What to Look for When Buying a Cordless Driver/Drill

Whether you are a construction professional or a weekend warrior with a never-ending to-do list, a cordless drill is probably on your ‘can’t live without it’ list of tools. Unfortunately, there are so many different makes and models on the market that it can be a bit overwhelming to try to choose the right one for the right price. Of course, you want a dependable drill that will be able to stand up to your tasks and complete your projects with no problems but what other factors should you look at when making your choice?

One thing to consider is the type and size of chuck you want. Most modern drills have a keyless chuck that allows you to change bits almost effortlessly with one hand. However, if you plan to do any super heavy-duty drilling projects, you may want a keyed chuck, which tends to provide a tighter grip on the bit. The size of the chuck makes a difference as well. While a 3/8″ chuck is sufficient for most everyday purposes, you may need a ½” chuck if your projects involve very heavy or thick materials. This is because the ½” chuck provides a higher torque that is much more effective for a wider range of drilling needs.

It is also a good idea to look at the size and weight of each of your potential cordless drill options. Full size drills are usually better for working with heavy materials while compact models are better suited to working in tight spaces or for those with smaller hands. Compact models are also easier to work with because they can be slipped in a work apron or pocket while not in use. Before making a final choice, pick up and test several models to see if the weight is comfortable for you. Consider how long you expect to be holding the weight and make sure to select one you can work with easily. While testing various models, make sure you look for cordless drills that have clutch adjustments so you can vary the speed easily to match different uses. This can save you from many later headaches and stripped screws.

A final consideration when shopping for a cordless driver/drill is the size and type of battery pack you wish to use. The available types are Ni-Cd, Li-Ion, and NiMH. Of the three, Ni-Cd batteries are the least efficient and take the longest time to charge. They are also notorious for developing a ‘memory effect’ if they aren’t fully charged and discharged regularly. Once a battery develops memory effect, it has a drastically reduced performance and will have to be replaced. When buying a cordless drill, look for one with a smart charger that is designed to keep your battery at optimum performance levels. As for power, cordless drills typically range from 7.2v to 32v with the higher power levels usually coming with a higher price tag. For general use, an 18v battery is the maximum level you will need.