If you’re a hobbyist handyman, furniture-builder, or just need a power tool to help hang fixtures and whatnot, a cordless power drill will be the most important tool to have. The size of the project you’re undertaking is irrelevant to how valuable a cordless drill is. From large jobs like remodeling a kitchen to smaller tasks like putting IKEA furniture together, a cordless drill will be both a time- and muscle-saver.
Most modern power drills leaving the factory are cordless, and the majority of cordless drills run on lithium-ion batteries. This type of battery provides greater power and longer runtimes, making them the perfect fuel source for cordless power tools. So if you’re in the market for a cordless tool, make sure that it uses Li-Ion batteries.
Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill Buying Guide
Due to the influx of power tools manufacturers, it appears that every few months or so a new cordless power drill is released to the market. This can make shopping around for one quite confusing if you don’t know what to look for. In this guide, we’ll tell you what the most important specs and features are in cordless drills so you can get the right model that suits your work or hobby.
Cordless Power Drill Types
Power drills can be unofficially classified by what kind of stuff is packed into its plastic casing. There are three basic types of power drills – heavy-duty, general-use, and light-duty.
Heavy-duty drills are designed for professional handymen who need to drill through materials such as wood, drywall, metal, and even concrete. General-purpose drills are mainly for use around the home and woodshop for assembling furniture. Light-duty drills are the weakest of the three and are mainly meant to drill through softwood and drywall.
One of the first things you need to consider when shopping for a cordless drill is the size of the battery. Their batteries typically range from 12 volts to 24 volts. The size of the battery can be an indication of how powerful the drill is and what sort of jobs it can do since it has a direct correlation to how much torque it delivers. Heavy-duty drills are equipped with 24-volt batteries that provide longer runtime and more torque for drilling and driving screws. General-purpose drills typically run on 12- to 20-volt batteries which give them the ability to drill through a wide range of materials. Light-duty drills, as the weakest type available, use 12-volt batteries.
The chuck is the nose of the drill where drill bits are inserted and attached. They can range from ¼ to ½ an inch. Generally speaking, stronger drills have larger chucks which turn bigger bits for heavier-duty drilling.
Heavy-duty drills are outfitted with ½-inch chucks that can accept drill bits of any size. General-purpose drills are generally equipped with 3/8-inch chucks. Light-duty drills take only ½-inch drill bits. As you can see, light-duty drills are NOT going to be of much help in construction projects.
When it comes to drilling, speed plays a significant role in how well the bit will penetrate the surface of your work. Many models start at 300 RPM and usually cap at around 800 RPM. We’d recommend finding a tool that has variable speed; that way you can drill through wood at high speed and drop it down when drilling through metal or other dense materials. If possible, try and avoid single-speed drills since their versatility is questionable.
One thing where the type of drill doesn’t play a role is the battery charger. There are several battery charger features that you should be aware of. The first thing is the full indicator which alerts you via LED lights, either on the charger or the battery, that the battery is full and ready to go. However, these lights don’t do anything to prevent overcharging batteries which can reduce its lifespan significantly over time. The second feature to look for is an overcharging-prevention system which is common in many modern cordless drills. The charger can identify whether the battery still needs to be refueled or has reached its max capacity. When it has, then the charger will cut off all power to the battery.
Brushed vs. Brushless Motors
There are two types of motors available – brushed and brushless. Performance-wise, there’s hardly any difference in the two. However, there are some factors to consider.
First of all, brushed motors produce a heck of a lot of heat, and it takes a long time for the heat to dissipate. This means that in order to maintain the health of a brushed cordless drill, you need to be aware of how long it has been running and give it enough time to rest between sessions. Obviously, this means an increase in downtime. As for brushless motors, they produce much less heat so they can run for much longer without rest.
Secondly, brushed motors require maintenance or replacing of brushes over time. Depending on how often you use the tool, the frequency of replacing brushes can be anywhere between once a month and once every six months. Brushless motors don’t have any brushes that need to be replaced.
Thirdly, since brushed motors are the old school type of motor, they’re cheaper than their brushless counterparts.
In the end, you need to consider how often you’ll use the tool. Investing in a brushless drill can be great if you plan on using it regularly. If you use a drill just to hang fixtures, then a brushed cordless drill will suit you fine.
The heart of any handyman’s or DIY home renovator’s toolbox is a power drill. Although its main job is to drill through materials (wood, plastic, drywall, concrete, metal, etc.), with the right bit you can use it to drive screws and assemble furniture.
Even though a drill is one of the most basic tools you could own, finding the right tool for your line of work requires a bit of research. The most important thing you need to consider when shopping for a cordless drill is what type to get (heavy-duty, general-use, or light-duty) since they each have different drilling capacities.