We’ve certainly had our experiences with attempting to drill in tight spaces. When we saw the new Porter-Cable PCC520B 18V Close Quarters Drill the unusual-looking tool struck us as something that made a lot of sense. This is a tool that Porter-Cable needed to add to its line-up, and one that we were excited to finally be testing on the jobsite. The Porter-Cable PCC520B bills itself as a truly compact drilling solution, measuring 5.5″ in length and weighing only 2.4 pounds. It’s so short, in fact, that it measures less than a competitor’s 12V Pocket Driver that uses a less flexible hex chuck. Even though the tool looks a bit odd, with its double-stacked chuck-over-motor configuration, it’s actually very well-balanced.
Porter-Cable PCC520B 18V Close Quarters Drill Features
The Porter-Cable PCC520B 18V Close Quarters Drill has two speeds, 0-350 rpm is for higher torque drilling and the 0-1,400 rpm is for high speed drilling and fastening. And we have to admit, the speed on this drill is really… um… speedy – more-so than many right-angle drills we’ve used to-date. The top-mounted speed switch is easy to use and doesn’t hang-up, even with gloved hands. In addition, since this is an 18V product with an offset motor, the tool is able to put out a lot of torque. The increased speed also means you get 18V cordless power drill in a footprint that’s less than most 12V super-compact models. And when we say that the footprint is small, we mean it – the 5.5″ length doesn’t measure much more than the battery from back to front.
When you look at the tool you can see that Porter-Cable essentially moved the motor assembly below the drilling mechanism & chuck, which created an incredibly short head length and also allowed them to gear up the tool to deliver exceptional torque and speed. Of course, this also makes the tool double the body height, but it serves to give it that incredibly short 5.5″ length – all with full 18V power. The 3/8″ single sleeve chuck has a positive feel and the texture on the outer plastic chuck gives it a good grip and it’s super-easy to use with drill bits. It. The on-board LED is positioned between the trigger and the chuck and throws a near-perfect circle of light on the working area without interfering shadows.
As with all current Porter-Cable 18V Li-ion tools, the PCC520B Close Quarters Drill/Driver is compatible with Lithium-ion and NiCd batteries so you can get a lot of use out of this tool even when mixing and matching batteries. Of course, this is a bare tool, so you’ll need to pick up a 1.3Ah battery and charger or use one of your existing packs, but that’s why you can pick up this tool for less than $80 online or at stores. To sweeten the deal, the PCC520B comes with a 3-year limited warranty, 1-year service contract and 90-day money-back guarantee.
Testing and Use
We had some fun with this Close Quarters Drill when we pulled it out to install an under-the-counter CD stereo in a residential kitchen. The kit came with a template to correctly drill the four holes from within the upper cabinet. The stereo was a low profile unit that came with spacers to allow us to mount it completely flush with the trim below cabinet. Having the PCC520B allowed us to drill the four holes required as well as fasten the screws into the unit from within the cabinet. Given that the cabinet had a fixed shelf of just 9″ in height, the Close Quarters Drill was the perfect tool for this application. We were able to get our hands in and a regular-sized 1/4-inch bit, which the drill powered through the veneered plywood with little difficulty.
The extended height of the tool may give you some difficulty if the perpendicular space is small, but otherwise the tool has ample power and lets you get your hand behind it with ample room to apply pressure for those jobs where you have to really push through. This would be the perfect tool, for example, when having to use a hole saw to drill multiple channels for low voltage or electrical cable.
Porter-Cable has something with its PCC520B Close Quarters Drill/Driver. It’s an 18V tool that has the clearance of a sub-compact 12V tool and the power of a full-powered cordless drill. While the design is unusual, it’s effective and the way they oriented the motor gives it greater opportunities for both torque and speed. We also liked the positioning of the LED and loved the clear view it afforded us of the workspace. This is a powerful tool that’s also very inexpensive, so if you’ve already got Porter-Cable tools, the $80 or under price tag is going to be hard to resist. It’s largely because of this that we awarded the PCC520B a near-perfect Value rating. For sheer Performance, it earned an above average Value. This is a tool that no existing owner of Porter-Cable products will be able to stay away from – and honestly, why would you want to?