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We got a kick out of talking to the Milwaukee accessory guys a few weeks ago while attending their product symposium. It was almost a counterculture inside the rank-and-file of the power tool reps, and we’ve seen it at almost every manufacturer. “Those tools are nothing without a good bit at the business end.” They say it without fail wherever we go and they said it over and over at the product launch for Milwaukee’s Shockwave bits.

The funny part is, they’re sort of correct. The bit is majorly important and often blows right by many manufactures as a throw-in or “also ran.” The Shockwave system was engineered to deliver more power and resist breaking. That’s a tall order for little bits, but Milwaukee claims they added life and more strength in their new tapered bits.

A smart consumer’s first question is likely the same as ours was: “What’s with the taper?” Milwaukee says that little taper allows the bit to twist and flex just the tiniest amount. That smidge of give lets the shaft accept some of the back force instead of shearing under the enormous load that modern drills put out. Also, the tip of the bits are compression forged, which, according to the Milwaukee guys, makes the head much less prone to failure under high-stress applications.

We’ve been through more than our share of busted bits, so we’re anxious to see if these bad boys stand up to what we’re dishing out. Only time will tell.

Shockwave Bit System [Milwaukee]


19 Responses to Preview: Milwaukee Shockwave Bits

  1. KMR says:

    Why would you machine the taper after the bit has already been black oxide coated?

  2. Pepster says:

    Probably so it’ll look cooler.

    I imagine the marketing types made the call.

  3. mramseyISU says:

    The taper looks ground, not machine (even though grinding is machining but that’s another story). I’m guessing to get a better surface finish. Not only will that make it “look better” it will make it stronger.

  4. woodworker01 says:

    Marketing Guy: we made it different so it’s better.

    Engineer: But it takes another manufacturing step so it cost more

    Marketing Guy: but it’s different, so it’s better, people will pay more. Not to mention look at the size of the package for a single, we’ll sell millions!

    Wera did this with BiTorsion, then Irwin copied it with Torsion, then…

    everyone is just solving another issue that doesn’t need solved

  5. You’re telling me that you’re going to shear a bit before the Phillips tip cams out.

    Come on, has that ever happened to anybody?

  6. Mr P says:

    Re:Benjamen Johnson

    Sure if you use an impact driver. I have done it a few times while installing sleeve anchors.

  7. Nick says:

    Are you crazy I shear #2 bits all the time using them high rev on my drywall gun, screwing down 5/8th ply into steel stud.

    Will I buy these, no, ill just keep buying the 50packs of #2 bits and keep them in my bags, unless these are like only a buck or two more for a 50 pack

  8. Nick asks:

    Are you crazy…

    Yes, a little. Thanks for asking.

    Like I said, I thought Phillips were designed to cam out before breaking the screw, I guess I have broken the heads off screws though with a Phillips driver, so that’s not always true in the real world.

    I’m still having a little bit of trouble understanding why the bits shear vs. shearing the head off the screw. If it’s a one time over-torque thing you’d think the screw would break, or does it have to do with repeated stress on the bit building up and weakening it until it finally shears.

  9. MeasureOnceCutTwice says:

    Here’s a swag as to why the torsion area is free of coating: Perhaps if they had coating on the area designed to flex, the coating would tend to fail due to the flexing. Also, that’s an area where many people rest their fingers as they start the screw – certainly don’t want flaked-off coating spinning into flesh.

  10. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    I’ve seen hilti bits that look quite similar. After checking, my Hilti #2 phillips drywall bits are a tiny bit tapered like these.

    That said, I can’t stand those Hilti bits! I’ve had two shatter as I over-torqued a screw, one came very close to lodging serious chunks into an eye! I think the particular problem with those is they are over hardened. Their screws seem to be the same way, I find their coarse thread screws sometimes have an issue driving into wood, I’ll break one in 50, instead of, maybe 2 in an 8000 pc. box of grabbers. Those those have started to suck lately too. Thanks China.

    If they’re reasonably priced, I’ll check’m out… I’ll wear my safety glasses, it can’t hurt 😛

    As far as it goes, Dewalt seem’s to be the standard bearer for bits, reliable and well priced. I find Bosch to last a fair bit longer, but there’s a price difference. The ones you get in the big Ryobi bit kits are decent, but don’t hold up to serious work.

  11. John E says:

    I would definitely use the tapered area as a finger guide, usually I hold the top of the phillips head.

  12. fred says:

    We have found that the Dewalts seem to last longer than some others.
    Maybe what we need is a bit made like an old sword. Hard metal at the tip, a softer more resilient shank and then a good rear-end material that not too hard to messup the chuck if its over-torqued. Maybe a Japanese balcksmith can make these – but probably at some price no one would spend.

  13. D says:

    These torsion bits are not all that new. Wera has had both the bits and a matching torsion bit holder for some time.

    I saw Irwin torsion bits at Grainger a few months ago. As I recall, I saw some DeWalt torsion bits at Home Depot as well.

    It really would be nice to have a truly independent test of bits.

  14. Electron says:

    I’m not going to weigh in on whether or not the design’s an improvement on standard bits (at least in the real world), but there’s sound logic to the bare metal in the machined portion. The idea here is that the thinner cross section will deform elastically. In a nutshell, a thin, hard, brittle coating that doesn’t have mechanical properties very similar to the substrate will produce small cracks that can nucleate much larger fractures, ultimately causing the bit to fail. Google “crack tip propagation” and you can find much more detailed explanations.

    As in interesting aside, this same phenomenon created some major headaches when GM decided to put deformable plastic body panels on the Saturn line. The paints they were testing in the pre-productions phases kept causing panels to fail in minor impacts because they nucleated fractures. They went through many formulations before they found one that flexed with the plastic without cracking.

  15. Frank says:

    I wonder if these are made in China. It seems that more and more of their products come from there, sad to say.

    True of just about every American tool brand as well.

  16. SK says:

    I can’t see how a small little 1″ bit tip will flex. Maybe the 2″ or longer. But I’m not going to pay for the longer bits that “MAY” work. Rather just keep using may holder and dewalt tips.

  17. Paul says:

    The shockwave bits are trash I bought a bunch and the first day I broke 3. I thought maybe I got a bad batch and so I bought more and they broke. Maybe for an around the house or drywall use they would be good but when your a modular installer like myself where they are consistently used over and over I say no way. Previous to my purchase of these bit I have the irwin torsion bits ( forged steel all the way around ) (not just the tips) have bout a like 6 pack and have had them for at least 4 years ad have yet to break or bend. Highly recommended. Unbelievable how strong they are.

  18. Noah G says:

    I’m nearly convinced that all these “Impact Bits” are just gimmicks and have no real increase in life over “normal” bits.

  19. Tim Frank says:

    Just bits I bought two packs at homedepo because they were on sale for 16 bucks. They hold up as well as any name brand bit. I dont know why but I have always seemed to stick with Makita tools and Milwakukee Bits. The Dewault Impact Ready are leaps and bounds a better bit I will be buying Dewault impact bits from here on out. I get 3 times the life out of the dewalt impact ready bits for the exact same price.

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