It seems that, suddenly, cordless multi tools are everywhere. Maybe because each manufacturer has its own Li Ion battery platform, they all have to have one so that their customers won’t miss out on tool choice. But the bar for multi tools is now so high that reputable brands simply have to have a good product in their ranges. Not only does it have to be good, it helps if it is unique in some way in order to distinguish it from the competition.
This multi tool was delivered to me in a simple cardboard box – a so-called “naked” tool. With most big manufacturers having battery compatibility across their range of tools and Ah, it is cheaper and more efficient. After all, how many chargers and battery packs does one need?
A quick word on battery compatibility – this CV 18DBL will accept all current 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4 and 5 Ah battery packs from Hitachi. The advantage of using smaller battery packs is obvious – they are lighter and make the tool easier to handle, but also there are some jobs for which the weight and bulk of a bigger 5 Ah battery pack is not required. Cutting small components and detail sanding are two jobs that spring to mind where bulky power or endurance is not required.
I have small hands so I look for slim bodies and lightness in many of the power tools that I use regularly. While it does not appear to be the slimmest on the market, the Hitachi fits my hand nicely with the black rubber overmould sparingly and efficiently placed for good grip. It has a very efficient brushless motor that has several advantages – it uses battery power better and runs more quietly. With no brushes to wear out and a sealed motor unit the inevitable dust produced while using machines will not wear out a commutator ring or clog a field coil. Brushless motors are usually slimmer and smaller too – hence the slimmer body for me to grip.
The rubber overmould extends right over the head of the machine where it might get bumped and there are also two inlaid rubber bumpers on the rear of the machine on each side of the battery housing that will protect it when it is laid on its side.
Also at the rear of the machine is the milled grey oscillation speed control wheel that shows 5 speed settings and an A for automatic. If automatic is selected the motor will revert to 15,000/min when not loaded and it will be quieter with less vibration, making it easier to place the cutting edge of the mounted tool more accurately onto the work. Once the cutting tool is engaged the machine automatically picks up to 20,000/min if needed, or remains on the 15,000 setting if the electronics detect that the extra oomph isn’t required.
Migrating to the business end of the tool is the locking lever for whichever cutting blade or sanding system the user chooses. Some of these levers can catch out an unwary finger by snapping closed quickly. However, I am pleased to report that the Hitachi has a very civilized system that operates positively and the spring loading only lasts to the point where the lever is vertical to the body, so it doesn’t snap down at all. Great news for me!
The Hitachi multi tool is also unique, I think, in having a collar lock on the attachment ring. This means that if the locking lever is released, the accessory blade will not fall out with the accompanying tool shaft – possibly falling onto and damaging a delicate surface or behind somewhere unreachable?
In order to release the cutting tool, the collar is just pulled down and rotated to the unlock position, where the tool shaft is released.
Although some might say it is unnecessary, I liked this system because it enabled the accessory to be located firmly and accurately.
A small square LED light on the front of the machine comes on immediately the machine is switched on and provides an area of diffused light right where cutting blades in particular might be working.
On/off is selected via a decently sized slider switch behind the lever lock. It is well recessed to avoid accidental operation and does not require any thumb athletics to make it work.
I was sent a range of cutting, sanding and slicing blades to try out. These were all of good quality, made in Europe and fitted tightly onto the attachment ring. The ring enables accessories to move at 30-degree steps for easy positioning onto difficult work angles. As I would expect from a reputable manufacturer like Hitachi, the CV 18DBL performed well on all the plunge cutting, flush cutting etc tasks I tried. With an overall length of about 312mm including battery it will fit into smallish spaces such as kitchen cabinets if necessary.
The delta sanding option also intrigued me – it is very efficient and the delta sanding head has better hook and loop than many, but it doesn’t have a dust extraction system. On some multi tools, the dust extraction can be a mixed blessing as it sometimes obscures the work area and doesn’t work very well. On the Hitachi, I wonder whether dust extraction has been sacrificed in order to have the locking collar option. When I used the Hitachi to sand some wooden window frames the dust didn’t appear to be a problem as I was outdoors and I did use a properly fitted, decent quality dust mask to do the job. Perhaps the best solution?
I am sure that many of Hitachi’s loyal users will welcome the addition of the 18v and 14v multi tools to the Hitachi range because multi tools can do jobs that others can’t – and easily and quickly too, so it makes sense to have one in the tool box. With a very healthy range of speeds from 6,000 to 20,000/min, a compact size and low weight (2 kg with 18v battery pack) and with noise and vibration well controlled the Hitachi feels up to date and robust.
Aimed at: Professional woodworkers and high end DIYers
Pros: Compact and efficient. Quiet motors and good dust extraction.