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How to Choose a Cordless Drill

by Nikki Jardin

Man holding a cordless drill

A primary consideration in choosing a cordless drill is how you will use it. Cordless drills are excellent tools because they can be applied to a number of projects and eliminate the fuss of finding a power outlet or wrapping the electrical cord around you and your work. Spend a little time researching the type of drill you need before you purchase one.

Choosing a Cordless Drill:

  1. Evaluate what you will use the drill for. You may need a cordless power tool that can handle a variety of small projects, such as hanging pictures, repairing door hinges or building small items, for which a small to mid-range power drill will do. If you are taking on larger projects, such as boring holes in fence posts or regularly drilling through sheet metal, consider a tool with maximum power and durability.

  2. Consider the battery voltage. Once you've determined how you will be using your cordless drill, choose a power option. Voltages range from six volts to 18 volts. Keep in mind that the higher voltage drills will also be the heaviest because they must hold a larger battery.

  3. Take a look at the handle placement. You may prefer a pistol grip as opposed to a T-grip. The pistol configuration helps when you need to put a little force on the work; but the T-grip will allow you to get into some harder to reach places.

  4. Determine what kind of speed you need. The less expensive drills offer one speed, while you will pay a little more for a drill with a variable-speed capability. Having additional settings can help for more delicate projects.

  5. Check the number of clutch settings it has. Many cordless drills offer an adjustable clutch that allows you to finesse the type of power you will be using. Typically, when you need to use large screws or when you are drilling, it is better to use a higher clutch setting.

  6. Take a look at how long your drill will stay charged and how long it will take to recharge. This may not be a big issue if your projects won't require a lot of drill time, but if you will be using it hours on end for time-consuming or professional projects, purchase a cordless drill that can keep up with you. Some models offer fast recharge capabilities with a self-monitoring system that doesn't damage the battery. Today's batteries are either nickel-cadmium (NiCd) or lithium-ion (Li-ion) and can hold fairly long charges. Some drill models come with multiple batteries for even greater convenience.

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