Driving Miss Daisy

I have now had the Festool CXS Cordless drill/driver for 6 months now (give or take a week) so it is worth a revisit.


I have been using the CXS extensively in that period, both while getting the old place ready, and since moving into the new one, so have really had a chance to experience its features, capabilities and limitations.

To start, I have heard criticism that this is just a screwdriver.  Of course it is, and no it isn’t on so many levels.  But this will come out as we progress.

The CXS is pretty light – not as much as one of those powered screwdrivers, but then they don’t have the range of features on offer.  I initially took the clip off (comes off easily once the battery is removed), but have since reinstated it.  It doesn’t interfere when you are not needing or using it, and particularly useful when you do.  It is able to be placed on either the left or the right, so a matter of personal preference.

The battery has an impressive longevity, and you can complete a lot of jobs before needing a recharge.  Even so, it comes with a second Li-Ion battery for when the drill stops drilling, and the light flashes (indicating the battery is finally flat).  The charger takes about 20 minutes, so if diligent about charging your battery when it does run down, you’d be hard-pressed to find yourself short.

The front of the CXS has two slots that look like they are there for a bit of styling.  That may be the case, but they are also magnetic to hold an alternate bit (or 4), or the next screw or two.  Above that is a small light, which as previously mentioned indicates when the battery has run down.  The real reason for its existence is to illuminate the are just in front of the drill, particularly useful when working in confined spaces.

To the main function – drilling, and driving.  This isn’t an impact driver, so has no where near the maximum torque of those devices, but there again, that is often a lot of overkill (ideally, your toolbox would have both).  The Centrotec driver holder is not very useful if you don’t have a set of Centrotec bits.  Still, I use the holder as it is easy to rapidly interchange the different heads using the FastFix system.  If you want to fit a traditional hex bit and not use the magnetic extension supplied, you can remove all the heads, and insert the bit directly into the shaft.  Also a method to reduce overall length if you need to get into a confined space.

The drill chuck is also easy to interchange (also FastFix), so it isn’t too much of a hassle to switch between drill bit (for a pilot hole) and the driver.  It is limited to a maximum of 8mm, which seems a bit low.  However, I can understand the rationale behind this – larger will start to push the overall capacity of the driver.  It can still manage drill bits up to 12mm in wood, so long as they have a smaller shaft at the end (bits like this are readily available).  This is not a high-torque tool, and you can find its limit.  The advantage of an electronic motor is it senses the load, and will cut out when it hits the max.  Unlike my last drill, you can’t burn this one out by overloading it!

The shaft autolocks when doing toolless bit changing.  About the only frustration is if you remove the chuck without removing the drill bit – not a big deal, but you can’t remove the drill bit when the chuck is not attached!

You won’t use it as much, but that right-angle adapter is genius when you need it.  Fit either driver bits or the drill chuck to the end, to be able to reach in and around, and still deliver the bit to the work.  Very clever, much quieter than expected, and when you need it, you’ll love having it.

There are 12 torque settings (I rarely remember to use), and two speed settings on the gearbox.

Around this place, I have already forgotten the number of jobs I have used the CXS for.  Drilling and screwing a gate together (metal frame, self tapping screws), building (or reassembing) a bunch of Ikea furniture, and attaching various units to the wall, building a cat run (self-tapping metal screws), and I can’t remember what else – it has almost become a permanent attachment!

So the positives and negatives.

Convenient size and weight (900g)
Able to reach where others cannot
Great battery life and quick recharge
Comfortable ergonomics
Variable speed and torque (although would have preferred a bit more)
Drills and drives. Having additional Centrotec bits would be a real benefit.

Bottom line – having now experienced one for a decent run, would I want one if I didn’t have the one I currently have?  You bet.  I enjoy using this tool  It feels right, it works right  It is spot on for the job it was designed to do.  I love that it comes in a Systainer, not that it gets to see its home very often!

Have a chat to Anthony from Ideal Tools if you want one too. (My Festool supplier of choice 🙂 )

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