How to Choose a Cordless Drill

Wondering how to choose a cordless drill for your project? The right drill makes all the difference, whether you’re planning some light work around the house or a major construction project. It can be challenging to know which drill is the right choice - especially if you have not used cordless drills much. 

As a general rule of thumb, if you are mostly planning on doing minor jobs, you can’t wrong with a standard, lower-voltage drill that is lightweight, with plenty of features to get the job done. If you plan to do more than hang picture frames and drill holes into wood and softer materials, it is essential to choose a more powerful drill. In this guide, we share some tips on choosing a cordless drill, along with some features to look for when making your selection.

Choosing a Cordless Drill

The first thing you will need to consider when choosing a cordless drill is how you plan to use the drill. Here’s a quick overview of drills used in light, medium and heavy-duty jobs.

Light Drilling

Light work typically includes smaller projects, such as installing brackets, making holes in drywall, assembling furniture, replacing door handles, and other minor tasks. You will need a basic battery-powered drill for these jobs. For drilling holes and driving screws, look for drills with at least two speeds (or, better yet, variable speed). An adjustable clutch will also be useful. You will find good quality drills with a power level of 6 to 7.2V. You won't need a huge amount of power for these projects.

Medium Drilling

Medium-weight projects range from building furniture to replacing railings, drilling pilot holes or adding screws to hardwood, hanging drywall, and other, more intensive work around the house. Variable speed, a range of two speeds, a clutch and a T-handle are all essential features. You will need more power for these projects, which means a drill with a range between 9.6V and 12V. The added power will mean a heavier, larger drill, but you'll be able to get through tougher materials without the risk of damaging your drill bits or tool. 

Heavy Drilling

Heavy-duty drilling is done for major renovations, such as adding bolts and spikes in hardwood, drilling into masonry or steel, installing decks, and any other big renovation job. When drilling tough materials during major projects, you need a high-voltage power tool. Along with a decent size chuck, you'll need a drill with a power range of 12V to 14.4V.

What else should you know?

Besides the tasks you plan to complete with your cordless drill, you will also need to consider features. Things to look at include the chuck (this will depend on the drill size), clutch (gives you more control over screw depth), speed range (for drilling and screws), forward and reverse switch (for easy operation), grip and trigger (to hold more easily), batteries (you'll need at least one), and add-ons such as keyless chucks (allows you to easily open and close the chuck).

The best way to make your decision is to go to your local hardware and get a feel for the tool. Shopping for drill bits online is easy but for the tools themselves, it can help to see the drill. You will be able to gauge its weight, feel its grip, look at features, and find a cordless drill that is equipped for your needs.

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