Festool T 18 E 18V Cordless Drill Review
Festool T 18 E Compact Cordless Drill Helps You Find Balance and Control
Looking for more balance and control in a world where cordless drills are simply getting faster and stronger? The Festool T 18 E compact cordless drill comes in with seemingly underwhelming numbers. However, the reality of its performance is far greater than simple numbers on a package. When quality results are your highest priority, this might be one of the top drills on your list.
- Electronic clutch with audio feedback
- Unique collar-less design puts clutch dial on the back
- Compact design
- Excellent balance
- Unique magnetic bit holders above the battery
- Kit includes two compact Li-HighPower 4.0Ah batteries (new!)
- Comes in a Systainer
- Premium pricing
- Heavy for a compact drill
- Slower drilling speeds
RecommendationIf control is foremost on your mind, the Festool T 18 E is an excellent compact drill for you. It drills slower and weighs more than similar size models, but has a lot of confidence to keep the bit moving forward, even in hardwoods. Add in Festool’s electronic clutch system and you can drill and drive to your OCD heart’s content.
Festool T 18 E Cordless Drill Performance
Speed and Power
With a top speed of 1500 RPM (450 in low gear) and a max hard torque of 442.5 in-lbs, this Festool drill isn’t set up to blow your mind with power and speed. It’s designed to give you compact control.
That doesn’t mean you should dismiss it for all but your twist bits, though. Our testing proved that the Festool T 18 E is a highly capable asset.
With our standard glued-up 3/4-inch OSB subfloor layers ready for us, we put the drill through a series of standard tests. We like to use OSB because it’s a consistent material and helps us benchmark against other drills more easily.
Starting light, we drilled through with a 3/4-inch Bosch Daredevil High-Speed Auger Bit. Then we followed it up with a 1-inch bit.
In these high-speed tests, Festool’s average speed was one of the lowest. However, there’s some context to keep in mind.
|3/4-inch Auger||Tested No-Load Speed||Efficiency|
|Festool T 18 E||1269 RPM||1438 RPM||88%|
|DeWalt DCD797||1948 RPM||2035 RPM||98%|
|Craftsman CMCD720||1299 RPM||1940 RPM||60%|
Just looking at the no-load speeds on paper, we expected this Festool drill to be among the slower ones in its compact class. What its efficiency score tells us is that its brushless motor isn’t having to work all that hard to do the work. In fact, only the DeWalt DCD797 had a higher efficiency rating in our tests.
Even with the larger auger bit, Festool posted a solid 1183 RPM, holding an 82% efficiency rating.
Making things a bit tougher, we switched over to a 1 1/2-inch Milwaukee Switchblade self-feed bit and dropped into low gear. Festool’s performance was similar to its high-speed test. Holding 385 RPM, it nailed an 87% efficiency.
We don’t normally go beyond a 1 1/2-inch bit with compact drills, but the efficiency scores were so high, we decided to see what the T 18 E could do with a 2 9/16-inch self-feed bit.
Turning an average of 344 RPM, its 78% efficiency rating was well ahead of what many of our compact drill achieved with the smaller 1 1/2-inch bit.
The big takeaway for our team is that the Festool T 18 E has a lot of muscle to back it up. Its ability to continue drilling well outside its specified scope is impressive. Yes, it’s going to be on the slower side, but it delivers smooth, confident drilling performance.
A Weighty Subject
There’s some give and take on the design for this Festool compact drill driver. On the positive side, it has a reasonably compact footprint.
Its head length measures 7.6 inches, putting in in the longer half, but still short of the bulky Hilti SFC 22-A (8.3 inches). Interestingly, it has the shortest height of the group. Bare, it’s just 7.3 inches tall. Since the 4.0Ah batteries that come in the kit are slim packs, it’s still very compact even with a solid power source.
On the other hand, the Festool T 18 E cordless drill is one of the heavier models in the compact class. Bare, it’s among the heaviest at 2.74 pounds. That 4.0Ah slim pack adds more than a pound, bringing it to 4.08 pounds.
Despite its relatively high weight, the weight is balanced very well, making it work lighter than it looks on paper.
Festool’s typically solid handle ergonomics are in play with a comfortable overmold protecting its handle that fits medium to large hands well.
Festool shifts away from traditional collar-based controls with a completely different system. Rather that using a one or two-collar design for the mode and clutch, Festool uses a simple switch and dial.
Just behind the 2-speed gearbox switch, a second switch lets you move between drilling and driving modes. On the rear of the tool, the clutch settings sit on a green dial.
I like having the mode switch on top next to the gearbox switch, but I’m undecided about the clutch dial. It doesn’t seem any more or less convenient than a clutch collar.
What’s foundationally different is that it’s an electronic clutch rather than a mechanical one. Its load-sensing design simply stops the motor instead of continuing to spin and slipping over the clutch mechanism. There’s even audio feedback when you clutch out.
Additional Noteworthy Features
Festool’s compact impact driver has magnetic bit holders on the sides that we really like. The T 18 E also departs from the traditional, but it’s a little different than the impact.
Two magnetic slots sit above the battery and are the perfect size for holding 1 and 2-inch bits. It is possible to knock them out, but if you slide the bit in just enough for the hex shank to seat, it won’t let them go until you pull them off.
Festool usually commands a premium price. While there is a premium on the Festool T 18 E, it’s not as much of a jump as you might expect.
The Bottom Line
If control is foremost on your mind, the Festool T 18 E is an excellent compact drill for you. It drills slower and weighs more than similar size models, but has a lot of confidence to keep the bit moving forward, even in hardwoods. Add in Festool’s electronic clutch system and you can drill and drive to your OCD heart’s content.
Festool 18V Cordless Drill Specs
- Model: T 18 E
- Motor: Brushless
- RPM Range: 0-1500 rpm
- Max Torque: 398 in-lbs.
- Chuck Size: 1/2 in.
- Drilling Diameter, Wood/Steel: 1-3/4″ (45 mm)/1/2″ (13 mm)
- Weight: 3.97 lbs.
- Warranty: 3 years
- Kit Price: $299