What to Look for When Buying a Drill

What to Look for When Buying a Drill

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what to look for when buying a drill

Whether you are considering simple maintenance work or remodelling your home, a good drill is an essential tool for your home. If you purchase a cordless model, you are able to drill holes as well as drive screws with the same tool. You will not have to worry about finding an outlet to power the drill at regular intervals.

In fact, there are hundreds of drills to pick from. So, how are you going to choose the best drill on the market?

If you are thinking of purchasing a cordless drill, the power is measured in battery voltage. The higher the voltage, the more the torque-spinning strength which helps overcome resistance easily. The top-end voltage has increased from 9.6V to 18V over the past decade.

The voltage comes as 6, 7.2, 12, 9.6, 14.4 and 18V. The higher voltage drills can bore big holes in flooring and framing lumber. That is powerful today's higher voltage drills. But there is a trade off for power which is of course weight. A 9.6V drill will weigh 3 1/2 lbs while the 18V will weight 10 lbs.

Power

If you are thinking of purchasing a cordless drill, the power is measured in battery voltage. The higher the voltage, the more the torque-spinning strength which helps overcome resistance easily. The top-end voltage has increased from 9.6V to 18V over the past decade.

t-handle drill

T-handle on a drill

The voltage comes as 6, 7.2, 12, 9.6, 14.4 and 18V. The higher voltage drills can bore big holes in flooring and framing lumber. That is powerful today's higher voltage drills. But there is a trade off for power which is of course weight. A 9.6V drill will weigh 3 1/2 lbs while the 18V will weight 10 lbs.

The good old drills had pistol grips where the handle was behind the motor like handle of a gun. The latest cordless drills are equipped with a T-handle.

The handle base flares in order to prevent hand slippage and accommodate the battery. The battery is centered under the weight of the motor, and the T-handle provides a better overall balance due to this. These drills can be easily driven into tighter spaces since your hand will be out of the way in the center of the tool.

For heavy duty drilling and driving large screws, a pistol grip will let you apply pressure higher up (almost directly behind the bit). This allow you to place more force on your work.

Clutch

The adjustable clutch separates electric drills from cordless drills. The clutch is located just behind the chuck, and it disengages the drive shaft of the unit making a clicking sound. This happens once the clutch reaches a preset level of resistance.

clutch on a cordless drill

drill clutch close-up

The result being the motor still turning, but not the screwdriver bit. What is the use of the clutch? In fact, the clutch will give you more control so that you will not strip a screw or overdrive it once snug. The clutch also protects the motor when there is a lot of resistance in driving a screw.

The number of separate clutch settings may vary according to the drill while high quality drills have at least 24 settings. With so many clutch settings, you are able to really fine-tune the power the drill would deliver. The settings with a lower numbers are for the small screws, and the higher numbers are for the larger screws. Most of the modern clutches also come with a drill setting, which will allow the motor to drive the bit at full capacity.

Speed

The modern high end drill operate at a single speed, but some have two fixed speeds such as 300 rpm and 800 rpm. There is a trigger so that you are able to select the high or low speed. These drills are great for most of the light duty operations.

The low speed will hep in driving screws while the high speed is for drilling holes. If are looking for a drill for carpentry and repair tasks, you should choose a drill that comes with the two-speed switch and a trigger with a variable speed control. This will let you vary the speed of the drill from 0 rpm to the higher ranges. If you plan to perform more hole drilling, look for more speed such as 1,000 rpm or higher.

Batteries and Chargers

Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) is the latest break-through in the battery industry. These batteries are smaller but run for a longer period of time compared to nickel-cadmium (Nicad) batteries.

clutch on a cordless drill

NiMH drill battery packs are all the rage now

In fact, NiMH poses less threats when it comes to safe disposal since they don't have any cadmium. In fact, cadmium is highly toxic. Hitachi, DeWalt, Bosch and Makta offer NiMH batteries in their products.

All the cordless drills have a battery charger with a recharge time between 15-minutes to three hours. In fact, faster isn't necessarily better. Even though a contractor may depend on a faster recharge, slower recharging isn't an issue at home, especially if you have 2 batteries.In fact, there are certain disadvantages to fast charging.

A quick recharge is capable of damaging the battery by generating too much of heat. If you plan for a fast recharge, go with a unit from Hitachi, Makita or Panasonic.

These brands come with smart charges that are equipped with feedback circulatory and temperature sensors to protect the battery. They can provide a charge in as little as 9-minutes without any damage to the battery.

When You are Ready to Buy

Check out for the weight and balance of the drill before you purchase them. Try out both horizontal and vertical drilling positions to see if they are comfortable for you. Rubber cushioning and contoured grips on the latest models can be quite comfortable, even when you apply palm pressure.

Check whether it is easy to change clutch settings and operate the key-less chuck. Home centers offer discounted hand tools, so look out for promotions when purchasing one. If you know the model, you can check for the prices over the phone.

Matching the Tool to the Job

With all the varieties on the market, it is easy to get confused and buy more than you require. The solution is to purchase a drill based on how you are going to use it. It doesn't make any sense to pay $200 for a tool that will be used to hang only pictures. The same way, it is not a good idea to buy a $50 drill for heavy duty work.

Things To Look For In a Cordless Drill

Here is a quick cheat sheet of parts and what to look out for when you are shopping for your drill:

Drill Part

What to Look for

Chuck Jaws

The maximum capacity is 3/8 inches.
In fact, 14.4 and 18V drills are able to handle 1/2 inch diameter bits.

Clutch

More settings offer greater control for projects.

Speed Range Switch

Low is for driving screws while high is for drilling.
Select the widest range between them.

Reverse/Forward Switch

It should be easy to operate with the thumb or trigger finger.

Hand Grip

Contour and texture will aid your grip.

Voltage

More voltage equals more power and added weight.

Battery

NiMH batteries are always better.

Trigger

Your index finger would easily fit around the trigger.

Key-Less Chuck

Hand-turn the chuck in order to open and close the chuck jaws.

For more drill knowledge, take a look at our drill reviews!