Review: Black & Decker Smart Driver

Since we started our Gift Guide I’ve been leaning towards ever more esoteric yet thoughtful gifts for the nerd in your life. That said, I present to you the Black & Decker Smart Driver, one of the coolest little drills you’ll ever own.

How often has this happened to you? You’re trying to install a ceiling fan and you’re on a ladder and trying to drill the fan into a pancake adapter you installed over the old wiring harness. The screws aren’t going in and when they do they go too deep for your big power drill so you have to grab a standard screwdriver and push through plaster and eventually steel to finally seat the base of the fan. Then you’re standing up there and you touch the wrong wire and shock the hell out of yourself and throw the screwdriver across the room. You then sit down for a minute on the couch and refuse to get back up on the ladder and three beer later it’s time to watch Ghostbusters so you’re about done with all that fan noise and you slowly get drunk and wonder what ever happened to Winston.

If you’re saying “John: All the time,” then you’ve come to the right place. This odd little drill has a six position clutch and is able to perform small jobs with aplomb. It includes multiple tips, including tips that fit most IKEA furniture screws and lasts 18 months on one charge thanks to the built-in lithium battery. It’s extremely small and light – almost toy-like – and in our tests it held a charge for about four hours of continuous use.

Two features, however, make this a life-saver. First, there’s a blue LED work light that shines a bright light on the area you’re drilling. This is a lifesaver under sinks and behind appliances and furniture. Second, it has a magnetic screw holder. Oh. My. God. That’s right: you place a screw on the holder and it stays put until you screw it into the wall. This addition in itself is worth the price of admission.

This is not a heavy-duty drill. I wouldn’t send this down to the boys on the job site and expect them to erect a California-style Ranch with this. It is designed for small jobs and small repairs and would make a great PC screwdriver provided you keep the magnet away from the hard drives. It costs $39.99 at Amazon and is perfect for the hardware klutz: it comes with most everything you need and it keeps your screws straight. What more do you need?

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