How to

choose a drill

Whether you’re hanging a picture or sinking screws into a new deck, a good fastening tool is a DIY essential. Here’s a quick primer on picking one that’s perfect for you.

How to

choose a drill

Whether you’re hanging a picture or sinking screws into a new deck, a good fastening tool is a DIY essential. Here’s a quick primer on picking one that’s perfect for you.

Use

What are you going to use it for?

Before you start looking at all the options that are available, you should consider what you plan on using it for. 

If it’s for small home projects, try a cordless version. It has more than enough power to get the job done and maximum portability, for ease of use. With today’s innovation, technology, and improved quality of drills, even professionals choose cordless drills for heavy-duty use.  

If you plan on drilling into concrete, masonry or brick, then a hammer drill is required. For mechanic work, such as fastening nuts and bolts, a drill is not the best tool; you should consider an impact wrench. Lastly, if you think you need a drill to simply drive some screws, stop right there and go for an impact driver instead. 

Types

Cordless Drill Drivers

A cordless drill driver is the most convenient, portable solution for the majority of drilling and fastening projects around the home. A rechargeable battery pack gives you access to all the power and mobility you need. 

Cordless drill drivers are available in models with maximum power ranging from 3.6 volts to 20 volts — the most popular models that will usually meet homeowners' needs. 

See Cordless Drills

Corded Drills

While you do need access to a power source, corded drills will offer continuous runtime. A higher amperage (A) motor delivers more power and is recommended for heavy-duty or professional use. 
See Corded Drills

Impact Drivers

Impact drivers are the best option for driving and removing screws. They’re compact, deliver a strong, sudden rotational force, and offer a quick-release hex drive for simple bit changes. 
See Impact Drivers

Impact Wrenches

Available in cordless and corded models, impact wrenches are designed to deliver high torque output with minimal exertion by the user. They’re popular tools for construction and automotive activities — some can be used for changing tires when combined with an impact socket to fasten the larger nuts and bolts.
See Impact Wrenches

Hammer Drills

Available in cordless and corded models, hammer drills are practical for the toughest jobs, delivering a powerful hammering action that makes it easy to drill into dense materials such as cement, block and brick. The hammer action can be turned on and off, so the tool can also be used as a standard drill. For projects involving even denser materials, such as concrete, a rotary hammer drill is recommended for a more powerful hammering mechanism.

See Hammer Drills

Battery

Lithium-Ion vs. Nickel-Cadmium

There are two main battery platforms used for cordless power tools: Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) and Nickel-Cadmium (Ni-Cd). The most immediate difference you’ll notice between the two is how much lighter a Lithium-Ion battery is compared to Nickel-Cadmium battery, which makes it a preferred battery choice from an ease-of-use perspective. From a technical perspective, here are some important differences between the two:

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High-Low Speed Selection Speed

Harder materials or larger bits need to be worked at a higher speed than softer materials and smaller bits. Variable transmissions allow you to choose the right setting for the job at-hand. Speed is measured in revolutions per minute or RPM, while impact rate is measured in beats per minute or BPM. 

Torque

This refers to the strength or turning force of the drill. It’s important to note the speed and torque are inverse, meaning the higher speed output, the less torque can be applied. That’s why it’s good to choose a tool that allows you to select the speed and power output to optimize the drill or fastening job you are doing.  

Chuck Capacity

Most common drills come with either a 3/8"- or 1/2"-sized chuck to hold the bit. The most common and preferred size is 1/2”, as it can hold larger-sized bits and accessories. A chuck can be keyed, meaning tightened or loosened with a key, or keyless, meaning loosened by hand for convenient, frequent bit changes. Impact drivers typically have a 1/4” hex-shank quick-release chuck, meaning it will only accept 1/4” hex-shanked bits designed for convenient bit-change, due to the simple pull-and-replace feature on this tool.  

Amp Hours (Ah)

A battery with higher amp hours offers a longer run time between charges.

Brushless Motor

Carbon brushes in a conventional brushed motor create friction and heat, and will wear out and need replacing or servicing over time. A brushless motor is computer-controlled, offering improved power output and performance, and longer run time and motor life in a compact, lightweight design.

Combo Kit

A combo kit includes multiple tools that all use the same battery and charger. It’s a great way to get started and less expensive than purchasing individual tools.

Use

Types

Battery

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