Masterforce 18V Lithium-ion 4 Tool Combo Kit Review
The Masterforce 18V Lithium-ion 4 Tool Combo Kit intrigued us when we first saw it. Masterforce is a midwestern brand sold exclusively through Menards, so we were anxious to see how well these tools would perform in the real world. It was certainly one of the biggest boxes I had ever seen for a 4-piece tool kit, so we knew we were in for a treat. I was very impressed when I opened the box and started to notice, in particular, all the thoughtful and forward-thinking features that came on all the power tools. About the only thing not included in this kit is the Masterforce 18V Cordless Band Saw. We were definitely anxious to put these tools to the test.
18.0 Volt Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver (241-0408)
- Chuck Size: 1/2″ ratcheting single sleeve keyless
- Clutch: 24 Position
- Mode switch: Drill/Driver
- No Load RPM Low: 0-300
- No Load RPM High: 0-1,250
- Torque: 460 in/lbs (Full-Power); 340 in/lbs (Compact)
- Weight: 2lbs. 10oz. (without battery)
When I first picked up the cordless drill I noticed there were two different kinds of batteries that could go into it. I really liked the option of having a lighter weight 1.5Ah slim pack battery for more of the light duty tasks around the house, and a heftier 3.0Ah battery (for people like “Tim the toolman Taylor”) that would give more runtime for the bigger projects. The grip on this drill is pretty good. The rubber overmold makes it very easy to hold onto. We used this drill a lot, and have certainly sweated a ton while using it. I’d even go so far as to say that if the drill was waterproof, you could probably still be able to grip it if you went for a swim! Unfortunately, there was no pool around for us to put it to the test…
There are definitely some good points to this tool. For one, the LED placement is great. It sits at the very bottom, illuminating the entire part of the wall you are drilling. Some drills have placed lights just above the trigger. This casts a shadow on the wall when you are above the drill and doesn’t let you see what you are drilling. Secondly, we like the fact it has extra storage for a bit – and that this feature isn’t an accessory, but built right into the handle. I couldn’t find my bit set and then noticed there was a two-sided Phillips/flathead bit on the bottom rear part of the drill. The drill is a bit top heavy, but not terribly so. In terms of ruggedness, well, the drill has fallen off an 8-foot ladder (not on purpose, of course), and it still works really well.
Even though this drill accomplished a ton of tasks for us on the jobsite, it’s a tough recommendation for those who intend to work a full day and put a lot of hours on the tool. The reason is two-fold. First, it tends to get extremely hot when used continuously. And we mean ‘really hot to the touch’ hot. Second, with it being a bit heavier than many other models on the market at the same price, overhead work tends to get a bit tedious. In our testing, we used the Masterforce Drill/Driver on the jobsite for 3 weeks, and it performed well for most fastening and metal-drilling applications we put it through. The bottom line is, if you use this drill a lot, it may give you some concerns for how long the mechanisms can (literally) take the heat, but you also want to be sure to use Masterforce’s impact driver or hammer drill when appropriate as well. Using the right tool will also help alleviate over-burdening the motor. We’d summarize by saying that if you use this drill for intermittent use it should last you a good while. Our recommendation is to feel good about the occasional big projects here and there, but professional tradesman and contractors may want to go in for something a bit more robust.
18.0 Volt Lithium-Ion Reciprocating Saw (241-0432)
- No Load SPM: 0-3,000
- Stroke Length: 1″
The Masterforce Cordless Reciprocating Saw was definitely the most used tool during our testing period. There are a lot of really good things to say about it. First off, the saw has twin LED lights which, on a recip saw, is unusual to begin with and a very welcome feature. Its placement is also perfect (right under the blade) and it really lights up the area where you are cutting without casting shadows. It was great in the hard-to-reach places to cut through EMT (electrical metallic tubing, basically conduit) and rigid pipe. It also had an adjustable pivoting shoe, which is extremely rare for some reason, but which allows you to use more parts of the blade and gain better footing in more scenarios. The stroke length on this saw is an impressive 1″, so it does an awful lot of cutting on each pass of the blade and the variable trigger meant that we could really ease our way into wood or PVC as needed.
We used this tool a lot, and on a myriad of construction projects related to running electrical conduit and making various cuts to facilitate panels and other electrical devices. If you work construction and use a reciprocating saw frequently, you may run into some of the issues we did. As we mentioned, the Masterforce Reciprocating Saw could cut through tough EMT, which was really more of a proof of concept for us – we’d much rather do that work with a portable band saw (which Masterforce, coincidentally, also makes in this 18V platform). Most of our cutting was on smaller rigid pipe and, on occasion, steel and wood studs. We found that this tool could have a really tough time with heavier gauge metal, especially if the battery was getting low. For this reason, you really want to match the tool for the job and use the reciprocating saw for wood, small pipe, and PVC applications where it excels. We also know that using a better blade with reciprocating saws like this will significantly reduce cutting time and effort. When consistently used, the battery lasts for between 15-30 minutes, depending on how much force you are putting behind it. That’s not bad and we were able to accomplish a lot with the 3.0Ah battery pack before having to put it down for a recharge.
