Craftsman Bolt-On Review 2018
- No cord needed, the battery allows you to get and go
- Quick charging Lithium-Ion battery and charger
- Wide variety of tool heads to choose from
- Craftsman Quality
- A number of the tool heads are compact, allowing for working in tighter spaces than standard tools
- An inexpensive way to build a an arsenal of tools
- Comes with only one battery
- Battery life may limit work time
- Router doesn’t have the rpm capabilities as standard routers
- The jig saw and circular saws do not allow for bevel adjustments
- Systems such as these always have operating limitations compared to standard power tools
Cordless power tools can be expensive. Heck any power tool can be expensive but cordless tools, with battery and charger technology can be more so. One can easily burn up some cash when buying a number of tools. So, what’s a woodworker to do?
Knowing that woodworkers are looking for quality tools that don’t cost an arm and a leg, we at Woodwork Boss bring you this Craftsman Bolt-On review to help you learn more on how this tool system can streamline some of your work.
What all can the Craftsman Bolt-On system handle? Well, it’s a bunch, including the expected drilling, and more. With this system you can drill, sand, route, cut, inflate, and more. So, get comfy and kick back. I’m sure that you’re going to be as impressed as we were.
We’ve also got some suggestions for Craftsman Bolt-On alternatives at the bottom of this post.
Craftsman Bolt-On System Overview
As mentioned earlier, the Craftsman Bolt-On system utilizes a power handle and interchanging tool heads.
The basic system is comprised of the power handle, with a 20v Lithium-Ion batter, the battery charger, and a drill head. The power handle is ergonomically shaped, with a grip texture that is soft and comfortable. Overall, the the balance is good.
The charger features the normal charge rate, with provides 100% charge in 30 minutes. Nothing unusual there.
In addition to the normal charge rate, the Craftsman Bolt-On system charger also provides a Quick-Boost option, which will provide 30% capacity in just 10 minutes. This feature comes in handy when you need just a bit more time, without having to wait through the full charge cycle.
Although Craftsman calls their system Bolt-On, there are no bolts involved in changing the tool heads.
Nope, the system uses a quick attachment method that allows for easy tool head changes. Simply push in the latch button to release and then lock the tool heads in place.
Speaking of tool heads, the Bolt-On system offers nine to choose from. Let’s take a look at those.
Bolt-On Tool Heads
Craftsman has provided a tool head for the most common tasks that any woodworker, or DIYer, will tackle. Check these out.
Drill/Driver (included with the base kit)
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As one might suspect, the basic kit includes a drill head, as it’s probably the most commonly used tool. This one features a 3/8” key-less check with variable overdrive clutch.
- Key-less chuck allows for easy bit changes
- All metal two-sleeve chuck
- Overdrive clutch is not the easiest to adjust
- 3/8” chuck capacity, instead of 1/2”
- Speed limited to 800 rpm
The sander is a basic “mouse” sander, so sanding sheets will be easy to find. It’s not an orbital sander, so care must be used not to leave swirl marks in the sanded surface.
- Mouse shape allows for reaching into tight corners
- Sanding sheets are easy to obtain
- Not an orbital sander
- As the sander pad is not very large, the Bolt-On feels top heavy and care must be taken so as not to dig a sanding edge into soft materials
Although not as powerful, or versatile as some other jigsaws, the Bolt-On jig saw is very handy, none the less. The power handle allows for two handed cuts and it’s handy to be able to quickly change from saw to drill, and visa versa.
- No tools are necessary to change blades
- The power handle provides for a small “foot print” so this saw will work in tight areas that others cannot
- No bevel adjustment
The Bolt-On circular saw uses 3-3/8” blades which work well for trim, hobby, and craft work.
This little saw won’t ever replace a standard circular saw, but it can come in handy for light work – similar to what a mini circular saw like the Rotorazer can handle. This is definitely another gotta have add on for the system.
- Easy to reach safety switch prevents accidental start ups
- Accurate line of cut indicator
- Blade hex wrench is stored on the saw for easy access
- Strong aluminum shoe
- No bevel adjustment
- No depth adjustment
Designed to cut drywall and other materials in tight places, the oscillating multi-tool works when other cutting tools will not.
Of course, this tool is not limited to cutting. Scraping, filing, and sanding are all possible with the right set up.
- Tool-free attachment changing
- Blade angle is adjustable
- Extra hardware included, which may be used with other attachments
- No mention of extra hardware in literature
Two-Speed Hammer Drill
Hammer drills come in handy when the standard drill will not get the job done. Need to set anchors in concrete, or drill masonry? The hammer drill is the right drill for the job.
It will power through tough materials, with the right bits, of course. Do not use your standard drill bits in this drill. You need to use bits designed to take the impact.
- Two speed ranges, (0-500 and 0-1600 RPM)
- Can be used for both drilling and driving
- Shines when drilling concrete and masonry
- Bulk does not allow for easy work in tight spaces
The router is one of the most versatile tools and is my second favorite, behind my cordless drill. Who’d of ever thought to add a router attachment to a multi-tool. Well, Craftsman thought of it.
