Ditching little gas engines... for good?

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This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

Let’s cut right to the chase on this one. If you use a chainsaw or a string trimmer, and have the budget for either or both of these tools and their attachments, go out and buy them right now. They have proved their worth every penny and then some on my property over the last few months.  You can offset part of their cost by selling your gas-powered tools, because chances are pretty high you won’t need those anymore.

I spent a large chunk of my childhood taking apart small engines and putting them back together. From keeping our pre-historic lawnmower running for my landscaping business I ran from our shed to the ten thousand iterations of my dream go-kart, I know how to get a fussy 2 cycle engine running. That said, there are few things I hate more than fussing with 2 cycle engines. Milwaukee has hit another major home-run in my book this year by offering all the property maintenance tools a homeowner needs on one convenient battery platform. That’s right, I said battery.

At this point, battery technology has come far enough I can confidently say it competes with gas power, and there is no exception with the property maintenance tools Milwaukee currently has on their 18V battery system.

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Very few homeowners ever need to tackle any property maintenance that can’t be tackled with ease with Milwaukee’s 18v outdoor tools. Switching to battery power means you can dispense with the tedium of overwintering engines, keeping fresh gas on hand, and dealing with fussy engines, dirty filters, and oil mixes in the spring. Pop a battery in the tool, it starts right up, you get the same freedom from cords and wires as gas, and a fraction of the noise.

I’m not just your run-of-the-mill homeowner, either.  I’m a homesteader, a wood turner and I manage our 3 acres of urban forest. I’ve got gas powered tools for big jobs, but I’m using them less and less, and have already sold a good portion of them off, because even managing the forest, cutting firewood and prepping woodturning blanks regularly, there is very rarely a job my Milwaukee battery powered tools can’t handle. The chainsaw is especially impressive. It is really quiet, which makes the tool far more enjoyable to use. It’s lightweight but powerful enough to eat through logs that take up every inch of the bar. It cuts quick, it’s rugged and durable, and the battery life is also surprisingly wonderful. When my favorite willow tree split in a recent storm, I bucked up over a cord of firewood, turning blanks, and spoon wood from it on two battery charges. It was not a small tree, either. It was during that project that I realized that as long as I had a sufficient battery supply, I probably wouldn’t need to use my gas powered “big girl” chainsaw on anything other than giant logs again.

Because we’ve got animals that graze, I rarely (if ever) mow my lawn, but I do try to keep the tall grasses (ok, weeds) around the fence posts and against my landscaping cut nicely. A string trimmer is great for that, but I have to use it so infrequently, it’s always an ordeal getting the gas trimmer started. The battery powered trimmer is convenient, quiet, and shockingly powerful. The bump feed works well and restringing it is fairly straight forward. The only negative I’ve found for the trimmer so far is that it’s so powerful, in fact, that if you’re not too careful with the bump feed function, the long strings can really tear up the plastic guard.

Check out the  Hedge Trimmer attachment !

I’m usually not one for multi-use tools, but the attachments for the string trimmer are a pretty major exception. Our house only has one small sidewalk, so I don’t have a ton of use for the edging attachment, but it works really well and the tool delivers the same kind of power with the edger as it does with the trimmer. It made quick work of cleaning up the lines on the walkway up to the front door.

The hedge trimmer attachment is another winner, articulating several different directions to make trimming brush a breeze. It trimmed up my boxwood and forsythia fabulously, snipping errant branches up to ½” thick like they were nothing. One feature I’d like to see on this tool is a short arm for trimming brush that grows at waist height, because while the long pole makes it really handy for reaching the tops of bushes and working above my head and at ground level, it’s really awkward working at waist height with such a long pole on the tool.

The real standout attachment for the trimmer for me, however, is the pole saw. I was able to safely trim my fruit trees with both feet planted firmly on the ground. The saw comes sharp, is plenty powerful, and the dang thing is so much fun to use, it’s turned an annual chore into a really fun activity.

 These tools retail for: would I buy them? If you, like me, are sick of fussing with small gas engines, I’d say the saved frustration and easy “turn on and go” function of these tools is worth every penny simply for the frustration saved. If you aren’t super handy or time fussing is an issue and you have to take your gas engines  in to get serviced, these battery powered tools will pay for themselves in short order. All of that said though, these tools are not cheap, especially if you’re not already on the Milwaukee platform and you’ve got to invest in the big batteries as well. This gets even worse if you don’t already have other Milwaukee tools and thus have extra batteries to pop in while the others are charging. Having a project halt to a stop because your battery is out of juice is a real bummer. That said though, my gas projects come to a similar halt when I run out of gas or oil mix too, so that one is somewhat less concerning to me. Yes, these tools are a huge investment. I’d choose the attachments for the trimmer carefully, especially knowing how those add to the cost as well, but I can tell you right now I’d pay double the price these tools are for the convenience and saved frustration I’ve found with the chainsaw and polesaw attachment for the trimmer alone. It would be tough for me to write a review that was not more glowing than this.

Posted on April 18, 2019 .