I’ve been testing the Festool 10.8 Volt TXS cordless drill for the past few months, and I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by its design and performance. It’s the first Festool product I’ve ever used long-term, and I was a little skeptical of this particular model because at first it felt lightweight – especially for its $235 price tag ($285 with the right angle chuck) Once I began putting it to work, however, I quickly learned that this drill – as small and compact as it is – means serious business.
Ever since impact drivers hit the market I have defaulted to using them almost exclusively for driving applications because of their availability, reliability, and relative versatility – even for finer work (where the TXS really shines) when they’re less ideal. But an impact diver can’t do the work of a drill, so I found at times having a separate drill and driver to be a bit of a drag on jobsites, especially when working off of staging and ladders. Having both a drill and driver in one tool is a huge convenience.
After using the TXS for a short while it became my go-to drill/driver for many tasks. I really liked the weight (only 2 lbs!), balance, power, and precision of the drill. It fits nicely into my Occidental Framers pouch, and having the interchangeable heads (Centrotec chuck, which is a quick change system, a keyless chuck, and right-angle chuck) meant I only needed one tool with me at all times. I even used the tool for setting plaster washers into 165 year old ceiling joists and for this task it was able to keep up with its more powerful, 15-V counterpart, the Festool C15.
The TXS was designed for much finer work, though. The two-speed settings (low: 0-400; high: 0-1200) and 12 clutch settings (with a torque range of 1.7 – 30.09 in. lbs) offered awesome control for every application - you won't strip screws in cabinet grade plywood, for example. I used it most often for pocket-hole joinery, installing cabinet and door hinges and drawer glides, and for cabinet installations. It set 2-1/2- in. screws through 3/4-in. plywood into studs without effort. The drill was great for setting electrical outlets and switches as well. The variable-speed trigger has a soft actuation and still offers enough control to maintain even slower speeds without losing the right “touch” as the trigger is depressed. The 3/8-in. keyless chuck accepts 1/32-in. – 3/8-in. drill bits, and worked as expected on poplar, maple, and oak stock.
The LED light, which is located at the base of the tool just above the battery, seemed at first to not be as bright as I wanted, but I quickly found it perfectly bright for even the darkest nooks - like in the back of a cabinet. It throws light from the bottom of the tool and so casts a shadow beyond the work area. I find light sources from the bottom of a tool to be annoying for that reason, but that's a very minor criticism of this drill. That said, I wish that someone would develop an adjustable work light on their drills – one that you can spin around just as the torque setting dial does - because where you need the light depends on how you’re holding the drill and where you’re working.
Of the three interchangeable heads, the Centrotec chuck is the one users will use most often. It’s a quick-change system that only accepts Festool’s proprietary bits. When I discovered that the drill can be used without the Centrotec chuck - and that all bits or bit holders can be used and magnetized I was pretty psyched about the added versatility. The Centrotec chuck design does lend itself to smoother driving of screws, however. The Centrotex chuck achieves this because it holds the bit in two places vs. one, and it holds the bit at a higher point on the shaft, so there is less maneuverability when it spins. I compared this with other drills that I have and while not scientific, I did notice a difference in the play when a bit spun in the Centrotec chuck vs. other drivers in my shop.
The tool holds up to four bits in magnetic slots built into the base of the drill. I liked the concept of this feature, but found it cumbersome as my hand inevitably knocked the bits out of their slots. This wasn’t a big deal; I like having a small case of assorted bits with me at all times anyway, so the functionality of onboard bit storage never went very far with me for any drill or driver I’ve owned.
The fuel gauge shows in the same window as the LED light in a series of up to 3 green lights. It’s possible to engage the trigger without turning the drill on to illuminate the light briefly and check the status of the battery. The LED light only turns on when the trigger is depressed, which works fine. I often use drills left handed, so I appreciated the location of the forward/reverse button which is high enough that you won’t accidently trip it with the natural grip, but convenient enough to quickly set without having to change your hand’s position. It also locks in the middle setting, so if you throw it into your pouch you don’t have to worry about it accidentally running and depleting the battery.
If you're seriously considering purchasing this drill and foresee a potential need for the right angle attachment, I recommend jumping the extra $50 and going all out at $285 to get it. You can get similar attachments for about $20, but this head is compact and accepts the keyless chuck and Centrotec heads. You may not use it often but you'll be glad you have it. I used it a couple of times when assembling cabinets. While it can be a little awkward at first, the convenience of being able to run a screw or drill bit in at an odd angle is nice to have.