Festool USA sent over a test sample of their new 18V cordless brushless impact driver (thank you!), and I was able to put in some hands-on time with it the other day.
This isn’t a review, but rather an early, rough, initial half-assessment. In other words, my opinions can change.
Festool TID 18 Cordless Impact Driver Features & Specs
- 1/4″ hex chuck
- 1593 in-lbs max torque
- 3+T speed modes
- 0-1200 RPM
- 0-2000 RPM
- 0-3200 RPM
- T-Mode: 750-3200 RPM
- Weighs 2.12 lbs
Subjective Comparison Notes
I was working on building a wood stand with a bunch of 2x4s and 3″ Spax stainless steel deck screws. My impact of choice was a paid-for Hitachi/Metabo HPT 18V brushless triple-hammer impact driver, and after sinking some screws I added the Festool TID 18 impact driver into rotation.
See Also: Ben’s Review of the Hitachi 18V Triple Hammer Impact
Switching between tools helps with determining the feel of a new tool, allowing for rough comparison of power, application speeds, and ergonomics, all at the same time.
The Hitachi/Metabo HPT impact came out nearly 4 years ago. The HPT impact has a triple hammer anvil, more torque, slightly slower speed, comparable weight. Both tools have brushless motors.
The HPT was bundled with compact 3Ah batteries. The Festool TID 18 is bundled with compact 3.1Ah batteries, but is advertised as being bundled with compact 4Ah batteries. (We’re waiting to hear from Festool about the discrepancy, but it could be because we received an early review sample of a tool that’s not expected to ship until July.)
The Festool has a neat magnetic built-holder, and the batteries feature Bluetooth functionality that provide for automatic dust collection activation.
Price-wise, the Festool kit is $349 – and that also includes a Systainer tool box, and the Hitachi seems to be ~$385. Festool’s bare tool (with Systainer) is $199, HPT’s is $178 at Amazon.
So with all that in mind, here’s the one-line summary of my experiences thus far:
Festool’s TID 18 cordless impact driver is a fine tool.
Fine? Perhaps satisfactory is a clearer word?
So far, it seems to be a decent tool, solid in every way.
Driving in 3″ deck screws without pilot holes, the Festool felt like it lagged behind the Hitachi in speed, some of the time. Other times, I couldn’t tell if there was any difference or not.
The Festool TID 18 impact driver feels good, it works well, and overall it seems to provide average pro-grade performance and on-par user experience.
The magnetic bit holder is a nice touch, the Bluetooth batteries might come in handy if I were to start using Festool cordless power tools for cutting wood, sanding, or other tasks that call for a dust collector to collect newly created chips and sawdust. (Please note that Festool hybrid-powered sanders have a different battery interface.)
My Hitachi triple hammer impact driver has a smoother mechanism, but that’s true for most impact driver comparisons it might be involved in.
Festool’s is good, but from a pure performance standpoint, it’s not better.
Which do I prefer using? The Hitachi/HPT.
However, I can’t say I wouldn’t recommend the Festool, as there are a lot of compelling reasons to get it.
Who’s it For?
Let me ask you a quick question – Do you plan on using Festool cordless power tools with a Festool dust extractor? If the answer is no, then this tool is probably not for you. With the kit, you’re paying for the Systainer tool box, and you’re paying for the Bluetooth-equipped batteries, although I would have expected Festool to be able and willing to raise the pricing to a higher premium.
As part of Festool’s 18V cordless power tool system, the new TID 18 brushless impact driver seems to be a solid and relatively competitive offering. To me, it makes the most sense as part of a Festool 18V cordless collection. If you own or plan to buy one of Festool’s cordless circular saws, for instance, their new impact driver meshes well with it, although your preferred choice of battery size might be different.
My Hitachi/HPT 18V brushless impact driver is the only Hitachi/HPT cordless power tool that I use regularly. I liked my review sample so much that I bought one to give away, balancing things out so that I could consider my sample owned for personal-use.
Would I buy Festool’s TID 18 impact driver for standalone use, as a separate entity? Probably not. I do own some Festool power tools, and I have had great experiences with their performance and reliability. With this, the TID 18 should be a short-list consideration if I were looking for a new cordless impact driver, but there are too many other models that match or best its performance and user experience.
