Wise Buys: Palm Drivers
Why buy? Sometimes a high-voltage cordless drill is just plain overkill for a small job -- driving screws to install cabinet hardware, for example. That's when you'll find a palm-size driver mighty handy. It fits comfortably in a shop apron or tool belt, and gets into tight places no full-size drill can. In our tests, each of the three drivers we recommend displayed surprising power. We drove 2" drywall screws into a pine 2x4 without pilot holes, and each driver exceeded our expectations. All three feature lithium-ion batteries that manufacturers say won't lose a charge even when stored unused for more than a year.
Black & Decker Li3000
At half the length and one-sixth the weight of my 14.4-volt drill/driver, Black & Decker's 3.6-volt Li3000 feels more like a hand tool than a power tool. On a full charge, the Li3000 drove 41 2" screws into unpiloted stock in about 10 minutes, although it did not fully seat most of them. After recharging the battery (a six-hour wait), I used the Li3000 for other shop tasks. I was able to drill 5/32" pilot holes into pine, but discovered the 1/4" hex chuck -- which has a spring clip that presses against the bit's base -- would not hold the bit to back it out, so I had to pull it out by hand. To my surprise, the Li3000 drove 62 #8x1" screws into pilot holes in pine before the battery gave out.
The single-speed, 180-rpm driver has a large handle trigger that I could grip comfortably with three or four fingers. But the three-position drive-direction switch atop the driver felt awkward to operate while gripping the tool. (The middle position locks the driver so you can use it as a screwdriver.) The tool includes a set of 40 hex drive bits.
-- Tested by Owen Duvall, Projects Editor
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