64". Still, you can buy an optional stud finder pod to use in place of the bit index pod.
 

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Auxiliary removable pod contains bit storage and bubble level
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Bit gauge is a great idea, but is not accurate
At just under 4 lbs (with battery), you aren't likely to find a lighter 18V drill/driver. It's a comfortable drill to hold and well balanced. The drill measures about 9-3/4" from the jaws to the back of the handle; reasonably small enough to get into tight, confined spots. I did notice that when a heavy bit is installed in the chuck, the drill has a tendency to tilt forward when set down. I think that this is due to the pistol grip, which puts more weight up front on the drill. For this reason you'll want to be careful about placing the drill on a finished surface where it can accidentally tilt over and damage the surface.



I had no problems drilling holes up to 2" diameter in softwood with a hole saw bit, and drilling 3/4" holes through 2" of hardwood. The drill easily sank #10-3" screws in softwood without pre-drilling. The 2895 seems to be quite capable of easily handling any drilling and driving task that a homeowner would put it to.

KEY FEATURES:


  • 400 in/lbs torque
  • Two-speed gearbox: 0 - 450 and 0 - 1,400 RPM
  • 1/2" single-sleeve locking chuck
  • 21 position clutch
  • Variable speed trigger
  • Gear shifter
  • Rubberized grip
  • Auxiliary handle
  • Removable auxiliary pod
  • Bubble level
  • On-board storage for 3 bits
  • 3.9 lbs (with battery)

5995 Circular Saw
Skil_5995_800
After the drill/driver, the circular saw is likely to be the most frequently used tool in this kit. While the body and blade guard are made of high impact ABS plastic, the shoe (or foot) is made of steel. At 5-1/4" by 9-1/2", the shoe is on the small side; a larger shoe would give more support when cutting stock. The shoe throat is very wide; with a narrow throat there is less chip out when cutting sheet stock. 



The 5995 takes a 5-3/8" diameter thin kerf blade, which it spins at 4,200 RPM. The 18-tooth ATB carbide blade that ships with this saw is thin indeed; the teeth are just 3/32" thick. The saw's 1-5/8" depth of cut (at 90° will rip through a 2 by 4, though just barely. And, when the bevel is set at 45° the depth of cut is 1-1/4", not enough to cut through a 2 by 4.

The saw rises and lowers, and bevels smoothly, without any discernable wobbling. Likewise, the blade guard retracts smoothly as you begin making a cut, and springs back after the cut is made. The lock-off switch is a good safety feature; you need to depress it before you can power on the saw. I really liked the adjustable line guide, which has red registration marks that are easy to see, even in less than ideal lighting. You'll find the line guide very helpful for following a cut line, with the blade set at either 90° or 45°. The bevel and height adjustment scales are not very invisible, and the markings are in 5° increments - a bit too coarse for making precise adjustments. You're better off to disregard the scales and use a protractor.
 

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Plate has a very wide throat
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Scales are hard to read and, at 5-degree increments, too coarse for precise work
Blade change is very fast. You simply remove the blade nut (or stud) with the supplied wrench (which is conveniently stored on the saw). Skil uses what it calls a 'Vari-Torque' clutch to permit the saw blade to rotate when it encounters excessive resistance. This prevents the blade from binding and reduces the likelihood that the saw will kick back. Essentially you limit how much torque you apply to the blade nut; simply follow the instructions that come with the saw. If you don't bother reading the instructions and over tighten the blade nut you'll merely negate the effectiveness of the vari-torque clutch.
 

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Adjustable line guide is easy to see
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The 18 TPI blade gives reasonably smooth, clean cuts
At 86.6 dBA (no load) the 5995 is surprisingly quiet. Perhaps the micro thin saw blade helps reduce noise. The top D handle design, coupled with the low weight (5.8 lbs with battery), make for a well balanced saw that is easy to manoeuvre. I cut 26 pieces off a 2 by 6, and three 8' lengths off a 1/2" sheet of MDF; the battery still had power to spare.