It’s the other features, namely the Bluetooth batteries and Festool 18V system compatibility, that really pile onto the purchasing decision.
I think that Festool owners, and those looking to buy a Festool 18V combo kit, will be happy with this model. It delivers good performance – in my experience so far.
I was worried that it would only deliver an acceptable experience, given the value-priced subcontext I sensed about its launch, but that wasn’t the case. I wouldn’t say it offers a superior experience, but it’s a solid pro-grade tool. I would say that it offers a polished experience, but the fact of the matter is that the Hitachi/HPT tool is smoother (and in fact the smoothest impact I have used).
There are a lot of non-Festool users hating on this tool, and I think a lot of that is undeserved. Having used it a little bit so far, it’s a solid tool that I wouldn’t mind using.
It’s not the best of the best, but it also wasn’t designed to be. That does make things hard, as it sets me down the path of answering the question who is this tool for?
If you’re a frequent Festool critic despite never having used their tools before, it’s of course not for you.
If you use other Festool 18V cordless power tools, or plan to, this is a fine impact that’s compatible with your other tools. Period.
If you’re brand-agnostic, there are reasons to include this model in your consideration, but no more or less than other brands. But if that’s the case, you can get a Dewalt impact and 3-speed drill kit for less, or even Makita’s flagship brushless impact driver kit.
I can’t say I am impressed with the performance of Festool’s new impact driver, but neither am I disappointed. I guess that’s a good thing, although it leaves me unusually unimpassioned. The TID 18 seems so much more compelling as a part of a grander Festool 18V cordless power tool system kit.
I am a little concerned that my candid impression might be construed as negative criticism, but that’s not how it’s intended. This impact isn’t amazing, but from what I can tell, it wasn’t at all designed to be.
It really seems to me that Festool’s product managers sought to coalesce their 18V cordless power tools, and conceived this impact driver as a strong choice for current and future users. That doesn’t mean it’s not suited for users new to the brand, but it’s less compelling for such users given the abundance of evenly matched and superior competition.
I’ll be putting in more time with this impact – what questions might you have?
Buy Now: Kit via Tool Nut
More Festool via Tool Nut
Thank you to Festool USA for providing the review sample.
Given their focus in woodworking, I think it would have made sense for them to come out with either a quiet impact or something new like an impact with the ability to toggle the impacting on or off.
Granted, I may be a bit biased because I (attempt to) do woodworking in my attached garage with my 6-month-old’s bedroom right upstairs, but I personally hate all the noise of traditional impacts.
I strongly agree on the noise issue, that’s why I reach for my Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge most of the time I need an impact driver. It’s simply beautifully quiet in comparison.
I also use the M18 Surge – love it. I think I’d rather have the M12 version but it wasn’t released when I got the M18 one. I previously had the Ryobi Quiet Strike. It worked great but is a little too bulky. I’m sure the Makita and Ridgid ones are good, too.
I have the original surge and the Makita soft impact. The Makita is very slightly quieter and feels a touch more precise. It’s my most used impact. The Surge has a little more oomph and a more linear relationship between the trigger and applied torque, which I like.
Wish Makita would also release a 12v version.
I noticed the makita softy is a bit touchy on 3, and I’m too impatient to keep it on 2. Not sure if it’s true with all hydraulic ones, but it also tries to push itself off and cam out easier than a normal impact drivers…if you aren’t putting a lot of weight into it. Everyone I know with Milwaukee doesn’t have the surge, they just have the 12v impact, that hammers 1,000 times right in my ear hole just to get an inch and 5/8 screw in… Something I know the makita can do silently. Unnecessarily obnoxious tools need to be put out to Pasteur.
Love my makita soft impact so much!!! Quiet, is the only way to go!
Professional cabinet maker…..
