Aimed at:- Professional drywallers and HVAC engineers, suspended ceilings, etc.
Pros:- Compact and powerful with many battery pack options for more runtime if needed. Easy to use too.
Drywall screwdrivers are like Marmite – if you need one nothing else will do, but if you don’t, you might wonder what all the fuss is about, and stick to your normal cordless just to fix a few plasterboard screws.
Watching a skilled drywaller with a drywall screwdriver is great fun – one can’t help but admire the speed and skills on display. But such speed and skill does often come down to the choice of kit. A drywall screwdriver needs an excellent screw feed system, these days it must have tool-less mode changing, preferably be cordless and with battery packs fit for a good day’s work.
Metabo’s latest answer is not one, but three 18v cordless drivers, each with an “E” denoting Electronic controls on speed and torque, but each one is pitched at a different niche of this particular market.
The key differences between the models are the torque available and the no load speeds. The SE 18 LTX 2500 for example has 9Nm of torque and a speed of 2500 so is aimed at applications where boards need to be applied to wood, ply, steel or alloy substructures where a good deal of torque is required to drive the screws home.
At the other end of the range is the SE 18 LTX 6000, which has 5Nm of torque but a 6000 rpm no load speed for the fastest working rate in softer gypsum boards.
I was sent the SE 18 LTX 4000 for this test and it is a bit of a “jack of all trades” as it can be used on lighter metal substructures as well as boards and fibreboards. But more of this later.
Each of the drivers comes with an 18v 2Ah lithium ion battery pack for lightness. The Metabo range is one of the lightest currently available and since these tools are used for long periods of time, they need to be as light as possible. However, with a tested capability of over 1000 screws per charge in most applications and only a 40-minute charging time, power on the job would seem to be the least of your worries.
But, in an emergency, all current Metabo Li Ion 4 and 5.2 Ah battery packs will fit the drivers so no need to worry too much about downtime.
While I was only sent the SE 18 LTX 4000 to test, the rest of the range uses the same body casing, so the following applies to the range.
The LTX 4000 immediately felt right the moment I picked it up because it has been carefully designed to place the force of the operator’s hand directly behind the axis of drive. There is a beautifully shaped groove with black rubber moulding on it to maximize grip and the two middle fingers are used to operate the trigger. It sounds a bit strange, but it actually works very well.
The trigger is large and the small forward/lock/reverse switch is placed above it and there is a lock-on switch for the motor in the middle of the handle.
Most operators I have seen tend to keep the motor going all the time rather than press the trigger each time they need to drive, as this is the quickest method of working.
I am a fan of worklights on machines and a bright LED light on the base of the handle is automatically switched on when the trigger is pressed. It is bright enough to provide a general illumination around the working area.
The flat-bottomed battery pack is very light and easy to release and fix on its rails. With the auto feed nozzle fixed the driver will not stand on the battery pack, however, there is a nice belt hook supplied that will fit on either the left or right of the handle base, and this tends to be the method that workers prefer to park their machines, especially if they are working at height.
There is no excuse for indifferent autofeed screw magazines these days – the competition simply wouldn’t allow it – and the Metabo has an excellent one. The hard working parts are made in alloy or other metals and the rest in tough plastics. Screw sizes are selected by simply pressing in a tiny-chromed button on the right side of the magazine and moving it forward or back until the correct size is selected. It is marked in imperial and metric units to cater for all tastes...
A small milled screw head on the same side of the magazine is used to select how deep you want to drive the screws, and all it takes is a few trial and error screwfeeds to select the correct setting because it will vary according to the materials, substrate and length of screw being used.
Loading the strips of screws takes all of a few seconds and you are ready to go. Removing them is just as quick.
The magazine can be removed by simply pulling it off. This reveals the driver bit and bitholder. Again, these are easy to change by pushing down the red collar and pulling the bit and holder out. A spring-loaded adjustable nose for single screw usage can be clicked over the bit and holder if needed.
Having handled this machine for a while I was keen to try it on some real fixing to see if I could make myself look like an expert. Frankly, I couldn’t fault its performance – First time out I was able to drive home a whole strip of 35mm long screws into a wooden post without a single failure. The machine simply made it easy for me in terms of handling and the ability to apply the force right behind the screws. I think that the lightness and compactness of it also helped me to apply the screws exactly where I wanted them.
In my view, this Metabo range of drywall drivers is comprehensive, efficient and well designed. I am sure they will make many end users happy with their choice. What more could you ask?