KEY FEATURES:


  • 4,200 no-load RPM
  • 1 5/8" depth of cut at 90-degrees
  • 1 1/4" depth of cut at 45-degrees
  • 5 3/8" blade diameter
  • Vari-torque clutch
  • Lock-off switch
  • 0 - 50-degree bevel
  • Rubberized grip
  • 5.8 lbs (with battery)

9350 Reciprocating Saw
Skil_9350_800
Recip saws are typically the go-to tool on job sites when there is any demolition work, or to make cuts in very confined spaces. A homeowner might not have as much recourse to use a recip saw. However it's handy to have around to cut lengths of plastic and copper piping (make use you use the appropriate blade), to reach places that you can't with a circular saw, and even to prune shrubs and trees around the house.

The 9350 cuts at 2,800 strokes per minute (no load) with a 7/8" stroke, which makes for a less aggressive cut, but makes plunge cutting somewhat easier. The variable speed trigger operates smoothly, and the rubberized grips make the tool somewhat more comfortable to use.



I was pleased to see a blade orbit selector switch on the 9350. This switch has two settings. In the standard setting the blade only moves forward and backward; use this for cutting and metal piping. In orbital (or turbo) mode the blade also moves up and down (perpendicular to the forward and backward motion). You get a more aggressive cut, which enables you to rip through material faster. You can leave the recip saw on this setting most of the time, switching it when you need to cut metal or plastic.
 

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Orbital (turbo) mode is a switch away
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Blade installation is a snap
Changing blades on the 9350 is very easy; depress a blade clamp lever and slip the blade in or out. The pivoting foot plate is metal and not plastic, a feature I really like. There is also a lock-off switch that you need to depress in order to unlock (release) the power trigger. It's a great safety feature. On-board blade storage is a very nice feature, particularly if you only keep a few blades on hand - they're less likely to end up in the 3rd dimension.
 

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Metal pivoting foot plate
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On-board blade storage is a bonus
At 5.5 pounds (with battery) this is one light recip saw. It's well balanced and easy to handle. It has more vibration than would be acceptable for a contractor grade model, but I don't expect this to be an issue for someone who is going to use this saw on an intermittent basis. I used it to rip through 2 by 4 and 2 by 6 studs - piece of cake. Unlike the drill/driver, it's loud though (102.7 dBA), so wear hearing protection.

KEY FEATURES:


  • 2,800 no-load SPM
  • 7/8" stroke
  • Variable speed trigger
  • Blade orbit selector
  • Pivoting foot plate
  • On-board blade storage
  • Tool-less blade change
  • Lock-off switch
  • Rubberized grips
  • 102.7 dBA
  • 5.5 lbs (with battery)

2897 Flashlight
2897_800
Most flashlights in combo kits are fairly indistinguishable. This one uses a common 18V, .6 Amp incandescent bulb rather than an LED bulb. Replacement bulbs cost about $8 for a two pack. The light is fairly bright; at 10' from a wall the spread is about 12' diameter, with the brightest light intensity centered in a 3' diameter spread. The head on this flashlight pivots 90°, a nice feature, and at only 1.7 lbs it's super light.














KEY FEATURES:


  • Pivoting head
  • 2 5/8" diameter lens
  • 5 watt incandescent bulb
  • 1.7 lbs (with battery)

Conclusion


On consumer grade power tools manufacturers try to give you a good blend of features, while keeping the price at an attractive level. You're certainly not going to get all the bells and whistles that you would find on contractor grade tools. 



The 2895LI-20A does provide you with all the basic features you need to undertake just about any home improvement or maintenance project. What really stands out with this kit is the overall light tool weight and the convenience of lithium-ion power. And, at just under $300, it's also competitively priced.

SB18B-LI 18V Lithium-Ion Batteries (x2):


  • 1.3 Ah
  • 14.9 oz weight
  • Fast charger
2895LI-20 Kit:

  • 1 year warranty
  • Includes: 2 batteries, charger, soft side carry case, 2 double-ended bits, 2 recip saw blades, 1 18T carbide-tipped rip circ saw blade, hex key, instruction booklets

MANUFACTURERSkil
AVAILABLE FROMTool and equipment suppliers nationwide
RETAIL PRICE$299
MODEL #2895LI-20
MADE INChina
NOTE: This model has been replaced with the Skil 2860-10

Carl Duguay, May 2010
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