Canadian Woodworking

Festool CXS 18 and TXS 18 cordless drill-drivers

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Versatile, compact, precision drilling and fastening systems for jobsite or workshop.

Author: Carl Duguay

Cordless drill drivers are among the most com­monly used power tools, which is likely why there are dozens of models to choose from in a wide range of con­figurations.

Drill drivers with interchangeable chucks have been available for quite some time. You’ll find models from Bosch, DeWALT, Hilti, Metabo and Milwaukee. They’re popular, especially within the trades – electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, cabinet installers, renovators and the like – and among avid DIYers and woodworking hobbyists.

What makes these power tools so useful is that you can quickly alternate between drilling and fastening, particularly in tight corners and around obstacles that would be inaccessible with a standard drill driver. You don’t need to have two separate drills on hand, or to remove the drill bit and attach a driver bit with a drill bit holder. You simply switch drive chucks.

Let’s have a look at what the new Festool CXS 18 and TXS 18 have to offer.

Manufacturer: Festool
Model: 576901 (TXS 18 Basic), 576903 (TXS 18 Set)
576887 (CXS 18 Basic), 576889 (CXS 18 Basic)
Price
: $335 (Basic); $669 (Set)
Made in
: Germany
SourceFind your dealer
Warranty: 3-Year Wear and Tear Warranty; 30-day money back guarantee
Key Features (both drills):

 

  • Basic model: FastFix keyless chuck, belt clip, Systainer
  • Set model: Right-angle adapter, Centrotec chuck, FastFix keyless chuck, Centrotec bit holder, PH2 driver bit, Rapid battery charger, two 18V 4.0 batteries, belt clip, Systainer
  • Motor: Brushless
  • Battery: 18 V
  • Speed:  0 – 470 RPM (1st gear); 0 – 1600 RPM (2nd gear)
  • Chuck range: 1/32″ – 3/8″ (1 – 10 mm)
  • Torque settings: 13
  • Torque (1st gear): 9.7 to 70.8 in-lbs.
  • Torque (2st gear): 3.5 to 20.4 in-lbs.
  • Max. torque: 194.7 in-lbs. (wood); 354.0 in-lbs. (steel)
  • Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz. (0.79 kg); battery adds 1 lb. 5-3/4 oz. (0.62 kg)

The CXS 18 and TXS 18 are the smallest drill drivers in the Festool 18V line-up. The major difference between the two models is the handle design. The CXS features an ergonomic C-shaped handle (hence the “C” in its name) while the TXS has a traditional T-shaped handle. The XS means extra small. On the CXS I find that my hand is more inline with the drill spindle, which allows me to apply more directional force for high torque drilling without putting as much strain on my wrist.

Festool Cordless Drills

Functionally they are identical. Both feature brushless 18V motors, have the same speed and torque levels, accept bits with shanks up to 3/8″, and include magnetic bit holders and LED lights. The “Set” models come with an extra chuck and adapter and a SYS3 DF M 187 Systainer that has a convenient ‘attic’ – a top mounted bit storage compartment. No more misplaced bits and bobs.

Festool Cordless Drills

However they differ in a few subtle ways.

The TXS is 5/8″ taller than the CXS and has a head length 5/8″ shorter. I think these differences are negligible – both are of a size that is much easier to use than bulkier full-size models for building furniture and cabinetry and for a host of light-to-medium duty drilling and driving tasks.

Festool Cordless Drills

On the TXS the torque dial is located at the back on the bottom of the handle, while on the CXS it’s positioned at the front, inside bottom of the handle. Either drill requires the use of two hands to manipulate the torque dial.

The torque dial has a setting that enables you to switch the LED light off permanently or to switch it on semi-permanently – in a pinch you can use it as a flashlight. The light turns off automatically after 10 minutes.

Festool Cordless Drills

The LED light on the TXS is positioned at the front, just above the battery and shine upwards. The CXS has the light positioned on the front of the handle.  I find that the light on the CXS illuminates more of the work area. You can use the Festool Work App (with a Festool Bluetooth battery) to control light intensity and timing and reverse the right-hand/left-hand selector switch.

Festool Cordless Drills

Finally, the magnetic bit holders on the CXS are at the front of the drill and hold up to six 1″ bits or two long and two short bits. On the TXS they’re on the bottom of the handle and can hold four 1″ driver bits or two long bits. I’ve not experienced any bits falling out of the holders.

Festool Cordless Drills

The Basic model of each drill comes with a 3/8″ FastFix keyless chuck. With the Kit model you get two additional chucks – a Centrotec chuck and a right-angle adapter (to which you can attach either the keyless chuck or Centrotec chuck), along with a magnetic Centrotec bit holder.  It’s important to note that the Centrotec chuck only accepts Festool Centrotec bits – standard 1/4″ hex shanked drill and driver bits won’t fit – for these you will need to use the FastFix keyless chuck.

The right-angle adapter is unbeatable for drilling in tight, constrained spots – just about any place where a conventional orientation won’t work. You’ll find it invaluable for drilling and driving flush to sides and corners – as close as 5/8″ from the inside corner of a cabinet. The adapter can be rotated to eight different positions around the spindle head. You can install a Festool driver bit directly into the hex drive on the adapter or use the Centrotec bit holder. Even if you only use it occasionally, you’ll be happy to have it when the need arises.

Festool Cordless Drills
L to R: FastFix keyless chuck, Centrotec chuck, right-angle adapter, Centrotec bit holder

You can also install a Festool driver bit directly into the hex drive on the drill spindle. This enables you to work in fairly confined spaces. The only thing to note is that there is no locking sleeve to hold the driver bit in place, nor is the hex drive magnetized, so if you tilt the drill downward the bit might slip out. Still, a small price to pay for the convenience.

Switching chucks takes about 10 seconds. On the end of each chuck is a shaft that fits into the hex drive on the drill spindle. The chucks snap on tightly with no slop, no wobble, whatsoever.

I typically drill holes up to about 1″ diameter and use #8 screws up to 2-1/2″ in my shop – a range that both the torque level and speed range on the these drills are is more than capable of handling. In use both the CXS and TXS feel very well balanced and are comfortable to hold.

The light weight, compact size, ample torque and interchangeable chucks make the versatile Festool CXS 18 and TXS 18 drill drivers ideal for cabinet and furniture makers, tradespeople, avid DIYers and woodworking hobbyists. Whichever model you choose, you’ll get a robust design, great set of usable features and a long and reliable service life.

Published:
Last modified: November 30, 2023

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.


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