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Bosch 10.8V I-Driver™
Innovation done right
Text & photos by Tom Hintz
Sometimes I think the Bosch design team may be watching my shop. The day the Bosch I-Driver arrived, I was installing drawer sliders inside a cabinet and not having fun trying to negotiate a full-sized drill/driver in the confined space. The Bosch I-Driver immediately went on the charger and was pressed into service 30 minutes later. Problem solved.
Balancing Power & Size
At 10”-long and an oval shaped body 1 ¾” by 2 3/8” (max), the Bosch I-Driver is not tiny but fits the hand surprisingly well. Between the size, shape of the grip and balance, the Bosch I-Driver is very easy to control and feels comfortable in use.
The Bosch I-Driver delivers more power than I expected from a tool of this size. The claimed 80-in. lbs of torque is stout, but may be a conservative estimate. In use, driving screws, even in the hickory I was working with when it arrived, is not a problem for the Bosch I-Driver.
The physical size of the Bosch I-Driver is more remarkable when the contents of the “handle” are considered. Somehow, the Bosch engineers packed a powerful motor, drive /clutch system, battery and the supporting electronics in a comfortable package.
The key feature that makes the Bosch I-Driver so useable in confined spaces is its articulating head. Though it has a 90-degree range, it is broken into five segments, each with a locking detent. A push button on the side of the head releases the lock for repositioning it. I like this idea because when applying pressure to drive a screw, the head cannot slip to a different angle, something that would certainly result in making a gouge in the wood surrounding the fastener.
The ¼” hex-drive speed coupler keeps the size of the head small but accepts a huge range of bit styles, many of which we may already have. A spring-loaded collar releases and locks the bits in place quickly but securely. This is a very good choice for a tool that will see lots of duty in confined spaces.
The Bosch I-Driver has an effective, full range variable speed control, operated by a lever-style trigger in the grip. The trigger makes it easy to use only the necessary speed within the 0 to 600-rpm range available.
Reversing is accomplished with a slider button located just ahead of the trigger.
Batteries & Charger
Probably most deceptive is the battery that powers the Bosch I-Driver. The diminutive size belies the amount of power this little pack delivers. Add to this the unique no-loss property of Litheon batteries that allows them to work consistently right up to the point of needing a recharge. There is no detectable loss of power near the end of the charge. Also, Litheon packs do not lose power sitting on the shelf between uses, unlike the cheaper Ni-Cad packs most of our current cordless tools use.
Bosch literature claims the 10.8V packs will drive 100, 3”-long screws per charge. Despite extensive use during our evaluation, the performance I experienced does nothing to dispel that claim.
Also included in the Bosch I-Driver kit is a 30-minute charger. The charger is automatic, bringing the pack up to full charge without further user input. Indicator lights on the charger keep you apprised of the charging progress.
In the Shop
When I first saw the Bosch I-Driver, I was a little concerned that the shape would make it difficult to apply direct pressure to a screw while driving it. Actually using the Bosch I-Driver the first time alleviated those concerns quickly. The Bosch I-Driver is easy to handle and stays on the screw as well as any pistol-grip driver I have.
The turning power, variable speed trigger and very predictable clutch system all make the Bosch I-Driver very effective at driving fasteners.
However, the compact, angle-adjustable head really makes the Bosch I-Driver stand out. Being able to lock the head at any of the five provided angles makes driving screws in tight spaces or at odd angles much easier than with the more common gun-like drivers.
Throughout testing, I never felt the Bosch I-Driver was lacking for power and the battery stayed alive far longer than I expected though I didn’t actually count the number of screws driven. The number was considerable and does not put the 100-screw per charge claim by Bosch in question.
Though capable of driving most common screws used in woodworking, the clutch makes this a great choice for installing smaller fasteners. The Bosch I-Driver is easier to handle than the full-sized drivers, making it much easier to drive small screws without slipping off and gouging up the project.
The 600-rpm maximum speed is admittedly marginal for general drilling operations, particularly with bits over ¼” in diameter. However, shooting pilot holes for screws is dead center in the Bosch I-Drivers’ wheelhouse. The quick-connect chuck makes changing between drilling pilot holes and driving the screw fast.
The shape of the grip, the angle-adjustable head and its balance makes using the Bosch I-Driver at any angle comfortable.
The Bosch I-Driver has a current street price of only $149 (6-21-2006) that includes the charger and two Litheon battery packs. Litheon battery technology is admittedly pricey but brings a useful life that all but eliminates picking up a tool with a dead battery when you need it most. The quality of Bosch design and manufacturing insure a long life for the Bosch I-Driver that will spread this cost out for decades to come.
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