Bosch PS20 Specs
Platform: 10.8-volt lithium ion
Maximum torque: 80 inch-pounds
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Street price for kit: $130
As the owner of a business that focuses on small projects and
handyman work, I do a variety of screwdriving tasks throughout
the day. Until a few months ago, I used my cordless drill
— which weighs almost 7 pounds — as a screwdriver.
But my worn-out arm convinced me that a smaller, more
lightweight tool was needed, so when JLC suggested that I try
out the new Bosch PS20 cordless Pocket Driver — without
risking any of my hard-earned cash — I jumped at the
The Bosch PS20 kit contains the driver, two bits, two 10.8-volt
lithium-ion batteries, and a 30-minute charger. Everything is
neatly arranged in a soft case with elastic and Velcro straps
that's small enough to tuck under a truck seat.
The driver itself — which weighs less than 2 pounds with
the battery installed — fits nicely in my average-sized
hand. The tool has a comfortable rubber grip; a variable-speed
trigger with forward, reverse, and lock positions; a
10-position clutch plus a "Max" setting; a 1/4-inch hex-shaped
bit-holder; and an LED work light.
I tend to be protective of my tools; if they come with a
carrying case, they get stored and transported that way. But
after using the PS20 for two or three weeks, I quit using the
case — for a couple of reasons.
First, I found the case's straps a tad annoying. Cinching
everything in place took too long, and it would all start
coming apart during transit anyway.
Second, the driver itself turned out to be so handy and
convenient it earned a permanent home in my tool carrier. I'm
not a big fan of heavy toolboxes, so a tool has to be virtually
indispensable to earn a spot in my pouch.
I've used the PS20 for installing a multitude of items: storm
doors, door hardware, electrical devices and cover plates,
light fixtures, ceiling fans, an over-the-stove microwave,
cabinet hinges, ductwork. It works great anywhere I'd normally
use an old-fashioned screwdriver. It's increased my
productivity, too, and made installing multiple screws much
easier. What's more, the tool has enough finesse to drive
smaller fasteners without stripping them.
Bosch claims that you can drive 100 3-inch screws per charge,
but when I tried driving screws longer than 2 inches into tough
material, either the PS20 stalled before hitting home or the
battery drained quickly.
Bosch also says you can drill 1/2-inch holes, but doesn't
specify at what speed or in what material.
Personally, I found the usefulness of the PS20 as a drill
somewhat limited. The truth is, the tool really isn't designed
for large fasteners or for drilling. That wasn't a problem for
me; after using the driver for a few days I could predict which
jobs it could handle and which required a tool with more
For most applications, I was impressed with the little driver's
runtime. With two months of near-daily use, I've had to charge
batteries maybe 10 times. The battery charger worked as
advertised, charging a pack in 30 minutes or less.
At half the size of a cordless drill, the Bosch Pocket
Driver replaces a conventional screwdriver. It's powered by a
10.8 lithium-ion battery pack, produces about 80 inch-pounds of
torque, and spins at 0 to 400 rpm.
So, assuming you use the tool as a driver for screws no longer
than 2 inches, is it perfect?
Pretty darn close — though I do have a beef with the
forward/reverse switch, which is meant to prevent the trigger
from being pressed when the switch is in the middle
Unlocking the switch doesn't take much force, and more than
once I've arrived on a job site to find that another tool in my
belt had been pressing the Pocket Driver's trigger. The result:
a dead battery. For a tool that promises pouch-worthiness and
pocketability, a better trigger lock that's less susceptible to
jostling would be helpful.
Surprisingly, I also found the LED work light to be more of a
hindrance than a help in low-light situations. Because of where
the light is located, the tool housing blocks the beam,
throwing a shadow over the end of the bit and the fastener.
Eventually I discovered that using a bit extension solves this
problem. I'm hoping Bosch moves the light or at least includes
a bit extension in future kits.
The only other issue is the bit-holder. With all my other
quick-change adapters, the user pulls back to release the bit;
with the Bosch, you push forward. Yes, I'm nitpicking, but the
pull-in release motion is so hard-wired into my brain that
after nearly two months of using the tool I still try to pull
the bit release toward me. Each time, for a split second I
think it's broken — and then I remember.
