The Festool TID 18 cordless impact driver is one of the most unremarkable tools I have ever used. That said, I parted with my TID 18 test sample today, and I miss it already.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, I have been working to tidy up my workshop, and part of this process involves offloading older test samples.
The local high school woodshop was in need of impact drivers, and so I added the Festool 18V TID 18 to the list.
I first wrote about the Festool TID 18 nearly two years ago, after putting it through some early testing.
Although far from being the best of the best, the TID 18 is a highly capable machine. It’s comfortable to hold, reasonably powerful, and easy to use.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the TID 18.
It has rubber bumpers to protect delicate surfaces when you set the tool down, the 1/4″ hex chuck works exactly as it should, and the LED light is basic but adequately bright.
The battery interface is a pleasure to use, though, with the insertion and removal action being far smoother than most other brands’ cordless battery interfaces.
The TID 18 can drive in construction fasteners with ease, and its speed and torque settings slowed things down for use with smaller fasteners. I generally use impact drivers with fasteners up to around 5/16″ x 4″.
2 years ago, when I first reviewed the TID 18, I was stuck. Who is this for? Festool 18V cordless power tool users? It wasn’t an exceptional performer, but neither was it disappointing.
I’ve made an effort to grab the TID 18 on occasion, but after all this time, I still feel no better or worse about it, which is odd.
I gave the driver a whirl before packing it up for donation, and that’s when I knew I would miss it.
This past September, Festool ran a product tester search on social media, where they were looking for people to review this impact driver. It seems to me that Festool has been really trying to go after the general contractor crowd.
Maybe it can survive rough handling by tradesmen, but I don’t get the same “drop it off a ladder and it’ll be okay” vibe from the Festool TID 18 as I do from other brands’ impacts. I wasn’t willing to put my lone sample on the line to test this.
I sometimes use cordless drills and drivers to gently nudge things. With this impact, I’d stop everything to grab a hammer.
It has average specs on paper (1593 in-lbs), a brushless motor, and speed controls. The kit comes with 2x 3.1Ah batteries, a charger, and a Systainer3 tool box.
As an aside and annoyance, this comes with a Systainer3, but Festool still bundles some of their pricier tools and equipment – such as their vacuum clamps with clunky classic Systainers. Why?!
The TID 18 isn’t fancy, it’s not a top-performer, and it doesn’t have many bells and whistles. It’s compact, although not by modern benchmarks.
It’s perfectly unexceptional, and there’s a sort of elegance in that. I usually like for tools that blend into the background, and it’s rare for this to be the case with cordless power tools.
There’s no “gotcha” here. No obvious compromises. It’s as if Festool upper management decided one day that their 18V lineup needs an unobtrusive impact driver.
The lack of selection is also refreshing. There’s no single-speed impact (at least not that I know of), no higher-voltage model, no fancy 12-mode premium flagship model that is updated every other year, and no holiday season “special buy” with lesser features and lower capacity batteries.
Festool has the TID 18, and that’s it, at least for USA shoppers – I try not to look at international offerings too often, lest I be disappointed, but please correct me if I’m wrong.
Because of all this, the TID 18’s simplicity belies the complexity behind its existence. Or, maybe I’m overthinking things.
It’s strange that I feel I miss this particular impact driver. It wasn’t particularly convenient, as I rarely use Festool cordless power tools (and never for personal use), and it’s far from being my favorite. But, it was reliable and unobtrusive.
The modes are easy to navigate – there are 3 speed/torque settings and a self-tapping screw mode. I never had to whip out an online model to decipher what the different settings mean.
I bet I would like this a lot more if Festool 18V tools were a regular part of my work, or at least I bet would rely on it a lot more.
Maybe this all answers the who is this for? question for me.
Perhaps the Festool TID 18 is best for Festool 18V cordless power tool users looking for a comfortable, easy to use, reasonably powerful, reliable, consistent, and completely unobtrusive impact driving experience.
There are few reasons why Festool 18V tool users might seek a cordless impact driver outside of the Festool 18V ecosystem, except perhaps if pricing is a factor. At $349 for the 2-battery kit, this is not an inexpensive option.
But, are there any reasons why someone might want to buy into Festool’s 18V cordless system just for this tool? I don’t think so.
That all said, it was a pleasure to use the times I occasionally dug it out. It was generally comfortable enough, compact enough, and powerful enough. I didn’t find any legitimate reasons to be concerned about durability (although I did baby it a bit), and I took the exceptional smoothness of the tool-battery interface to be a sign of high manufacturing tolerances.
I don’t regret parting with this sample, as it’s more convenient for me to stick to a limited number of brands when it comes to project work. I do regret holding onto it for so long, but I kept hoping for greater clarity.
That clarity never came, and here I am trying to make sense of a tool that was only exceptional for how boring it is.
“Boring” and “simple” is actually very atypical for Festool. Some Festool tools are so complex to use that some have user manuals and also additional supplemental manuals. The TID 18 is the rare Festool tool you can just pick up and use.
If I ever buy into Festool’s 18V cordless power tool system, something I really don’t see myself doing anytime soon, I might strongly considering adding a TID 18 to my kit.