A couple of weeks back, we had a customer returned her Bosch GSB 120-LI Professional drill driver because she claims it couldn't drive self-tapping screws into her wooden cabinet. Turns out, it's just a case of wrong torque settings which was promptly explained with a short explanation of the torque settings.

We get this a lot and to be fair, it's not a woman thing - it's equally spread out between the demographics. However, if it was indeed a faulty unit, we'll ship a new one out at our cost.


 
Despite that minor hiccup, the Bosch GSB 120-LI remains one of our best selling cordless drill driver due to its affordable price tag. We thought we'd explain to you why.

Versatility in a compact 12V package.

Despite the lower 12-volt battery pack and significantly lower torque versus the crop of newer 18-volts drill drivers, the Bosch GSB 120-LI still has a respectable torque output of 28/11Nm (through a two-speed gearbox) and a 18,750-impacts per minute (ipm).

All that numbers basically means the GSB 120-LI is versatile enough to handle anything from 19mm drill bits for wood-working, 6mm drill bits for steel and up to 8mm drill bit sizes in masonry making it a great tool to have around the house if you're the DIY-type of person.

The curious thing with the Bosch GSB 120-LI is that it is essentially similar to the outgoing GSB 1080-LI (which runs on a 10.8V lithium-ion battery pack). In fact, both the Bosch 12V and 10.8V lithium-ion batteries are interchangeable.

Made in Malaysia.

Part of its affordable price tag is thanks to both the GSB 120-LI and the two batteries being made locally in its Penang plant with only the exception of the charger unit being made in China. The GSB 120-LI is also part of Bosch's affordable Contractor's Choice range and comes with a 6-months warranty.

Additionally, the GSB 120-LI manages to stay below the RM400 radar because it employs the old school brushed motor instead of the newer brushless or 'EC motor', in Bosch speak.

Not so straight-forward but self-explanatory.. well, almost!

Unlike an electric drill with the obvious trigger mechanism and the forward/reverse rotation, the user has to dial-in a combination of settings for specific applications on the GSB 120-LI.

Additionally, the GSB 120-LI also has a gear selector switch on its spine, three drill/driver settings - screw, drill and impact drill and a 1 - 20 torque settings (which is not an indication of actual torque output) for different applications located just behind the keyless chuck head. You rotate it either left or right to set your torque to a small arrow indicator on the spine.



All that versatility also means that the GSB 120-LI has a two-speed gearing, a first gear ("1") setting to suit high-torque screw fastening and a second gear ("2") for high-speed drilling - while it's not stated in the manual, one thing to note is the GSB 120-LI will not be able to drill hard materials or drive a screw into hard wood at higher torque settings in high gear ("2"). It'll bog down and stall, you'll then need to "downshift" to "1".


The rest of the other settings are pretty self-explanatory, select the drill bit icon for use as a standard cordless drill, you only need to shift between first and second gear depending on the type of material you are drilling into. For drilling into walls, select the hammer for impact drilling. Typically, you'll also need to use a higher torque first gear "1" for this or the GSB 120-LI will just bog down under heavy load.
 


Finally, select the screw icon for fastening self-tapping screws with the proper screwdriver bits or with a specific size square-drive adaptor, you could even use the GSB 120-LI with your 1/4", 3/8", and even 1/2" socket sets. One thing to also note is the torque settings only works with the screw mode.

Take baby steps.

We suggest starting with the lowest torque setting first and gradually move up the torque setting until the fastener is snug up. Starting with too high a torque setting can quickly turn a basic maintenance into a very painful repair job - it could strip the threads or in the case of working with wood, drive the self-tapping screwdriver too deep into the panel - that mistake would show for the life of your cabinet unless you fill up the hole and and paint over it.

Eventually you'll also find that steel or masonry drill bits would eventually go blunt from use. Good quality bits need not always come from a brand-name manufacturer nor must they be expensive. We suggest starting out with an afforable set, like our Accubit high-speed steel bits, and see what works for your application.

Speaking of drilling, did you know that if you flick the selector to the drill icon, your GSB120-LI can even polish your car's yellowing headlight, with the Visbella Headlight Restoration Kit? By toggling the gear selector switch between "1" and "2", you now have a 2-speed variable speed control over your polishing.