I remember when the cordless hammer drill was the new tool every contractor and pro was talking about. It revolutionized how quickly you could get a job done, and the cordless aspect of bringing that kind of power to tasks like pre-drilling Tapcons or performing other tasks really altered the industry. But jobs like overhead drilling in reinforced concrete or repetitive drilling of dozens of 3/8″ or larger holes really takes its toll. For that, DeWalt just upped the ante with the DeWalt DCH213L2 20V Max SDS rotary hammer. Not only does the tool take advantage of the new 20V Max battery technology (which is really built from the ground up to communicate with the new 20V Max tools), it brings a whole lot more power and versatility to the work of concrete drilling and penetration.
DeWalt DCH213L2 20V Max SDS Rotary Hammer Build Quality and Features
The DCH213L2 comes in a nice DeWalt kit box and includes two 3.0 Ah batteries, a one-hour charger and, of course, the rotary hammer with adjustable side handle. This new tool is the follow-up to the DC212KA and adds a couple of nice features. For one, it uses the new redesigned sled-style 20V max battery packs which DeWalt claims offer more run-time – something I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t need more of on the job. But the other thing DeWalt added with the DCH213L2 was a chipping mode. While we don’t recommend using this rotary hammer for serious demo work, electricians will love the fact that they can quickly engage the chipping mode to chew out space for a deeper electrical box in concrete block. It’s just a great feature, and one we hope to see on other competitors’ 18V cordless rotary hammer products (the new Milwaukee 2605-22 SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer, for example, lacks this chipping-only function). The new Milwaukee SDS Max rotary hammer, however, does include it.
So taking a look at the DeWalt DCH213L2 20V Max SDS rotary hammer, you see that DeWalt balanced out the weight distribution by putting the mechanism vertically behind the drilling head and placing the battery directly underneath the D-style handle. Some manufacturers have opted for a more battery-forward approach, but this one seems to pack up easier and results in a more streamlined tool body. Similar in shape to the DC212KA, the new DCH213L2 altered the ergonomics of the grip to deliver a more contoured shape for your hand. The color scheme is similar, but the new rotary hammer looks a bit more… I don’t know, “rugged”.
In addition to the new contoured shape, the entire grip is covered in a rubberized overmold. The convenient side handle, which you will want to leave on given the increased weight over a hammer drill/driver, is easy to adjust by simply twisting it counter-clockwise to loosen it up. It rotates all the way around the chuck which will help you manipulate the rotary hammer into tighter locations as needed. We found that it worked pretty well in both right- and left-hand positions, but it also came in handy in a vertical orientation when drilling overhead. In fact, if you don’t swing the handle down, you’re likely to grip the tool by its base, just in front of the battery… which obstructs the LED light.
The SDS Plus chuck worked very well and we were able to quickly load and release bits with a minimum amount of fuss. The mode switch is located on the left of the tool and is a large oversized dial which was easy to adjust with gloved or bare hands. The tool also comes with a depth rod for setting how far the drill will go when performing repetitive tasks like pre-drilling anchors in a wall or drilling into concrete floors for Tapcon installation.
DeWalt DCH213L2 20V Max SDS Rotary Hammer Testing and Use
While the DCH213L2 is primarily designed for use with 5/32″ to 1/2″ bits (with which it will drill tons of holes), our first job was somewhat more demanding. We needed to drill several 1″ access holes through reinforced concrete in order to run some network cable into a machine room and through to some classrooms. The classrooms were used for an inner-city after school program here in town and the rooms were being upgraded with a hard-wired fiber-based network. Unfortunately, with a building that was originally constructed in the 1940’s, you’ve just got a lot of concrete to penetrate to get from one end to the other. Eager to begin, we loaded up a 1″ Bosch SDS-plus Bulldog bit into the DeWalt Rotary Hammer and set to work. The rotary hammer began easily, with minimal walking along the face of the concrete as we began. It didn’t take any time at all before the bit sank in and we were boring our first hole. With these larger diameter holes, the job was tough and it definitely took a bit longer than when we were doing smaller-diameter Tapcon pre-drilling. That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. As with any concrete drilling job, it you want to keep the work area clean, we recommend a dust extraction system as this tool will work quickly – and just as quickly generate an enormous amount of dust that needs to be evacuated.
In another location we ended up having to drill some holes in reinforced concrete ceiling beams (this seemed to be a trend with us) in order to suspend some pendant-style loudspeakers from the ceiling of a gymnasium. These were smaller holes of just 1/4″ in diameter and the DeWalt DCH213L2 powered through them with nearly reckless abandon, save for the depth rod which let us drill each hole and then stop at just the right depth. This was rough overhead drilling – 24 holes in all – and we had begun the job with a traditional 18V hammer drill for comparison. The amount of fatigue the hammer drill gave us over the rotary hammer was astounding. Whereas the hammer drill took its time and required a lot of effort on our part to get the holes drilled, the same size bit in the DeWalt DCH213L2 spun into the concrete – almost like butter. For the uninitiated, a tool like this will make its $390 cost begin to look quite appealing. It gets more appealing when you do the math and calculate the savings in labor time and just plain sweat equity. Having the right tool for the job is always important, but perhaps more so when you’re holding your arms over your head 20 feet in the air, on scaffolding, boring holes.
Our final application was completing some access holes into the machine room, again using a 1″ bit. The DeWalt Rotary Hammer made quick work of this, and we found that it was able to complete quite a bit of the job on a single battery charge, though the smaller holes will see a lot more accomplished than when using oversized bits. After using the tool in these ways it became clear that a corded rotary hammer would be desired for drilling a number of larger-diameter holes, however if you only have a few holes, then the 20V Max is a great way to save time and it will get the job done.
I love working with the local inner city ministry, but what I realized was that the right tool makes that experience even better. From overhead drilling to setting surface-mount electrical boxes into concrete block, the DeWalt DCH213L2 Rotary Hammer added an incredible amount of efficiency and speed to our work. Its chipping mode came as a welcome feature and was certainly handy when we needed to make some additional space for receptacle boxes on an interior block wall. We’ve used several rotary hammers, even cordless models and the DeWalt was noticeably lighter and shorter in length by a significant margin over other products we’ve used and reviewed (most notably, Milwaukee and Makita). Of course, that’s just one aspect of the tool, but it’s worth noting here.
This is a tool that will undoubtedly be popular for those getting on board with DeWalt’s new 20V Max platform. It’s a product that fits a specific niche and we can see electricians, maintenance workers and others really benefiting from the DCH213L2’s solid cordless performance and versatility on the jobsite. We can easily recommend this tool to anyone looking for a portable rotary hammer solution.