Recently, I had the opportunity to take Craftsman's new Nextec 12 volt lithium-ion right angle impact driver, for a test drive. I had seen television adverts for the Nextec Hammerhead Auto Hammer and it had piqued my interest, so when the impact driver showed up on my doorstep, I wasted no time in giving it the Maven once-over.
Out of the package: The driver comes with a handsome, soft-sided case with elastic and Velcro pockets to store the tool, battery charger, bits (it comes with 1/4", 3/8" and 5/8" nut driver bits and one 3/8" screwdriver bit) and instruction manuals.
At 2.2 pounds, it's much beefier than expected. It's more compact than its conventional impact driver counterparts and yet, at 700 in. lbs, it rivals their torque.
Getting ready: Sears bills the driver as having a quick charger, and it lived up to the claim. The battery was ready to go in less than 30 minutes. The bits are equally quick--as in they're quick to change, thanks to the driver's 1/4" Quick-Connect Clamp.
Getting down to business: I decided not to waste any time and grabbed a #8, 2-1/2" long deck screw and drove it into a scrap piece of pine 4x4. The driver had no problem whatsoever with the task, so I decided to up the ante. Next was a 1/4", 2" long hex-head lag bolt. Again, the driver would not be deterred.
Now that I knew the tool's driving capabilities, it was time to test its angular benefits. Again, the driver did not disappoint. I reached into tight spaces like racking and bicycle frames with ease.
The long haul: Okay, so I liked what I was seeing so far, but what about using the driver in a real DIY situation. How would it fare? I had 'make a trellis' on my to-do list for some time, so I decided why not use the Nextec to construct it?
With the parts ready to go, I grabbed some 1-1/2" screws and started assembling. Again, the driver zipped in the screws without any problem, but it had handled a 1/4 lag bolt, so I wasn't surprised! Twenty-eight screws later, and the driver was still raring to go.
Pros and cons: Besides its angularity, what I really like about the Nextec Right Angle Impact Driver is its compactness versus its torque. I also appreciate the LED work light that illuminates the working area, which can be imperative when operating in dark, tight places. And, because it's an impact driver, that tiring wrist-twist action of regular drivers is eliminated.
Although the Nextec had no problem with what I asked it to do, I can't imagine you'd want to put together an entire deck--or some such thing--with it. The very nature of its angularity makes it feel like you have less control when first using the driver, but it's also something you'll get used to.
Final thoughts: All in all, I was very impressed with this little driver. It has all the beefy, man-grunting power of its bigger, conventional counterparts but gets into spaces no conventional driver can.
Oh, and one more thing: Remember that trellis I was telling you about? Come back tomorrow and I'll show you how to make one!!