Though it was a “must-have” item when it hit the market decades ago, the cordless screwdriver’s charms wound down faster than the AA batteries stacked in its tail. To maintain shelf space on impulse item peg-boards, tool manufacturers did what they do best: they added power, shed weight and extended run times. While noble in effort, their improvements just weren’t reason enough for tradesmen to sacrifice space in their tool bags…until now. The DeWalt 8V Max Gyroscopic Screwdriver ($89) delivered the right balance of intuitive tech and commonplace comfort to earn it a spot in our inaugural GP100 — so we took it out for a more involved spin.
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As soon as we shook hands with the DeWalt’s rubberized grip two things became apparent. First, this thing was built to take a beating; second, ergonomics were clearly the driving force behind its design. There are small indents and smoothed-over cutaways molded into its heavy duty plastic shell that cradle previously bludgeoned digits perfectly. The gyroscope’s activator sits slightly forward, forcing your hand right into the butter zone and balancing the driver’s forward-weighted internals. In both the handle’s in-line position and its flipped-around pistol-grip mode the driver feels natural; the dual positioning opened up a wide range of angles for every job.
The learning curve is far from steep. By step 2 in any Ikea assembly you’ll be less worried about repeating your earlier missteps and more preoccupied with whether anyone spotted them.
Yet our first few attempts with the DeWalt’s Gyroscopic drive felt slightly foreign. Where other cordless screwdrivers function with the tried-and-tested method of forward and reverse “buttons”, this one is motion activated. That means a simple twist of the wrist — once the trigger is depressed — starts things spinning. The more you turn the faster it goes. While righty-tighty and lefty-loosey should be a priori knowledge, having a machine interpret and decipher those thoughts would rattle even Ron Swanson. Sure, the same principles carry over, but a mere ten-degree twist is all that’s needed to hit full speed in either direction. Reverse that twist too quickly in an effort to ease your pace and your screw will take a dive, rolling away under the dishwasher (again). It takes some finesse — but it’s no three-cushion billiards, and the learning curve is far from steep. By step 2 in any Ikea assembly you’ll be less worried about repeating your earlier missteps and more preoccupied with whether anyone spotted them.
Like any tool sporting Whiz Khalifa’s colors, the DeWalt 8V Max Gyroscopic Screwdriver is professional grade. It delivers up to 24 in-lbs of torque, spins variably to 430 rpm, is kept in check by an adjustable clutch, and has a lithium-ion battery that delivers a 100 percent duty cycle — it runs flat-out until it’s, well, flat; after four hours of solid use we still had one bar of juice left. Those specs combined with its exceptional ergonomics found it a regular spot in our tool bag right quick. The Gyroscopic Screwdriver’s real problem is that it feels more capable than it actually is: there were more than a few times when we brought gimbals to gunfights. Provided you’ve got some heavier hitters at the ready, the DeWalt 8V Gyroscopic Screwdriver does everything it should, in the coolest way we’ve
seen felt yet.