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Using battery operated ice augers

11/28/18 @ 2:57 PM
MEMBER since 11/25/07

I'm getting ready to make the switch to using a battery operated ice auger. I have done research on the topic, most of the info I found is a few years old. I'm starting a new thread on the topic because things have changed a lot in the last couple of years. I'm looking for any info on using battery-powered ice augers that will help with the switch go smoothly. Im leaning towards  the k drill. What do you use? Do you take the battery off when out on the ice? Do you take cordless drills off the auger on the ice? How important is it to keep the battery warm? Any other information on the subject that would help someone get started with batteries would be great. 

1/14/19 @ 4:19 PM
User since 10/22/13

Me too I'm still cutting holes with the same drill I bought back in 79.

1/14/19 @ 4:14 PM
User since 12/22/04

Is there a movie version of that post!   Just kidding.  My field experience says if I run out of batteries, fishing sucked anyway.   

1/14/19 @ 3:52 PM
User since 9/24/03

I spent the better part of the past two days testing out a bunch of different bits on the same drill in order to refresh my memory on these things.  About 5 or 6 years ago when drill augers because more plausible (brushless hammer drill technology became en vogue) I did the same thing with a couple of electrical engineers who hold Ph.Ds in the field and one owns patents to some of the circuitry involved in these things. I was more in tune with ice fishing equipment and they weren't so we checked some things out. The results now echo what we found then.  

Am I being over analytical? Perhaps, but when I make a major purchase I research the snot out of it before making the jump. I suspect that others might be looking for the viability of this type of set up and want to provide as much info as possible so they understand that you can't just toss any old cordless drill on any old bit and expect exceptional results. Conditions vary, bits vary, drills vary.  Many, many, many variables in this type of set up.  

So....  years back and now things really haven't changed much in terms of types of bits and their efficiency.  

Soap box moment here...  Here in Wisconsin we do not have to deal with the dirty ice conditions they do in the Dakotas.  So unless you are re-drilling old holes I simply do not see a reason to go with a K-Drill.  Why?  After running tests with the same drill and battery size on a K-Drill and a basic shaver type auger I was getting 700-720 inches of ice drilled with a shaver bit and a 4ah battery.  The drill was a Ryobi brushless hammer drill. 750lbs of torque.  With a K-Drill of the same size it was coming in around 190-200 inches less that I could drill. The K-Drill was used first so batteries were as warm as they would be. The shaver bit was used after with a fresh battery.  So yeah, I'll drop $40 on a shaver auger, touch up my own blades as opposed to dropping $200 on a K-Drill bit and with that you don't have a handle if your drill craps out.  

What this means is that with that 4ah battery and shaver bit I can simply bring one battery with me and I don't have to worry about a 2nd of the same size.  Obviously if you have a larger capacity battery that might not be an issue with a different bit...but batteries are not cheap. I ditched the clam plate and went with a Kovac Ice Master adapter. With the 6" shaver bit it weighs in at just under 11 pounds and that includes the battery.  

That echoes what we found a few years ago doing the same type of experiment with a brushed drill.  The shaver bits will get you more holes per charge than the K-Drill will. The K-Drill requires more work out of the drill meaning the batteries will drain more per hole.  Simple concept there. The blade design is such that it requires more effort from the drill due to it's aggressive nature.  

When we did this years back the nils bit performed the best but those are a bit pricey and the cutting edge is touchy. It is far and away the best cutting head/blade design available.  Cost can be a bit prohibitive.  The Nero design is more affordable and not a bad non-Nils option if you are looking for an efficient bit.  Lazers work very well also but these will drain a battery faster than the standard old shaver style.  

One that I want to try on my 750# drill is Eskimo's pistol.  Weight is lower than a standard shaver bit and the benefit is that with reduced rotating weight you won't work the battery and drill as hard.  In dirt track racing terms, one pound of rotating weight is equivalent to 10 pounds of stationary weight. If you reduce your rotating weight the "machine" that drives it will not have to work as hard.  This is what intrigues me about the pistol. Same cutting design as a shaver bit but half the weight. I'm guessing my 700+ inches of ice with a standard shaver would increase to well over 800 with a pistol. You might not need that many holes but it is something worth considering. 

