Drills, Corded and Cordless Buying Guide

Drills, Corded and Cordless
  • Getting Started

  • This buying guide will discuss all the important features of corded and cordless drills and offers our top picks with their features and recommendations. Not only do you need a drill for your project, you also need to know about drill bits, depending on the outcome of your project. Don’t know what bits are? We discuss this too

    Whether you’re a hobbyist who is going to perform small DIYs around the house or a professional working on something big like building backyards, you should be able to use all features of your drill. Never owed a drill before? This guide is for you, too! There are so many kinds of drills and so many factors to consider that it is necessary to prepare before getting one.

  • Types of Drills

  • It is important that you get the right drill for your job. Below, we discuss the main types of drills and what they are used for. By choosing the right type you are able to save a lot of time and effort and often even achieve a better quality.

    Drill/ Driver
    These drills are used for lighter projects. They can be corded and cordless, although most of them are cordless nowadays. We will discuss the benefits of corded and cordless drills below. The main tasks you can do with the drill/driver are:

        • Wood drilling
        • Screw drilling
        • Soft stone drilling
        • Metal drilling

    Screw Gun
    Some may say that a screw gun isn’t a drill but it is perfect for screw tasks. It is very lightweight and compact thus you can quickly assembly something. For more complicated screw tasks, it’s better to get a drill/driver or a hammer drill.

    Hammer Drill
    A hammer drill is a must-have tool of every hobbyist. It can handle a huge variety of tasks and it can even drill through bricks and stones. Just like drill/drivers, it can be corded and cordless, although most of them are corded. However, more and more cordless models appear on the market. Get the hammer drill if you’re going to perform:

        • Wood drilling
        • Screw drilling
        • Metal drilling
        • Harder rocks drilling
        • Brick drilling

    Rotary Drill
    These drills are used for heavy drilling jobs. It is perfect if you’re going to work with hard materials, such as concrete. Moreover, they also have a chiseling mode. You still can use the drill for smaller projects, even though it’s not the most convenient option. It is larger and heavier than other types of drills.

        • Wood drilling
        • Screw drilling
        • Concrete drilling
        • Metal drilling
        • Stone drilling

    Drywall/ Deck Driver

    This is a tool for driving screws in the drywall or for any projects that involves a lot of screws. It has higher speeds than other drills (2,000 RPM at least) to screw heads at the proper depth every time, so you can complete the job much easier and faster compared to other drills. It can be corded or cordless, but since the speed is high, most models are coded.

    Impact Driver

    Just like the previous type of the drill, it is a tool that is good for screw driving. However, many could agree that it is better than others when you need to tighten or loosen nuts. There are only cordless models on the market. Some of them operate on air pressure, and you will need an air compressor to run the drill.

  • Main Features of Corded and Cordless Drills

  • Power Source

    When shopping for a drill, always consider which power source is better for you. There are two options – corded and cordless – both have strong and weak sides. Most drill/drivers, screw guns and impact drivers are cordless. Hammer drills are mostly corded. Other types of drills can be both of them. Cordless drills have gained popularity during the last few years due to improvement in durability of their batteries.

    Corded Drills
    Corded drills are arguably more durable and have more strength than their cordless counterparts. Besides, you can use it for as long as you want without worrying about the batteries. The downside is that you have to work somewhere near a power outlet.

    The main feature of corded drills is amperage or amp. An amp rating tells you about the current load a motor of a drill can carry. Other important indicators include wattage and voltage. Wattage is calculated by multiplying voltage by the amps. Most drills in the US have a voltage input of 120 volts, so you can only choose the amps of your drills. The higher the amps, the higher the voltage. Most drills have amperage between 5 and 10 amps, which equals 600 and 1200 watts respectively.

    Cordless Drills
    Modern cordless drills have enough power to perform the vast variety of jobs, although their force is limited by the battery. How much power it can deliver depends on three characteristics: torque, voltage and capacity.  Voltage and capacity are linked to batteries.

    The battery produces voltage. The higher the voltage, the more jobs you can do with the drill. For small projects like screwing, cordless 10.8 volt drills are enough. A bit heavier jobs such as wood and soft stone require 14.4 volts. Most hobbyists will find 14.4 volts more than enough for all their projects.

    The capacity of the batteries is measured in ampere per hour or Ah. For example, a 2 Ah battery can supply a current of 2 amps for one hour. Thus, the voltage indicates the strength of the drill, while Ah indicates the lifetime of one battery.

    Needless to say, the battery is one of the most important features of a cordless drill. When buying one, you have to choose between nickel-metal hydride, nickel-cadmium or lithium-ion. Nickel-cadmium are the cheapest batteries that are widely used. They can work just fine in any cordless drill. However, the memory effect is huge. It means you have to empty the battery before you can recharge it. If you try to recharge it when it’s not completely empty, it will remember the status of charging and will lose some of its capacity.

    Nickel-metal is a better version of the previous type. It has a better performance that doesn’t have the memory effect. You can recharge these batteries when you want without damaging its capacity. However, we don’t recommend having deep discharges. Don’t completely empty the battery because you will decrease its lifespan. It is not popular anymore because there are better lithium-ion batteries.

    The lithium-ion batteries are the best on the market. They don’t have any disadvantages of previous types. They have the best capacity, too. They are lighter and smaller, which is more convenient when you perform complicated projects. The only disadvantage is their price.

    The speed is measured in RPM or revolutions per minute, which indicates how fast the tool turns. Modern drills allow you to switch the speeds. Cheaper models have two speed settings, with the minimum speed of 300 RPM and maximum speed of 2,000 RPM.

    When you can change the speed, you can perform a wider variety of tasks. However, a higher speed is not always better. For example, harder materials should be drilled at lower speeds. Besides, different materials need different speeds. For instance, if you are going to drill through aluminum, you should get a drill that can reach 2,000 RPM.

    Drill Bits
    There are so many projects other than drilling that you can use your drill for. Drill bits are special attachments that you can add to your drill to increase its versatility. There are different bits that are suitable for different projects. The most popular are twist, spade and lip bits.

    Modern drills have two gears: the lower speed gear for screwdriwing and higher speed gear for rotary drilling. Older or cheaper options have only one gear, which mean you wouldn’t be able to either screwdrive or drill. And if you do, you will get over-tightening or screw damage.

    Different torque settings mean that you can choose the level of twisting force. Use higher torque for large screws and lower torque for other operation.  If you get the torque right, the clutch will disengage the drill motor to prevent damaging the screw. The torque settings depend on how hard the surface you’re working on is.

  • Cost Considerations

  • Drills can cost anywhere between $50 and $500. However, quality drill will serve you a lifetime and it may be false economy to buy the cheapest option. On the other hand, you don’t need advanced drills with multiple functions if you only do simply DIYs. Thus, always choose a drill that can fit your needs.