Your Toolbox Is Calling

Control your drill with a smartphone app

Milwaukee One-Key Hammer Drill

Milwaukee One-Key Hammer Drill

Users of the Milwaukee One-Key hammer drill can customize its settings through a smartphone app.Photograph by Jonathon Kambouris

Power tools are designed for professional users and typical applications. Deviate from the norm, as makers and DIYers often do, and you no longer have the best tool for the job. For power-tool users who crave flexibility, Milwaukee’s new One-Key line can connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing users to adjust their tool settings (and keep an inventory of their tools) through an app.

The initial One-Key launch includes a cordless drill, hammer drill, impact driver, and two impact wrench sizes. Users can modify nearly every aspect of their drills and drivers. In addition to setting the desired torque ceiling and speed range, advanced options let anyone tinker with variables such as trigger ramp-up time and the duration and brightness of your work light. Once you’ve chosen your custom settings, you can save them as one of four “profiles.” Or you can pick an existing preset profile, tailored to a specific application.

Milwaukee One-Key won’t be right for everyone. Custom tool settings will be most beneficial to those who work on many different types of projects and want repeatable performance and optimal results for each one—without having to master the feel of new drill-bit and fastener styles every time. For these makers, One-Key could be a real game-changer.

Milwaukee One-Key App

Milwaukee One-Key App

The One-Key app lets users customize their tools' settings.Courtesy Milwaukee

Stuart's Drill Test

When I work with wood, plastic, metal, and other materials, it can be difficult to keep track of the best speeds for different sizes and styles of drill bits. If I’m drilling a 3/8-inch hole into acrylic, for example, I first look up the recommended speed. Then I pick a speed range, and zero in on the ideal trigger pressure by trial and error. But when I reached for a One-Key drill, I simply set the desired speed range and trigger ramp-up, and got to work. When I moved on to drilling aluminum, I didn’t have to look up the settings again. I just switched to another preset mode.

I would have to say that the adjustable clutch setting is my favorite feature. Sometimes a clutch setting is spot-on, but other times I’m left wanting greater precision because the ideal setting rests between two presets. Rather than drive a fastener slightly proud or slightly too deep, the adjustable clutch range allows me to dial in the perfect setting for perfect drive depth every time.

Stuart Deutsch writes about tools and other DIY topics on his blog ToolGuyd.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2016 issue of Popular Science, under the title "Your Drill Is Calling."