JR3 Home Performance
Better grab one James C! I’ve had the M12 surge a couple months. I’ve used that exclusively but I still have bigger impacts if/when needed. It’s nice to not feel the need for hearing protection while using the lower settings. On the higher settings I still want ppe. Maybe because of the rounded out peak in torque it seems to not strip screw heads as easily. Another perk is effiency of use. It’s less bulky and lighter, good for repetitive tasks. The belt clip is in the direction that you place the tool down so I can holster it one handed. With my dewalt 887 I have to kind of swivel it around in my hand or use two hands before holstering which is just one little step that adds a touch of time to every job
The woodworking focus is only in North America. In the rest of the world they also have a strong construction and automotive presence. I really see this as a tie-in with their construction portfolio. Check out the combo kits they are offering, they’ll give you a good idea of where Festool sees the TID18 being used. FWIW, I don’t think I’ve ever had to reach for an impact driver in the woodshop. 🙂
Absolutely. The woodworker’s workshop is really a great place for 12v tools like the Festool CXS or 12v Flexiclick, or the M12 system.I mostly use the Flexiclick and a drill press. The Bosch 12v system is really nice for my woodshop. I never use the impact driver when woodworking.
“ or something new like an impact with the ability to toggle the impacting on or off.”
They tried that the first time around (back in the 15v days). It was an unremarkable product.
Well. If noise is your biggest issue stop using the impact. Use your hammer drill on the regular drill setting and hold on! Lol milwaukees m18 fuel hammer drill has more torque than their m18 fuel 1/4 impact driver. Without the annoying hammering. But it will definitely break your wrist if your not careful
My (I’m talking about for personal use) impact driver was a Makita 12V NiCad model 6914DZ that I bought 17 years ago. It was a pleasant eye-opener when I bought it – but was long-ago replaced. Given my in-retirement focus – today I swivel mostly between a Milwaukee 2401-20 – non-impact screwdriver that has the finesse to drive smaller woodworking screws – and a Milwaukee M18 7/16 hex impact driver (2765-20) that has the brawn to drill holes and drive lags for landscaping projects. I bought a M18 2760-20 surge driver for some projects where I thought it would come in handy – so as not to wake the babies – but find that I seldom grab it now.
I can see that Festool wanted to fill in their lineup – and I guess its nice to know that their entrant into this market is not a dud – but I don’t see it having any mass-market appeal.
What I find odd is that the impact is a decent price as a bare tool and a kit compared to the more popular pro brands but they market it mostly with the track-saw kit and I don’t see many people jumping into a new battery platform with a $800 impact / saw combo kit. But I could see the appeal for people already in their system.
It’s a decent price for Festool, but it’s not competitive.
Dewalt DCF887 Kit: $199 via Amazon
Dewalt Brushless Hammer Drill and Impact Kit: $279 to $290 via Amazon
Makita 4-speed impact kit: $308 after discount
Makita 4-speed impact with compact batteries: $279 after discount
Milwaukee M18 Fuel impact with compact and XC battery kit: $229 via Acme
Hitachi/Metabo HPT 18V triple hammer impact kit: $384 via Amazon
The Hitachi/HPT is priced at a premium, but is sometimes discounted. At this time, the bare tool is lower priced at ~$178 and I’d likely pair that with an entry-priced drill kit to get a lower capacity battery and charger, or their 3Ah starter kit for $124. That gets you a triple hammer kit for just over $300.
It is a decent price for the bare tool WITH the systainer.
Stuart, is the word you are looking for “Meh”? Or maybe “Meh +” ?
I don’t envy your position of trying to fairly evaluate a product and avoiding biases one way or another. Especially in a crowded field where the new item doesn’t have any unique or special features.
It’s far from “meh,” which is how I’d describe many of the $99 brushless offerings out there.
Nor is it “me too,” given that some of the features are beyond what you’ll typically see, such as the magnetic bit holder.
It seems like a good impact, but its appeal greatly increases when it is considered as part of a larger whole.
Conveying this is made a lot more difficult given how many folks are critical of the brand.
Any chance you can get some 4.0ah high power batteries to see if that kicks it up a bit? Those are the batteries included with the retail kits.
It sounds silly, but I know a few guys that enter the Festool ecosystem with the vacuum. Why? Well they do extremely high end car detailing and museum work. Festool looks premium to the untrained eye, and it is premium to the trained eye. Similarly, I know guys that started with a Kapex or Tracksaw, both one of the best in their class.
