Black and Decker were one of the first companies to mass produce and sell
electric corded drills to the home handyman. My father still had one of
the early models way back when they were made with full cast metal bodies
and chucks and were as tough as Hulk Hogan himself! That drill lasted over
25 years before it finally gave in, something which few, if any, drills
would last in today's age. As power tools for the DIY and home handyperson
became more popular through the 90s, it seems Black and Decker earned a
reputation for producing tools of much lower quality than in their earlier
years. This resulted in a much less regarded name for their products in
the market, much of which still seems to exist today. But over the years,
the company has produced a few diamonds amongst the less desirables... The
SC1400 drill reviewed here may just be one of those... perhaps with some
extra polishing work required to make it really shine...
The Black & Decker SC1400 Cordless Drill/Driver
I am one who believes, in part, that you get what you pay for... but
this doesn't always hold true. When it comes to cordless power tools
however, in the majority of cases, your better tools are going to be from
the better and more well respected brands, like Makita, Hitachi, Bosch,
Panasonic etc. Many of the problems with lower priced cordless, battery
powered tools is that the batteries themselves and not of the highest
quality, leading to early failure and lack of power or power capacity. I
am sure many of us have owned cordless tools that fit in this category.
The tool itself is fine but can you get a battery for it that last more
than 12 months of fair use? It's difficult, that's for sure. The higher
priced tools generally come with better power cells, leading to longer
battery life, better performance and much less frustration, which
invariably results in more positive reviews and comments from their users,
hence improving that brand's name. Then along comes Lithium Ion battery
technology, promising smaller cells, greater power output and memory free
charging. And so far it seems the technology is delivering up to
expectations. The SC1400 uses this battery technology so we could assume
it might be a decent product...
Ok, onto drill... I have owned this drill for about 20
months now and have used it quite a bit around the home and in the
workshop. It has its pluses and minuses. Let's see what these are as we
examine the specifications and features.
To begin with the SC1400 is a 14.4v cordless drill, putting
it about mid-range of the current line of cordless battery drill voltages.
14.4v is actually not a bad "size" in terms of power output. It is "heavy"
enough for most drilling and fastener driving tasks, yet small and light
enough not to be cumbersome to use over long periods. There is no
indication on the battery or in the tech specs to indicate the battery
capacity. At least I could not find any, but my guesstimate is that the
battery has a capacity of around 1.5 Amp Hours. It seems to last quite a
while on a single charge and will get you through a day or three of home
workshop driving tasks without much trouble
There is a catch to this drill when it comes to the
battery, and that is its non-removable design. yes, the battery is "built
in" to the tool, making it difficult to replace when it finally dies and
no longer takes a charge. Given the life of lithium ion batteries when
properly cared for, this should at least see the tool last for around 5
years of fair use which is not too bad a lifetime given today's tool
manufacturing and "throw away" society. I am sure it would be possible to
change the cells to new ones if you really wanted to by dismantling the
tool and having them replaced, but the cost of doing so would probably
render that idea impractical against the cost of a new drill. So, the
battery is not easily removable or replaceable, which is perhaps a
negative point, however, with permanent battery attachment, you are not
having to go look for a battery to connect to the drill or try to remember
where you put it last time you used it, so there are some small advantages
to having a fixed battery as well. The drill will deliver from 0-1400
revolutions per minute via its gear system, and switchable between ranges
of 0-350 RPM when used in High Torque mode (number "1" on the speed
selection switch) and 0-1400 RPM in High Speed mode (number "2" on the
speed selection switch). The speed selector slide switch is located on the
top of the drill body as can be seen in the accompanying photos. The drill
delivers a surprising 210 in-lbs of torque when used in High Torque mode.
This is not too shabby considering its size and voltage. It is certainly
enough torque to drive most fasteners into harder materials.
The marketing blurb comments that this drill has
"100% more power than traditional 18v drills for tough
applications" but it is a little misleading.
Sure it does probably have close to that figure, even though it is a 14.4v
drill thanks to the lithium ion battery power, but I'd say those
comparisons were against a "traditional" Ni-Cad powered drill (older
battery technology) and perhaps not a very good quality one at that.
Being a drill with an integrated battery, it has its own
charging "dock" like an iPod may have. The charge contacts are located on
the bottom of the drill and recessed slightly so as to not be damaged when
the drill is sitting on a flat or hard surface. The drill simply sits on
its charging dock (see photos) when it requires charging and a red light
on the front of the charging dock illuminates to show the drill is being
charged. There is no indicator on the charging dock to say when the drill
is fully charged, however, that task is taken on by the battery charge
meter on the drill itself...
At the rear of the drill you will notice the battery level
indicator display. When the small black button is pressed and held, green
lights will show the current battery charge remaining. With three bright
green lights you have a full or near full charge. As the battery depletes,
the lights vary in intensity and number so only 2 lights may be showing in
their light windows when half full or so, and only one when the battery is
running low. This is a great feature I wish was apart of every cordless
drill. It is also an important one for this drill, given its single
integrated battery and no provision to add another one, so you need to
know the current state of the battery so you can charge it up and be ready
for use when required. Charging from flat to a fully charged state takes
roughly about 90 minutes on the charging dock. You can use the battery
level indicator while on the charger to check whether the battery is fully
charged. I usually just wait until all three lights on the meter are
showing, then give it another 30 minutes on charge to ensure it is indeed
fully charged, however, being lithium ion battery technology, which has no
memory effect, you can pull the drill off the charger at any time if
needed and you cannot wait for it to be fully charged, and this will not
affect battery condition or life. The lithium ion technology also means
the battery has a good shelf life and low self-depletion rate. I pulled
the drill off the shelf to complete this review just recently after it
having been sitting on the shelf unused for 2 months (winter over here in
Australia) and it still had probably 90% of battery remaining. Just
remember that if you are going to store it for a while, ensure it has a
fully charged battery.
