Drills Drivers, Bits and Drill Driver Safety

One of the first thing you may look at when selecting a cordless drill driver may be the battery pack as the more volts your cordless drill driver has the more torque you will get. This essentially means that the motor will spin faster creating more power. The only drawback with this is that the more volts your drill has the heavier it will be.

An adjustable clutch is what separates electric from cordless drill drivers. Located just behind the chuck, the clutch disengages the drive shaft of the drill, making a clicking sound, when a preset level of resistance is reached. The result is that the motor is still turning, but the screwdriver bit isn’t. A clutch offers you control so you don’t strip a screw or overdrive it once it’s snug. It also helps protect the motor when a lot of resistance is met in driving a screw or tightening a bolt. The number of separate clutch settings varies on the drill; better cordless drill drivers have at least 24 settings. With that a lot of clutch settings, you can really fine-tune the power a drill driver delivers. Settings with the lowest numbers are for small screws, higher numbers are for larger screws. Many clutches also have a drill setting, which allows the motor to drive the bit at full power.

Cordless drill drivers are measured in volts. Drills are available in everything from around 2 volts (for a cordless screwdriver) to the newest 24-volt tools. Higher voltage means heavier weight so think about buying a tool that will meet 80-90% of your needs. Twelve to 14.4 volt models are the most popular, and they will usually meet most homeowner’s work needs. Corded drills are measured in amps. Generally, a higher amperage motor means more power.

Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries represent the latest breakthrough in batteries. They’re smaller and run longer than standard nickel-cadmium (Nicad) batteries. NiMH batteries also pose less of a hazard when it comes to disposal than Nicads because they don’t contain any cadmium, which is highly toxic. Makita, Bosch, Hitachi and DeWalt offer NiMH batteries, and other manufacturers produce these power cells too.

Unlike Ni-Cd batteries, lithium-ion batteries may be charged early and often. However, if they are not used for a long time, they may be brought to a charge level of around 40% – 60%. Li-ion batteries may be kept cool. Ideally they are stored in a refrigerator. Aging will take its toll much faster at high temperatures. The high temperatures found in cars cause lithium-ion batteries to degrade rapidly. Storing a Li-ion battery at the correct temperature and charge makes all the difference in maintaining its storage capacity. It is significantly beneficial to avoid storing a lithium-ion battery at full charge. A Li-ion battery stored at 40% charge will last a lot of times longer than one stored at 100% charge, particularly at higher temperatures.

When drilling deep or large holes with a cordless drill driver, it is best to drill a small pilot hole first. This is very helpful when drilling deep holes because it’s sometimes easier to keep the hole straight with a smaller bit. A larger bit will then normally follow the pilot hole. When drilling larger holes, especially in metal, the pilot hole opens an area in the metal to accommodate the tip of the larger bit so the cutting surfaces can more easily reach the uncut metal. Once you’ve drilled your hole, you’ll probably find a burr on the back surface of your material. This can be removed by lightly drilling the back side of the hole with a larger bit. If the material is thin, such as sheet metal, instead of a burr you may find the material is actually distorted leaving a ragged hole. This be stopped by sandwiching the material between two pieces of wood before you drill the hole. As with all tools, exercise caution, wear safety equipment and learn to use the tools properly.

To drill a satisfactory hole in any material, the correct type of drill bit must be used; it must be used correctly and be sharpened as appropriate. Many jobs around the house require a hole of some kind to be drilled – whether it is putting up a shelf, building a cabinet or hanging a light fitting. For basic requirements, a set of high-speed steel twist bits and some masonry bits will probably be sufficient for the average handyman. But for more sophisticated jobs/material, others bits will be required – perhaps larger, or designed for a specific material/purpose. Good quality cordless drill driver bits can be expensive, so take care of them, keep them in a case or box if possible, rather than allowing them to roll around loose in a toolbox where the cutting edges may be damaged.