Black and Decker SS18SB-2 SmartSelect 18V Drill Driver Review
Nowadays, cordless drills come with multiple speeds and adjustable clutches, and while these are good things if you know how to properly set them, most folks have no idea what to do. To help simplify things and make your project turn out better, the Black and Decker SS18SB-2 SmartSelect 18V drill driver makes it so that you don’t have to guess what settings to use. Whether you are trying to drive a tiny screw or drill a 1″ whole with a spade bit, the settings on this drill are super easy to set for just the task you have at hand.
Black and Decker SS18SB-2 SmartSelect 18V Drill Driver
Our Black and Decker SS18SB-2 SmartSelect 18V drill driver arrived in a retail package box with a cloth zippered storage case inside. Also included with the drill were two NiCad batteries (model HPB18), a charger and a double sided screwdriver bit. The drill has a decent feel to it and once a battery is slipped on to the base of the drill, it feels pretty well balanced. With the more compact lithium-ion battery based cordless products on the market now, this drill does feel a little on the heavy and bulky side. With that said, we suspect Black and Decker opted for the NiCad as a cost saving measure since we think the target audience for this tool are homeowners and DIY types that are often driven by budget verses features. Along with the batteries, there is a very basic charger that simply slips over the terminals on the battery. There is a single red LED light on the charger that indicates when the power is on. The charger gives no indication of when the battery is charged. This charger does leave a lot to be desired since it is so basic, with a very thin power cord and no real indicator lights to let you know what is going on and it takes any where from 6 to 12 hours to fully charge a battery. Good thing they give you two batteries with this kit.
The good news is that this drill has some pretty cool features. The main body of the drill is constructed of the familiar orange color of many B&D tools with plenty of soft black rubber overmold for added grip. The overmold also helps to keep any hard edges of the tool from coming in contact with your work surface if you set it down on its side. At the base of the handle is a battery charge indicator that, when you press the button, has small LED lights indicating the amount of charge left in the battery. This is a feature we wish every cordless tool manufacture would start implementing since it makes so much sense. Speaking of LED, however, the Black and Decker SS18SB-2 SmartSelect 18V drill doesn’t feature an LED worklight – something we’re seeing more and more of on consumer and prosumer level cordless tools.
For our favorite feature of this drill, we have the SmartSelect dial behind the chuck. This dial works pretty much like any other adjustable clutch on a drill except that this one actually makes sense. Rather than just numbers that don’t necessarily have any meaning, this drill actually has small images of the proper use for the torque setting. At first, as you turn the dial, the images of the screws get bigger and bigger. Then it moves into drill bits and, as you turn it to larger drill bits, it automatically changes the speed of the drill from 1 to 2. As you continue to turn the dial until it stops, it ultimately sets the torque dial to the maximum setting with the transmission in high speed. The SmartSelect system is simple, functional and practical.
Testing and Use
Using the Black & Decker Smart Select 18V Drill/Driver SS18SB-2 is almost as easy as it gets. Our project involved building a custom bed frame that required some 2-1/2″ wood screws to hold the side rails to the corner legs. We took a freshly charged battery and inserted it onto the base of the drill. Next, we loaded in a properly sized drill bit to use as a pilot bit so that when we went to drive our screws, we wouldn’t split out the wood. With the bit locked in the chuck, we glanced at the SmartSelect dial and rotated it until we were at the position for small size drill bits. As we rotated the dial, it shifted the speed of the drill from 1 to 2 as well. As far as drilling, the 3/16″ drill bit had no problems at all going the full depth into the wood.
During our drilling exercise, we found that the forward and reverse switch of the drill was also very easy to manipulate with your thumb and fore-finger since it is conveniently located above the trigger. Next, we took the drill bit out and put in a number 2 Philips head bit and we then rotated the SmartSelect dial to the size screw that we thought best represented the size screw we were trying to drive. As we rotated the dial, the speed was changed from 2 back to 1. Once we started screwing the fastener in place, we noticed that we were tripping the clutch mechanism. All we did was turn the dial one more setting up and we were able to drive the screw until it was just flush with the surface of the wood. The idea of the clutch when you are driving screws is so that you don’t over torque and either strip out the screw or drive it too deep below the surface of the material you are trying to put the screw into. With the proper torque setting in place, you can ensure you will get the maximum holding power of the fastener and also keep your work piece looking nice with the heads of the screws consistently set to the right level.
The Black and Decker SS18SB-2 SmartSelect 18V drill is one of those tools that have some great features that really make sense. New tool users, homeowners and DIY folks will find this drill a handy addition to their tool arsenals. The battery charge level meter and SmartSelect Dial are our favorite features of this drill. For our Performance rating we gave this tool an 7/10 since it does have some simple yet very effective improvements over other entry level drills. For our Value rating we gave the drill a 5/10 since it is on the more costly end of entry level drills and it only comes with NiCad batteries. All in all, this drill still represents a good value especially with the simple functionality of the SmartSelect system.