|When I worked at Black & Decker in 1980 cordless drills were the cat's pajamas. At the time B&D was a leader in cordless technology and they made both a consumer range and a professional range of cordless drills. The idea of cordless screw-guns was just being invented but for serious work you still needed a corded drill. |
The box in the back of the photo is a pile of consumer cordless drills that were so underpowered they quickly tanked in the marketplace and I bought a pile of drills bodies for (I think) 25¢s; each. I figured the chucks and motors might come in handy (so far they haven't). The battery bases for the drill weren't available because they got snapped up right away for the rechargeable batteries. And so the drill bodies lay in my parent's basement for thirty years.. It's a great concept; a small, easy to handle "D" handled drill that was easy to use. Sadly the technology wasn't there yet. There was no such thing yet as a keyless chuck inexpensive enough to put in a portable drill so as you can see in the second photo a chuck key was included with every drill.
Flash forward to now.
As of June first Festool is introducing the compact CXS drill. It's cordless - well why wouldn't be - does anyone use a corded drill these days? It has a built in clutch for variable screw tension. Again - doesn't everyone. It even has a LCD light to illuminate the inside of that dark cabinet so that you can see what you are doing. What seemed a miracle in 1980 is now expected. What makes it special is not that it's a cordless drill but that it is so small, so easy to hold, and it feels right in the hand. There is no compromise here. It's plenty strong enough for what it is supposed to do, and the little ergonomic touches make it an extension to your hand.
B&D of course lost interest in making higher end power tools sometimes in the 1990's but Festool figured out that if they wanted to compete with the giant low cost made in China tools they had to separate themselves somehow. And they did. Festool's name is synonymous with quality. Who else has a three year warranty on their cordless drills - including batteries. Lithium batteries don't wear out like the old Ni-Cads did but you still have to build the tool right.
As a mostly hand tool guy, and hard core tool collector, most of my working tools are antiques and in general even with the great stuff now being manufactured in the hand tool revival I have little personal interest to change. But when it comes to power tools. Cordless tools are still getting better and better every year.
The new Festool Compact CXS drill will start shipping June 1st 2011. You can find out more about the new drill and pre-order by clicking here.
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