A cordless drill driver is a power tool that can drill holes and drive screws. It is perhaps the most useful power tool for anyone from a DIY enthusiast to professionals.
If you ask anyone to name the most common father day’s gifts, many will probably say “power tools.” Those who know specifics will probably say “cordless drills.” Cordless power drills have become probably the most iconic power-tool, and it is easy to see why they are an essential power tool that every homeowner should keep around to make home repairs easy.
Cordless power drills have been the most popular household power tool ever since they were first introduced back in the 60s (a Japanese company, Makita, claims it invented the cordless power drill in 1978; but it was actually Black & Decker, who created the first cordless drill in 1961).
Around every special occasion (Christmas, Father’s Day, birthdays, etc.) you can safely bet that large amounts of people will be running out to buy cordless drills, either as a present for themselves or for fathers and husbands. That can be an issue though, after all, there are tons of cordless power drills on the market, and hundreds of different manufacturers; so how is a first-time buyer supposed to know what to look for when buying a cordless power drill? I understand how daunting it can be to break into the world of power tools; so to help you make your decision easier, here is a comprehensive buying guide for cordless drills.
Uses of Cordless Drill Driver
Power drills are electrical tools which are primarily used for two purposes. Firstly, they put holes in wood, walls or other tough surfaces. Secondly, they fix screws and fasteners onto surfaces. A cordless drill, as you can probably tell from the name, is simply a power drill that works without a cord.
You can use a cordless drill driver to drill holes on walls, assemble furniture, and woodworking. And by selecting the one with right power, you can even build a deck and do the home improvement work like remodeling your kitchen.
What features to look for in a cordless drill?
So, what features should you look for when buying a cordless drill?
You can tell how powerful a cordless drill is by looking at its voltage. Simply put, more voltage equals more power. So, if you think that the drill is going to be used on tough materials, then make sure you get a high voltage drill.
Light-duty Drills: These are the ones suitable for small household jobs. They normally come with 6V to 12V battery.
Medium General Purpose: 12V to 18V cordless drills are the most popular models. They are suitable for nearly all types of drilling and driving work except very heavy duty jobs.
Heavy-duty drills: Professionals like construction workers need heavy duty cordless drill that has more power and long-lasting batteries. Normally these are rated as 18V to 24V and there are specialized units that go up to 36V.
I suggest you get an 18V cordless drill. It can handle most of the household work, DIY, remodeling jobs and even suitable for professionals.
The voltage rating always will not give you a clear picture of the total power of the drill. If you are going to drill on a harder surface you need more torque. Torque is the twisting force that the drill is capable of applying on to the work surface. Torque is measured in Newton-meter (Nm) or in-lbs if you are in the US.
For woodworking and drilling on softer materials like plastic, you don’t have to worry about the torque since nearly all the power drills able to perform such operations. However, when drilling on metal, concrete and other hard surfaces, you need more torque and less speed.
I have come across 20V cordless drills with less than 200 in-lbs torque and 18V drill with more than 500 in-lbs torque. So you can’t always rely on voltage rating alone. For heavy-duty jobs look for a cordless drill with more than 400 in-lbs torque.
Units Watts Out (UWO) is the new standard of measuring the maximum power of a drill. It is a combination of speed and torque. In shot higher the UWO, more powerful the drill is.
Select the one with a brushless motor since they can be used for longer period of time without the motor getting overheated.
Brushed vs Brushless Motors
A brushless motor can sense the resistance and adjust according to the task. That means it pulls only less power during a task that requires less force and when performing heavy-duty tasks, it will draw more power. This results in optimum use of battery power and thus longer run time.
Furthermore, unlike regular motors, brushless motors do not suffer from friction and voltage drop. This will increase the life of the cordless drill. Also, they can be more powerful than the motors with brushes because there is more area to make the motor larger.
In short, brushless motors are more battery efficient, powerful and durable.
Cons: They are expensive compared to regular motors. On average brushless motors are approximately 25 to 30% more expensive.
In addition to that, brushless motors require Lithium-ion batteries.
The chuck size determines the maximum size of the drill bit you can hold. The most commonly available chuck sizes are 3/8- and ½-inch.
Look for cordless drills that come with an extra battery. Having your cordless drill die in the middle of an intensive job can be very frustrating; so having an extra battery charged and ready to go is a great bonus.Tip Get the one with Lithium-ion batteries. They run nearly 4 times longer than the standard battery and performs better.
With the advancement of technology, batteries have improved a lot. Today there is inductive charging station that works on the principle of alternating magnetic fields to power up your battery.
There are also voltage changing batteries allow you to run the power tool according to your usage. Your battery will last longer between charges when you are performing light-duty jobs.
If you own a power tool of a certain brand, check if the cordless drill of the same brand can accept the battery of your existing power tool. Often you can use the same battery between your power tools manufactured by the same brand.
Some cordless drills come equipped with the ability to control the speed at which they work. This is a good feature, as different speeds allow for more flexibility when working with different materials.
Dual Speed: Inexpensive basic models come with single speed usually 300RPM. Other variants are equipped with dual speed; one for drilling and one for driving screws.
Variable Speed: In addition to the dual speed most high-end models also have the facility to operate at variable speeds. This is desirable when you are working on different type of workpieces. Example softer material require a higher RPM where as you need to reduce the speed to drill harder surfaces and metals.
You, or the person you buy the cordless drill for, will be holding it a lot. So, make sure you look for a drill that really advertises its grip. Look for ones that advertise “ergonomic grips” or “comfort grips.”
Cordless Drill Set
You know what is better than receiving a cordless drill as a present? Receiving a cordless drill combo set. It is very common to package cordless drills with large amounts of drill bits and other tools. If you can afford it, then you should always get a kit, after all, you never know when more tools and drill bits can come in handy.
