Top Ten: Best Cordless Power Drills (for Your Dad...or You!)

Top Ten: Best Cordless Power Drills (for Your Dad...or You!)

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Katie Holdefehr
Jun 13, 2016
(Image credit: Katie Holdefehr)

Whether you're looking for a cordless drill for Dad, for your summer projects, or for a recent grad's first grown-up home, June—when hardware and department stores have Father's Day sales—is a great time to buy this household necessity. To snag the best deals, watch the circulars for price drops right before and after Father's Day (June 19th this year).

What to look for: If it's your first time buying a drill, it can be difficult to figure out what criteria to search for. The first step is to consider what kinds of projects you plan to use your drill for, and how frequently you think you'll use it. Then, find a sweet spot between power and ease of use. To judge the tool's capabilities, look at the power, torque, and speed. To gauge usability, consider weight (the lighter the drill, the less hand fatigue) and battery life. The good news is that you won't have to compromise one for the other, thanks to the introduction of lithium ion battery-powered drills, which deliver a lot of power without a lot of bulk. Here are some of the best cordless drills for around-the-house use, and some heavy-duty options for serious jobs.

LOW

This is a great entry-level drill, ideal for a first home. Clocking in at 5.2 pounds, it's relatively lightweight, meaning it won't kill your hand if you're tackling several projects. It works well with a variety of materials, like wood, metal, and plastic—so you can assemble a whole house-full of Ikea furniture in no time. The one downside is a plastic, rather than metal, chuck (the part of the drill where you insert drill bits), making it less durable, but fine for household use.


A lithium-ion battery makes this drill remarkably strong for its size, and gives it a 20% longer runtime than NiCd batteries. This model can handle minor household repairs, as well as the occasional bigger project. While the bright chartreuse color isn't my favorite, it does make it very easy to spot if you forget where you put it down. I once used this tough guy to drill through several blocks of ice—and it didn't die. Impressive.

Small, lightweight, and able to stand up to 18-volt models, this is another great starter drill. The Sweethome tested this drill, along with 15 of its peers, and rated it #1 for a combination of size, power, and performance. It easily drilled through dense wood and knots, and starting from full charge, it drilled twice as many holes as the next-best option.


This versatile drill easily adapts to the project at hand, with variable speed options and 11 clutch settings so you can adjust the torque. At 3.5 pounds, it's also ultra lightweight for a max 20-volt. According to the crowdsourced opinion of more than 2,000 Amazon reviewers, you won't be disappointed.


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MEDIUM


This compact drill has been The Sweethome's runner-up pick for several years. Although it doesn't have as much power and stamina is the 12-volt Bosch (see above), its affordable price and reliability wins it a top spot. This option also did respectably well in a test conducted by This Old House, and recharged in just 34 minutes.


For its size, this drill has a surprising amount of power and torque (600-inch-pounds worth!). The slim, ergonomic grip is more comfortable for smaller hands than other hulking models. The compact design lets you work in tighter spaces, such as in closets and under the sink.


Four-hundred and eighty pounds of torque, delivered in a 4-pound tool? Yup, this drill is a perfect blend of strength and design. The lithium-ion battery reaches full charge in less than 30 minutes, and has a 10-minute quick charge that won't waste any time between projects.


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HIGH

A serious drill for big projects, this is what you should get if you're planning a major renovation anytime soon. It delivers up to 1,200 inch-pounds of torque, and yet it measures only 7.75-inches long, so it can maneuver in tight spots. A special system of electronics prevents the drill from overheating, so you won't have to worry about burning out the motor when you're in the middle of a task. One online reviewer was so impressed with this drill that he decided to give away his DEWALT and Bosch. Now that's commitment.


This new model from DEWALT (just released in April) is the perfect present for dads who are always on the lookout for the latest-and-greatest. Not only is it more powerful than previous versions, but it will give Dad bragging rights to be among the first to get it. An all-metal transmission and a metal chuck make this drill extra-durable, while a 3-mode LED light helps guide the way when working in dark spaces.


We may have saved the best for last. This drill has it all: Up to 814-inch-pounds of torque, a 22-position clutch to match the torque to any task, a durable aluminum gear case, an LED light. All of these features come at a higher cost, but it'll be worth it when you're hammer drilling through concrete like it's butter.

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