Festool has announced a new 18V cordless drill, CXS 18, which they advertise as being “the hero amongst the compact screwdrivers.”
The Festool CXS 18 is described as “a compact powerhouse” and delivers “impressive performance” – up to 22 Nm (~195 in-lbs) max torque in wood, and 40 Nm (~354 in-lbs) max torque in steel.
The new Festool cordless drill has one of the most unique features I have ever heard of in a modern cordless power tool.
For left-handed people, the Work App can be used to reverse the right-hand/left-hand selector switch such that the switch no longer causes disruption by protruding into the handle area during the main application – in clockwise rotation (only in combination with a Bluetooth battery pack).
That seems like a convenient function for a compact tool like this.
For all you lefties out there – is this a feature you would take advantage of? Or have you never paid much attention to the direction selection levers of cordless drills and drivers?
You will need a Festool 18V Bluetooth battery pack in order to do this, though, and from Festool’s product images it doesn’t look like the drill is kitted with one. Compatible batteries are marked with a white Bluetooth logo.
The cordless drill has a compact C-shape handle design for working in tight spaces and is light, weighing just 0.70 kg (~1.54 lbs), presumably without a battery.
Festool says that the CXS 18 is compatible with all of their current 18V screwdriver attachments, such as the ones that come with the similarly designed C 18 drill.
The CXS 18 kit comes with the drill, a 10mm (~3/8″) drill chuck, quick-release screwdriver bit adapter, 2x 3Ah batteries, charger, and Systainer tool box.
Price: £327.22 excluding VAT, or ~$393 at the time of this posting
There is also an expanded CXS 18 kit, which adds a right angle attachment, an accessory set, and switches out the Systainer for one with a top-lid storage compartment.
Price: £415.94 excluding VAT, or ~$500 at the time of this posting
If the drill launches in the USA, the kit options might be a little different, or at least the bundled drilling and driving accessories.
The CXS 18 is launching in Europe in May 2023.
Festool USA has not provided press materials or product details, and at this time it is unclear if or when the CXS 18 will be available here.
Other Compact Installation Drill/Drivers
Personally, I prefer 12V-class tools for cabinetry and other finer woodworking drilling and driving applications, as they tend to be smaller and lighter than 18V-class tools.
Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel brushless installation drill/driver is a very popular choice.
It has a similar compact c-handle design, and features its electronic direction selection button at the top. That’s one way of improving the comfort for both right and left-handed users.
The tool is is kitted with 4 attachments, 2x compact batteries, charger, and tool bag. At the time of this posting, you can buy the 2-battery kit for $229-249, and it’s eligible for a free bonus XC HO 5Ah battery.
Dewalt also has an Xtreme 12V Max 5-in-1 brushless drill/driver, with 4 head attachments.
The Dewalt kit, DCD703F1, is currently priced at $179-$189, and comes with the tool, attachments, 2Ah battery, charger, and tool bag.
On your article about the new Bosch blade-left and blade-right saws, I almost made a comment that “next we will see companies offer two models of drills where the forward and reverse buttons are switched around”. Being totally facetious, but then Festool goes out and does it.
I was pretty sure this one was another joke article. Halfway through, I was sad it wasn’t. After reading it, it’s even is funnier that it’s real. I’ve never noticed the switch. I probably would never have noticed the switch if my attention wasn’t brought to it. Now I have to make a conscious decision on if the switch has been an inconvenience while the drill is in reverse. Has this always been a thing?
Starting in, I was really curious how left/right pistol grips work. None of mine are molded different for something like palm on one side and fingers on the other. You can move the clip if you want to hang it on the other side of you. What was this new technology? This breakthrough for all the other handed folk?
I’m not a lefty, but I do drill both ways. In/out. Left hand/right hand. Hell, sometimes it’s convenient to have the drill upside down and pull the trigger with my pinkie while my thumb keeps pressure. Never noticed the switch, unless I bumped it on something and it’s in the center and my drill doesn’t spin
Festool about to start robbing some folks lol
Start?….I think it has been going on for years!