Of course, there are trade offs; it’s not as powerful as a standard router, it doesn’t have the rpm’s of standard routers, and it doesn’t have the range of depth of cuts.
On the other hand, it can fill the void when one doesn’t have the money to buy a stand alone router. Don’t try to hog out material with this router, instead use it for light work and it will do well.
- One-wrench bit changes are allowed with the spindle lock
- Safety toggle also locks the switch on
- Depth of cut is quick with the toggle latch
- Low rpm compared to standard routers, 9,000 rpm vs 8,000 to 26,000 rpm
- Routing uses battery power quickly
High Pressure Air Pump
Air pumps are not as cool as the other tools mentioned above, but the sure can come in handy. For bicycle, wheel barrow, garden cart, dolly tires, and other air filled items, this little pump will do the job.
The pump is capable of providing 80 psi for those hi pressure items. The 14” hose includes an inline pressure gauge, so you won’t have to hunt one down in the tool box or glove box.
- Built in pressure gauge
- Built in needle and nozzle storage
- Portability that a corded pump does not provide
- There is no way to lock the pump on, so you have to hold the switch on to operate it
Need to quickly cut cardboard, leather, and other thin materials, but need something heftier than hand sheers?
The cutter/shear attachment will do the job. Lock it in place and slice through a number of materials.
- Quickly shear numerous materials
- Saves wear and tear on ones hands when making numerous cuts
- Some materials may be too thin to be easily cut
Craftsman Bolt-On Tool System Technical Aspects
Now that we’ve looked at the various tool attachments, let’s look at other aspects of the Bolt-On tool system.
One must start with the basic kit which includes the power handle, battery, charger, and drill head.
You’ll pay a bit more at first, but this will be the largest initial expense in getting into the Bolt-On system.
The other tool heads are relatively cheap. This will allow you to build up your tool inventory as you have the need and the money to do so.
The power handle contains a 20volt DC Variable Speed/Reversible motor. Neither the literature or Sears indicates the hp of the power handle.
Battery and Charger: 4.5/5
The basic kit contains a 20 volt Lithium-Ion 30 Wh battery and the necessary battery charger.
The charger is a dual function charger, in that it will fully charge the battery in 30 minutes. It will also quick charge the battery to 30% of its capacity. This comes in handy when you need to drive one more screw before shutting down for the day.
To keep the down time to a minimum, it’s recommended that you buy a second battery. That way you can keep one topped off.
Build Quality: 5/5
Craftsman has been around for decades and have been known for long lasting tools.
The Bolt-On system is another example of the quality tools that Craftsman puts out. Although not heavy enough for day to day professional use, the Bolt-On system will serve the DIY craftsman well.
Who Would Benefit from the Craftsman Bolt-On Tool System?
Anybody who does DIY projects, woodworking, crafting, etc. will benefit from the Bolt-On tool system.
It’s just a matter of starting with the basic drill kit, then adding the tool heads as needed/wanted. There’s definitely a variety to choose from and I can think of many that I would use.
For the Budget Minded?
Despite the initial cost of the basic kit, adding on tool heads is not overly expensive.
One could set up a pretty good collection in a few months, buy adding on each pay day. This is definitely not a bad way to go.
In addition, many of the tool heads fall in the usual gift price range, so it would be a good idea to toss some out when Fathers’ Day, birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas roll around.
Craftsman Bolt-On Tool System Alternatives
Black and Decker Matrix System
There’s not much competition for the Craftsman Bolt-On Tool System, but the one that stands out is the Black and Decker Matrix System.
Like the Bolt-On system, the B&D system utilizes quick change tool heads. Both have a 20 volt Lithium-Ion battery, but the B&D Matrix has a standard charger.
The B&D Matrix is priced a bit less than the Craftsman Bolt-On system. I’ve worn out a number of Black and Decker power tools over the years, while a number of my Craftsman tools are still going strong.
PORTER-CABLE 6-Tool Combo Kit with Free USB Device
PORTER-CABLE is another well-known name that provides the opportunity to buy a whole set of tools at once. Contrary to previous two combos, PORTER-CABLE has actually several similar sets – a 6-tool one, 4-tool one and even a set of 8 tools.
Similarly to other two, it features a 20-volt Lithium Ion battery. The 6-tool set includes an impact driver, circular saw, oscillating tool, reciprocating saw, compact drill, pivoting flashlight and of course a charger and 2 batteries. For the extent of the tools the kit packs, it’s one heck of a bargain!
Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Lithium-Ion Ultimate Combo Power Tool Kit
Like the previous Porter-Cable set, Ryobi one also includes 6 tools: circular saw, reciprocating saw, drill, hammer drill, flashlight and a charger + two batteries.
What is different in Ryobi set, is the battery. It packs Lithium+ batteries that are known for better performance. Even more, the battery has earned an Energy Star for it’s efficiency.
Thanks to these features and a friendly price tag, it’s a tool that every woodworker needs to have in their workshop!