So next time when you come across a cordless drill on sale, you know what to look for to select the best one. If you are still unsure if a cordless one is the right choice for you, then read on to find out why you should buy a cordless drill instead of corded one.
Cordless Drill Vs Corded
So, why should you go with a cordless drill over a regular corded power drill.
Advantages of Cordless Drill/Driver
One of the big selling points of cordless drills is that they are extremely convenient. You can pack them up in minutes and take them practically anywhere. Have to do some work inside the house? Grab your cordless drill and take care of it. A family member is asking you to fix something at their house across town? No problem, pack your cordless drill up and take it to their house. With a cordless drill doing work is simple and quick. As long as you have a charged battery pack, you can work anywhere, even if there are not any outlets nearby.
Modern cordless drills are very portable. If you have ever used a corded drill, then you know that they can be very bulky, and the cord will prevent you from moving the drill into tighter spots. Cordless drills are easy to hold, easy to handle, and easy to move into tight spots. Doing jobs that require a lot of movement will be much easier with a cordless drill since they are convinient to operate.
Being powered by batteries is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand being battery powered means that cordless drills can be taken anywhere. But on the other hand, if your cordless drill’s battery is not charged, then you cannot use the drill. So, if you forget to charge your drill’s battery the night before you use it, it may die while you are working; in which case you will have to wait several hours while it charges.
The regular drills with electric cables can be more powerful. In other words, a corded drill with the same power of a cordless drill/driver is normally much lighter. This is because of the extra weight of the battery pack in a cordless drill.
They can wear out your hand quickly
Cordless drills, especially powerful ones with bigger motors, can become pretty cumbersome to hold after a while. Furthermore, cordless drills can experience resistance when trying to drill into tough materials; this means that you will have to hold the drill extra tight, further tiring your hand and wrist.
Cordless Driver Drill vs Screwdriver
Why should I buy a cordless driver drill instead of cordless screwdriver?
Cordless drills are much more powerful than cordless screwdrivers. Cordless drills have better gear systems and higher voltage batteries, meaning they can deliver more torque. To give you an idea of the power disparity, your average cordless drill can deliver 50 Newton meters (the unit used to measure torque) of torque; on the other hand, you average cordless screwdriver can only deliver around 10 Newton meters of torque. Your cordless drill will have no issues drilling through hard surfaces like hardwood, plastic or even metal; the same cannot be said about cordless screwdrivers.
A power drill driver can be used for making holes as well as to drive screws, whereas power screwdrivers are used solely for the purpose of driving screws. This is a tool that is getting obsolete.
Cordless Drill Brands. Which is the Best?
DeWalt: Professional grade power tools for construction and heavy-duty work.
Black and Decker: A very popular brand in the world of power tools.
Porter-Cable: While DeWalt is professional grade tools, Porter Cable is the affordable grade from Stanley Black and Decker.
Craftsman: This is a brand popular for mechanic tools.
*All the above brands are owned by one company, Stanley Black and Decker.
Milwaukee: Wisconsin based Milwaukee Tool corporation claims as the industry leader in power tools. The company is behind innovations such as RedLithium and Force Logic that widely used in Milwaukee cordless drills.
Ryobi: Good choice for DIY enthusiasts and household chores. The Ryobi brand is owned by Milwaukee.
RIDGID: Another North American brand that was established in 1923 at Ohio, U.S. They are a big name in hand tools especially plumping tools like pipe wrenches. Ridgid cordless drills are of decent quality.
SKIL: They are US based company that manufactures a number of power tools. But honestly, cordless drills are not their strength. SKIL is well known for power saws especially circular saw.
Bosch: The German tool manufacturer makes high-quality power tools.
Hitachi: The massive Japanese corporation is known for many products. In my experience, Hitachi cordless drills are very reliable.
Makita: The Japanese based Makita Corporation is a multi-national company with worldwide operations. However, a large number of their power tools are made in the USA in their factory Nat Buford, Georgia.
What brand should I buy?
If you are buying the cordless drill/driver for regular home improvement jobs, DIY, furniture assembly etc the brand really doesn’t matter. All the above-mentioned power tool brands produce good quality drills. So take a look at the important features that I told you and chose the one that you can afford.
If you are looking for a professional grade cordless drill, then I suggest that you go for DeWalt, Milwaukee or Makita. For more detailed recommendation, see the list of best cordless drill drivers on our website.
How do they work?
You already know that drilling machines have a driving motor that rotates the drill bit which is the cutting tool. But, let’s get a bit more in-depth than that. Cordless drills run on battery power. The battery in a cordless drill powers the motor that is in every cordless drill/driver.
So, what happens when you press the trigger on a cordless drill? Well, when a current is applied to the motor, powerful magnetic forces cause the rotor (an internal component of the motor) to begin turning. As the rotor turns it creates a sort of domino effect. The rotor turns an axle, which then turns a transmission, the transmission has several gears which start to turn the spindle rapidly, creating the drilling action. All this happens within milliseconds of you pulling the trigger on your cordless drill.
Cordless Drill Operating tips
Here are some tips to keep in mind when using a cordless drill:
- Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes while drilling.
- When drilling big holes hard material, always drill a pilot hole.
- If you are drilling metal, mark, and dot punch the position. It helps you to locate and drive the drill bit easily.
- Never hold a cordless drill by the trigger, someone may get hurt if your finger slips.
- Make sure the space you are drilling in is clean and clear.
- Never touch a drill bit after using the drill, the metal may be hot from friction.
- Make sure the battery on the cordless drill is properly installed before using the drill.
- Avoid baggy clothing or anything that could potentially get caught by the drill.