Drills are essential power tools used by homeowners and trade professionals. Whether you’re working on a home improvement project, a DIY project, or on a construction site, chances are you’ll use a drill at one point or another.
Drills can be used to bore holes, tighten screws, loosen screws, and chisel away materials, amongst other things. When you combine that with their ability to drill through a wide range of materials and surfaces, you’ll easily see what makes them a staple in every toolbox. However, there’s a wide range of drills available and an even wider range of bits. Let’s talk about what you should know about drills before you commit to buying one.
Corded vs Cordless Drills
Because they don’t have to contain a large battery, corded drills are often lighter than their cordless counterparts. If you get a mains-powered drill, though, you’ll probably have to deal with cables and potentially get an extension cord. Cordless drills, on the other hand, provide greater portability, as you can use them anywhere without having to haul lengthy extension cords behind you. However, most cordless drills are generally more expensive as a result.
There are a lot of misconceptions around the power of cordless drills though, and contrary to what most people think, they’re now almost equal in power to their corded counterparts. This is due to the advances used in battery technology. Most manufacturers, such as Makita, DeWalt, Milwaukee and Alpha power tools use next-gen lithium-ion batteries, allowing the tools to be charged quicker and provide more power for longer. The great thing about these batteries is that you can use them with other power tools from the same brand as well. So, for instance, you’ll be able to use most batteries with most Alpha power tools on the market.
Corded drills are rated in watts, and they range anywhere from 450W to about 1500W. More watts mean more drilling power. So, if you’re going to drill through tiles and masonry, you’ll probably want a drill with over 1000W. On the other hand, if you’re drilling through plasterboard, fewer watts will suffice. Generally, most people who don’t work in industrial and commercial settings don’t need more than 600W drills.
The power of cordless drills, on the other hand, is measured in volts. The higher the number of volts, the more powerful the drill. Typically, you’ll find cordless drills with 12V, 18V, and 20V.
Types of Drills
There are a few different types of drills you can choose from, based on the tasks at hand. If you need a drill to make small holes in plasterboard and wood, you should consider a drill with hammer action, rated at 18V or 550W for cordless and corded models, respectively. A chunk size of 13mm will be enough, meaning it will accustom drill bits up to 13mm in diameter. Here are other types of drills you’ll find when shopping online or in brick-and-mortar stores.
If you want a versatile drill capable of doing small home improvement jobs around the house or DIY projects in the garage, a drill driver will be the best choice. They’re suitable for drilling holes in metal and wood, and they act as drivers, meaning they can tighten and loosen screws using a different screwdriver and drill bits. Drill drivers are great for hanging pictures, assembling furniture, or putting up shelves.
Impact drivers are the heavy hitters of the power drill world. They’re used for heavy-duty applications in repetitive or large-scale projects. These drills feature an impact mechanism that reduces the effect drilling has on your wrist. Impact drills are great for tightening nuts and bolt heads, as well as drilling into hard metals due to their high torque. Compared to drill drivers, impact drivers are lighter in weight and more compact.
Hammer drills are powerful drills used for drilling hard surfaces such as masonry, concrete, or tiles. They’re perfect for heavy-duty applications around the home, such as securing gutters, placing shelves, etc. They come with multiple torque settings that allow you to adjust the drilling power while keeping revolutions per minute low, limiting the damage to the surface area.
The features a drill comes with can be the deciding factor in your choice. That being said, there are a few features that are highly desired by most people:
- Depth Stop – Ensures the hole drilled doesn’t exceed the desired depth
- Auxiliary Handle – Improves safety and accuracy. It can be placed either right or left of the drill and helps increase control and force applied
- Forward and Reverse Function – Pretty self-explanatory. Allows you to turn the drill bit forwards and backward with the push of a button
- Variable Clutch Setting – This allows you to adjust the torque of the drill, ensuring your bits overcome resistance and go to the right depth
- Gears – This allows for shifting between different speeds. Some drills are single-speed, whereas others are multi-speed, allowing for more control
- Speed – Speaking of speed, the speed in drills is represented in revolutions per minute, also known as RPM. It refers to the speed at which the drill rotates. Low-speed drills are suitable for drilling softer materials, whereas high-speed drills are suitable for drilling hard materials
- Brushless Motor – Drills using brushless motors are superior in performance. They provide better torque and faster speeds while reducing friction and heat build-up in the motor
You can attach a range of accessories to your drill, making it even more versatile than it was. For instance, for work around the garden, you can attach a hole digging drill bit. To clean a dirty spot, you can use a scrubbing pad attachment. To achieve next-level accuracy, you can get a drill guide. To drill in tight and hard-to-reach places, you can use an angle adapter. Magnetic bit holders and bits allow you to switch between drill bits easily, and so on. All of these accessories are relatively inexpensive and can provide a lot of value in the long run, making using the drill more convenient, safer, and overall better.