Cordless drills are huge time savers. It offers portability and some nifty features that will make it easy for you to embark on a variety of projects. The right drill allows you to accomplish a great deal of work in your home or workshop. Although all drills operate in essentially the same way, there are certain factors that could set one apart from its peers.
This guide will help you choose the right cordless drill for your projects. For starters, you would want a reliable drill with more power and longer run times. So you can install fixtures, hang that vintage clock, or build a deck without losing your wits.
The first portable electric drill with a trigger switch and pistol handle was introduced by Black + Decker in 1916. Since the first electric drills were heavy, stationary machines used in industrial facilities, the convenience of a lightweight and portable tool was embraced by the do-it-yourself market. It has since been an indispensable tool for pros, woodworkers, or DIYers after over a hundred years.
As history tends to repeat itself, Black + Decker through the newly acquired Dewalt, launched the first cordless drill in 1961. While the original design was credited to Black + Decker, many would argue that it was Makita who made the first cordless drill available to the general public.
The cordless drill has become the most widely used tool by pros and home handymen. The convenience of not having to waste time finding a power outlet or deal with a tangled cord significantly reduces the amount of time a contractor would have to spend on a job. High-quality models are multipurpose tools that can do more than boring holes.
Although cordless drills are great, there’s still a place for a corded drill in your tool kit. Cordless power drills rely on batteries. If you are someone who doesn’t touch a drill from one month to the next, you may find your unit’s battery depleted just when you badly need it.
The same could be true if you are an active builder, who needs to drive numerous fasteners and drill hundreds of holes for a large project. Having to stop and recharge the drill affects productivity. Perhaps the best solution is to have extra batteries, so you don’t have to wait for the unit to be fully recharged before continuing. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a drill that’s always ready to go? You will soon find many occasions when it’s very convenient to have both.
When buying a cordless drill you will face at least three options: a bare unit without battery or charger, a complete standalone unit with batteries and charger, and a cordless kit with several different types of tools. Consider combination kits if you are also looking for handy tools such as an impact driver, a hammer drill, a circular saw, or a work light. Inclusions vary from kit to kit, so check for the one that offers the best value.
Cordless Drill/Driver – this is the most popular type of drill in the market. It is used to drill holes and drive screws into metal, wood, and plastic. It is ideal for household tasks and maintenance and small construction jobs.
Hammer Drill – this tool is essentially a drill with a hammer setting that generates forward thrust and rotation. It is more powerful and heavier than a regular drill and is designed to handle concrete jobs and some masonry work.
Impact Driver – this machine is used for installing and removing screws, bolts, and fasteners. Not an ideal tool for drilling holes.
Rotary Hammer – also a combination of hammer and drill but larger and heavier. This is commonly used by professionals for drilling masonry.
Is it comfortable to hold?
A good drill should be comfortable to grasp even after periods of extended use. You can choose between a pistol grip drill or a T-handle. In a pistol-grip design, the handle is at the back of the drill and lets you apply more pressure higher up. With the T-handle, on the other hand, the handle is at the center of the drill’s body. It is generally more compact so you can get into tighter spaces. While it’s easier to maneuver, it’s harder to apply one-hand force using a T-handle drill.
The power of a drill is measured by the voltage stored in its batteries. The voltage range of available models is between 6 to 36 volts. Higher voltage delivers more speed and torque or twisting strength. A drill with a higher voltage is usually heavier. The drill speed and torque are crucial factors depending on the job at hand. The higher a drill’s maximum speed, the less torque it can deliver. A drill powered by an 18-20V battery is best for heavy-duty or extended work. For most jobs around the house, a 12-volt battery will suffice.
A cordless drill is a multifunctional tool with a high degree of versatility and power. But a truly must-have tool should come with specific features that can handle nearly every drilling and driving task you will encounter.
The available chuck sizes for a cordless drill are ½ inch and ⅜ inch. The chuck size dictates the maximum shank diameter the drill will accommodate. Find out the shank diameter of the bits you will be using, and then select your drill’s chuck size accordingly. A keyless chuck is also much more convenient because it allows you to loosen and tighten the chuck by hand.
A drill with an adjustable clutch lets you choose the desired torque for driving screws to a precise depth. The higher the clutch setting, the higher the torque it puts out. When the preset torque is reached, the clutch disengages the shaft and stops turning. This prevents the bit from slipping off the crew or stripping the screw head.
Brushed and brushless motors both have the same operating mechanism but their overall design is different. The absence of brush in brushless design eliminates the problems of friction and overheating caused by the physical connection between the moving parts. Brushless motors are more reliable and have lower maintenance requirements. It also improves the power and extends the lifespan of your drill.
A reversing switch lets you change the rotation direction of the drill bit. Your drill’s reverse switch must be conveniently located but not prone to accidental switching. It should be locked in place to prevent you from switching it by accident.
Q: What’s the difference between a drill and a driver?
A: Cordless drills are better suited for boring holes and driving small fasteners while an impact driver is ideal for driving nuts, bolts, and crews.
Q: What’s the voltage rating of a good cordless drill?
A: A 12-volt drill is sufficient for basic household tasks such as basic carpentry and minor drywall repairs. Choose 18-24 volt batteries for more demanding jobs like drilling holes on metals, concrete, ceramic, and bricks. High voltage drills are typically heavier and more expensive.
Q: What’s the standard warranty of a cordless drill?
A: Standard warranties vary by brand or model. Lithium-ion power tools usually have a standard warranty of three years. High-end models may have 5-7 years of limited warranties. Some brands like Milwaukee offers lifetime limited warranty.
Q: How can I set the torque in a cordless drill?
A: In setting the slip clutch, it’s better to start at a midrange number. For example, if your drill has 20 clutch settings, choose 10 then drive in a screw. If the drill drives too deeply, adjust to a lower number. If it slips before the screw is driven, choose a higher clutch.
Q: How do I know the run times of my cordless drill battery?
A: Check the amp-hour (Ah) ratings. Higher voltage and higher amperes per hour provide a longer run time. For example, a 12-volt drill with a 4.0 Ah battery would last longer between charges than a 12-volt drill with 1.0 Ah battery.