Drilling speed is controllable via the variable speed
trigger , as is direction via the three-position slide switch located just
above it. The central direction switch point acts as a trigger lock to
prevent the operation of the drill. I have noticed through use there is a
tendency sometimes for the trigger to get "stuck" or grab as you use it.
This only happens on occasion but the trigger is not as free moving as on
most other drills I have. I am not sure whether it is the climate or
humidity of the environment I live in (here in Australia - think Florida,
USA - similar) but some days it seems to grab and not be smooth in
operation. I have remedied it somewhat by occasional spraying of a
silicone based spray lube around the trigger housing. It seems either
casing is too snug around the trigger, or, most likely, the spring behind
the trigger is a bit stiffer than it needs to be and it can be difficult
to get spray lube behind the trigger itself without disassembly. For the
most part it works ok and has never really been stuck in the ON position,
more so, just stiff to use at times which can make fine motor control a
little tricky when trying to drive screws precisely with a light touch on
The drill has adjustable clutch settings which can be
changed via the clutch setting ring behind the drill chuck. There are only
six settings available, one being for drilling mode, the other five for
driving mode. Five settings is limiting, given that most cordless drills
have around 16 individual clutch settings to prevent overdriving of
fasteners, but I have found that I can dial up one of the five settings to
give myself a good chance of not overdriving screws all the time. 16
settings is definitely better of course, especially if you are crafting
fine furniture items where drive depth accuracy is critical but you can
get by with just the 5 settings offered on this drill without too much
trouble. It may just mean a little more switching between settings to get
the job done. It is perhaps one of the few things I would like to have
seen changed on this drill.
Onto the chuck, and it is a simple affair indeed. It is a
10mm hardened plastic cased chuck with a single action mechanism. That is,
you can tighten and release bits with one hand turning in one direction.
There is no ratchet action like on some higher end drill chucks but it
doesn't seem to be needed. You just grab the chuck, and turn it to tighten
as much as you can (bearing in mind the harder you tighten it, the harder
it is to release it as well). But even with a light but firm tighten of
the chuck to hold a bit, I haven't really had any problems with round
shank drill bits slipping in the chuck. Just ensure you drill bits are
sharp and don't try to force the drill to bore a hole using dull bits and
you should find there is no problem with chuck grip issues.
The handle has rubber overmolded grip wrapping around the
back of the tool and under one finger at the front as you grip the drill.
It is shaped for comfort and fits my hand quite well. The trigger and
direction slide switch are both within easy reach of my thumb and
forefinger. The SC1400 does a noticeable front weight bias which you can
see quite readily as it is easy to knock the tool over forward when
sitting on a bench and you give the rear of the tool a small tap. It is
much harder to tip it backward, confirming the forward bias. Why does this
matter anyway you ask? Well, when you hold the drill in your hand and hold
it level as if you were going to use it for a task at arm height, the
forward weight bias places extra pressure on your wrists. Just hold a
forward-weight-biased drill in the normal upright position for a while and
you will feel it! If you are doing a lot of drilling work using the drill
in its normal position ( like when it is sitting on a bench) then the rill
can cause extra user fatigue and strain, particularly at the wrist. This
is not so desirable, however, that forward weight bias, at least in my
opinion, does make it easier to use the drill when it is driving or
drilling straight down (in a vertical angle) and often with less fatigue.
I didn't do any scientific tests on this, and I may well be wrong, but it
seems like there is less effort to drilling and driving in vertical planes
with a forward weighted drill as opposed to a balanced or more rear
Various application photos...
In Use and Conclusion
I must admit to being a bit skeptical when I first looked at this
tool. I purchased it from Amazon.com almost based on battery technology
alone, having owned some of the Makita Li Ion tools before and seeing the
benefits of the technology. I was after a 14.4v drill primarily for
lighter duty work around the home, and for workshop screw driving tasks.
It also had to be easy to use and charge so my wife could use it. With an
integrated battery and charging dock, she found it simple to use and
manage and it doesn't have overly complicated features you need an
engineering degree to understand. The price sealed the deal thereafter. At
the time it was much less than many other lithium ion cordless tools so I
thought I would give it a go, plus it would give me the opportunity to
review it for you good folk reading this now. I couldn't find any other
decent reviews of this product previous to purchasing it, except for the
3-4 reviews on Amazon itself, all of which gave it 4-5 stars. Although I
don't usually take those reviews as gospel, they all did mention good
battery life, which was a prime issue in my decision.
I can say that I am happy with my purchase of this drill.
It is obviously not the most advanced or feature packed drill on the
market, but it is compact, easy to use and does get the job done
surprisingly well. It had no problem drilling 1" diameter holes in pine
stud framing using a spade drill bit, and handled screw driving tasks in a
variety of forms quite well. It is no pneumatic impact driver or rattle
gun, but it has plenty of power for its size and enough features to make
it a good basic home workshop, DIY or light to medium duty cordless drill
option. The kit comes with drill, charger, 8 driving bits and 8 drilling
bits in a plastic case. It ships with a 2 Year warranty from Black and Decker.
Order Online through these companies...
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Black & Decker SC1400 Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com.
Use without prior
written permission prohibited
The Black & Decker SC1400 Cordless Drill
Five driving settings and one drilling setting on the clutch
At the rear of the tool is the battery level meter.
High/Low speed slide switch also shown.
10mm single action chuck.
Variable speed trigger and rotation direction switch
14.4v lithium ion battery is integrated into the base of
The SC1400 in its charging dock.