Know Your Tools: Power Drills

Know Your Tools: Power Drills

Johnny Williams
Apr 26, 2010

Let's face it, there's no excuse not to own a power drill — they're increasingly affordable, totally straightforward and insanely useful. But before you drill, baby, drill, there are a few things you ought to know, baby, know.

Power drills come in many shapes and sizes, each with their own purpose…and price. If you're just looking to install the occasional curtain rod, there's no sense in breaking the piggy bank. A no-frills corded drill with a 3/8" chuck, a variable speed dial and a reversing function will accomplish most home drilling tasks. In this category, the Hitachi D10VH ($56.56 on Amazon) and the DeWalt DWD110K ($50.79 on Amazon) are both well-reviewed and well-priced.

But to the dedicated DIYer, a power cord is nothing more than a chain and shackle. Cordless drills offer the freedom of mobility with few disadvantages other than the purchase price. Battery technology has improved tenfold in the last ten years — the shift from nickel cadmium to lithium ion means lighter, longer-lasting tools with just as much torque (rotational force) as their corded counterparts. Sadly, all batteries eventually go to heaven, and replacements can be costly.

There's no sense in buying a cordless drill with anything less than a 12-volt battery — the Milwaukee 2410-22 is a reasonably priced "driver-drill" with 250 lbs of torque ($127.25 on Amazon). While standard drills simply spin in circles, driver-drills have an adjustable clutch that stops the bit from rotating when a screw is firmly fastened. This useful feature prevents you from stripping screw heads.

But like Vanessa Williams, I save the best for last. The Makita BDF452HW driver-drill ($178.20 on Amazon) is the absolute cream of the crop. Weighing in at a mere 3.5lbs, it has an 18-volt battery that charges in 15 minutes, 450lbs of torque and a built-in LED light. Also, its ½'' chuck offers a bigger drilling capacity than the aforementioned drills. Fine Woodworking and Popular Woodworking both rated it as the best overall model on the market. So if you're looking for a serious drill, you should seriously consider the Makita. Granted, I'm a bit biased — I bought one a few months ago and never looked back.

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