All About Power Drills

You need the right tools to get the job done right. Use this handy guide to help you find out what to use for your next project and what to add to your toolkit.

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Choosing the Right Drill

Learn the basics about types of drills so you can choose the right tool for the job every time. This guides covers everything you need for basic drilling and driving to more robust applications like masonry and concrete.

Cordless Drill-Drivers

The most versatile drill, it is both a power drill and screwdriver. It is battery-operated, which makes it highly portable and easy to use. The battery detaches for recharging. The differences between the different types of drill-drivers are usually indicated by the level of power. The higher the battery’s voltage, the more powerful the drill; most are in the range of 9.6 volts to 24 volts. A trigger allows control of the drill’s speed. A keyless chuck makes it easy to change out bits. Some drill-drivers also have a hammer action allowing for light-duty masonry drilling applications.

Recharging a Cordless Drill

Drills often come with two batteries so that one can be recharging while the other is in use. Press the battery release button to take a battery off a drill. Invert the battery to put it in the charger. Plug in the charger. Recharging may take a few hours, depending on the drill’s quality and size. Extreme temperatures can affect the performance and the longevity of your batteries. Try keeping your charging station at room temperature, and always store your batteries on the charger whenever possible. When batteries become worn out or no longer hold a charge, ask your local home center about recycling them.

Maintaining a Drill

Drills need periodic maintenance to ensure that they remain in good working order. Taking drills apart is not recommended, but you should pay some attention to the outer casing and drill chuck. Unclog vents with a paintbrush or a shop vacuum to stop dust from damaging the motor or causing overheating. Check the owner’s manual for instructions on how best to lubricate the chuck. Check the cord regularly for signs of wear. Make sure to keep your drill’s case clean and free of dirt and debris as well. This will increase the longevity of your tools.

Standard Power Drill

Traditional electric drills are sometimes more powerful than cordless drills. A standard corded power drill can perform basic drill functions on a variety of surfaces, depending on its power, but its portability and ease of use are restricted by the power cord. This one has a traditional chuck, meaning that a key (shown) is needed to change out drill bits. A switch lock allows continuous drilling without holding the trigger and an additional hammering function is available for basic masonry drilling.

Keyed Chuck

Keyed chucks accept a wide range of cylindrical and hexagonal shanked bits and drivers. It’s the most common type of chuck found on drills where holding the tool in place is critical for delivering maximum torque. The jaws on this type of chuck will be tightened or loosened with the help of a chuck key – a specialty wrench provided with the drill for opening and closing the jaws.

Lightweight Corded Drill

Fairly powerful drills are now incorporated in a very lightweight body, making them easier to use than older drills. Keyless chucks make changing bits quicker and easier. A small drill such as this is an excellent toolkit companion for a cordless drill-driver.

Keyless Chuck

Keyless chucks allow for rapid changing of bits and drivers, but have lower gripping force to hold the tool, which is problematic for bits with cylindrical instead of hexagonal shanks. These types of chucks are tightened by hand and are usually adequate for light duty drilling/driving applications.

Rotary Hammer

Heavy-duty power drills are usually SDS (special drive system) drills with a chuck that requires a special bit. SDS chuck technology grips the drill bit to support the most efficient hammer action for drilling into very hard masonry. Rotary hammers can be corded or cordless. Many rotary hammers can shift from a drilling only, hammering only or a drilling and hammering mode.

SDS Chuck

SDS or Special Drive System chucks accept a special type of drill shank with indentations for the drills drive system to grab. Bits and tools are inserted via a spring lock that requires no tightening and is held tightly by the tool. These are specially suited to hammer drilling with masonry drills in stone and concrete. They can also accept various types of SDS cold chisels for chipping and demolition work. These types of chucks only accept SDS style drill bits and tools.

Impact Driver

Impact drivers deliver a strong, sudden force that is ideal for driving long or difficult fasteners into tough materials. They’re also great for loosening stuck or over-torqued bolts and screws. Impact drivers are ideal for situations where more force is required than a standard drill or screwdriver can provide. These drivers use inertia to generate large amounts of torque while a blow from the hammer forces it into the screw and preventing slippage. This makes them less ideal for drilling holes, but very helpful when dealing with Phillips, star drive, SAE or metric bolts and screws.

Quick Connect Chuck

Common on impact drivers, these allow bits and drivers to be inserted with a simple click. It requires a hexagonal shanked bit, so it won’t work with regular smooth shanked drills or drivers. This application produces high torque and is ideal for driving lag bolts, deck screws or any other long fasteners that require substantial force to insert. Quick connect chucks do not need to be tightened as their shape does not allow the shank of the bit to rotate.

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