The new DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver (DCF680) was announced this week, but we actually got a chance to put our hands on it in Towson, MD back in April to give it a decent workout. The 8V Max DeWalt DCF680 uses a gyroscope similar to the Black & Decker 4V Gyro (but only in the one respect) which senses (from any starting point) when you twist your wrist to the left (loosening the fastener) or right (tightening it down). Combined with variable speed and clutch control, the DCF680 Pivoting Screwdriver is positioning itself as a pro-friendly tool which seems to be a perfect fit for HVAC, electrical, MRO, woodworking or plumbing applications.
And while the DeWalt DCF680 isn’t the first cordless screwdriver to hit the market, or even the first one with 2-axis gyroscopic technology built right in, it is the first one that boasts itself as being “professional grade”. DeWalt is clearly going after the professional tool user with this tool—and the advanced features do indeed differentiate it from the pack.
DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver Features and Favorites
Three things really set apart the DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver from other cordless screwdrivers…make that four…or maybe five. Basically, there is a lot that’s “pro grade” about this tool. The DCF680 has variable speed control and also a 15-position clutch. That’s incredibly important—as anyone who has busted up a bunch of switch or outlet plates can attest to. (I see that hand!) With the DeWalt Gyroscopic Screwdriver you can set the clutch and forget it—drive that screw until it stops, and your plate will remain intact. Of course the gyroscopic feature is fairly unique, and it really makes it easy to get your work done. The fact that the system uses a 2-axis gyro means that you don’t have to always start the drill upright. It will begin reacting to your movements from any starting position. Additionally, the adjustable two-position handle doesn’t just hinge—it rotates 180 degrees on an angle, letting you use the tool in a slim in-line configuration, or a comfortable pistol grip. Finally, there’s a nice 2-LED ring thanks for the correction, Bill!) that lights up your workspace without casting any shadows on the fastener. Wrap that all up in an 8V Max lithium-ion battery, and you’ve got the run-time to use this tool all day long.
One other feature I really liked on this new 8V screwdriver was the battery charge gauge located on the top, just behind the one-handed 1/4″ hex chuck. This three-LED meter will ensure that you don’t leave for the day, thinking that your 8V Max battery is fully-charged when it’s not. DeWalt is finally releasing battery gauges on all of its new tools, and we’re thankful they’ve taken the plunge. Oh, and that 1/4″ hex chuck? It also accepts 1″ bit tips so you can get this tool into even more compact locations when needed.
Putting Our Hands on It
As I mentioned, I got to use this tool a couple months ago and it really does seem to be a new kind of lightweight pro-oriented screwdriver. The combination of variable speed and the 15-position clutch were the real winners when slamming home switch plate covers. You could set the chuck low (we liked it around 7 or 8 at the most) and then feel completely at ease running the screw until it stopped. This is light years beyond any other single-speed or chuck-less battery powered screwdriver I’ve used in the past.
The gyroscopic control is, of course, the big feature—and it works really well. I just don’t think it’s as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be. In a sense, the variable speed and clutch add control, while the gyro seems to take it away (or put it into your wrist, which is less accurate in my opinion than my trigger finger). That’s not to say that the gyroscope feature is bad or takes away from the tool. I rather suspect that it’s simply something users will get used to and end up enjoying a lot—it’s certainly intuitive and has a short learning curve.
The 8V Max (7.2V nominal) battery on the DCF680 is slim—using two of the Sanyo 14650 cells that provide excellent run-time and a high energy density (more power with less weight). It’s far smaller than the pack that comes with DeWalt’s DW920K-2 (their older 7.2V hinged screwdriver). The charger is also compact, but we appreciated the removable battery vs. a built-in model—that is clearly a more pro-grade feature that will be appreciated by anyone who’s ever wanted to swap out a pack but has been forced to wait for a “tool” to recharge.
DeWalt bills the DCF680 as a pro-grade battery-powered screwdriver. I think we can give them that. They have the features to back up their claim and they don’t try to be everything with this tool, but rather stick to what’s important. For example, it maxes out at 40 in-lbs—that’s half of the torque available from the 7.2V DW920K, but if you want more torque you can get a 12V Max driver. As a battery powered screwdriver, the 15-position clutch, variable speed and LED light ring set the DCF680 well in the lead of similar products. Add to that the ergonomic variable handle position and one-handed 1″ bit-compatible chuck and you’ve got a tool that is something just about every tradesman could use in their tool bag.
The DCF680N1 (single-battery kit) will retail for $90 and the DCF680N2 throws in an extra battery for just $10 more ($99). I think it’s obvious which is the better deal. Both kits come with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract and 90-day money-back guarantee. Look for them to hit shelves in August…and immediately fly right off.