The Bosch Tool Company has been in business for well over a hundred years. Long enough to know what it takes to make good tools. In fact, Bosch is to power tools what Porsche is to cars: quality, performance, and power. At least that’s the feeling I had after shop testing the new 18-volt Brute-Tough drill/driver.
The variable speed Bosch model 33618 has a 1/2″ chuck capacity, 16 clutch settings, a high torque range of 0-400 rpm and a high-speed range of 0-1,300 rpm. It provides an impressive 475 inch-pounds of torque, which will enable you to drive almost anything into, well, almost anything. The body of the drill is something that Arnold could have used in Terminator 3: it features unibody power train construction (the motor, gearbox, and clutch are in one contiguous unit to maximize performance), a steel reinforced collar (who hasn’t dropped a tool?), dura-shield housing, extra large metal gears, carbide teeth on the chuck, and overload protection. It uses a ni-cad battery that takes 1 hour to recharge. With battery installed, the drill weighs in at 5.7 pounds. The Brute-Tough comes with two 2.4 amp/hour batteries, battery charger, bit holder, side handle, snap hook, instruction manual, hard shell carrying case, and no surprise, a 1-year warranty.
A lot of drills on the market have the business end of the drill (the power train) at 90° to the handle. On the Bosch, the power train is tilted up about 10° from the handle. I think that this lends a lot to the excellent balance of the Bosch. I’ve a medium sized paw, and found the rubberized handle comfortable to use, even over extended periods. However, the handle is somewhat larger than on other makes I’m familiar with, so it might be a bit awkward for people with small hands.
The gear shifter, battery release tabs, variable speed trigger switch, forward/ reversing switch and trigger lock, adjustable clutch, and keyless chuck all had a positive feel to them, and functioned well.
The drill does have an electric brake which stops the chuck quickly when the trigger is released, which is quite a nice feature. Equally appreciated, is the one handed, keyless chuck – it’s like having a third hand! Changing the brushes will be a snap, as they are easily accessible through two covers at the rear housing of the drill. It’s nice not to have to disassemble the whole tool to do this job.
What’s not to like about this drill? The bit holder that comes with the drill doesn’t hold bits very well. I’m a fan of accuracy, and a bubble level on the top of the housing would have been a real bonus. Also, I’d appreciate a battery charger that turns itself off after recharging; I keep forgetting to unplug it, as the instruction manual recommends. All in all though, this is one sweet drill.
You’ve probably seen the commercial where the Bosch drill continues to operate after being dropped off a 46-foot scaffold. I didn’t have a scaffold handy, but I did put the Bosch through a drilling marathon of sorts. The first trial, on high-speed setting, was to see how many 1/2″ holes it could drill through a 3/4″ ash board before the battery conked out. The Brute-Tough scored 76 holes. The second trial was to drill as many holes as possible with a 7/64″ bit and #8 countersink into 3/4″ ash, again on the high-speed setting. The Brute-Tough managed 596 holes. Pretty impressive.
The final trial was to see how many 1 1/2″ #8 screws I could drive into two layers of 3/4″ ply using the high torque setting. Unfortunately I ran out of screws (238!) before the Bosch ran out of juice. According to Bosch, they developed the Brute-Tough line of power tools for continuous heavy use in high torque drilling applications. No kidding.
After the nonsense of drilling all those holes, I used the Brute-Tough in the shop over a three-week period. A good quality tool feels good in the hand, and the Bosch was no exception. It has great balance, lots of power, and a long lasting battery. I found the top end speed (1,300 rpm) more than adequate for drilling pilot holes; for countersinking I generally drop down around 1,000 rpm. I always switch to the torque setting to drive screws – that’s when you’ll appreciate a drill with a lot of torque. Especially when driving long screws into dense wood. Whether you are a professional or amateur woodworker, I think it makes sense to look for quality, dependability, and durability. For me, the Brute-Tough easily meets these criteria. There are three models of the Brute-Tough to choose from: 14.4V (Model 33614), 18V (Model 33618), and 24V (Model 13624). The 18-volt Bosch kit retails for around $380. Most tool outlets carry the Bosch line. For more information visit www.boschtools.com.