It is not often that a tool can meet the needs of multiple trades. Metabo's SSW18 LTX400BL 18V LTX 3.1 Ah Cordless LiHD 1/2 in. Square Brushless Impact Wrench is one of those unique tools. I have the privilege of owning two specialized businesses: one for building custom homes and the other restoring vintage cars and campers. While I have a variety of impact drivers in my building tool arsenal, the mechanical side has been limited to the standard air impact wrench.
One of our specialties in the custom homebuilding world is building timber frame houses. While a lot of what we do involves quite a bit of traditional joinery, more and more engineers are specifying large timber screws to meet more stringent building codes. Some of these fasteners are as long as 16” with diameters up to 3/8”. The smaller impact drivers struggle with the task of installing these fasteners, especially in hardwoods, and especially over long periods of time.
When given the chance to try Metabo’s SSW 18 we were thrilled to put this beast to the test while assembling 6x6 timbers with timber screws. Not only did it have the power necessary to drive long screws through such large timber, it had the stamina to back it up. One of the best features about this tool other than it’s lightweight and balanced design, is that the battery pack has a built in charge meter. Before you find yourself two stories up waiting for the crane to set an 8x16 timber truss cord, you can be sure you have battery life to finish the job. One quick push of the built-in LED meter and you know if you’re good to go (or not). If not, swap out your pack with the included second battery and throw it on the air-cooled charger that, Metabo claims, will charge the pack in 30% less time than its competitors. I didn’t test the proposed charge time – all I can say is that it was fast enough for us on this job.
Now, the driver performed very well for us in the construction world. The real test, however, came in the mechanical world. Any tool can be called a driver, but only the best can be considered a true impact wrench, which is what Metabo calls this model. The SSW18 packs a walloping 295 ft.-lbs (3050 in.-lbs) of torque. I will say that it struggled with some very seized up large diameter bolts that even gave my trusty air impact a run for its money. Where it struggled in brawn it made up with in brains, though. The Metabo features slow start technology. While the air impact will strip or break with no disregard, the SSW18 works up to speed and strength with 12 torque and speed settings. One of the other neat features is the twin LED head lamps that light up as soon as you pick up the tool. I frequently will take one of the freshly restored vehicles for extended test drives and having the Metabo SSW18 in the tool bag will give me great comfort for any field repairs that may pop up. Nothing says freedom like cutting the cord so to speak. Overall, I give it a two thumbs up.
- Voltage: 18V LiHD
- Idling speed level 1 0 - 590 /min
- No-Load Speed 0 - 2150 /min
- Maximum torque 400 Nm / 295 ft. lbs
- Bit retainer Male square 1/2" (12.70 mm)
- Weight (including battery pack) 1.7 kg / 3.7 lbs
- 3 year warranty on battery
- COO: Germany
- Cost: SSW18 LTX 400 BL 2x 3.1Ah LiHD kit $329 ($219 for bare tool)
Robert Courtney is a custom home builder, trim carpenter, and mechanic specializing in building and restoring expedition vehicles.