I always thought of collated screwdrivers as specialty tools, reserved for drywall and subfloor only. But after testing the Senco DS212 Li-Ion Auto-Feed on a few different jobsites, I realized they are good for much more than that.
One of several cordless models available from Senco, the DS212 allows you to repetitively drive 1” to 2” screws in very quick fashion. A plastic collated strip of screws is fed through the nose of the tool and once a screw is driven, another one immediately takes its place. It’s not as fast as a framing gun on bump fire, but it’s quicker and more convenient than fishing a screw out of my pouch, fumbling it onto the end of the driver tip and driving the screw. I ran a few timed tests and the Senco averages about one screw per second.
Using the Tool
Once I had the tool I found myself using it for more and more things—tasks that would slow you down if you had to drive loose fasteners. On one project, the crew I was on built a large plywood box to protect a pool table while we installed new lighting above. With the Senco, it was a quick 20-minute process: Just line up the wood and start zipping screws. The same was true when we put plywood on a temp wall. You want these mundane tasks to go quickly, so you can get on to the real building. Because of the Senco, we just flew through these items.
Another carpenter used it to sheetrock a small closet. Having one hand free to hold the board made for fast, easy work, especially for the ceiling. No more propping pieces up with a shoulder or a knee.
The Auto-Feed Screwdriver is easy and intuitive to operate. It has a nice tool-free screw size adjustment: Just press in a small button and slide the nose in and out. I couldn’t do it with gloves on, but a larger button would likely catch on things or get in the way of the sight line.
The rear of the tool is heavily padded with rubber over mold providing a nice place to put a second hand. This definitely takes the strain off the lead hand during high frequency, repetitive use, like subfloor or drywall.
The DS212 comes with two different nose pieces; a smooth faced one for gypsum board and a non-skid one for wood. When I realized changing them out meant removing a miniscule set screw, I never did it again. I’ve lost far too many set screws on jobsites to want to chance it. I kept the less abrasive drywall nose installed and it worked fine, even on wood.
The tool has a reversible belt hook, adjustable depth-of-drive, and a reverse switch for backing out screws that didn’t go in right. It comes in a kit with two batteries—which is good because if you’re putting down a subfloor, you don’t want to have to stop and wait while a battery charges.
Senco offers a wide variety of compatible screws, including ones for composite decking, drywall to wood, drywall to steel, wood to wood interior, and wood to wood exterior. Fasteners and drive tips are available in Phillips and square drive.
A general-purpose tool, the DS212-18V goes 0-2,500 rpm and drives 1- to 2-inch fasteners. A nearly identical model, the DS215-18V, is oriented towards drywall hanging, and goes 0-5,000 rpm. Several other corded and cordless models are available; some take screws up to 3 inches long.
The Bottom Line
The Auto-Feed Screwdriver is a real convenience item for the GC, Remodeler, or individual tradesman. There’s obviously no way it’s going to replace your drill/driver, but there will be quite a few times when this is the better/faster tool to use.
For a drywall contractor’s take on the 5,000 rpm version of this tool see Josh Overlin’s review in JLC.
DS212-18V Specs (by manufacturer)
Battery: 18 volt; lithium-ion; 1.5 Ah
Charge time: 1 hour
Speed: 0-2,500 rpm
Weight: 4.95 pounds
Runtime: 500-700 screws per charge
Country of origin: China
Includes: two batteries; charger; drywall nose piece; wood nose piece; storage bag; two drive bits (Phillips and square drive)
Price: $265 ($144 corded)