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Tool review: Compact Power Drivers

These compact but capable tools pack surprising punch, making them the go-to drivers in our shop.

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Compact Power Drivers
Driving drywall screws
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Our tester fills up another pine
2x6 with 1-5/8" drywall screws.

Compact Power Drivers

Just as the diminutive David slew the ferocious giant, Goliath, to the surprise of everyone, these pint-size lithium-ion powered tools blew our expectations out of the water with their staggering screw-driving abilities. In fact, since we began using them, the larger 14.4- and 18-volt drill/drivers in the WOOD® magazine shop now see primarily drilling duty as we reach for compact 10.8- and 12-volt micro-drivers almost exclusively for driving screws -- especially for hinges and small hardware. Their compact size minimizes hand fatigue and provides them better access to tight quarters.


They're lightweights, but only literally

With weights ranging from 1.8 to 2.6 lbs (with battery installed), these cordless tools weigh about half as much as nickel-cadmium powered 14.4-volt drill/drivers, and even less than the bulkier 18-volt drills. They achieve this by using lighter-weight lithium-ion chemistries in their compact battery packs. Although most micro-driver manufacturers claim 12 volts of power compared to 10.8 for others, we saw no distinct advantage that could be traced to rated voltage. (One manufacturer started the trend of claiming 12 volts of power, and for competitive reasons most others followed suit.) All 10 tested units drove more than 150 1-5/8" drywall screws into pine on a single charge, and five drivers topped the 200 mark. (By comparison, the 14.4-volt drill/drivers we tested only a few years ago drove from 217 to 522 screws per charge.)

Using new 3/4" spade bits, all the tools drilled at least 19 1-1/2"-deep holes in pine on a single charge. One driver nearly tripled that with an average of 48 holes per charge. But most struggle with bits larger than 3/4" in diameter and drill slower than larger drills. Driving screws is what these tools do best, effectively making micro-drivers a bit of a luxury item for most home workshops. So if you can buy only one tool for your drilling and driving needs, get a conventional 14.4-volt or larger model.


Continued on page 2:  More to consider before buying

 

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Comments (5)
8338039537
giorgioelli wrote:

Hallo. I have 18v-li bosch gsb & gdr and 10.8 gsr and gdr. When I am working with woods I use 10.8. They are great but they have fat handle. I don¿t have other problem and they are very strong and reliable.

9/17/2014 03:45:13 AM Report Abuse
JM92410 wrote:

I'm using an 18v Hitachi and two of these - http://superblog.co/the-best-cordless-drill-and-gyro-screwdriver-black-and-decker-bdcs40g-review/ - in my business in Virginia. I use the latter mainly for assembling IKEA furnitures. It works flawlessly every day and is still like brand new performance-wise after almost two years now. The Gyro looks like a gimmicky tool but it's actually a serious tool and I highly recommend it.

4/16/2014 12:03:36 PM Report Abuse
JM92410 wrote:

I'm using an 18v Hitachi

4/16/2014 12:02:17 PM Report Abuse
coltons4 wrote:

i have the bosch i driver angle compact driver works great with installing small screws in tight spaces

6/23/2011 09:51:01 PM Report Abuse

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