So maybe the tool isn't 100 percent perfect — but I'm
keeping it anyway. It's a great addition to my arsenal. After
all, it is basically pouch-worthy — probably the best
recommendation I can give.
The kit costs $130.
Norm St. Onge owns St. Onge Renovations
and Backyard Tractor Works in North Bennington, Vt.
The Pipe Shredderby Robert Zschoche
I accepted long ago that on most kitchen and bath jobs my
remodeling company would have to remove more plastic plumbing
fittings and pipe than we wanted to. Still, I couldn't help
thinking how much easier it would be if we could remove
solvent-welded pipe from plumbing fittings (PVC or ABS) and
reuse existing hubs.
Instead, we often found ourselves tearing open a wall or floor,
cutting out the old fitting, and using couplings and short
pieces of pipe to install a new one — just so we could
get an open hub to tie into.
All that changed last summer, when we bought a set of Pipe
Shredder bits at our local plumbing supply. Since then, the
added plumbing work has become unnecessary.
A Pipe Shredder (RectorSeal, 800/231-3345,
www.rectorseal.com) is designed to be
chucked into a 1/2-inch drill. It's used to ream out existing
hubs so that new pipes can be glued into them. The set —
which comes in a padded case — includes bits for
11/2-inch, 2-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch plastic pipe.
At first glance, the shredder looks like a Forstner bit. It
consists of a hefty single-piece steel mandrel and body with
replaceable steel cutters. Each cutter measures 1/2 inch square
and 3/16 inch thick, and is held in place with a pan-head screw
that takes an Allen wrench. The cutter is ground on all four
edges; when one edge gets dull you can switch to a side that's
We've had the tool for more than a year and have yet to see any
wear on the cutters.
According to the manufacturer, there have been so few requests
for replacement cutters the company doesn't even sell them yet.
The few requests it did receive were from people who chipped
cutters by dropping the bits on concrete.
So far, the company's simply been sending out free
replacements, but it plans to offer an inexpensive replacement
kit in the future.
Using the Tool
Before reaming out a fitting with a Pipe Shredder, you have to
cut the pipe as close as possible to — and parallel to
— the face of the hub. We do this with a recip saw, a
handsaw, or an inside pipe cutter (a shaft-mounted circular
blade that chucks into a drill).
Cutting with the Pipe Shredder requires a decent amount of
"push" into the fitting, so you need to use a heavy-duty drill.
We like the leverage and control we get from a right-angle
Self-centering. Because the front end of the Pipe
Shredder is sized to fit inside the pipe remnant that's glued
into the hub, the tool is self-centering. The cutters are set
back from the end for stability and won't engage until the bit
is a good 5/8 inch into the pipe.
Since the outside diameter at the cutters is the same as the
outside diameter of the pipe, the Pipe Shredder doesn't
actually cut the hub; it cuts only the pipe that is glued into
the hub. When you finish drilling out the old piece of pipe, a
new piece should fit in its place.
Cutting action. The Pipe Shredder's
cutting action isn't very aggressive; it scrapes more than it
cuts. This is good because it makes it less likely the bit will
bind and injure the operator or damage the plumbing
If you tilt the drill slightly, you can change the diameter of
the cut to account for small variations in pipe size. Once the
cut is finished, the hub is almost as clean and smooth as new,
and it is ready to be primed and joined with new pipe.
If you use the Pipe Shredder with a heavy right-angle drill or
a heavy regular drill (one with a long T-handle for control),
it is relatively safe and easy to drill out a hub. It takes us
about five minutes to cut off the pipe and ream out the hub
when we're working with 11/2-inch fittings. Larger fittings and
toilet flanges take longer — probably about 15 minutes or
The cutters — which are held in place with screws
— cut the pipe as the Pipe Shredder advances into the hub
(left). The bits come in a padded case and are sized to fit
11/2-, 2-, 3-, and 4-inch pipe (right).
Is It Worth the Cost?
The Pipe Shredder is definitely not one of those gimmicky
accessories you find in the tool center of a big-box store. The
bits are manufactured in the United States and are hefty,
well-designed, and solidly made. We paid about $270 for our kit
and have used it on several projects, any one of which would
have justified its cost.
The manufacturer says that it's possible to buy individual bits
but most people buy the kit.
We've used the Pipe Shredder primarily to clean out sanitary
tees for sink drains and to ream out closet bends in
preparation for new toilet flanges.
