Black & Decker FireStorm 12-volt Multi Tool

Black & Decker FireStorm 12-volt Multi Tool

This combo kit is the only one in the line-up with a single motor unit driving three interchangeable tool heads-a drill/driver, jig saw and sander. It comes packaged with a pair of 12-volt nickel cadmium (ni-cad) batteries, three-hour charger, a screwdriver bit, jig saw blade and a few sandpaper sheets.
The tool heads snap onto a D-handled motor housing and release by pressing a button. The rubber grip handle is comfortable, and the tool feels fairly well balanced with a head and battery in place.

Outfitted with a 3/8″ Jacobs chuck, the drill/driver holds bits securely. A 24-position clutch helps dial in the right amount of torque for sinking screwheads, but the tool has no hi/low gearbox. All speed changes happen at the variable-speed trigger. As a drill, the multitool bored through 1x oak without bogging down, and it drove drywall screws into the same wood just as easily. For general lighter-duty drilling and driving jobs, the drill/driver head is up to snuff.

I was also pleased with the jig saw head except for a few details. It has a Quick Clamp Blade Change System, so swapping a blade is as easy as pushing a spring-loaded lever. Another nice feature is the roller guide behind the blade, a common appendage on better-quality jig saws. Since the motor unit is variable-speed, so is the saw, which makes for more controlled cuts. The jig saw produced smooth cuts in both hard and softwood, and 12 volts pro-vided plenty of power for 1x stock.

A few of the saw’s details are less impressive. For one, the safety lock-off knob is located down on the saw head rather than near the trigger. Depressing the knob before squeezing the trigger re-quires both hands and was awkward to get used to. The stamped steel saw base was also a bit disappointing. It can only be set to two bevels 90º and 45º & a real limitation for angled cutting.

The orbital sanding attachment has a tear-drop shaped pad, which makes for easier sanding in corners. It accepts hook-and-loop sanding sheets that fit the company’s FireStorm Mouse sander. This the first variable-speed sander I’ve ever used. Still, sanding was most effective when I gunned the trigger to nearly full speed. The pad and sanding sheets have holes for sawdust, but there’s no port for connecting the tool to a shop vac, bag or dust canister.

All in all, the FireStorm multitool seems a decent buy at less than $100, and some home centers sell it for about half that price on sale. It’s tough to find a cordless drill, much less two additional tools, for the same money. Black and Decker will soon make the multitool even more versatile by adding two new heads: a 3 3/8″ circular saw and router with a 1/4″ collet.

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