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Best value drills: What to consider before you buy

Power drills are a toolbox essential for basic DIY tasks and professional projects. It’s also important to have the right drill and drill bit for the job. Whether you are assembling flat-pack furniture or drilling through concrete, you need a drill that works well and will last a long time.
You can find a value-priced drill to help you do many different tasks. A drill might be the most versatile power tool — driving screws, tightening nuts, boring holes, and even chiselling away materials.

Learn about the different types of drills, which drill to buy, and some of the best accessories and features to look out for.

What drill do I need?

It’s important to choose the right drill and drill bit for the job you are doing. Picking the wrong drill bit can break the tool, damage the material you’re drilling into, and make the drill slip. It can even damage the drill’s motor. 

Let’s drill down into the different types of drills and the applications they are best suited to.

Electric screwdriver

Electric screwdrivers

While electric screwdrivers don’t have the power of a drill, they are smaller and lighter, which makes them good for tight spaces where a drill can‘t fit. Electric drivers are used to screw and unscrew screws in a surface, so can’t be used for as many things as a drill. However, they are usually cordless, so you can make quick fixes and work wherever you need around the site.
Electric screwdrivers don’t create as much torque as a drill, so you can drive screws into soft wood without sinking deep enough to split it. They make screwing and unscrewing easy and quick, so are great to have in your toolbox.

Drill driver

Drill drivers

Battery-operated drill drivers are the most common type of drill. They have two modes — drilling and loosening or tightening screws.

They usually have a two-speed gearbox. Use the high speed to drill holes in materials, including metal and wood. The low-speed setting is for driving screws , except when driving small screws into softwood. This should be at a higher speed but with lower torque.
They don’t have a built-in hammer feature so aren’t good for masonry drilling. However, they have prolonged battery life, effortless control, and are lightweight, making them easier to use.

Impact driver

Impact drivers

Impact drills drive in screws and tighten nuts at speed into tough surfaces. They use bursts of torque to reduce the stress on your wrist and arm, and are good for big screwdriving projects like raised decks and stud walls.

They are also good for dense or knotty wood and bricks (if prepared with holes). While it reduces your work time, don’t use an impact drill for screwing or tightening jobs that require pinpoint accuracy.

Hammer drills

Hammer drills

Hammer drills make it easy to drill holes and drive fasteners in bricks, concrete blocks, and mortar. They look like ordinary drills but work by using two different motions to create a hammering movement to punch through hard materials such as brick and concrete. They are good for fitting skirting boards, gutters, and hanging TV wall mounts.

The hammer setting can usually be switched off, so it can be used as a standard drill. On the other hand, hammer drills are noisier than SDS rotary hammer drills and don’t always have a reverse screwdriving function.

Combi drill

Combi drills

This is the best drill for multifunctionality. It is good for many basic drilling and screwdriving tasks, but has a hammer action feature to break through tough materials.

Combi drills do the same things as a drill driver, but also have better torque and the hammer action for drilling into hard surfaces such as brick, concrete, and metal.

As they work like a drill driver or a hammer drill, combi drills are great for many daily DIY and bigger projects. Just be aware they aren’t as powerful as a high-end hammer or SDS rotary hammer.

SDS drill

SDS drills

The best drill for heavy-duty applications like building and construction work where power is important.

SDS drills (also called SDS rotary hammers) work like standard hammer drills, but also have an SDS (Slotted Drive System) for better hammer action. They can easily drill through the hardest materials, like block, brickwork, concrete, and steel, and are good for chiselling and chipping tiles.

Use the 3-mode model for more difficult jobs, as it has the addition of a chiselling function for light chiselling applications or chipping into concrete or masonry.

Corded or cordless drills?

Cordless drills let you move around while working. Corded drills have a heavy battery pack and need electricity from a mains power supply. You will also need an extension lead to move around.

Cordless drills let you easily get into areas that are difficult to reach and work without worrying about finding a socket or extension cable.

Cordless drills are powered by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that take under an hour to charge. If the rest of your power tools are from the same brand, you can use the same battery for your tools, helping you save money.