It seems more like poor design to have a switch go in the same space as the users hand/fingers. I’m left handed, but pretty ambidextrous when using tools. I don’t think I have ever operated a pistol grip drill driver with my middle finger instead of my pointer finger. It seems more like they found a solution to a problem they created. But maybe I’m wrong.
This was my thought. I’ve never had the switch on my makitas get in the way using them in either hand. Seems that Festool invented a problem to then “solve”.
I’m a lefty but pretty much ambidextrous with about everything because growing up I was the only lefty so I learned everything based off righties. I’ve never once thought about any of my tools needing to be set up for lefty or righty.
I do work with a lefty whose not ambidextrous. The only tool I’ve ever heard him comment is inconvenient are flooring trowels. Most all tools we use are DeWalt.
This is definitely a marketing idea that was easy enough to implement they probably figured why not give it a try.
Dave (not here)
Co-sign this – never in my decade plus of using tools to make money have I thought “this thing sucks, I wish they made a version for lefties like me.” Most tools you have to learn to use with both hands anyway, there’s always going to be a situation where your dominant hand isn’t the most convenient one to access a workspace.
Circular saws are the only tool where I have a strong opinion about orientation, and counterintuitively I insist on only using a blade-left design…
Reminds me of the Gen 2 and 3 Glock Pistols. The mag release was in the center top of the left side of the grip. Made it easy for a right-handed shooter (90% of the market) to eject it with their thumb. Lefties like me, well we bumped it all the time or made so DIY type fixes for it. For the Gen 4’s they made the release reversible, instead of moving it out of the way of a user’s grip in the first place, like many other manufacturers.
I think that front handle will get in the way. If it is really needed, then why doesn’t Dewalt have it? It just seems like a bad idea.
Those strike me as making the whole thing off-balance.
What about the innovator of the field? Flexi-Click?
Looking at the 3 of them (Festool, Milwaukee and DeWalt, I guess I’d prefer the DeWalt as I like it’s more open design over the Festool or Milwaukee where the handle wraps around your hand. Being able to reverse the selector switch has no value to me and I’m doubtful it would to most. Festool tends to be pricy, so that would be my last choice and 18V may be overkill/overweight. I have the Milwaukee version and the 12V size is nice for those tight spots and it has plenty of power. I do like the DeWalt version though, but don’t have any of their tools and don’t plan on having another battery platform…
I’m not sure who came first with the interchangeable nose pieces (offset, right angle, straight on) but our cabinet installers were early adopters of the 12V Bosch system. I don’t recall any of them asking for a Festool – even if they had seen Tom Silva using one. I know that a complaint about the Bosch was that the various chucks had a tendency to fall off. The last time I visited I saw evidence that there had been some switching to the Milwaukee M12. I did not have a chance to ask about how anyone liked them and their twin fuselage.
Festool had one way before Bosch.
My Festool is collecting dust because the batteries died years ago and was replaced by the Bosch flexi.
Personally I like the Festool interface better but I got priced out of the market. 😉
Frstool the inventor
I don’t understand why they make this tool with that goofy finger guard. And don’t you just hold the drill in the other hand to make it lefty…just saying.
If I recall correctly – Stuart or someone else may have conjectured that some of the electronics are housed in the front section – and that combining everything in one handle might have made it longer or fatter than desired. But its possible that only the designers know for sure.
Some Festool drill/drivers also have that “twin fuselage” sort of design.
No you don’t.
Try unscrewing 300 screws with your regular drill driver and the let us know how that goes.
The normal push thru switch totally gets in the way for lefties, which it will also when running your driver in reverse for all you right handed folks.
Originally the festool CDD drill had the motor at the bottom of the handle. They had a shaft going inside the handle to bevel gears which then transmitted power to the gearbox. They did this 20 years ago to make a shorter drill than anyone else at the time. The finger guard was the battery itself which could be detached.
They sort of kept the design out of tradition I guess. They also make pretty much all their drills in a T style as well, if you would prefer to have an open, more traditional layout.
As a lefty, I’ve never used one that didn’t work fine in either hand, regardless of the switch placement. This feels like a solution in search of a problem.
“has a compact C-shape design” … Which is the “C” part? I don’t understand.
The handle. If you look at it from the side, the front part has a “C” shape.
