1) With Cord or Without?
This is your first decision to come to. There are several advantages and disadvantages to each type of drill:
– Cordless drills are almost always more convenient. They can easily be used anywhere quickly without having to deal with extension cords and power outlets; so long as the battery stays charged. The asset of corded drills is that there is no limitation on how long they can be used. When using a corded drill, you will never find yourself waiting for batteries to charge.
– While it may sounds strange, cordless drills tend to be lighter than corded drills. But, if you select a high-power cordless drill (18V and up), these models are sometimes as heavy or heavier than their corded counterparts.
– Cordless drills are safer as there is no cord acting as a trip hazard.
– If high torque and long run times are needed, a corded drill will perform better. While there are many high-power models obtainable for cordless drills, corded drills will always be able to supply more torque, and they will be able to provide it for a longer period of time.
– Even good batteries have a limited lifetime. You should expect that the batteries in your cordless drill will only last two to three years at most. Batteries are very costly to buy; it is usually cheaper to just purchase a new cordless drill than to purchase two new batteries. If you are buying a cordless drill, expect to be getting a new drill in a couple years time. For comparison, if you choose a corded drill your drill should last for a good 10 years or more.
– If you are going to buy a cordless drill, make sure to get one with Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries; do not buy a drill with Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) batteries. Li-Ion batteries are better; they are more powerful, they have longer lifetimes, they do not have “memory” issues, and they are better for the environment because they contain fewer harmful metal elements.
2) Pick a Chuck
The chuck is the part of the drill that holds the bits in place. There are two picks to make here: size and type.
Standard chuck sizes are 1/4″, 3/8″, and 1/2″ with the standard size being 3/8″. If you want to be able to use bigger drill bits, opt for the 1/2″ chuck since many bigger drill bits will not fit in a 3/8″ drill. But if you do not need or want the ability to use larger drill bits, the 3/8″ chuck is a better option since you typically can get higher bit speeds in these type of drills.
There are two different types of chucks: keyed and keyless. For drills with a keyed chuck, you use a mechanical key to tighten and loosen drill bits. With the keyless chuck, the drill bit is tightened into the chuck by holding the chuck with your hand while powering the drill. The mechanical advantage of the keyed chuck makes it able to hold bits tighter so there is less chance of the drill bit slipping in the chuck. The advantage of the keyless chuck is that it is quicker to change bits, and there is no key to lose or keep track of.
3) Important Features
To get the most usage from your new drill, make sure it has these important features:
– A reverse mode. Even if you don’t plan to use your drill for driving screws, reverse is key feature to have for removing drill bits that get stuck. If you are getting a drill with a keyless chuck, it will always have reverse (otherwise there would be know way to get the drill bit out), so you only need to check for the presence of this feature if you are getting a drill with a keyed chuck.
– Variable speed. If you plan to use your drill to drive screws, this is key feature. If not, this is still an important feature to have since it makes it much easier to drill clean holes since different materials require bit speeds.
– Two speed ranges. This is really only needed if you plan on driving screws using your drill. If that’s the case, this is very important to have. Having the lower speed range makes it much simpler to drive screws without stripping them.
– A torque clutch. Again, this is really only required if you are driving screws. The clutch lets you set a maximum torque after which the drill will stop driving. This is really handy when driving screws to guard against over-driving the screw into the material. If you are putting in large amounts of screws (like on a deck for example), this feature is worth its weight in gold.