So Perhaps Festool isn’t looking to win new people over, but rather keep current customers within the brand when looking at cordless. One guy on youtube had a van filled with Festool 3 years ago. Today it’s all Makita. He left the Festool brand for 1-2 tools and realized that he was probably overvaluing Festool in general. That’s not a thought Festool would like people to have.
In the American market, they are always trying to attract new customers, oftentimes detrimentally so. I’ve seen Festool make a lot of moves that convinced me that they were (and still are) responding to the unwarranted criticisms of persons that will never buy their products anyway.
I have quite a few Festool 18v tools, however, I have no interest in any impact that doesn’t have some sound mitigation. I am quite happy with my Milwaukee Surge impacts, and I’m surprised that Festool did not come to the market with a quiet impact.
I’m just a hobbyist woodworker/DIYer, so take it for what it is.
Fwiw, I respect that there is only one festool brushless impact. If you’re already running festool cordless, that’s an easy decision path. Just get the thing and get back to work.
Agreed. I jumped into makita for my job (flipped a coin between that and Dewalt and Milwaukee) because I need just about everything cordless and wanted to consolidate to one platform (dragging around a mish mash of four or five different german brands whilst only covering about 20% of the bases was not working out). At any given time, they’ll have on the market about one or two overlapping “flagship” impact drivers and three million gradually crappier impact drivers. Ironically, I’ve got their nicest drills and impact and (imho) I think they’re junk. ?
I for one have not used a festool product. So to pass judgment on this brand would certainly be unjust. But I think that the majority of the criticism they get is warranted to the price of their products and the performance not being far more superior than more affordable options. If I were to purchase several hundred dollar festool combo kit, I would have very high expectations and would be very disappointed if I could get the same type of performance from much more affordable tools. Dust collection is only worth so much. If the same performance can be met through more affordable tools, then festool isn’t doing a very good job of holding up to the value of their brand. Their tools should be far more superior than anyone else with performance specs unmatched in every category compared to any other brand on the market that doesn’t fall within the high end price range. In no way am I suggesting that they don’t make great tools, but what are people getting by paying that much more for a festool product? Nostalgia? Bragging rights? The name? Those of you who own a festool product, I would very much like to get to what sets them apart from the rest of flock other than the high cost and dust collection. I’ve seen a video of someone breaking down their saw which didn’t really explain to why they are so expensive. Please elaborate.
I own several Festool tools, and continue to use a couple of review samples.
I bought a track saw and dust collector, and then later a sander, and finally an MFT table. I bought the track saw and dust collector because I was tired of having to fuss around with clamp-on straightedges that slipped all the time, and because I was working in a spare bedroom in my apartment and dust collection was paramount. I bought the sander for the same reason, but also the larger pad size. The MFT table was purchased for quicker cross-cuts setup and repeatability, but I haven’t used it as much as expected.
Each tool I purchased because it offered more of what I wanted and needed than other tools.
The price… it’s what it is.
I have found that there are 3 types of people that offer Festool commentary – those who passionately hate the company despite never having used their products, those who passionately defend the company because the size of their investment has skewed their objectivity, and those in the middle, like I try to be, who offer neutral feedback.
With my track saw, if I wanted or needed more power, I could step up to their larger model. With the sander, if I wanted something more aggressive, there’s another model with greater oscillation angle. For more than that, they have a higher powered solution for more rapid material removal.
There are some tools I’d like to use, but cannot justify the price of for the benefit they would provide. But, that’s true beyond the Festool brand.
It’s about finding a solution for one’s needs. For some of my particular requirements and priorities, Festool’s tools best fit my needs compared to what was available at the time. Price was important to me, just not as important as other factors such as dust collection.
I own Festool tools, so I’m not a hater, but I feel like Festool needs to up their game. Modern “average” tool lineup companies have become much more than average. Ergonomics, tool lineups, functions, etc have all come leaps and bounds and I don’t see Festool doing much to keep up besides offering basically the same tool they’ve been offering for years. At their price point, they’re gonna get left in the dust if they don’t bring something fresh to the table.
