Festool T-18 Li-Ion Drill

By Robert Robillard on Tool Review Videos, Tool Reviews

Festool T-18, Brush-less, Cordless Drill Review

My first indoctrination to a cordless drill was when I started working for myself and my wife purchased me a Panasonic cordless drill. Cordless drills were still pretty new but they no doubt provided a faster, easier and smarter way of drilling and in some instances fastening. Back then the NiCad battery technology was better than anything we had ever seen but didn’t compare to a hill of beans when you compare it to today’s technology.

Fast forward to today and probably five cordless drills later. cordless drills now have technological features, bells and whistles similar to a loaded Mercedes.  Now consider the Festool T-18 Li-Ion drill.

Festool T-18 Li-Ion Drill Review:

The folks at Festool recently sent me their T-18 drill-set to review and evaluate. The Festool T-18 drill came with a FastFix chuck system that makes this a very unique drill system.

It also features a brush-less motor and sophisticated electronic circuitry to protect the tool and make it more efficient.

We took the drill to the job site and used it daily in all sorts of applications. Here’s what we found:

First Impression:

The Festool T-18Li-Ion Drill weighs approximately 3.8 pounds and feels well made and sturdy. It seems a bit bottom heavy at first but after using it I later dismissed this – determining it to be a very well balanced tool.

The T-18 set comes in a Festool Sustainer box with four [4] different and application specific FastFix chucks, listed below, two bits and one dill bit. The chucks are what make the T-18 kit unique:

  • Eccentric:
  • Right Angle Chuck:
  • Centro Tec Chuck:
  • Jacob’s Chuck:

The Festool T-18 Li-Ion Drill Video Review:

After using the T-18 drill on the job-site for a few weeks I was impressed with its durability and wanted to see just how tough this drill really was.  I ran it over three times with my Chevrolet 2500 pick up truck with no ill effect – Watch my Video Review on this drill to see what I did.
The only damage to the tool, besides a few scrapes, was the tab that holds the onto the tool fell off and I couldn’t find it.  I’m sure if I had located it that the belt clip would have easily reattached since there was no visible damage to that area.    During this test the tool also got wet [raining] and nothing negative happened to the tool – still using it today.

T-18 drill features worth mentioning:

BrushlessMotor:

The Festool T-18 Li-Ion Drill features a brushless motor.  Brushless motor have permanent magnets on the inside and the electromagnets on the outside. A computer chip replaces the commutator and brushes and charges and changes the poles of the electromagnets. The tool runs cooler, uses less energy and stays running longer than brushed tools.  In laymen terms cordless brush-less (BL) Motor technology provides the user with maximum run-time.

The end result is much, much more run time between charges.

Variable Speed:

A variable speed dial located at the back end of the tool was well located and protected. It allows you to control drilling as well as driving and can really “ dial in the speed” you need.

2 Gears:

The Festool T-18 Li-Ion Drill 2-Speed gear switch conveniently located on top of the tool is also recessed and well protected for fall damage. This gear switch allows the user to achieve s 0-450 rpm in first gear and 0-1500 rpm in second gear.

 Drill / Drive Selection:

A drill / drive selector switch is also located in the same location and further allows the user to select between drilling or driving applications.

Misc Features:

A belt clip, LED light and battery gauge are also present on the T-18.

Battery and charger:

Two 18 volt, 3.0 Ah,Lithium-Ion batteries with built-in electronics that protect the tool and battery from overloading, overheating or deep discharge.  It took between 35 and 70 minutes to fully charge the batteries and they  will operate in temperatures ranging from -5 to 45 degrees Celsius.  The drill actually has an audible warning to let you know if any of these conditions are occuring.

Festool is using Lithium-Ion in their batteries.   Lithium-Ion has caused a fundamental shift in cordless tool technology allowing Festool to cash in on six major benefits:

  • Power to Weight Ratio: Because of its high power density, one Lithium cell can do the work of up to three Ni-Cad cells. This means smaller, lighter batteries without sacrificing performance.
  • Shelf Life: Lithium-Ion batteries will lose little to no charge while being stored, unlike the Ni-Cad that drained daily.
  • Run Time: Lithium-Ion Up to 2X more run time than a Ni-Cd battery of the same voltage, and that is huge when your trying to get a task done and not needing to stop and charge batteries.
  • Fade Free Power: Lithium packs provide higher sustained power from the first application to the last.
  • Cycle Life:  Lithium-Ion batteries can be charged more times prolonging the life cycle of your batteries.

