If you're not already experienced with a drill, when working with screws there's a very good chance you're going to accidentally drive them below the surface of whatever material you're working with—splintering wood and cracking drywall. You can of course get better at it with practise, or you can just buy Black+Decker's new AutoSense drill that automatically stops when the screw is driven flush.
As a result of its newfound powers, the AutoSense drill eliminates the need for a clutch—that numbered ring that lets you adjust the strength of the drill's torque—so there's no guesswork involved. You just set the drill to drive mode, and it will monitor the amount of torque needed to drive the screw.
When the screw's wider head hits the surface of the material you're working with, there's a sudden change in the amount of torque needed to drive it, which the drill detects and uses to automatically stop so the screw ends up flush—most of the time. Since there are so many variables that can influence or prevent the AutoSense drill from properly sensing when the screw is exactly flush, Black+Decker included a means to compensate when the drill doesn't quite work perfectly.
You use the AutoSense drill just like any other powered screwdriver—as long as you're pulling the variable-speed trigger, it drives the screw. When the drill thinks the screw has been driven flush, it automatically stops, but just long enough for you to decide if it's actually been driven far enough.
If you're happy with the results, you release the trigger and move on. If you're not, you keep pulling the trigger, and every second or so it will continue to drive the screw in quick quarter turns until you decide it's flush enough. It's a simple added feature that makes up for the times when the drill doesn't quite work perfectly, or those times when you want to bury it just a little farther.
Switching between drill and drive modes is accomplished through a set of tough rubber buttons on the top of the 20V AutoSense, which also includes a glowing battery life indicator so you know when it's time for a charge. And on the bottom of the drill, just above where you clip the battery on, is an angled LED lamp that illuminates when you start pulling the trigger so you can always see where and what you're drilling.
The Black+Decker AutoSense drill should be available sometime this month, or in early June, for $80. And even if you already have a drill, it seems like it might be worth upgrading if it means never having to come back and fill holes in drywall because your old tools were a little over-zealous with their drilling. [Black+Decker]