Review By Traves W. Coppock  Black & Decker Website - http://www.blackanddecker.com

Black & Decker 85th Anniversary
RD1440K 14.4V Drill/Driver Review
By Traves W. Coppock
Photos by Traves W. Coppock

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To celebrate their 85th anniversary, Black and Decker have released a special edition “nostalgic” cordless driver/drill.

Reminiscent of the ” 'holegun' of old in design, with many updated features such as 14.4 volts of power, variable speed/torque ranges, and a cast aluminum housing, this promises to be a great tool. Personally, I can tell you the little holegun is going to be a tough act to follow, even after 85 years. I know. I own one that still sees almost daily use in my shop. Lets take a closer look...

What's in the Box...

I must say that the presentation of the packaging is eye appealing. It shows the entire tool in clear view, as well as a brief history of the company under the front “flap”. This was a smart move in my opinion. I don’t know how many times I have seen people (including myself) in a store opening a box just to get a decent look at a tool, or whatever is hidden behind the cardboard. Kudos to the marketing folks at B&D on this one.

The kit consists of the following: soft carry case, one (1) battery, battery storage cap, charger, drill/driver, manual and registration card, and a “polishing” cloth.

This being a battery driven tool, the first thing I looked for in the box was the charger and the battery. The battery ships attached to the tool, and needs to be removed prior to charging. The manual states right on the cover that the battery needs to be charged for nine hours prior to first use.

The Powerhouse?
The battery is a “slide” type, and not a post style. To remove it from the tool, you hold the tool in one hand, and slide the battery retainer, located on the back of the battery, downward. When it is slid all the way down, two small springs inside the receiver push the battery backwards and away from the handle. After it is released, slide the battery all the way back and off the tool.

The charger slides over the battery, and friction-fits in place. This charger is, in my opinion, the least desirable feature of this drill/driver kit. The charger consists of a wall plug-type transformer, and a very lightweight battery receiver.

To add to the downfall of this charger, is the fact that it is a slow charging system. As previously mentioned, the initial charge takes 9 hours. Subsequent charge cycles are described in the manual to take anywhere from three to six hours depending on how depleted the battery is. This is extremely difficult, if not impossible to gauge as the chargers LED charging light does not blink, fade, nor turn off when the charging cycle is complete. Added to that, the LED is very faint, and almost impossible to see in bright light conditions.

Once I felt the battery was fully charged, I removed it from the charger, and installed it on the tool. Simply position the battery in the receiver on the handle, and slide it forward until the retainer engages and locks the battery in place.

Something New...
There is a very handy feature in the top of the battery receiver on this tool, and that is a three light LED battery level indicator. Simply press the button marked “battery level” and the LED’s light up indicating a full or discharged battery.

Another great feature of this tool is the red LED level indicator. It is located on the rear of the driver/drill, directly above the handle assembly. When the trigger is depressed slightly, it engages the electronics of the leveler. When you are holding the drill level, it lights up. I found this to be accurate to within two or three degrees. Not perfect, but very handy for use “in the field”. This level indicator works while holding the tool in either a horizontal or vertical attitude.

The forward/reverse/trigger lock switch was found to be a little sloppy on the tool I purchased. It was also found to be awkward to use in its design location when holding a work piece and trying to operate the switch while using the tool. To use the driver/drill in a forward (clockwise rotation) mode, push the switch all the way to the left of the tool when looking at it from the top rear. The center position of the switch is the “trigger lock” position. To reverse the driver/drill (counterclockwise rotation), slide the switch all the way to the right when looking from the top rear of the tool.

Moving forward on the tool, the next feature is the adjustable torque selector. I found this selector switch very easy to use. Sliding the switch forward places the tool in “high speed” mode for drilling, and sliding it towards the rear places the tool in “high torque” mode for driving screws.

The adjustable clutch is a pretty standard feature on just about any driver/drill weather it be a $20.00 “el-cheapo” or a $300.00 professional model. This tool is no different. To lock the clutch for drilling, simply rotate the clutch bezel counterclockwise until the cast pointer on the housing is on “drill only” printed on the bezel. To set the clutch for driving screws, rotate it clockwise until the desired clutch release point is achieved.

The RD1440 comes with a Jacobs keyless chuck. To tighten the chuck on a drill or a driver attachment (a reversible Philips/standard bit comes with the kit, and is located on the handle, just above the battery receiver) simply switch the tool into “forward” operation mode, and hold the forward chuck bezel while engaging the tool.

BE CAREFULL!!! This tool creates a lot of rotational force, and you could seriously burn or otherwise injure your fingers! Loosening of the chuck is simply the opposite procedure to tightening it.

Performance Testing
In testing, I drilled about 40 ”- 1 ” holes in ” oak, and drove 40 screws of various lengths into 6” x 6” pressure treated stock.

When drilling the holes, this tool performed flawlessly. Even while using a large hole saw it didn’t hesitate once.

Driving screws was another pleasure while using this tool. I drove 5 x 3” stainless deck screws into 6” pressure treated stock. It bogged down on the first screw, but only because I forgot to switch the torque setting. It drove the remaining screws like they were being driven into a piece of cardboard.

There is only one thing about this kit that I would like to see changed. The charger. I would have included a base type fast charger in this kit, and possibly another battery. However, if they had done that, the price of the kit would have been about US$50–$70 more, but still well worth the cost.

Base style quick chargers are available, and are capable of charging any firestorm slide style batteries from 9.6v to 18v. The model number for this charger is FSMVC, and is available for around US$30.00. Since the price of the kit has come down quite a bit since its release, I would recommend purchasing one, and another battery.

Conclusion
Overall, on a scale of one to five, I would give this tool a four and a half, and the kit itself a three and a half due to the included charger.

Enjoy, and happy woodworking! 

 

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RD1440 Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com & Traves W. Coppock. Use without prior written permission prohibited


Ready for Action!


The kit consists of the following:
soft carry case, one (1) battery, battery storage cap, charger, drill/driver, manual and registration card, and a “polishing” cloth.


Red Level Indicator -
When you are holding the drill level, it lights up!


Three light LED battery
level indicator - very handy!


Battery is left in photo,
and charger is right


Driving some screws during testing

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