18.0 Volt Lithium-Ion Circular Saw (241-0428)
- Speed: 4,500 RPM
- Arbor: 10mm
- Max Depth: 2-1/8″ (90-degrees); 1-3/4″ (45-degrees)
- Blade: 6-1/2″ 18T
I would say that the cordless circular saw has always been one of my favorite power tools from the Masterforce 18V Lithium-ion 4 Tool Combo Kit—at least for general construction use. You can go anywhere and cut anything without having to worry about a cord to slow you down. Masterforce’s 18V Cordless Circular Saw, in particular, really proved to work great on a variety of tasks. We used this tool to build a wood gate to confine a beagle to a front porch (and keep him from chasing the cats around the neighborhood!) The included saw blade worked well and never really bound up, even when I abused it by forcing it through at a fast clip. We found that it will easily cut through 2×6’s with no problems and, overall, it really seemed to be a tool you can cut quickly with and get a lot of mileage out of. Cordless circular saws have come a long way.
The LED is also placed perfectly on the saw. Masterforce has obviously experimented a lot with how their tools light up a work area. As the sun was starting to set, we still had some cuts to make for the gate. It was getting really dark where we were using the saw, but the LEDs lit the area and allowed us to cut with no shadows. It also did a good job of “looking ahead” and lit up the entire line I was cutting. It must have been odd for anyone observing as we were still cutting straight lines even though it was almost completely dark outside.
Cordless circular saws are more or less required to have safety mechanisms associated with the trigger. While some may find the Masterforce version a little awkward, we actually liked having to apply a little downward pressure with our thumb rather than a sideways action found with many other cordless saws. After you get the trigger started, you can let go of the safety and it is smooth sailing from there.
Using the tool was a great experience and we especially liked how it handled. We do like that it came with a T-handle hex key to change blades in a hurry, and (even more impressive) that it stores on the saw. I took off the blade just to see how fast it would come off and it was very easy to remove and replace it. Also, this saw does not kill the battery very quickly. For obvious reasons (runtime) we would recommend that you use the larger 3.0Ah battery instead of the 1.5 Ah lithium ion slim pack battery when making cuts (though both will work).
18.0 Volt Lithium-Ion Worklight (241-0420)
Worklights are usually a “toss-in” product for most 18V and 12V kits. That seems to be the case with the Masterforce 18V Combo kit as well. While the power tools all use LED lights, the actual worklight uses a standard incandescent bulb. More than likely, this is a cost factor and Masterforce actually sells an LED solution in their 12V Cordless LED Light product (241-0316). The base of the worklight is solid. It will swivel up to 135 degrees and still stand securely on the base of the battery. It does do a good job lighting the specific area you are working in, but as I have said before, an LED solution would do a lot better and last longer as well – which might be worth paying the difference.
One thing that concerned us about this system was the battery charger. It’s actually quite slow, taking a full 45 minutes to charge the 1.5Ah slim pack and 75 minutes to charge the 3.0Ah battery. This is considerably pokier than most systems in this price range and will mean that you’ll want to have a few more batteries on hand if you intend to use the tools together or for extended periods of time. And speaking of the batteries, we love them. They eject easily, with a top-mounted eject button that actually works to shove the batteries away from the socket when you press it. A 4-LED charge level indicator lights up with red segments that tell you whether or not you should pop that battery on the charger before you grab it and go.
This is a well-rounded system of tools that should hold up well and impress for the do-it-yourselfer or home renovator. Menards is selling the Masterforce 4 Tool Combo Kit for $329, which isn’t inexpensive and places it squarely in the sights of some of the possibly better recognized brands. It also puts it within $100 of some combo kits that we’ve found to be pro-quality and which can stand up to a bit more abuse than this system. Still, there are some features here that are nice – particularly with respect to battery gauges and the niceties, like an adjustable reciprocating saw shoe and the highly-efficient integrated LED lights. Performance earned a solid 5/10 rating, mostly due to the impressive feature set of the two included saws. For the Value rating on this kit we gave it a 3/10 – there’s just too much competition as we mentioned. If you are looking for a feature-rich 18V kit that can get the job done, then Masterforce’s solution is something to consider. If you are a die-hard pro tool users, you may want to spend the additional money on a premium solution that can address longer duty cycles and a bit more job site abuse.