Milwaukee M18 FUEL Attachment System w/ QUIK-LOK

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Milwaukee M18 FUEL™ QUIK-LOK Review

It seems that everything is becoming cordless these days. While convenient, I find the multiple battery platforms, batteries, and chargers frustrating to keep track of, transport, store, and organize.  Wouldn’t it be nice if one battery fit all?

Milwaukee recently came out with a new Milwaukee M18 FUEL Attachment System w/ QUIK-LOK that delivers multiple outdoor power equipment tools [OPE] in one system. This system is powered by their M18 batteries, and a “Power Head” that’s compatible for a number of different attachments, including:

  • String trimmer
  • Edger
  • Pole saw
  • Hedge trimmer

Who Would Use QUIK-LOK Attachment System?

This system gives any homeowner the versatility to add tools to complete a range of landscape applications without having to invest in multiple dedicated tools. This results in a lower cost of ownership.While the QUIK-LOK system is clearly designed for landscaping pros, it can benefit anyone already usingthe M18 battery platform. Additionally, this system should appeal to others as well, such as:

  • Newer homeowners looking to reduce initial dedicated tool costs
  • Pros working in environments that have time restrictions on noise
  • Pros working in environments that require restrictions on gas fumes emissions. [e.g. hospital environments, or near ventilation systems.]
  • Anyone wanting to avoid the “Fuel, Prime, Pull, Start” process of using a gas powered tool.

Durability

Milwaukee designed this system to be robust and durable to withstand professional-level use over at least 3 years (which is the warranty period). This means that the tool is designed to have thousands of power on/off cycles and designed to withstand the demands of daily, heavy use.

The QUIK-LOK Attachment System

Users can enter the QUIK-LOK system through the M18 FUEL String Trimmer Kit or M18 FUEL Pole Saw Kit, then add additional attachments as needed. The idea of add-on attachments is not new, but is certainly a value-added feature.


Power Head

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL Attachment System w/ QUIK-LOK is anchored by the power head, which ships with a 9.0 Ah battery. The first thing you will notice when using any attachment on the power head is that the throttle and tool react instantly – there is no lag-time or ramp-up period.The power head accepts all M18 batteries, has a variable speed safety switch and a high / low switch.

According to Milwaukee, the only accessory designed to be used with the “low speed” setting is the string trimmer. The power head attaches to the accessory attachments via a positive-locking mechanism. Once connected, the accessory operates off the power head’s motor via connected drive shafts. The power head trigger offers variable speeds. I found myself feathering the trigger on some applications when starting or finishing. The “two-motion” safety feature on the power head may be annoying but is a UL-required safety feature to prevent accidental starts.

With the pole saw and hedge trimmer, having the tools accidentally turn on could make for a very a bad day!

3-foot Attachment Extension

The extension attachment gives you 3 feet of additional length for applications requiring further reach with the Pole Saw attachments and Hedge Trimmer attachments. Each extension is 41.5” long and provides a working extension of 40.5″ the extensions adds 1.95 lbs. The extensions are available for approximately $54.00.

It’s important to understand that adding too many extensions onto the tool will add weight and hurt maneuverability, control, and balance. Milwaukee only recommends using one extension pole.

Chain Saw Attachment [Pole Saw]

This Pole Saw Attachment weighs 4.2 lbs. and features a 10″ Oregon bar and chain which provides you with smooth and surprisingly fast cuts. It was designed to be run at high speed, and can be fully submerged in a branch. Exposed bar length is about 9.5”

Milwaukee did some runtime testing using a 9.0 Ah battery and 3” diameter Oak dowels, achieving an average of 150 cuts. As speed of a pole saw increases, the torque drops. This relationship between speed and torque is a trade-off.Milwaukee designed their pole saw attachment with a lower speed than other pole saws so that it would have the better torque with hardwoods.  The result is a pole saw that maintains speed in hardwoods and doesn’t bog down.

We liked the oversized pull hook, or “branch hook,” on the pole saw. This hook was obviously useful for pulling branches out of the tree canopy, but there was also a hidden benefit as well. Because the hook is larger, it allows you to push against a tree branch that you’re cutting, to “capture it,” for added leverage and control. We found this especially useful in situations where we could not get decent downward pressure.

