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Few power tools are as versatile as a handheld drill. It makes holes in wood, steel, non-ferrous metals, concrete, drywall, plastics and goodness knows what else. It makes threaded holes to accept a machine screw. It drives any number of threaded fasteners from wood screws, to drywall screws to concrete screws. It not only drills specialized holes for pocket screws, it drives the screws themselves, and you’re one step closer to being a furniture maker. Use a nut driver bit or a socket to zoom through assembly work, tightening a bolt head or a nut. Specialized drills have a chisel setting that allows the tool to work in a percussion mode without rotary action at all.
Here’s what you need to know to select the right drill.
What it is: Often called a drill/driver. It’s a battery-powered hole maker and a fastener driver for screws, nuts and small bolts. It’s equipped with a clutch that disengages the drill’s drivetrain when the tool reaches a specified amount of torque (turning force). By disengaging the drivetrain at that point, it prevents stripping the fastener head, snapping the fastener off or driving the fastener right through a piece of wood.
Mechanical insight: Four things determine the work that these tools do.
Battery voltage: The larger the battery/motor voltage, the heavier work these tools can do. Increase the voltage and you can drill larger diameter or deeper holes, drive larger screws or tighten a bigger nut.
Battery size: This is measured in amp hours. The larger the battery’s amp hours, the longer you can operate a cordless drill.
Functions: Cordless drills are always equipped with a clutch that allows the tool to drill or drive, but it may also be equipped with a hammer function that allows the tool to drill a hole in concrete or stone using a carbide-tip masonry bit.
Chuck size: Cordless drills are equipped with two different size chucks, 3/8 inch or ½ inch. Choose a product with a larger chuck diameter if you expect to routinely drill larger diameter holes.
Purchasing power: There’s no shortage of great deals on cordless drill/drivers, hammer drills and specialty tools.