As to a previous question about the Ryobi p251 working with an 8"'ll handle it but be aware that you'll want decent batteries to run the thing.  Plenty of positive reports of guys using that combination.  Ignore the brand names that K-Drill mentions and look at the drill specs instead.  Ryobi is made by the same company that makes Milwaukee and that p251 is in the range that K-Drill recommends.

Now...regarding the question posed about the lithium batteries.  To simply things you need to look beyond the battery and at the drill itself.  Brushless motors communicate differently with a battery than a brushed motor does.  The "whining" you hear in a brushless motor are a series of switches opening and closing as the drill is asking for the power needed to function.  To boil it down...  these brushless drills sense how much power is needed, they ask the battery to give them what they need, and the battery responds by giving it that power.  With brushed motors it is asking for all of the power that is available at once.  This is one of the many reasons why brushless motors are more efficient which in turn makes the batteries last longer. 

I've said this before and it bears repeating.  If you already have a battery platform for your cordless tools and you are looking to set one up as an ice auger, stick with that battery platform and buy the appropriate drill.  If you have makita, stick with makita, if you have Milwaukeee, stick with need to get a 1200# Milwaukee or a 1300# Rigid just to turn an ice bit. Stick with the platform you have, get a brushless hammer drill that meets the needs of the bit you want to pair it with, and go from there.  There simply is no point in jumping to a different battery platform only to drill holes in the ice when you can come up with a combination that will work well with the battery platform you already have.  Guys are more than content drilling holes with Menards masterforce brand and they work well. As long as you pair it up with an appropriate bit you can run anything.  Heck...I was cutting holes with a $40 black and decker paired with a 6" shaver bit a few years back.  That drill is still alive and well.  

1/14/19 @ 11:24 AM
User since 2/13/17

"Minimum 725 in/lbs or 820 UWO of torque "

So you're still SOL. Let me ask you this in terms of boats. If a Mfg said the Minimum hp for an 18' boat was 100hp with a max of 225, what would you do? If you ran the minimum, you'd expect the least amount of performance, correct?

These augers are the same, if you want to run on the minimum in/lbs, the 6" may be a good bet on thin to med ice.

If you want to run a KD8 on thick, late season ice, run a drill with 1200 to 1400 in/lbs. This is why Vexilar/K Drill sells the Milwaukee and DeWalt motors as packages for their augers.

1/14/19 @ 10:35 AM
User since 6/2/06

ordless Drill Minimum Requirements

You can use any cordless drill brand you choose, as long as it meets the following minimum requirements:

Side Stabilizer Arm (for a secure two-handed grip)

1/2” Drill Chuck

18 Volt/4 Amp Lithium Ion Battery (or higher)

Brushless Motor Design

500-750 RPM with a minimum of

Minimum 725 in/lbs or 820 UWO of torque

These drills are officially approved for K-Drill use:

1/14/19 @ 10:18 AM
Fish Hound
User since 1/29/02

"As far as I know, you can use the Milwaukee charger with these off-brand batteries. Can anyone confirm this?"

Correct, I did the same. I gave my friend the off-brand when I got a great deal on another MKE 9.0 via eBay. 

1/14/19 @ 10:05 AM
User since 2/13/17

"I plan to use a Ryobi 18v hammer drill with 700/torque."

1200 or better for the KD8.

1/14/19 @ 10:04 AM
User since 2/13/17

"As far as I know, you can use the Milwaukee charger with  these off-brand batteries. Can anyone confirm this?"

Absolutely yes. I've charged my aftermarket 9ah with the MKE charger and no issues.

1/14/19 @ 9:57 AM
User since 12/19/11

Well my first generic battery was a bust. Charged it up Friday night and it said fully charged on Saturday. Got out to the lake and hooked it to the drill, spun the auger a few times and then died. Completely dead. Got home Sunday and tried charging it and it wouldn't charge. Returned it and ordered a new one. I'll give them one more go before forking up $150 for the name brand.

As far as I know, you can use the Milwaukee charger with  these off-brand batteries. Can anyone confirm this?

1/14/19 @ 9:29 AM
Fish Hound
User since 1/29/02

I don't think that's enough drill for the 8" K-Drill, might work with the 6" though.

Probably okay with the Pistol Bit as the shaver has less drag then the chipper. Just be careful of your feet and start the hole slow.

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