If you do a lot of drilling and are prepared to spend then we suggest you get this drill right away. It will help you work more easily and effectively. For those who don’t use a drill very often, the CON180LI might be surplus to requirements. But for everyone else, there could scarcely be a better option than the superb Clarke 18V brushless combi drill.
Continuous power with two lithium-ion batteries
Could be too heavy for some users
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Frankly, we were blown away by the Clarke CON180LI. It’s the perfect combi drill set, bundling in two 4.0Ah lithium-ion batteries, a charger and a hard case, along with the superb drill itself.
The CON180LI is marketed to professional contractors, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use this tool for DIY or crafts. In fact we thought it was one of the best cordless drills on the market.
The biggest difference between this and most DIY-standard drills is that the quality and performance of the CON180LI are much better – which is remarkable when you consider that the Clarke drill doesn’t cost much more.
Using this drill’s three modes, you should be able to complete most DIY and craft drilling tasks. There’s a regular drill mode; a hammer drill mode for drilling into hard materials like brick; and a driver mode for screwdriving.
Does the Clarke CON180LI 18V brushless combi drill do a good job?
Product name: Clarke 18V Brushless Combi Drill (CON18LI)
Features: brushless motor, variable speed trigger, two speed ranges, belt clip, LED worklight
Power source: cordless (2 x Samsung-made 4.0Ah lithium-ion batteries)
No-load RPM: Low setting 0-400; High setting 0-1,500
Chuck capacity: 1.5-13mm
Torque settings: 21
Drilling capacities: Wood 25mm; Masonry 8mm; Steel 10mm
Based on our testing, the CON180LI performs excellently across all its intended use cases.
It worked tremendously well as a hammer drill, making its way through extremely hard and old bricks with ease. Other drills sold at a similar price struggled to hammer-drill into the same brickwork in our reviewer’s living room.
Having that effective, pneumatic hammer drill action matters. The drill makes its way successfully through very hard material, which means you won’t feel compelled to lean on the tool in order to help it bore. This meant our reviewer could concentrate fully on drilling neatly to the right depth, creating neat holes with less raggedness around the edges than usual.
When the time came to drive screws into the holes (with rawl plugs inserted), the CON180LI worked no less immaculately. The variable speed trigger allowed us to finely control the speed of screwing, while the drill’s 21 torque settings gave scope to find just the right amount of force to turn the screws backwards or forwards without unduly stressing their threads.
The CON180LI also did a great job of drilling into various types of wood when used in its ordinary drill mode. Using the variable speed trigger sensitively, we were able to drill to very precise depths – perfect for situations such as making indentations for dowling pegs, where you might need to make a shallow hole in a thin piece of material.
Does the Clarke combi drill offer quality? Yes it does
2 x 4.0Ah lithium ion batteries
Moulded carry case
The Clarke 18V Brushless Combi Drill offers a noticeable step up in quality from most other cordless drills sold at a similar price.
We were really impressed with the sturdiness of the chuck (the part of the drill which holds the drillbit). Not once during our testing did the chuck lose its grip on the bit – a common problem with DIY drills.
Every aspect of this tool works superbly well. The LED light on the front shines brightly, illuminating your work area. The belt clip at the side of the drill is sturdy and secure. And perhaps most importantly, the drill’s brushless motor delivers ample power and reliable operation, right until the battery is at a very low ebb.
The CON18LI’s accessories are excellent too. We were particularly impressed with the moulded carry case, which snugly accommodates the drill and provides enough leeway for the charger’s power cable. As its name suggests, the ‘fast charger’ powers up the drill’s Samsung-made lithium-ion batteries quickly.
Is the Clarke 18V Brushless Combi Drill suitable for me?
The ‘CON’ in the CON18LI’s name stands for ‘contractor’. Assuming you’re a regular DIYer, it’d be natural for you to question whether a tool built for trade use is suitable for you.
In our view, the only major difference between the CON18LI and a ‘DIY drill’ is quality. There are no unusual features to master, and no additional safety requirements. The drill just works more easily and effectively than other ones you might’ve used.
Mode selection is simple – all you need to do is twist a section of the barrel, and you can change the mode (drill, hammer drill or screwdriver) or torque setting as required. Switching between clockwise and anti-clockwise drilling is easy too – you just depress a switch near the top of the handle.
One factor that might put you off the CON18LI is its weight. The drill is quite heavy compared to some other cordless combi drills we’ve tested – especially when the lithium-ion battery is plugged in. Nonetheless, the weight of the drill is nicely distributed, and the tool felt steady in our hands as we worked. Levels of noise and vibration from the drill are pretty low, which makes it a pleasure to work with.
A really useful, user-friendly facet of this drill is its pair of interchangeable lithium-ion batteries. Each battery provides more than enough runtime for most DIY tasks – but if you need to drill for a really long duration, you can always swap the depleted battery for the other one, freshly charged. Using both batteries means you can drill for as long as you like.
The CON18LI caters for a large proportion of DIY and craft drilling tasks, with its combination of drill, hammer drill and driver functions. However, you may encounter certain jobs that require a different category of drill – things like breaking up large areas of concrete (best achieved using a breaker/kango), or drilling and driving in very tight spaces (which you might be able to do using a right-angle drill).
About this review
Homebuilding & Renovating is not given any compensation by Clarke for our reviews, but may be allowed to keep the product for long-term testing meaning we can test it over a greater length of time, and update this review if required.
Pete Wise is a freelance writer and keen DIYer from Leeds. Pete's tool reviews have featured in titles including Homebuilding & Renovating, Ideal Home and The Independent. He also writes features and news articles for publications such as The Guardian, BBC Good Food and T3. When he isn't busy writing, Pete can often be found at libraries, pubs and live music venues. He finds tile-cutting strangely zen.