The pole saw comes equipped with easy access, easy-to-use chain  tensioner, and a translucent reservoir for automatic oiler. The reservoir is clear allowing easy viewing of the fluid level.

Pole Saw Features

  • Automatic Oiler Chain Tensioner
  • Translucent Oil Reservoir
  • Branch Hook
  • Padded Grip
  • RPM: 4,600
  • Bar Length: 10″
  • Chain Gauge: .043″
  • Chain Pitch: 3/8″
  • Weight 4.2 lbs.
  • Length 50.25”

Articulating Hedge Trimmer Attachment

The hedge trimmer weighs 5.8lbs., is 20 inches long, and is rated for branches up to 1” in diameter. It was designed to be run at high speed. It will give you approximately 2 hours of runtime, depending on the size of the branches you’re trimming. Lighter branches will give you longer runtime.

We liked that the hedge trimmer head is adjustable. It has a 270-degree rotation but a 180-degree operational position.It uses a Scotch Yoke, which is a short arm attached to a rotating shaft designed to move a tool arm in a linear motion.

One interesting feature of the hedge trimmer and adjustable head is that it can be used for ground clearing such as;

  • Cutting perennials
  • Trail clearing
  • Fall clean-ups
  • Heavier brush clearing

The hedge trimmer actually is the better attachment to use for these applications than the string trimmer. The hedge trimmer pulls less current than the string trimmer, resulting in a better battery runtime.


Hedge Trimmer Features

  • Blade Set Rotation, Delivering 13 Operating Positions and 1 Storage Position
  • Tip Guard
  • Padded GripB
  • lade Length: 20″
  • Cut Capacity: 1″
  • SPM: 3,500
  • Length: 60″
  • Weight: 5.8 lbs
  • Model # 49-16-2719
  • Accessory price $164.00

Edger Attachment

Not everyone uses an edger but when you need one, man does it do a nice job edging along hard surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, flower beds, and curbs. The edger attachment is designed to be run on high-speed. It uses an industry standard 8-inch blade. [measured corner to corner]

The guard on the edger has an “alignment cut-line,” machined into it that shows the blade location for more accurate cutting and control. The adjustable wheel is how you adjust the depth of cut. This adjustment is located on the wheel, and is easy to use and quick to do.

One thing you should be aware of is that increasing or decreasing the depth of cut also changes the tool angle. Blade changing is easy to do, but does require two tools: a wrench and a holding pin to prevent the gear head from spinning.  While pro users may go through a blade a week, residential users will probably use 1 or 2 blades over the life of this tool.

The rubber mud flap on the rear of the tool help prevent debris from kicking back. The bottom of the tool has an easily replaceable skid plate to protect the gear housing from concrete impact and abrasion damage.

The edger will get you approximately 1-hour of runtime, that obviously depends on whether your edging a maintained grass edge or a never-before-edged area.


Edger attachment Features

  • High Strength Guard: Metal Alloy Guard
  • Includes Blade Indication For Cut-Line Visibility
  • Adjustable Wheel: Optimizes Blade Depth and Tool Angle
  • Mud Flaps: Prevents Dirt and Debris Kick-Back
  • Skid Plate: Protects Gear Box From Concrete Contact
  • Blade Size: 8″
  • RPM: 3,900
  • Length: 38″
  • Weight: 5.25 lbs

String Trimmer Attachment

The gas trimmer head has a bump feed mechanism. When I first started using the trimmer, I took the line head off the tool to inspect it. Putting it back on was annoying and I was about to give up until I watched their video on the Easy Load Trimmer Head.

Man, I felt like a dummy!

The grass trimmer spins at 6200 rpms, which is a 15% increase from prior generations.  A protective shroud guard is adjustable from 14” to 16” swath and comes from the factory set at 14”.

The trimmer also accepts two different size trimming lines;

  1. .080 diameter line – suitable for standard grass
  2. .095 diameter line – pro use and max. cutting for thick vegetation / brush

When the trimmer is set to 14” and outfitted with the .080 line you will see approximately one hour of runtime. The 16” setting and .095 trimmer line will give you max cutting power but less runtime, around 35 minutes.  With the 16” setting the tip of the trimmer line is actually moving faster and will result in more impact energy – that is, more aggressive cutting. Pro users will appreciate the larger cutting swath and better cutting efficiency in thicker materials.