Always check the voltage of your cordless drill. They usually range from 12V to 24V. 

Corded drills are rated in watts, with a basic model around 450 watts, going up to around 1500 watts for the most powerful hammer drills. A higher voltage or wattage is needed for heavy-duty work like drilling masonry or drilling concrete lintels above windows.

Most drills can do simple jobs like driving in a screw or drilling into plasterboard. However, the most powerful cordless tools usually cost more than corded ones.

A cordless drill can quickly become your best friend, but what’s important is having the right drill for the jobs you are doing. You can then decide if you want a corded or cordless drill, or maybe even both.

Drill features explained

It’s important to understand the features of your drill so you can use it the right way.

Drill features

Forward and reverse function

All power drills have a forward and reverse function to turn the drill bit or screwdriver bit forward or backwards. The reverse option is good when backing out after boring holes. Simply push the forward/reverse switch on the side of the drill to activate the relevant mode.

Chuck size
The chuck is the hole that holds the drill bit in place and determines what size of drill bit shift the drill can fit. It usually has three self-centering jaws.

The two most common chuck sizes are 10mm (3/8 inch), which are good for lighter DIY tasks, and 13mm (1/2 inch) for more heavy-duty jobs. Try to get a drill with a keyless chuck, which makes replacing drill bits much faster.

Drill features

Don’t confuse torque with your drill speed. Torque is the amount of force the drill makes to turn an object. Use the torque control (sometimes referred to as the variable clutch setting) to adjust the torque — the higher the number you choose on the dial, the higher the turning force.

Too much torque can lead to a loss of accuracy, making the screw drive too deeply and causing damage to the work surface.

Softer materials like drywall require more speed but less torque. Too much force could split or fracture the material. This setting is good for delicate and precise work. Use high torque (and low speed) when drilling into tough materials like masonry or when you want the screw countersunk or flush.

Drill features

Drill speed settings
Cheaper power drills usually have one speed and can’t be used for all jobs. Drills with a changing speed trigger are better if you are working with different materials. The speed of a drill is shown as revolutions per minute (RPM) and is controlled by a trigger. The harder you press the trigger, the faster it will turn.

Use a lower speed when driving screws or drilling into soft materials like plasterboard. A high-speed setting is good for drilling through harder materials like stone and steel. As you increase speed, you actually decrease torque.

Battery capacity
Look for a drill with a battery with a short charge time that will keep power for longer. The more Amp hours (Ah) a battery has, the longer its charge will last. Some drill models have a spare battery, which means you always have a spare to hand.

Here are some other drill features to look for:

  • An LED work light – Usually just above the trigger, an LED work light provides better visibility when working in darker areas.
  • Belt clip – Only works with cordless drills, but allows you to keep both hands free and your drill close by for when you need it.
  • Brushless motor  – This means the drill’s motor has been made to reduce friction and resistance. Even though they are more expensive, choosing a brushless drill will increase your motor's lifespan and give you better torque control and faster speeds.

What are the different types of drill bits?

Some drills will come with a set of drill bits, but you must be able to identify them so you use the right drill bit for the job.

HSS drillbits

HSS drill bits

High-Speed Steel (HSS) drill bits are made from carbon steel and designed to safely drill through soft steels, wood, and plastic.

Screwdriver bits

Screwdriver bits

Screwdriver bits turn your drill into a powerful screwdriver, so you can quickly and easily drive or remove screws.

SDS drill bits

SDS bits

Used with SDS drills, their design gives a high power level for heavy-duty drilling into materials like block and stone.

TCT drill bits

TCT drill bits

Tungsten Carbide Tipped (TCT) drill bits are designed to penetrate extremely hard materials such as paving slabs or metal. The drill bit is tipped with tungsten carbide, which is approximately twice as strong as steel.

What drill should I buy?

Picking the right drill can be difficult. There are a lot to choose from and all have different features, factors, and prices. Your best bet is to choose a drill you are comfortable with, as it will make your professional work and projects easier, faster, and more enjoyable.

At Jewson, we are confident we know the drill and can find you the perfect power drill to help you on your way.

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