Tool Review: An Ultra-compact Drill-driver from Festool

Sometime in the Summer of 2011, Festool will introduce a new ultra-compact drill. The company calls the drill CXS – Conquer. Xplore. Solve. The CXS is expected to become your everyday drill-driver. It’s lightweight and with the possible chuck changes, it is effectively three drills in one.

In a new T-Loc systainer (read more about those here) you’ll get the drill with a key-less chuck, Festool’s centrotec chuck, a magnetic bit holder and bit, two batteries (1.3 Ah) and a charger for $225. Toss in the optional FastFix right-angle chuck and you’re right at $275. The right-angle chuck is designed specifically for the CXS,  as are the two other chucks included with the drill. (The interchangeable chucks don’t work with other Festool drill-drivers. Nor do the chucks designed for other Festool drills fit the CXS.)

If drilling is your task, the CXS has the key-less chuck for working with smooth shank drill bits in standard operations. (The chuck clamps tight to 1/16” drill bits.) If, however, you are working in a more narrow opening, you can attach the right-angle chuck, then slip on the key-less chuck and still work with smooth shank drill bits.

If you’re planning to use the CXS for driving work, use the centrotec system for changing quickly between bits, or if you’re in tighter spaces, remove the centrotec chuck and use the ¼” bit holder that’s at the end of the drill itself. Yes, the right-angle chuck works here as well. In fact, if you slip a bit tip straight into the right-angle setup, you can get into the tightest areas.

Here is the technical data: The 10.8-volt, non-brushless motor (this is the only drill-driver Festool has without a brushless motor) develops 0/400 rpm in first gear and 0/1200 rpm in second gear. It has a 12-position clutch for precise control plus a drill setting position. Batteries recharge to full in about 30 minutes. Weight of the drill without any additional chuck is just under 2 pounds.

Other features include an LED to light up any dark work areas, and a reversible belt clip (if that’s your game) and a magnetic bit storage area. To switch the clip from right to left (or vice versa), pull the battery from the drill, slip the clip out and slip it in the opposite side. It can’t get any easier. Bit storage is pretty cool, too. There are a couple flutes carved into the front of the drill body to hold bit tips and other miscellaneous work accoutrement. Access is easy and the parts slide right out of the flutes.

A CXS is small, light weight and easy to use. I found it comfortable to hold and after a few hours spent driving screws, I felt no hand fatigue whatsoever. There is plenty of power and torque for most around-the-shop duties, and the ability to convert this drill for work in super-tight work spaces makes this tool a keeper. Want more information on Festool drills? Click here to check out the company’s drill microsite.

— Glen D. Huey

3 thoughts on “Tool Review: An Ultra-compact Drill-driver from Festool

  1. morton

    It’s too bad that it’s not backwards compatible with the previous drills. Although I understand, as I’m sure it’s innovative – there’s no way I’m adding it to my wish-list since I have an investment in the C12, right-angle chuck, etc.

  2. Andrew

    I haven’t used one, so maybe my mind will change after doing so. But the drill line seems to be a relative weakpoint in the Festool catalogue. I’m not sure there’s anything that would compel me to spend the extra on a Festool cordless drill/driver over another brand. The same can definitely not be said about many/most of the other tools in their catalogue.

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