Festool describes this as their “iconic C design.” Traditional drill handle are a “T design.”
Ok. All I saw was a D 🙂
FINALLY!!! This is welcome news and I will seriously consider shelling out big bucks for the Festool model.
I am hardcore left-hander and find the conventional orientation of those buttons SIMPLY MADDENING! I sure that I am not alone.
It seems like 80% of the time I use a cordless drill-driver or impact driver with a normal left-hand grip — in the forward mode — to drill or drive, just as I go to squeeze the trigger, I frequently accidentally press the direction button rightward into the locked or reverse modes! To make matters worse, when I grip the tool with my middle finger on the trigger switch, as I usually do for added control, it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to avoid unintentionally pressing that damn button. The situation is worse on some models compared to others.
I’m glad that someone has finally addressed this problem and I am glad to see a left-hander issue being discussed on Tool Guyd!
I think that there have been a few prior discussions about tools like scissors that are designed for use in the left hand. Felco and ARS (probably others too) make left-handed pruners (secateurs). Dewit (Netherlands) make a hoe said to be for left-handed users. There are tape measures said to be used in the left hand. All in all – those of us who are right-handed probably don’t think about the potential issues as much as we might or ought to.
Preach it brother!
I feel that this is one of those things that must vary a lot from the perspective of the end user. I’m a lefty, I’ve been using power tools for decades. I’ve never found the traditional forward/reverse selector to be a problem. When I first read this article I was racking my brain trying to understand the problem that this tool is supposed to fix because to me it’s a total non-issue. But clearly it does affect some people. It’s not just right-handers who might give this a second thought, I was about to dismiss it as marketing nonsense despite being a Lefty myself. It’s always worth keeping an open mind on these sorts of things.
I’ve been eyeing the milwaukee installation drill for a bit, but that model has been out for a number of years now. Do you think it might be due for an update anytime soon?
Lefty here. First off, not a fan of using an app to make tools work. This tool may last many many years but that app will be long gone as the manufacturer will have moved on to some other technology. Also, the location of the selector switch doesn’t bother me at all. I use my thumb and index to change the direction, but I do have to change my grip a bit to make the switch. If anything, I have a problem with the selector switch too easily moving itself out of position more and more with time and usage over the years. To me the better solution is a directional rocker switch where you squeeze one end of the button to go forward or reverse eliminating a selector switch. I had a task to assemble several cheap shelf units and it involved tightening and loosening several screws to make everything fit correctly. After a few minutes of this back and forth switching grip on my Milwaukee to change the direction, it got frustrating. I put down the Milwaukee and grabbed a cheap 3.6v cordless screwdriver with a rocker switch and was able to finish the shelves quickly and with less frustration. I have a Craftsman cordless screwdriver with the same style of switch and looked for more tools with this set up. I found and bought a NOS Craftsman impacting driver similar to the cordless screwdriver and a Snap On driver drill also with the same type of rocker switch. I looked around and didn’t find many options except for old Craftsman/ Black and Decker/ Worx variants or pricey Snap On drivers. Why isn’t the directional rocker switch more common?
As leftie, I’d like to know if there are any other drill/drivers that don’t use the press through the trigger style forward/reverse switches? I’ve been using and loving a Milwaukee installation driver at work, but wanting just a bit more power.
I don’t think right handed people really get that stuff is designed for them. I’m not complaining about it, but just saying.
Just like pop culture or commercials, if you don’t get it, it’s not aimed at you .
Been a lefty my whole life. The switch has never bothered me. However I’m always happy when a tool maker makes a tool ambidextrous.
I’ve owned the CXS 10.8 volt drill which is the best feeling drill in the hand ever but was too underpowered for my needs and the C18 which is great but not as comfortable. So I will certainly be buying the CXS18 when available as I’ve been hoping for this exact drill for some time
Why is the most compact + ergonomic handy convertible drill left out from the list?
Bosch Flexiclick / Chameleon
It is head and shoulders better, when you need to reach in confined spaces. No bulky bar. Ergonomic battery orientation and thin handle. Lightweight. Balanced.
As far as the smart convertible drill … maybe they should have designed their drill better and more ergonomically, so the button is not an issue either way for left or right handed users.
