Any budding DIYer must have a set of tools that make their lives easier, which is why the people in the know make many power tools, and this is one of those tools, this being a battery operated power driver from a well known shop called Homebase.
This is a small unit, being about 150mm long by 180mm deep at the handle and no more than 60mm thick. On the handle there is the trigger, together with a directional button, slide on way for forward and the other way for reverse. This means you can screw and unscrew without any messing about …. or that's the theory anyway.
The battery is a Lithium Ion, which means that it keeps its charge even when not in use, which means that if its left in the cupboards for about a week or so, for as long as it takes you to go back to Ikea, it is still going to be pretty well charged, ready for use.
It has a three hour charge time, from dead battery to full battery, which is pretty good going really, although a one hour charge would have been better. Once the 1.2Ah battery is charged it does give a good few hours of screwing.
Sadly it has a single speed and no torque at all, which means you have to be careful when screwing into delicate material.
There is a little light near the chuck which lights up the area where the bit is screwing in (or out), so that there's no worries in trying to get to screws in tight, dark places.
But there is one big negative of this driver, that is that it does not have the power to to get a decent job done. The only time that this has enough power is when it is fully charged, but once I start using this it drains away quicker than my bank balance on pay day.
This makes this driver a waste of space really and, for me, it belongs with all the others that are stuck in the bottom drawer waiting to be stripped down in case they have spare parts that I can use.
This driver cost about £25 - £30 which, for me, is way over priced for what this offers. If it was on sale in the local pound shop then, and only then, would I think twice about it.
This is a great little tool from Homebase, better than described on the retailer's website. I've had this for a couple of years now and it has proved its worth several times over. It's compact, lightweight and straightforward to use. In fact it's so handy, I can't think why I never bought one before: hence this brief review.
I got this initially to speed up the assembly of a pine bed with multiple wood screws. Having previously tackled a similar job the hard way, with a manual screwdriver, it seemed worth a try. I just wasn't sure whether a small cordless tool would be up to the challenge.
I needn't have worried. Despite its relatively small price tag of under £20 and the low voltage rating of 3.6v, it proved quite powerful enough (3N.m maximum torque apparently). It copes well with all those little DIY jobs, it's quick to charge and I find the L-ion battery holds its charge very well.
~~Basic - but not that basic!~~
One of the 'Powerbase Xtreme' range, this is in fact a fairly basic power tool - but not quite as basic as the Homebase website seems to suggest. Its description for this product seems somewhat awry as it currently refers to a '600mah Ni-Cd battery'. The lithium battery is actually rated at 1300mAh. The website also specifies a 3 piece set of screwdriver bits when in fact there are nine.
It may not have all the features demanded by professionals or dedicated DIYers, like variable speed, torque etc. but for mostly reluctant users (like many of us, I suspect) it will be quite adequate: a potential time and effort saving device for any household.
~~Design & practicalities~~
The design is ergonomic, with a nice soft grip handle and an automatic spindle lock that's really quick and easy to use, but still feels secure. The LED light is a nice touch for use in dark corners. But the real advantages, to my mind, are its compact size and, as it states on the box, 'the tool is always ready to use'.
Being cordless, another major benefit proved recently, is relative safety for outside use. I was able to carry out an urgent running repair to a storm-damaged fence in damp conditions, using this tool just the other day. I hadn't used or charged it for months but it was still fully up to the job in hand. This does seem to confirm its claim to have 'minimal self-discharge'.
Forward and reverse rotation allow screwing and unscrewing, respectively. Each mode is quite simple to engage, with green and red indicators that light up to show the direction.
The no-load speed is rated at 180 rpm, which seems like a reasonable compromise, bearing in mind perhaps that it can also be used manually.
The screwhead lock (chuck) design allows you to use this tool as a manual screwdriver. My only slight concern is that in this mode it's actually quite easy to switch it on unintentionally. Still, I suppose this wouldn't actually be an issue if the reason for using it manually was having a discharged battery!
The small box contents included the main tool, charger and set of screwdriver bits, as follows:
* 3 Flat: 4/5/6 mm
* 3 Phillips: PH1, PH2, PH3
* 3 Pozi: PZ1, PZ2, PZ3
~~User guide & helpline~~
The 9 page user guide is easy enough to follow and clearly illustrated, with safety instructions, components list and operation instructions. There's a UK Helpline phone number which I've never needed to use, as this really is a pretty straightforward device.
~~Availability & price~~
Manufactured for Homebase, available from your local store or for home delivery (usual charges will apply). Current selling price is £19.99
I can't think why I waited so long to buy one of these! Cheaper models may be available, and many more sophisticated ones - but this does a good enough job for my purposes, simply, reliably and surprisingly powerfully.
I'd recommend one of these particularly for the occasional DIY job involving multiple screws - e.g. assembling flat pack furniture.
[© SteveS001 2012. A version of this original review may appear on other review sites]