How to buy the right drill

December 16, 2014

An electric drill is an essential part of any toolbox. Here’s how to find a drill that can handle any job, from fastening lug nuts to breaking through concrete.

How to buy the right drill

Types of drills

Consider the advantages of different drills to help choose the right one for you.

Cordless drills: Battery-powered drills don’t require a connection so they can go anywhere. The trade-off is that the battery eventually needs to be recharged. Typical cordless drills for home use come with nickel-cadmium or lithium-ion batteries.

Corded drills: Corded drills may have less range than cordless drills, but they also have more power. While cordless drills are good for wood and soft materials, a corded drill can perform heavier tasks on more kinds of materials.

Hammer drills: These rotating drills use a pounding action to penetrate hard surfaces like concrete and masonry.

Impact drivers: An impact driver combines turning and hammering actions to anchor screws and nuts in hard materials but isn’t used for drilling holes.

Drill features

  • Forward/reverse switch: Useful for getting screws and drill bits in and out, forward/reverse switches are a common feature on most drills. Some hammering drills also allow you to turn off the hammering action and use it like a standard rotating drill.
  • Adjustable drill chuck: Chuck size determines what size of drill bits you can use in your drill. With an adjustable chuck, you can use different bit sizes to match the job at hand.
  • Right angle: Drills with right angle heads are great for tight spaces as they can be adjusted to drill at different angles, getting the job done without putting yourself in an awkward position.
  • Drill bits: Drills are designed to take certain bit sizes. Many come with their own drill bit sets, but you should check that your new drill can use your old drill bits. There are different drill bits for wood, metal and masonry.
  • Keyless and keyed chucks: How your chuck opens to replace drill bits is a matter of preference. Some people like the convenience of keyless chucks but many prefer the strength of a keyed chuck.

Factors to consider when buying a drill

Power: Cordless drills with battery voltage of 12-18V can handle most home projects. Corded drill output is measured in amps. Power increases with higher amperage. Battery life is a key consideration with cordless drills.

Torque: The amount of turning force your drill applies to the bit is called torque. Drills that accept bigger bits provide more torque. A drill with a 3/8- to half-inch chuck should supply all the torque you need for most household jobs.

Speed: Measured in RPMs, faster drills can rotate quicker and more effectively. For most home projects, 1000 RPMs is more than enough.

Consider the types of projects you'll be working on to help determine what drill will best suit your needs. Armed with your new power drill, you can assemble that furniture faster and finish your home projects safely and efficiently.

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