Tool Review: DeWalt Impact Driver

DeWalt DCF 895 Cordless Impact Driver

The DeWalt DCF 895 cordless---and brushless---impact driver rocks it from rough carpentry to trim work and everywhere in between.

Fast, light, and well-designed, DeWalt’s DCF 895L2 powerhouse 20-Volt Max cordless impact driver rips decks screws, structural screws and holes from frame to finish.

If you’re upping from a cordless drill or replacing old impact drivers, don’t brush this brushless bad boy off because it’s a full-blast lunge-across-line class-leader.

Power Up. Are you kidding me with this thing?

We first saw these tools at the Stanley Media Event in New York City. We were deep in a deck project back at MyFixitUpLife HQ so we asked DeWalt to send us one for review. The first thing I touched with the DCF 895L2 was an 8 inch FastenMaster HeadLOK. The tool drove it through a 4×4 Cedar post into a double 2×10 treated band joist with surprisingly little effort. So little, in fact, that I drove another one just to be sure. And another. And some 10 inch TimberLOKS after that on a Rebuilding Together project.

Crushed it.

As for drilling, the unit spun a 1 ½ inch bit (dull, I hasten add…just get a new one Mark…cheapskate much?) for a woodworking project into a hunk of cedar like nobody’s business. Drilling a series of 5/8 inch holes for carriage bolts on a deck or 3/4 inch holes for running wire or pipe would be a cinch—especially in new framing lumber.

And Power Down. The tool’s adjustable power settings are something I never thought I’d like as much as I do. While an impact driver typically delivers ground-poundin’ power and see-ya-later speed, it’s not always the right tool for smaller stuff like setting hinges—especially those with tiny screws like cabinet doors or piano hinges. That doesn’t stop me from using them for this work, but I have to try really hard to go really easy on the trigger with other tools. With the DeWalt, I can both dial down the setting and the triggering as needed, making this micro work a snap—and making the DCF 895L2 nearly an omni-tool on my projects.

Design Details. One thing I noticed switching from an older impact driver (that I love) to the brushless DeWalt is that the design details are punched up from earlier DeWalt models. The trigger is absolutely plush: effortless for the big stuff, easy to squeeze for the puny stuff. The battery swaps in an out without a fight—a feature it seems decreasingly fewer cordless tools can lay claim to any more. It even has a hooked-up belt hook that is sensibly designed to hang on a tool pouch. And I dig the fuel gauge on the battery. The kit box it ships with is OK too.

DeWalt DCF 895L2 On-Board Light.

DeWalt DCF 895L2 On-Board Light.

Add to this a triple-action work light (three small lights around the bit holder that come on, and stay on for a spell, after the trigger is pulled) that light up dark work and don’t drain the battery noticeably. The bit holder is super-primo: it accepts ¼ inch hex shanks easily and ejects them better than any other tool I’ve owned. The thing even feels awesome in my hand.

And the DCF 895L2 is part of the next-gen brushless tools family. The tool geek in me loves the advancement in motor design (keeping in mind I’ve never changed a set of brushes on any tool ever) and that it adds significantly to run-time according to DeWalt, but the carpenter in me who wants “a hole not a drill” loves that whatever is happening under the hood is working like it’s supposed to.

From deck and drywall screws to drilling holes and setting hardware this tool promises big and breaks the tape as a class leader.

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