Recommend this product?
The recent death of my old cordless drill/driver brought several household projects to a sudden halt. Mrs. Review Pro was quick to notice--clearly, this was a situation which needed to be rectified ASAP! As luck would have it, that very evening I saw a commercial for the Craftsman Bolt-On System and was intrigued. I liked the idea of one powered base driving multiple add-on tools that I could buy as needed. I picked up this drill/driver kit, which is basically the “starter kit” for the Bolt-On system. It includes the powered base unit that the various tools attach to, a 20v max lithium ion rechargeable battery, a battery charger, and the drill/driver attachment.
This review is for the “starter kit” and included drill/driver attachment only. I have purchased and tested several of the add-on tools, but as they are separate products they will get separate reviews. These reviews will be linked in the “Other Attachments” section of this review as they are completed. I’ve also included a general overview of what the Bolt-On system is for those who aren’t clear on how it works.
== The 30 Second Review ==
A 20v max (18v operating voltage) lithium ion battery provides ample power for the drill/driver attachment. In testing I drilled through and drove screws into ¾ inch plywood, thick laminate, and wall studs with no problems. 10 torque settings plus a “drill” setting allow customization to the job at hand. A keyless chuck offers speedy tool-free changing of bits and drivers. The drill/driver attachment securely clicks into the base unit and feels like one tool rather than two pieces. The tool is well balanced and is comfortable to hold and use. One double sided (Phillips and slotted) driver bit is included. The bit is on the large side. I’d like to have seen a smaller one included as well, but if you have one from another tool or purchase one separately it will work fine. The battery charger has a “Quick Charge” button that will bring the battery to 30% power in 10 minutes—great for when you need just a bit more juice to finish a project. A full charge takes about an hour.
== Detailed Review ==
Battery and Charger
Lithium ion battery technology is great in tools like this. It maintains full power nearly until the battery is drained rather than tailing off like ni-cad batteries. Memory is also much less of an issue—you can take the battery off the charger before it’s fully charged without altering its future capacity. The battery is compact in size and not too heavy but still offers plenty of power and charge life for most jobs. The Bolt-On 20v battery has a different connection than previous Craftsman models, so your old batteries will not work on the Bolt-On system. This set comes with one battery. Others are available for purchase separately.
The charger is a bench-top unit with one charging slot. An LED indicator shows a variety of information including full charge, actively charging, and basic battery diagnostics to warn you of a bad battery or non-ideal charging temperatures. The Quick Charge feature allows you to press a button that will bring the battery to 30% capacity in 10 minutes. If you leave the battery on the charger after a quick charge cycle it will automatically revert to normal charging until the battery is full.
Bolt-On Base Unit
The base unit is the body of the tool which powers the various add-ons. It is, for all intents and purposes, the back 2/3 of a cordless drill. Where the drill part would be, there is a slot for attaching the add-on tools. It’s a standard pistol-grip set-up with the battery sliding into the bottom of the handle, a trigger for on/off, and a forward/reverse toggle for tools which support it. The release catch for the attachments is out of the way on the top. The handle fits comfortably in my hands and is well-balanced when a tool is attached to the front of the unit.
This attachment turns the Bolt-On base into a standard cordless power drill/driver. It’s pretty basic—there are no lights, bubble levels, or other non-standard bells or whistles. It does have a keyless chuck and variable torque settings. The included double-sided driver bit (Phillips and Slotted) is standard sized—it’ll work for most screws but can have trouble with small ones. The chuck will accept pretty much any bit though, so it’s easy enough to scrounge up or purchase the exact size needed. The power provided by the base is more than adequate for most household DIY projects. Impact driver and hammer drill add-ons are available separately for more intense usage. I have not yet acquired these attachments, but when I do you can be sure I will review them and add a link here.
== Conclusion and Rating ==
The powered base does what it is supposed to do and the battery and charger are good examples of current technology. The drill/driver in and of itself is a capable tool. I’d like to have seen a light, bubble level, and a smaller bit included, but these issues are easily overcome. For the drill/driver alone, I’d give three stars for a solid, no frills unit. As part of the larger system, I cannot ignore its versatility and innovativeness. FOUR STARS for the Craftsman Bolt-On Drill/Driver starter kit.
== What Is The Bolt-On System? ==
Craftsman’s new Bolt-On tool system is an interesting concept. Quite simply, it’s a powered base unit onto which you can attach a variety of specially designed add-on tools. Attachments include a drill/driver, router, oscillating multi-tool (think Fein,) impact driver, hammer drill, inflator, jigsaw, trim saw, and sander. These are sold separately with the exception of the drill/driver, which is included in the base kit. Since the base kit includes the motor, battery, and charger you are in effect eliminating the redundancy of paying for (and taking up storage room for) these aspects of each tool.
This system seems best suited for home DIY and occasional project use. I suspect that using the same motor constantly for all of these tools in a professional capacity would wear it down much more quickly than each separate tool would. In addition, the nature of the system leads to some non-standard configurations and ergonomics. For instance, a typical oscillating tool or router is more or less cylindrical while using the Bolt-On attachment is more like a jigsaw in shape. And while the various tools are generally capable, you’re not going to mistake them for a high-end standalone example of the same tool. But what the Bolt-On system does do is provide an economical way for the home handyman to amass a variety of useful tools that will handle most jobs.
== Other Attachments ==
Trim Saw -- The Pro Review
Jig Saw -- The Pro Review
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