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Cordless Drills

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Even if youíre not that handy, a cordless drill can make light work of your fix-it or DIY projects around the house. We do a little drill shopping and learn the basics of this popular household tool.

   BUYING TIPS

The Basics

  • Power drills come in corded or cordless. Corded drills usually give you more power and don’t run out of battery. Cordless give you more flexibility.

  • The amount of power you need in a cordless drill depends on what you’re planning to do with it.

    • Anything up to about 9.6 volts is great for little jobs around the house, like hanging pictures.

    • Up to 14.4 volts are more capable for heavier duty jobs like installing blinds and curtain rods.

    • Professional builders use drills between 18 and 24 volts or more.

  • The higher the voltage, the harder the drill will work, and the longer the battery will last.

  • Higher voltage also means a heavier tool, so make sure you can handle the drill for long periods of time. (E.g. think about holding it above your head for a few minutes as you’re drilling a bracket for a blind.)

  • A drill with multiple clutch settings means you can decrease the torque on more delicate jobs and avoid stripping the screw or driving it too far into soft wood.

  • A drill that allows you to angle the head is really helpful for using it in awkward or tight spots.

  • At the store, look for drill demo models to try to make sure it feels comfortable and is easy for you to handle.

Other Considerations

  • Drills that comes with two batteries are a good option so you don’t have to interrupt a job to recharge your only battery.

  • The occasional light-duty jobs around the house, a lower-priced, lower voltage model is probably fine.

   TEST CRITERIA

We tested these four 12-volt cordless drills on a dog house-building project:

  • Black & Decker: $70
  • Craftsman: $80
  • Ryobi (built-in level plus 26-piece bit set): $100
  • Makita (two speeds): $130

Drill Test

  • The Ryobi just didn’t seem to have the power we thought it would.

  • The Craftsman was too heavy and didn’t come with an extra battery or a storage case.

  • The Makita’s 2-speed power is a handy feature. It’s also lightweight and comes with an extra battery.

  • The Black & Decker did an acceptable job and was lightweight. It was also on the smaller side of all of our test products.

   OUR TOP PICK

For the occasional quick fix job we liked the Black & Decker. If you’re planning to do more DIY projects, we think the Makita is a good investment. The extra battery and power are worth the difference in price.

 

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