Multiple Chuck Options:

The Festool T-18 Li-Ion drill chucks are interchangeable and feature tool free quick-connect capability. The chucks easily mount with a quick connect shaft that is a spring-loaded, retractable ring and locking lugs. The chucks lock onto the drills output shaft and do not need to be aligned a certain way. Super fast and easy!!!

Centrotec Chuck:

The Centrotec chuck adapter holds fastener bits and allows you to quickly exchange tools and bits with Festool’s proprietary Centrotec shank system.

The Centrotec chuck adapter mounts by means of the retractable spring collar, and can be fitted to the bare drill motor, as well as to the right-angle chuck.

The interesting thing about the Centrotec chuck is that it allows the bits to be added and removed quickly from the tool. The bits lock into the motor shaft are driven directly by the drill, the drill shaft does not drive the Centrotec chuck.

Eccentric Chuck:

The Eccentric chuck is an offset bit driver that is allows you to work flush against adjacent surfaces. The drill offsets the fastener bit from the center of the tool shaft. This allows you to place the drill against the side of a cabinet and install a fastener close to the edge of the cabinet.

The Eccentric chuck can mount to the drill in different position which allow you to get your fastener bit with where you need it and the drill body out of the way It mounts to the drill and can be rotated to different positions. I estimated that this chuck rotates and locks in approximately every ½ inch.

Right Angle Chuck:

The right-angle chuck turns the bit 90° to the axis of the drill and is a great tool for working in tight spaces. It’s designed for situations where you have to work perpendicularly to the drill body.

This chuck can be installed onto the drill body at different incremental stops.

Hex-shanked bits may be mounted directly into the right-angle chuck, which allows you 3 inch fastening footprint.

When you’re confronted with a tight space fastening application if you’re not prepared the job can halt to a stop or slow down considerably. I recently had a situation where I used the right angle attachment to install fasteners on a set of skylight shades. The angle of the skylight glass made it impossible to mount the shades without removing the skylights glass. The right angle drill made fast and easy work for this particular application. Time is money and having the right tools saves time.

The right angle chuck can also used in combination with the Centrotec or key-less chucks for drilling applications. The key-less Jacob’s chuck ads an additional 2.5 inches.

The right angle chuck mounts to the drill and can be rotated to different positions. I estimated that this chuck rotates and locks in approximately every ½ inch.

 Jacobs Chuck:

The Jacobs Chuck is your standard key-less drill chuck. It mounts directly to the drill body or to the right angle drill attachment by means of the retractable spring collar.

The Festool Sustainer Case:

The Festool T-18 Li-Ion drill sustainer case is a durable, stack-able storage and carry case that comes with a top handle as well as an optional side [suitcase carry] handle.

Using the T-18 Drill:

The T-18 drill is powerful and it turned out to be extremely well balanced.

The only criticism I have on the T-18 is that the LED light does not stay on long enough to assist in locating a pencil mar

k to drill or a hole to place a fastener.  A 15 to 20 second delay on the LED would make a huge difference.  When the eccentric chuck is used on the drill the light is virtually useless.

The Festool T-18 Li-Ion drill did the job of five drills in one and in my opinion is the Cadillac of drills.  There was no application we used it on where I was able to bog it down. I drove 8-inch timber locks structural fasteners into LVL beams, drilled 1” holes into a 6 x 16 timber beam and installed hundreds of fasteners on a mahogany deck.   I continued to use and use this drill without re-charging the battery.   I  even asked my Forman if he had charged it not believing that the battery could last so long.

Festool T-18 Li-Ion Drill

Two particular situations where the eccentric chuck saved the day were when I was installing an Azek railing system and needed to install the railing fasteners.  Anyone that has installed those pesky clips knows that you strip almost every screw or scratch the railing trying not to strip the screws.  the eccentric bit got my fastener bit close to the spot where it needed to be and installed all of the fasteners without stripping one screw.

On another application I installed an outdoor faucet and used the eccentric chuck to install the two mounting screws.  Any plumber will tell you that you to take off the handle, use short screw and an extension bit because the faucet handle forces the drill body at an angle to compensate and ultimately drives your fasteners in towards the water pipe.

How Much And Where To Buy?

The Festool 564397 T 18 Plus 3 Lithium Ion Cordless Drill Set sells for $625.00 online here:
Festool-564397-Lithium-Cordless-Drill

This review contains my opinion of a product. I take pride in providing my readers with honest and objective information as well as a practical approach to using a product. I never accept payment in exchange for a positive review. Many of the tools and products are provided to for free by a manufacturer for review.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzzr As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising-the-bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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