Maybe being “left in the dust” as you say is OK for them. There are many niche players that seem to make a living for themselves and their employees. I’m not 100% certain about what it is with doing business in Germany – but it seems like there are more than a few tool manufacturers there that have not succumbed to the siren song of moving production to China to reduce costs. Some like Wera seem to have moved some production to the Czech Republic. Bosch (the German giant so to speak) produces in various countries worldwide. Wiha may be doing more in Vietnam. But if Festool stays with production in Germany – then their unit costs will not likely make them competitive on price alone with Dewalt. Milwaukee or Makita. They do have one strategy that helps – that is defending their patents on tools like the Domino machines and their Sawstop-Brand saws.
I think, perhaps like you, that I’d be happier to see them stepping up their game via a combination of innovation and quality to compete more with Mafell and Fein. I’m not sure that they have the R&D resources to compete with TTI or SBD for the mass market. But maybe they can repeat their strategy of buying Sawstop and seek out other smaller innovative companies for acquisition. Sometimes that strategy works better than trying to grow your product-line organically.
“Wera seem to have moved some production to the Czech Republic”
As long as this thing doesn’t break down easily like the last Fezzi impact —it seems like a good deal.
Why such a huge battery?
The one and only test for a impact driver is will it take an impact. Drop your impact driver off a ladder (1-2m / 5-8 feet) on concrete. Did that cost you a new battery? Driver? Or both?
Sure you can pick you favorite colour tool and say it is the best. When it comes to impacts most of them are similar for driving power, some exceed expectations. This all evaporates if it cost you a new battery/driver because of a careless but common mistake.
No way would I buy a $300 impact until I saw a properly beaten up version of it.
So can it take an impact or make one that’ s the test then. hmm.
meanwhile Stuart I read your post and 2 words kept coming to mind.
That’s sort of how I see it and I don’t think that is a bad thing mind you.
Listen Festool doesn’t get it, they tried the quiet impact but it didn’t sell so it was pulled. Some guys that already own their 18 volt tools might by one but if your in this line of work, you’ve got an impact. They have the technology to build an impact that will snap the heads off of 1/2 bolts but their limited by cost. I say they have the ability because the bought Protool years ago that made a monster 4 speed hammerdrill that I would give right big toe for.
Buy Milwaukee, I’m a 40 year professional still at it, I beat the hell out of them and they keep going. And when I’m done I’ll throw it in the dumpster and buy another that will last years of daily abuse.
I received mine and I’m already sending it back. Uncomfortable to hold. Slippery. Cheap belt clip. Unusable due to excessive runout (on a Festool? Wtf). Wobbly drive shaft. Not even as powerful as Bosch…which was the weakest 18v of the pack. About twice as big as the Makita. Some qualities to it are nicer as it has a heavier duty “chuck” (thicker shaft, thicker ball detent, and heavier duty sleeve) than the competition, bit storage built into the housing and it works, much better control at the trigger (not T18/C18/PDC levels, but better than most impacts). However, they failed to deliver on the most crucial elements.
I still love their routers and sanders; still use the out-powered old T18 (it’s pretty much the T12 and T15 of over ten years ago) driver; their rotary hammer is good, and I love the their rebadged cordless supercut. Festool’s cordless line is light and focused on their particular niche, anyway, so it’s not like I was relying on their impact to be good. Makita (and surely Dewalt and Milwaukee for others) covers most of my bases except for some choice bits like the Vecturo, the Hitachi nailers, my preference towards Bosch and Metabo SDS and the little Mafell saw.
It is an older thread, but I will add my experience anyway. I have had original Festool T15 for 14 years and chose it because of the ergonomics. Festool used to have smooth round grips, very comfortable to hold for me. This tool have squarish grip, as seen in the picture. Sides are flat and they left visible “ridges” on the sides towards the palm. It is quite uncomfortable to hold, to such an extent that all other impact drivers seem comfortable compared to Festool. Maybe next generation of Festool designers decided to do something different. There is also quite large axial play in the rotor and it rattled like a toy. I did not see any play in DeWalt and Milwaukee and little one in Makita. I will stick with my old Panasonic. I would advise to actually hold the Festool before buying.
I’m a contractor in Vancouver, I use all dewalt for exterior work because they have never failed me in the rain and mud. All my festool is for interior, but with the lower price point and some sales on batteries I decided to move the pcd18 and the new tid18 to the van for exterior.
FIRST rainstorm the impact’s electronics fried. So beware.