It’s common practice these days to carry a specialty bit for every combination of length and bit type needed to complete the job. So if, for example, you need two masonry bits and a hole bit, and you need lengths of 6″, 12″ and 18″, that means carrying nine bits — plus spares. Milwaukee has what they think is a better idea. They want you to think about SDS bits the same way you think about sockets. Carry the bits you need, then add an extension to give you length options. Today they announced the product that backs up that idea: their new Max-Lok carbide extension system.
I know what you’re thinking: drill extensions generally suck. They get wobbly, and that’s under relatively normal load. Most of us only break out SDS for heavy loads. But this makes some sense when you think about it. The whole point behind the SDS system is to provide a positive fit — a shaped system that grabs the bit as opposed to simply hanging on to it via friction. So SDS bits give an extension system something to grab, which makes me suspect they’ll feel a lot more stable.
The system consists of a connector (the big item in the picture above), which accepts bits as well as various-length extensions. Currently you can snag SDS-PLUS, SDS-MAX, and spline variants ranging from 12-1/2″ to a whopping 82.5″. And, of course, you can combine extensions with multiple connectors to create lots of different custom lengths.
Right now it looks like the connector will retail for around $35 with the longest of the extensions running you about $90. Again, we’ll let you know when we get a chance to give these a go first-hand, and we’ll update you with real street pricing when it’s available. (Thanks, by the way, to Milwaukee who kindly invited us to their yearly launch event, at which we probably would have had a look at these. Sadly, we weren’t able to make it.)
What do you think, though? Are you concerned about durability? Do you like the idea of cutting back on the number of bits you carry — or is it important to you to be able to set bit length more accurately? Let us know in comments.