DeWalt 8V Max Tools Roundup
I get heavy duty, I really do. There are tools that seem to define a man—or at least his chances at getting a job done on time and with the least amount of effort. So with the new DeWalt 8V Max Tools – which include the DeWalt 8V Screwdriver Conduit Reamer, DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver, DeWalt 8V Flashlight, and the Porter-Cable 8V Impact Driver (we snuck that in, too), these tools could be something you easily overlook. But that would be a mistake. We gathered all of the new DeWalt 8V tools (plus the new Porter-Cable 8V Impact Driver) and did a DeWalt 8V Screwdriver and Driver Round-up (the flashlight is the only non-driver tool in the 8V Max group, but we tossed it in for good measure).
DeWalt 8V Screwdriver Conduit Reamer (DCF681N2)
The DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver with Conduit Reamer was a surprise product for us. We had thought the DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver was impressive enough (see our review). Looking at the tool, I initially thought that DeWalt licensed the Klein Power Reamer accessory. What they actually did is a bit more involved. The conduit reamer attached to DeWalt’s 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver has a spring-loaded, automatically-retracting blade that only comes out when you push the stepped end of the accessory onto the conduit. It’s brilliant.
There’s no clutch on this 8V screwdriver, and the handle is inline-only (not pivoting like the DCF680). In truth, electricians may want both drivers so that they can tackle low torque jobs in addition to heavier-duty driving and reaming tasks. With it being an 8V tool, you’re not going to drill with it (nor would you expect to), however the space and weight-savings are really advantageous when you’re doing a lot of work. I also prefer the slimmer straight handle to the pistol grip of a full-size or even 12V drill driver. Since the handle is fixed, DeWalt put the trigger on the bottom where I think it’s perfectly placed. There is no need for a variable-speed trigger on this tool since the rotation of the tool controls the speed. In that way, it’s the twist of your wrist that will control the driver—something that grows more intuitive with each use.
Using the DeWalt 8V Max Gyroscopic Reaming Screwdriver
The DeWalt DCF681N2 has a very convenient 3-LED battery level meter that shows the remaining charge each time you pull the trigger, and the LED light comes on to light the work area when you activate the tool. We took this tool and wondered if it had the torque necessary to ream pipe with any success. As it turns out, the clutch-free system delivers plenty of torque to the work piece. We were able to ream several pipes, and the experience left me feeling that the tool did an adequate job of de-burring the edges as required. As a driver we got more than a few screws into place before the battery gave out. While you won’t want to use this to sink a box full of decking screws into wood, the torque is more than enough for most electrical or air mechanical applications.
DeWalt 8V Max Gyroscopic Pivoting Screwdriver (DCF680)
Like many of the other DeWalt 8V Max tools, the DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver was made for electricians. The company will say it was made for anybody, but you should definitely have this in your finishing kit. It features a gyroscopic drive system (first seen, to my knowledge, in the Black & Decker 4V Max Gyro Cordless Screwdriver). But it also has—and this is important—a 15-position clutch. It’s the clutch on the DeWalt Gyroscopic Screwdriver that I find so appealing. A lot of battery powered screwdrivers seem to miss this important feature. Try to use one of these to install a standard plastic switch plate without cracking it. It’s hard work. With the DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Pivoting Screwdriver you simply set the clutch at 1 (or possibly 2) and you drive the flat screw until it stops. For more rigorous jobs (and we use that term contextually) you can rotate it past 15 until it stops at the maximum setting (essentially bypassing the clutch). Ergonomics on this tool are great.
The pivoting handle on the DeWalt DCF680 is simple to use, and with a little practice I found it quite intuitive to release the lock and swing the handle to the right to reconfigure for a pistol-style grip. In most of my testing I preferred the inline configuration. You’re not likely to encounter enough torque to require a pistol grip, and so it’s more handy for when you get yourself into a tight space. Pressing the trigger activates the motor instantly, but with the clutch engaged. Twisting your wrist to the right or left then activates the drive in either forward or reverse. When you first press the trigger, the LED light activates (for a full 20 seconds if you do nothing else). The light stays on so long as the trigger is pressed, and it will stay on for 10 seconds after the last trigger event. I measured the max speed of the DeWalt DCF680 at just over 410 RPMs and torque isn’t going to help you drive anything longer than 2″ into wood—at least not for long. That may sound discouraging, but not if you understand the sheer handiness of this tool and the convenience it offers in weight savings for those who need a competent driver for daily use. All in all, this is a tool I now keep in my electrical bag. It will, of course appeal to more than just electricians. After all, the integrated torque control and “Transformer-like” qualities of this 8V Gyroscopic Pivoting Screwdriver make the DeWalt DCF680 perfect for just about anyone who does any sort of light duty work.
DeWalt 8V Flashlight
The DeWalt 8V Flashlight is a pretty nice (and sensible) addition to the DeWalt 8V Max tools line. It gives you an additional tool to use with the battery system and fits the platform well. I feel the light is the perfect match the these smaller driving tools, and the ergonomics and compactness of the tool are nearly perfect. While it only throws off 80 lumens, it makes up for it by running a full 5 hours before it needs to be recharged. With an 8V tool you don’t want to output so much light that your battery has no run-time and putters out every 30 minutes. In a dark attic those 80 lumens will be plenty bright to light your way or your work area—and you’ll be thankful you can pretty much go all day without having to pop in a new battery. The rubberized grip on the shall of this light makes it easy to handle and difficult to drop. It’s size is perfect for slipping into a pocket or tool belt. There’s not much else to say about this tool as it has only one mode and doesn’t feature any real options. A nice addition would be a high-power mode which would halve the run-time but provide a bit more light output when needed. Adding a magnet or hook somewhere might also be a nice feature as I’m often in need of a place to hang a tool like this to get it out of the way (particularly if I’m doing renovation work or in an insulated attic or crawl space).
Porter-Cable 8V Impact Driver
We simply had to include this in our DeWalt 8V Max tools round-up. The Porter-Cable 8V Impact Driver is really a stand-out tool. I brought it into the DeWalt 8V Max tools round-up simply because this tool, like the DeWalt 8V gyroscopic drivers, falls underneath the Stanley Black and Decker (SBD) corporate umbrella. It’s also only a matter of time before there’s a DeWalt 8V Impact Driver and it should look a lot like this tool but with a removable battery pack. In use, the Porter-Cable 8V Impact Driver is really an impressive tool. For driving shorter screws while ensuring they don’t strip out, this is perhaps the best tool you can have. It lacks the bulk of an 18V tool (which would likely be overkill or twist the head off your fasteners), and it’s priced much lower than a 12V tool (about $70—the Black & Decker version is around $50). One thing we were disappointed in was the lack of a removable battery. That means you have to plug in the actual tool to recharge it as opposed to pulling out a battery. For some this may not be an issue, but it does reduce the efficiency of using multiple tools in a platform, making a 12V impact driver a bit more desirable for those applications. It’s for this reason that we feel it’s only a matter of time before a DeWalt 8V Impact Driver hits the market.
These new DeWalt 8V Max tools are very handy. In fact, if our guess is correct, they’re going to find their way into more than a few electricians’ tool bags. It’s uncertain how much further DeWalt will expand the line (our guess is that it’s more or less complete as-is save for an impact driver). Of course, we hadn’t imagined the reaming screwdriver, and so there is definitely room for more as the ideas occur to the team’s product managers and engineers.