Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun Review
At $495, you might have a little sticker shock (it's $300 for the bare tool), but Festool's premium price comes with a level of precision and design that exceeds most other manufacturers. I can attest to that with this screw gun. If you do a lot of drywall, it's well worth the price.
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Even though I find myself doing just about every type of carpentry job nowadays, I began by working with drywall and I’ve been at it now for 43 years. The work is still done the same way – the board still has to be screwed to the studs – but fortunately the tools have improved quite a bit. Many of us use a corded screwgun or a drill with a driver bit to sink individual screws, but the Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun aims to make our lives easier with its cordless, auto-triggered, collated fastener magazine design. I had some drywall to hang in a small guest house, a couple of home additions, and inside an office, so I unboxed the screwdriver and got to work.
Festool is a company that has really endeared themselves to woodworkers, but has been slowly, steadily, and intentionally expanding out into other construction tools. I hadn’t actually used a Festool product before this review but even still, my first impression of the tool was that it was the “real deal.” It feels high quality.
The Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun comes with two 18V batteries and charger, several long bits, and a regular chuck that can be interchanged with the collated fastener magazine. I quickly understood the potential speed and efficiency improvements with the auto-trigger and 50 collated screws. The alternatives I mentioned – corded screwguns and drills with driver bits – seemed clunky by comparison. Of course, I hadn’t sunk the first screw yet.
(Screw)Driving You Up The (Dry)Wall
The Old Way
Drywall work is often cumbersome because even medium-sized pieces are heavy and unwieldy – and that is especially true when drywalling a ceiling. The traditional way requires two hands to sink a screw, which doesn’t leave any hands free to hold the board in place as the first fasteners are sunk. There are tools out there to help, but you’ll still see some drywallers stand high enough on a ladder to just use his head.
The New Way
That’s not so with the Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun. By loading a 50-screw collated strip into the magazine and switching into automatic mode, you can sink a screw simply by pressing the nose against the board and pushing.
You don’t need to pull the trigger or hold the screw in the place since the collated strip holds it for you, though you can use the trigger manually if you want to. The next screw is automatically fed and ready to be sunk, making it a one-handed operation that’s much easier and faster than a two handed operation using the traditional method. In fact, having to go back to the old way after using the Festool would drive me up the (dry)wall.
Some drywall screwguns use a similar bit engagement system that pushes the bit forward to engage the fastener when you push against the wall. It’s a proven system that Festool includes and improves on. The main issue with other systems is that they keep the motor running constantly. Festool designed their system to turn the motor on when it senses the forward pressure (Milwaukee does this as well), extending battery life many times over other models.
Now, while I go cut or place a new piece, my son can quickly and efficiently finish screwing the current piece into place. It absolutely makes the job faster. It’s also very easy to load another fastener strip – simply feed it through the magazine and line up the screw with the nose.
When you want to countersink the screw, you can remove the magazine to reveal the long bit beneath, and then simply use it as a driver like you would any other drill. The depth adjustment is an easy-to-use green dial. We used the regular chuck a few times, but the auto-trigger magazine with collated screws is really the standout feature of this tool.
To adjust the screw depth, simply turn the green dial to get the desired depth of drive.
Festool calls their new screwgun “the most refined and capable drywall gun yet.” Kenny Koehler heartily agrees and had this to say about the ergonomics and performance following his trip to visit Festool in Germany:
“The Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun is typical of a Festool design – the ergonomics fit your hand so well, it’s as if the tool becomes a natural extension of your hand. Combined with outstanding run time and a feature set that directly enhances the performance, this is currently the premium drywall screwgun on the market.”
– Kenny Koehler, Pro Tool Reviews Managing Editor
Although the grip is comfortable, the Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun is tad on the heavy side, especially because of the 18V battery. At 5.2 amp hours, it’s definitely not compact. However, we get incredible run time thanks to a battery that packs 93.6 watt hours of capacity and EC TEC brushless motor. With the work we’ve done so far, we have yet to charge the battery and we’ve sunk several thousand screws.
The weight is a very small trade-off for the performance. The main features make up for the weight difference between it and whatever tool we’ve typically used. The dual hooks – a belt hook and a ladder hook – are another nice touch.
The Bottom Line
Like you’d expect from our German friends, the Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun goes way beyond the basics of a drywall screwgun. The auto-trigger with collated screws eliminates holding each screw in place for sinking and it makes all the difference in the world. Technology that senses forward pressure so the motor isn’t constantly running allows us to drive screws just as fast as other collated systems, but with much greater battery life. The old two-handed method is now a a relic, replaced by this faster, one-handed method.
If there are any features missing, it’s only because they haven’t been thought of yet. If I had a wish it would be to make it a little lighter and smaller and that may happen with future versions of the Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun. Aside from the weight, ergonomics are incredible with a design that feels very natural to your hand.
I love this tool. I’d absolutely recommend this to other Pros. At $495, you might have a little sticker shock (it’s $300 for the bare tool), but Festool’s premium price comes with a level of precision and design that exceeds most other manufacturers. I can attest to that with this screw gun. If you do a lot of drywall, it’s well worth the price.
Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun Features
- Precision, wear-free electronic switch-off function for accurate insertion depths and a long service life
- Energy-saving function for machine start/stop without actuating the main switch
- Robust, brushless EC motor for maximum efficiency and durability
- Rapid change to magazine attachment without using tools
- Lithium ion battery for a greater fastening capacity per battery charge
Festool DWC 18-4500 Cordless Screw Gun Specifications
- Model: Festool DWC 18-4500
- Power Source: Festool 18V battery pack
- Motor: EC TEC Brushless
- Speeds: 1
- No Load Speed: 0-4500 RPM
- Max Torque in Wood: 44.25 inch pounds
- Max Torque in Steel: 123 inch pounds
- Max Screw Length in Magazine: 2-1/8″ (55 mm)
- Bit holder: 1/4″ hex
- Weight with depth stop chuck: 4.18 lbs (1.9 kg)
- Weight with magazine attachment: 4.62 lbs (2.1 kg)
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $300 (bare), $495 (kit)