Obviously, there is a direct tradeoff between power and runtime – something most cordless tool users understand. The grass trimmer features and upgraded, larger guard. This is due to the tool having an increased RPM compared to the previous generation.

Grass Trimmer Features

  • Protected Drive-Shaft
  • Bump Feed System
  • Easy Load Trimmer Head: Easy Line-Loading, Under 30 seconds.
  • Length 40”
  • Cutting Swath 14-16”
  • RPM 0-4900 / 0-6200
  • Weight 3.75 lbs.

Using the System

So far, we have used the pole saw and the hedge trimmer on our job-sites to trim back trees and vegetation. Both tools worked well and had plenty of power. It wasn’t until after I used both attachments for a while that I realized I had the power head in the low setting. The tools worked well in low, Milwaukee recommends using them on high. On the high setting the tool power was awesome!

One small fitment issue that I noticed was indexing an accessory pole into the power head shaft.  The accessory pole should slide straight down, following an indicator arrow, and then seat at the horizontal indicator line.

Several times I had difficulty fully-seating the torx-like,  male/female drive-shaft connectors. Upon close inspection it seems that the two don’t always align perfectly. Rotating the tool shaft slightly while inserting the accessory worked most of the time.  A few times that didn’t work, so I cycled the trigger slightly to rotate the power head receiver.

We do recommend using the accessory strap to take the weight of the tool off your arms. The powerhead and a 9.0 Ah battery weigh in at 8.5 lbs. For the total weight of the tool when in use, you need to add the weight of each accessory:

  • String Trimmer: 3.8 lbs.
  • Pole Saw: 3 lbs.
  • Edger attachment: 5.2 lbs.
  • Hedge Trimmer attachment: 5.8 lbs.

I used the edge trimmer and string trimmer on my property. Both worked well and I can see the edger being super useful keeping grass from overgrowing walkways and granite curbing. But that grass trimmer….. man is that attachment is SMOOTH! It’s the smoothest grass trimmer I’ve used and I hate grass trimmers. I used the string trimmer and the hedge trimmer to clear some low brush and the better tool for that application was the hedge trimmer.

Sting trimmers have historically been a pain in the ass to re-load string. Well, not this unit – I loved how fast the string trimmer can be resupplied with string when empty. It’s by far the easiest system I’ve seen.

One major plus for me is that the QUIK-LOK system runs off Milwaukee’s cordless tool battery system. Since I am already invested in Milwaukee cordless carpentry tools, this means fewer battery purchases and fewer chargers needed to use the system on a jobsite, or my own home.

Kit Pricing

Attachment Pricing

  • Articulating Hedge Trimmer Attachment 49-16-2719 $ 164.00
  • Pole Saw Attachment 49-16-2720 $ 164.00
  • Edger Attachment 49-16-2718 $ 109.00
  • Stringer Attachment 49-16-2717 $109.00
  • 3′ Attachment Extension 49-16-2721 $ 54.00

Overall Thoughts

Users are constantly investing in new tools for varying applications. It’s important to understand that this is NOT a single tool system. The Milwaukee M18 FUEL Attachment System w/ QUIK-LOK gives you the versatility to add tools to complete a range of landscape applications without having to invest in multiple, dedicated tools. The end result is a much lower cost of ownership, plus you can use your cordless tool battery platform to charge these tools.

Now Milwaukee just needs to develop a battery powered lawn mower!

All joking aside, this system was impressive, powerful and super useful on my jobsite and in my yard. I was really impressed with the QUIK-LOK system and highly recommend you take a closer look.

Milwaukee M18 FUEL™ QUIK-LOK Video Review

About the author

Rob Robillard

Robert Robillard is a remodeler, general contractor, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business located in Concord, Massachusetts. He also writes the "Ask the Carpenter" advice column in the Boston Globe, and serves as the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and founding editor of A Concord Carpenter . Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review - Tool and Product Review - Video Channel, , where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the remodeling industry. The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

http://www.aconcordcarpenter.com/@https://twitter.com/robertrobillardRob Robillard

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