- Home Improvement
What is the Best Power Drill Out There?
Drill: Power Tools "Hall-of-Famer" and "Toolbox MVP"
The power drill, as we know it today, has actually changed very little over the last 100 years. Henry Ford, in his never ending pursuit to make his Model-T assembly line run faster and more efficiently, asked his primary tool vendors to come up with a design for a rotary power drill.
It had to be portable, fairly light and easily maneuverable. Since that time, the power drill has evolved into different variations of the same design - cordless, hammer drill, size, weight, torque ratings, etc.
Today, the electric power drill and cordless power drill in all its many forms and variations is perhaps one of the most basic and useful tools to be found in just about any toolbox, anywhere.
So - what is the best power drill out there? Well first, we have to establish some criteria for judging.
Let's take a closer look at these five critical areas...
Power Drill Rating Criteria #1: Primary Purpose
OK, so the first thing to be considered when putting together power drill rating criteria is the purpose - for what will the power drill be used primarily?
For example, if you're a DIY guy or gal who just wants to do some light work around the house, make a few simple repairs, drive in a screw or two, then obviously a huge 20-volt cordless or powerful electric hammer drill is not going to be the right tool for the job. These more powerful, larger tools can certainly do the work, but we all know it's best to have the right tool for the right job.
If you require a lot more out of your power drill, then one of the larger, more powerful models may be just right. For the purposes of this article, I review power drills that would work well as a handy partner to the weekend fix-it guy/gal or could also hold it's own working in the real world alongside those professional models.
Power Drill Rating Criteria #2: Cordless or Electric
Power and torque are very critical when considering a power drill.
We could break the field of power drills down into two basic categories for this power drill rating criteria - cordless and electric. Just so we're clear - cordless power drills use a battery, electric power drills use an electrical power cord.
Both types have their strengths and weaknesses.
Cordless power drills have the obvious advantage of no cord to restrict your working area or get in the way. You can also take a cordless drill anywhere without worrying about a power source. The big weakness of a cordless drill is they are typically not as powerful or able to handle long periods of extended work. You can keep several extra battery packs standing by which eliminates the extended use problem, however, that requires buying more batteries or power packs.
Corded electric power drills are typically more powerful, are able to provide a lot more torque and can work longer and harder than their cordless cousins. There are a good number of capable cordless drill that can handle longer hours and provide some good power, but in the long run, they can't beat the stamina of the good old corded electric power drills.
For your convenience, I have provided links for the top rated cordless and top rated corded electric power drills just to the upper right. The DeWalt corded power drill is an exceptional value.
Power Drill Rating Criteria #3: Chuck Type and Size
As a general rule, for most power drills, the chuck size will typically determine the torque and overall power of the drill. The chuck is the slot on the front tip of the drill where the drill bits and other tools are inserted and then held tightly in place. Larger chuck equals larger and more powerful drill.
Typically available chuck sizes are 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch and even some rather large 9/16-inch and 5/8-inch chucks. Some chucks are keyless and can be tightened very easily by hand, others are keyed chucks which require a chuck key to open and tighten the tool.
Most of today's power drills are already set up with the chuck size that is most suited for the type of work to be done and the type of drill bits orattachments most typically used. For most folks, a 1/2-inch drill chuck is best because it is big enough to hold the larger bits if needed and can also handle the smaller 3/8-inch bits.
A 3/8-inch drill chuck will not be able to handle 1/2-inch drill bits or other 1/2" tools. If you're just doing light work around the house, hanging pictures and such, then the 3/8-inch power drill is good enough.
A 1/2-inch power drill can handle a wider variety of bits/tools/attachments and will typically be more powerful than a 3/8-inch power drill. In my years of personal experience, I think the 1/2-inch chuck is a better choice because it has the added power just in case you need it.
Power Drill Rating Criteria #4: Power and Torque
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of a good power drill is torque and overall power. For the purposes of this article, here's the difference between torque and power: Torque is the rotational force produced by the power drill. Power refers to the amount of voltage available to operate the power drill at peak levels. Higher voltage power drills are more expensive, are typically much heavier than lower voltage models, can use a wider range of attachments and come with more available features.
For example, if you are just going to use an electric corded power drill for making smaller holes to hang pictures, a basic 9-volt power drill is going to work for you. If you work on occasional projects that are bigger, take longer and require drilling through harder materials, you may need a slightly more powerful, higher-priced, heavier 14.4-volt power drill. If you're one of those folks who just use a power drill for everything continually and need a lot of torque, then an 18 or 24-volt power drill is probably going to work best for you.
For cordless drills, you have to take a look at the voltage. Typically, the higher the voltage on a cordless power drill, the more power and torque will be produced. Keep in mind that because they are operating from a battery, cordless drills do not deliver the maximum amount of power the entire time. As the battery is used, it's overall power is depleted.
Power Drill Rating Criteria #5: Type of Grip
Some folks may wonder why this was included in the rating criteria. Why be concerned about grips and handles?
If you take a look at the power drill in the hands of that young lady in the picture, you can see one reason why grips and handles are so important - safety. Without those handles, the drill could easily spin and cause serious injury to the operator.
Those well-placed handles also allow the operator to gain the necessary leverage to complete the job.
When considering a cordless power drill or a corded electric power drill, look for padded grips and secure, ergonomically designed handles that help you do your job faster and more efficiently.
A good example are the DeWalt power drills with additional handles. These guys have placed the handles closer to the center of gravity on the drill making it easier to operate for longer periods of time. It may seem like a small thing at first, but if you are using a power drill for extended periods, fatigue can become a factor in the type of work and the amount of work you can accomplish.
Simply put, properly placed, padded handles are safer, produce less fatigue and let you work longer.
Here Are Some of MyTop-Rated Power Drills for a Great Price at Amazon.com...
This Hitachi is a powerful drill with a 9 Amp power plant that produces 465 inches of torque and high 850 RPM rotational speed. It's a monster but is still able to handle even the toughest job. 1/2 chuck and weighs in at 4.6 lbs. A fantastic deal!
Ya gotta love DeWalt (I'm a BIG fan). This power drill delivers the power with a 10-Amp motor that delivers 50% more power. 1200 max RPM, reverse switch and comfort-grip handles make this a real value in my book.
This Skil power drill is not a bad deal for the price. It's got variable speed, a respectable 6.5 amps power plant and speeds up to 2,000 RPM. Perfect for those weekend DIY warriors!
A Final Word on Determining What is the Best Power Drill
When you look at the whole range of available models, sizes, torque levels, voltage, power types and features - you discover there is a power drill that can do just about anything you want it to do. So, when it came down to power drill rating criteria, I had to consider which power drill would best work over an entire range of uses ranging from light DIY weekend repairs to full-scale, daily professional use.
It's best to stick with the top manufacturers with the best reputations for making great quality power drills. Look for brands like Makita, Bosch, DeWalt, Skil, Hitachi and Milwaukee. They will cost a bit more but as my sweet, old Granny always said, "You get what you pay for."