Yes, totally agree, the Bosch 12v brushless flexiclick is far superior to the Milwaukee and DeWalt. Worth purchasing even if you don’t have any other Bosch 12v tools, like me. I wish Milwaukee used the same battery orientation as Bosch, it makes a far more comfortable handle.
I agree. I really like my 12v Flexiclick.
Another feature that makes the Bosch stand out; a new sds plus attachment: https://www.acmetools.com/sds-plus-rotary-hammer-attachment-gfa12-h/000346659238.html
Just checked every drill I own, both corded and cordless which is 8 of them. Every one is ambidextrous so not sure I get this.
Apparently, some left-handed people inadvertently push the slider into the “reverse” position while pulling the trigger, especially if they are using the “drywall screwgun grip” which is common for assembly drivers.
Reversing the direction of the switch would make such a person push the slider “forward” instead. I’m a lefty and this issue has never once bothered me, but from some of the replies here it sounds like it definitely would be appreciated by other lefties. That said, there’s never really a free lunch here, if you reverse the switch then someone might accidentally bump it while trying to operate the tool in reverse.
Given the frequency of using these tools in the forward mode (90%?), I rather take the odds of occasionally accidentally bumping the tool out of the reverse mode than the frequency of bumping the tool out of the forward mode.
I’m a lefty and I don’t get it. I wear my drill on my right side so my main tool pouch is easily accessible on my left.
Half the time bumping the switch back and forth with my palm is an advantage.
I think most of the trades are pretty ambidextrous because we all need to be. Sometimes that thingie needs to be held in place with the dominant hand while the other hand runs the drill. Just a limitation of having only 2 hands.
My vote is this is a feature looking for a problem. Like left hand computer mice that flip the right-click/left-click buttons.
I agree with your point about most users needing to hold the tool in their non-dominant hand from time to time, probably more often than they realize. As stated in my original comment, the degree of the problem that I experience with reverse buttons depends on the model and its design. Among the factors that accentuate the problem are how far the button projects out from tool and its length of travel, its overall size and shape, and its proximity (vertical and horizontal) to the trigger switch.
I have to admit this one is interesting. Matter of opinion, but i agree the 18V aspect makes the base too clunky. Some people may consider this an advantage for stability when setting it down but I’d prefer a slimmer profile. The thing i have to hand to festool is they have their E-clutch dialed in. With other brands, electronic clutches always suck, so I’ve always leaned towards mechanical clutches (by and large they’ll always be higher resolution, and they’ll always be able to let go under less torsion than an E-clutch). The drawback of the mechanical is the noise they make definitely gets annoying if you plan on using it for any extended period of time. When I tried the CXS 18 it was easily the best E-clutch I’ve ever used and very precise. I also really like the acoustic feedback you get when it reaches the target torque. There’s something oddly satisfying/reassuring about it compared to just a shut off.
Full disclosure, I ultimately didn’t buy it just because I couldn’t get over the footprint. It’s just a tad unwieldy for something you want to be a little lower profile. In the extremely unlikely event that Festool introduces a lower voltage line with more streamlined batteries and they make a tool just like this one, I’d be the first one to buy one.
Kevin, check out the Festool TXS/CXS 12v model that’s been around for years – basically a smaller version of this – it’s far and away my most used drill/driver – I only break out another when I need serious power
Adam, technically, it’s 10.8v and I do agree with you. I have two sets and they are the mostly used drivers. For heavy work, C18 or even PDC/TID comes in play.
As a lefty, I have never once in my life had an issue with a drill or impact driver not working as intended.
love my leafty felco secateurs. scissors are only tool that if noticed that suck if your leafty if dont have leafty sicssors around. ned flanders in simpson ran a left handed store if remeber right maby festool where inspired by the leftorium
As the owner of the Milwaukee ‘C’ screwdriver/drill, why would anyone pay almost twice as much just for a green one? It doesn’t even have the obnoxious reversing switch that festool says it fixed, it’s a thumbprint away on top. At first I missed the more mechanical option as I could easily feel what direction the tool was going to turn, but I quickly adapted and just give a quick squeeze to see which way the but is turning. Much better solution for a non existent problem in my opinion.