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DIY 101: The beginner’s guide to buying a drill

Whether you consider yourself to be a handy DIYer or not, it’s essential that every household has its own collection of basic tools. Alongside the standard hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches, another extremely useful household tool is a drill.

A good drill/driver will be your go-to tool for completing a vast assortment of jobs around the house. You’ll use it for everything from hanging pictures to assembling furniture or building a backyard deck. In fact, if you only own one power tool, it really should be a good quality drill.

The questions is, if you’ve never purchased or even used a drill before, how do you know what to look for when buying a drill? We’re hoping that this article will help you out in that regard.

Here are a few things to consider when doing research before buying a drill:

Corded or Cordless?

One of the first questions you’ll to ask yourself is whether you want a cordless drill or a corded version. Proponents of the classic corded drill usually point to the high cost of replacement batteries required by cordless varieties as a primary reason for their loyalty to the corded option.

Corded drills have also traditionally been known as the more consistently powerful option. Although advances in cordless technologies have allowed some brands of higher end drills to close or at least reduce the gap.

Where cordless drills have always held the advantage is in convenience. They go where you go, without the limitations of cords. Lithium-Ion batteries have resulted in longer lasting charge power and faster charging speeds. Additionally, drill packages equipped with multiple batteries mean you won’t have to worry too much about the expense of purchasing a replacement battery.

TIP: If you plan to go cordless, with an additional goal of acquiring other power tools in the future, take time to find a brand that you really like. This way, when other tools come onboard you can share batteries between them.

What do you want to drill through?

You definitely want to think about all of the possible uses for your drill. Will it be used exclusively on wood, or is there the possibility that you’ll need to get through metal or brick at some point.

If you think you might need to use your drill for materials other than wood, you may want to consider two additional tool options.

The Hammer Drill

buying a drill

A hammer drill utilizes a percussive motion to provide extra power. This is an exceptionally useful tool if you need to drill through concrete or brick.

TIP: Most hammer drills are equipped with the ability to work in regular mode and hammer mode. Acquiring one would eliminate the need for two drills.

The Impact Driver

buying a drill

This is the tool you want when your work requires more power than the drill can provide. It’s less likely to strip your screws and is great for jobs that require you to drive long screws. However, you will find that it can be too powerful for softer materials like drywall, soft woods or veneers. It’s also not ideal for driving brass screws.


What to Look For

When doing model comparisons before buying a drill, there are three details that you need to consider and prioritize: power, grip, and chuck.

Power – For a cordless drill, look for voltage numbers to determine how powerful (and heavy) the drill with be. The power behind a corded drill is measured in amps. However, this has no impact on its weight.

Clutch –If you plan to use your drill to drive screws, be sure to opt for a model that comes with an adjustable clutch. This option provides optimal protection against stripping screws and also helps you avoid driving them too deeply. Better drills have a minimum of 24 clutch settings.

Handles –Choose between a pistol-grip and a T-grip. For basic household usage, you aren’t likely to find much of an advantage one way or the other. However, a pistol grip tends to excel when you’re driving large screws, while the advantage of a T-grip is in its ability to be used in tighter spaces.

How much do you want to spend?

Visit online or step into your local big box home improvement store and you will find an incredible range of drills available anywhere from $50 for a basic corded unit all the way up to 3K plus for a high-end professional grade hammer drill package.

When settling on a budget, consider all of the details we’ve talked about here: corded vs cordless, standard vs. hammer vs, impact, and also power, clutch, and handles. For a reliable household workhorse, plan to spend between $50 – $100 for a corded model or between $60 and $200 for a cordless. If you’re consider a hammer drill or impact driver, prepare to spend at least $150 for a good hammer, while good impact drivers start out at around $130.

 TIP: Thinking about buying a drill and a driver? Most power tool manufacturers offer combo packs containing these two essential items (and sometimes others), usually for a lower price than what you would pay for the two items separately.



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