Power Tool Buying Guide for Drills

The drill is the most commonly used power tool and comes in very handy in all most any job.  Drills have been around since man first invented tools, unfortunately for those guys, the drill was powered by your hands.  The drill bit does the actual cutting, so having a sharp and proper bit is very important.

Type of Drill Power

Corded DrillCorded – A corded drill obviously has a cord, but it also has more power and can take more motor abuse.  A corded drill is great for heavy duty jobs such as using a big hole saw, drilling into concrete or mixing mud.  A corded drill is nice to have when you need it, but that is usually only 2% of the time.  The rest of the time a cordless drill will be fine.  A corded drill is usually measured in Amps.  The more amps the more power.


Makita FD07R1Cordless – Cordless drills are great.  You can go anywhere and don’t have to worry about plugging them in.  Nowadays cordless drills will pretty much do anything you need them to do.  The motors have greatly improved, not to mention the battery life and power.  Cordless drills come in different volts and different amps.  The smaller the volt the lighter the tool (in most cases), but also the shorter the battery life and the less the power the drill offers.

Drill Types

Hilti SFC 22-ADrill/Driver
– A drill is most common, it usually consist of five items: forward, reverse, clutch, hi/low and variable speed.  The forward and reverse are strictly for drilling screws in or taking them out.  The clutch reacts to the resistance of the screw.  If the clutch is set low, once the screw has a little resistance the drill will no longer drill the screw in any further.  A high setting means it will keep drilling until the user stops or the screw is tighter than the power the drill can deliver.  The hi and low is speed.  Low speed is geared toward more torque screwing or drilling bigger holes, while hi is for speed.  Variable speed is nice because you can change the speed of the drill by how far you push the trigger in.  Some applications require the user to drill slowly.

Hammer Drill
– A Hammer Drill can rotate and move back and forth in a hammering motion while it drills, which allows it for boring into concrete without burning the bit.  For most homeowners this is overkill but still look at a hammer feature as an option.  When you need one it is nice to have and usually is not that much more in price.  While you won’t pay a lot for the extra feature, it will add weight to the drill.


Screw Gun/ Decking Drill – A screw gun is designed for drywall or decking.  It has a depth gauge or cone on the front that will automatically stop once the user has gone a certain depth in the drywall.  The depth is important in drywall because the paper on the drywall is what gives it the strength.  Once you screw too far in and break the paper, the screw really isn’t doing anything.  The trigger can stay on as you move from screw to screw because the head of the screw gun doesn’t actually move until the user puts pressure on the gun by pressing it against the wall.  All these features allow the user to hang drywall very fast and very accurate.

Chucks Sizes and Types

The chuck is the front of the drill where the bit is inserted in.  Drills come in three main sizes 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ sizes.  You will find bigger chucks, but they aren’t very common. These sizes indicated the maximum size bit shaft the drill will take.  

There are two types of chucks: keyless and keyed.  A key chuck requires the user to hand tighten the bit inside the chuck and use a chuck key to tighten the chuck even further.  In the past, this was the way to go because there was basically no chance the bit would come loose.  Nowadays manufacturers have a keyless chuck that once hand tightened, the user twists it one more time by hand and the bit is locked into place for good with very little chance of the bit slipping (Jacobs Chuck). 

Drill Batteries

To learn more about the batteries, we created a specific page on batteries.

Batteries are advertised in voltage.  There are a ton of different voltages on the market, but the three main voltage you will see is:

  • 12V
  • 18V or 20V
  • 36V

Don’t get confused when you see one drill at 18v and another drill is showing 20V.  The numbers are different, but the voltage is identical.  They both have the same amount of cells.

What To Go With
A drill is the most used tool in any workshop, job site or house.  When buying a drill you need to think about your use of the drill, what will you be using it for?  Most drills are used for just fastening screw or drilling small holes.  Unless you will be mixing mud or using big holes saw bits, I would definitely recommend a cordless drill.  If you buy a professional cordless drill they will still be able to handle the mixing and the hole saw.  You can go with a hammer drill also, but if you will not be going into any concrete, save your money.
Using A Drill
  • The most important thing is making sure you have the right drill bit and a sharp bit.
  • Let the bit drill the hole, don’t force it.  If you are forcing the bit, the bit is dull.
  • For fastening screws use a magnetic tip.  This will hold the screw to the bit.  Buy a good one, one that will actually hold the screw.  I don’t know how many times I tried to save money only to throw it out.
  • When drilling metal, make a center punch.
  • When drilling into hardwood, make a pilot to prevent splitting.
  • When drilling into plaster, go slow and if you need to, put a piece of tape where you will be drilling, as this will help prevent cracking.