-Tears for Fears
My cordless drill is, like me, starting to show it's age. It's banged up, nicked, scarred, starting to lose it's grip and no longer has the stamina that it used to and needs more time to recharge than when it was newer.
It's built boats, boat parts, decks, garden sheds, VW camper interiors, kitchen cabinets, work benches, book shelves... 10 years on, it doesn't owe me anything.
After taking three times as long as it should to drill lightening holes in paddleboard parts, due to short battery life, I knew I finally had to get serious about finding a replacement for the 12 volt NiCad workhorse.
"Hmmm" I pondered to myself, "Self, if you're gonna buy a new drill, maybe it is time to buy one of them 18 volt Lithium Ion cordless kits you've been thinking about for a while."
Of course, there were a number of reasons why I had not yet made the transition from "thinking about" to "stepping up."
Every time I get close to pulling the trigger on buying a bag o' tools I just can't justify the $250- $350 cost. After all, my old drill is still working, and I haven't really needed a cordless circular saw or jigsaw or reciprocating saw...
2. Unnecessary yet inevitable package padding:
To get the tools I
Ryobi's One+ tool system is a great idea, addressing my objections outlined above, and the warranty is solid, but the nearest Ryobi dealer is 45 minutes away. If I need to replace a tool or buy a tool, it will inevitably occur while I am using a tool, and I don't want to have to take a 90 minute road trip to solve the problem.
One reason why I am leaning toward cordless tools is to be able to accomplish boatwork on the boat. While Whiskeyjack is on the hard extension cords plugged into our portable generator work fine... but on the Dock it is a whole lot less convenient. So, I want tools that I can keep on our boat. Our small boat. With even smaller storage space. Stowing another tool bag filled with a drill, a saw, a sander and the accessories is a non-starter.
I may have found it.
Welcome to the Black And Decker Matrix.
What B&D have done here is rethink cordless tool design.
Basically, the handle is the heart of the system. The lithium-ion battery slides onto the butt of the grip, and the rest is pretty straightforward variable speed cordless drill ergonomics- the motor is cantilevered to the rear off of the top of the grip, the gearbox above the trigger, and the drive direction switch is just above the trigger.
Forward of the trigger is where things get interesting. Standard included matrix equipment is a 3/8" drill chuck/ 11 position clutch assembly. Pretty typical, with one difference:- the chuck is removable, and can be replaced with an assortment of other Matrix tool heads. Press a button, remove the chuck and replace it with the appropriate tool head, and you have a detail sander, an impact driver, an oscillating saw, a router, a trim saw, or a jig saw...
... sort of.
More on that later.
I bought the "Starter Kit." (For those of you playing along at home, available at Canadian Tire $149.99 )
Inside the box was the drill, one battery, battery charger, detail sander head, jigsaw head, one saw blade, a small assortment of pre-cut sandpaper and manuals.
So, how does this new 20 volt* drill compare to the old venerable 12 volt it is replacing?
First, let's clear the air about that * above. B&D bills this tool as 20 volts, BUT, upon perusing the manual, I read "Maximum initial battery pack voltage (measured without a workload) is 20 volts. The nominal voltage is 18." ... in other words, it is a real-world 18 volt powertrain.
Even though it is 50% more powerful, the Matrix is a smaller overall package, at least according to my Sharpie-assisted testing:
The chassis presents the workhead at a lower angle as well. The rubberized grip fits nicely, and feels well balanced. Whether there is any advantage to the shallower workhead angle will be seen over the next few months of testing.
What is definitely an advantage is the difference in weight. Although more powerful, the Matrix is noticeably lighter:
"Talk the Dock!"