Drill / Drivers

What to Look For

Most homeowners should start with a general use drill. While there are more heavy-duty drills on the market, they’re bulkier, harder to handle, and more expensive, and therefore make little sense for someone just getting started in DIY or woodworking. For a general use drill, look for the following features:

  • 3/8″ Chuck – Most chucks (the part of the drill that holds the drill bit) come in 3/8″ and 1/2″ sizes. While a 1/2″ chuck allows you to cut larger holes with a twist drill bit, it also require a heavier, more expensive motor that is overkill for most consumers. 3/8″ drills can still cut large holes with other types of bits (see this post,) so given the drawbacks of a 1/2″ chuck size, a 3/8″ chuck is the way to go.
  • Cordless – Your drill/driver should be cordless. While corded drills are sold, they lack the ability to drive screws.
  • Batteries – Your drill should come with (or if buying a tool-only product, be powered by) a lithium-ion battery. Be sure your battery charges quickly, and can be left of the charger indefinitely without damaging the battery. I recommend having multiple smaller batteries over one large battery, as then the tool is lighter and easier to use.
  • Brushless Motor – Brushless motors extend the life of the tool. However, they’re a relatively new invention, and while they’re becoming more common, it can be difficult to find brushless motors in a general use drill.

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The Best General Use Drill/Driver

My general use Drill/Driver is Ryobi’s 18 Volt 3/8″ Drill Driver. It’s a budget-friendly drill with plenty of power, while still being light and easy to handle. The chuck is easy to use and the batteries recharge in under 30 minutes.

I’ve had this drill/driver for the past two years, and it was a significant upgrade from the drill I had before. I love how quickly the batteries charge, and I’ve never been in a situation where I didn’t have enough power.

The Best Heavy Duty Drill/Driver

At some point, I’ll probably buy a heavy duty drill, simply because as someone who does a bunch of DIY projects, it’d be nice to have one around. Plus, sometimes having two drills is super useful, like when drilling pilot holes and then driving the screw. With two drills, you don’t have to be switching back and forth between bits.

When I buy that second drill, I’ll probably go for the Dewalt 20-Volt 1/2″ Brushless Drill Driver. It’s brushless, meaning a higher quality motor that will last longer, as well as compact, meaning it’ll fit into tighter spaces. With a 1/2″ chuck, it’ll take larger twist drill bits as well. Coming in around $100, it’s a pricier drill, but with a number of nicer features than the general use drill listed above.