A tradesman prepares to ream the fitting by cutting the
existing pipe flush to the face of the hub (above). The end of
the Pipe Shredder keeps the bit centered in the pipe. At top
right, the bit has been inserted but the cutters have not yet
engaged. At right, the cutters have engaged and the bit has
gone about 1/4 inch into the hub.
Once, the tool spared us from having to chip away concrete to
get below a damaged but exposed section of pipe. Another time,
it saved us from having to open up a wall to cut out a sanitary
tee and replace it with no-hub connectors.
Most recently, it allowed us to replace a damaged subfloor,
install a new toilet flange, and run a drain line to a new
shower without having to replace the existing side-inlet closet
As is the case with almost any tool purchase, I debated whether
it would be worth the cost. For me, a tool is worthwhile if it
makes the work easier, pays for itself quickly, and helps us
earn more on the job.
By that standard, the money we paid for the Pipe Shredder was
well-spent.Robert Zschoche owns Robert Zschoche
Remodeling in Chantilly, Va.
Plumbing Toolsby Patrick McCombe
Supply-Valve Installation Wrench.
gave up using compression stops years ago because I could never
get them to tighten correctly. As it turns out, I may have just
been using the wrong wrench. The One-Stop Wrench from Ridgid is
actually two wrenches: one for the valve body and one for the
compression fitting on top. A 3/8-inch-diameter section on the
handle prevents the valve from spinning while it's being
connected to the stub-out. The two-in-one tool sells for about
$21. Ridgid Tool, 888/743-4333, www.ridgid.com
At one time or another,
it's happened to the best of us: You go to shut off the supply
valve so that you can fix a toilet or faucet, and the handle
won't budge. Unfortunately, channel locks — the typical
go-to plumbing tool — are likely to distort the handle or
break it off altogether. Instead, try using an EZTurnPlus
Supply Stop Wrench. This long-stemmed wrench grips the valve's
entire handle, reducing the chance of breakage. Since it's made
out of plastic, it won't damage finishes. It costs about $10.
Superior Tool, 800/533-3244,
Knowing what to do
when things go wrong is what separates the pros from the
pretenders in any field. So when a threaded pipe breaks with
the threaded section still in the fitting, what do you do? Some
pros turn to Walton's REPS Heavy-Duty Pipe, Stud & Screw
Extractors. Available in sizes from 1/8 inch to 2 inches, the
tools have sturdy four-point grips that make it easy to remove
an offending obstacle; afterward, Walton says, they let go
without a struggle. They're sold in sets and individually; the
#206 set includes six extractors sized 1/8 to 1 inch and sells
for about $90. Walton Co., 860/523-5231,
A cheap laminated
padlock from the hardware store isn't going to stop a
determined thief, but a heavy-duty commercial version might.
The A702 ($28) from American Lock has a case-hardened body and
a shackle made with a cut-resistant boron alloy. The A800LHC
($51) delivers even greater security. The lock — which
comes with a matching 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch hasp — features
a distinctive shape that resists cutting and prying. Both
products are available online and at your local locksmith.
American Lock, 414/571-5625,
Eye in the Sky.
Rampant theft on
large residential construction sites can add 10 percent or more
to a home's selling price — which is why some builders
decide to install a Wifieye mobile surveillance system. This
trailer-mounted array of Web-controlled, solar-powered cameras
helps prevent theft. (It's also a good way to monitor
construction progress.) The high-resolution video can be
reviewed from any wide-band, Web-connected computer. According
to the maker, just bringing the rig on site can solve a lot of
theft problems. The setup fee is around $750. Equipment rental
and video storage cost $1,500 to $4,000 per month; the most
popular package comes to about $2,700 per month. Wifieye,
Contrary to popular
belief, most builders' insurance policies will pay only a
fraction — if anything — of what it would cost to
replace a trailer of tools. So spare yourself a huge headache
— not to mention a day of shopping for new tools —
and consider the Trailer Dog, a self-contained solar-powered
security system for enclosed trailers. The package includes two
keychain remotes, two sirens, a solar panel, a backup battery,
a door contact, an LED indicator, and a shock sensor. Normally
the Trailer Dog costs about $700, but it's on sale until
October 31 for $500. Trailer Dog, 877/632-6364,