Photos by Carl Duguay
Compact drill/drivers provide ample power for most day-to-day drilling and screwing tasks, making them ideal for DIYers, hobbyist woodworker, furniture makers, and trades people who primarily drill smaller diameter holes (under 1″), sink shorter screws (under 2-1/2″), and tighten smaller nuts and bolts. These drills typically use a 12V battery platform and feature 3/8″ keyless or 1/4″ hex chucks, and dual speed ranges with a 1,500 RPM upper limit. Heavy-duty drill/drivers, which usually use batteries that are at least 18V, are the better choice for renovation and construction work. They’re more durable, provide greater power, speed, torque and run-time. Premium features include all-metal gear trains, die-cast gear housing, electronic torque setting, and carbide chuck jaws.
It’s usually more economical to buy a drill/ driver kit that consists of one or two batteries and charger. Opt for a lithium-ion battery and brushless motor. If the vast majority of work you do is small-scale, and you rarely need a lot of power, opt for a compact drill/ driver, as it will be easier to manipulate, and less expensive.
Price: $50 – $500 (Tool + Battery)
$120 – $500 (Kit)
Weight: 1.6 – 4.6 pounds
Battery Platform: 12V, 18V
Chuck: Keyless; 1/4″ Hex
Speed: 0 – 4,000 RPM
Torque: 100 – 900 in-lbs
Most drill/drivers have two speeds. Choose setting 1 (low speed/high torque) for driving screws and setting nuts. Use setting 2 (high speed/ low torque) for drilling and countersinking.
The clutch collar has settings from 1 to around 20. The higher the number, the higher the torque. Adjust the clutch to prevent screws from being driven too deep. There is also a drill setting, which disengages the clutch when boring holes.
When setting screws, particularly in thin stock, or when you want to align the screw heads uniformly, try feathering the trigger to rotate the bit in small increments.
You’ll reduce frustration, and drill cleaner holes faster with sharp drill bits. The same goes for your countersinks, counterbores, and plug cutters.
If your drill comes with a single battery, buy a second. You’ll always have a fresh power supply ready to go.