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How to choose the right drill for the job

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Drills.png

 

A drill is an essential part of any D.I.Y. kit, so it's important that you select the tool that best suits your projects. 

 

Whether it is a broken hinge on a squeaky door or building your dream deck, there's a drill that caters for your requirements. This guide will help you choose the correct drill for the job, and includes advice from some of the Bunnings Workshop community’s most trusted and experienced members.

 

Cordless screwdriver

 

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What: A compact battery-powered rotational device that has a forward and reverse function for driving. The design of this drill allows it to install and remove small screws and drill fine pilot holes. It features a quarter-inch hex bit holder for drivers and drill bits.

 

Why: The compact nature of a cordless screwdriver makes it highly versatile in the tight spaces where larger cordless drills struggle to fit. Models range from 2.4 to 12.0 volts and plug into a wall outlet to charge their internal battery. The lower voltage models are suitable for light work with a limited runtime, and the higher voltages models can drive larger screws with ease and have the added benefit of longer runtimes. These are not suitable for driving and drilling large screws and holes and should only be considered for light applications.

 

Perfect for: Fine work involving small screws into softwoods like Pine and replacing the use of small screwdrivers. Also handy for repairing electronics.

 

They say: "A cordless screwdriver is an excellent alternative to traditional screwdrivers, especially if the job involves multiple screws." @Poppop 

 

"I find my small, cheap, two positions cordless screwdriver often gives the best access and speed control. It also has more power than I expected." @TedBear 

 

Cordless drill driver

 

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What: A battery-powered rotational device with a forward and reverse function, with variable torque and speed settings. It features a chuck that opens and closes around a driver or drill bit. 

 

Why: This multi-functional unit has enough power and features to take on most drilling and screwing jobs around your home. A cordless drill driver employs a battery pack to make them more portable and are available in 12V, 14.4V, 18V versions using a cradle charging system. The lower voltages units are suitable for light-duty work and are more controllable, and the higher voltage units are more powerful. They often come with added features like a hammer function suitable for drilling into light masonry. Torque settings allow you to set the power and minimize screw head damage. The ability to use a cordless drill anywhere makes these a must-have in any toolbox.

 

Perfect for: Pilot holes in softwood and hardwood, metal and plastic, and for fixing large and small screws in place. Drilling round holes for doorknobs, taps and drains. Installation of fixings in plasterboard for hanging objects. Replacing hinges and installing doors.

 

They say: "My 18V brushless Makita drill driver is a workhorse. Very reliable, powerful for all the needs. The best feature is that it has a clutch which helps a lot when it comes to driving in screws which you do not want to over-tighten." @EdwardW 

 

"They are super useful for even the smallest to the largest of projects. I love that my cordless drill driver also has a hammer function. I can drill through masonry to hang pictures on the hammer function and drive in screws. Make sure you have a comprehensive drill and drive bit set as well." @joineryjo 

 

"My drill driver is probably my most favourite tool to use. It has multiple settings and a couple of speeds, so it's great for drilling in a wide range of materials and also putting in screws. I particularly love the magnet attachment for holding spare drill bits etc when not in use, it's super convenient." @prettyliving 

 

Cordless impact driver

 

Cordless impact driver.png

What: A battery-powered rotational device used for driving large-gauge screws and drilling holes. With each rotation of the bit holder, the drill applies impact coupled with high levels of torque. They feature a quarter-inch hex bit holder for drivers and drill bits.

 

Why: They feature a lightweight, compact design and can power through the most demanding driving applications. The rotary impact mechanism produces greater torque and performance than your average drill driver. If you're working with tough materials or driving long bolts and screws, you'll have the power to get the job done right. They employ a battery pack to make them more portable and are available in 12V and 18V versions using a cradle charging system. The higher voltage units are more powerful, allowing you to drive screws at a faster speed. These are not for fine screwing applications as their high torque makes driving small screws difficult. They are also not as versatile as a cordless drill driver and are not considered a stand-alone device. These type of drivers should only be considered if you already own a drill driver or have a very specialised task in mind for it, like building a deck.

 

Perfect for: Installation of large quantities of screws or bolts. Long screws for constructing decks and pergolas. Loosening stubborn or corroded bolts and nuts.

 

They say: "The cordless impact driver is my favourite tool! It's really powerful and makes what could seem a big and monotonous job so much easier! Definitely a necessary tool if you're thinking of fixing any roofing or cladding." @joineryjo 

 

"Great option for the bigger jobs like driving coach screws into hardwood sleepers. With a good quality driver and the right adaptor bit, you can even tackle some nut and bolt jobs." @Poppop 

 

"Good for driving longer screws or impacting frozen nuts from a bolt. They also come in heavier sizes for use in the mechanical workshops." @r23on 

 

Corded hammer drill

 

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What: A rotational device powered by mains electricity used for drilling. A percussive action in addition to the rotational one can be engaged through a switched mechanism. They feature a chuck that opens and closes around a driver or drill bit. 

 

Why: When your D.I.Y. task involves drilling into masonry, bricks, concrete or other hard substrates, you need the power of a hammer drill. Not only do they rotate the drill bit, but they have a percussive action that chips away material. A variable speed trigger is featured, so the harder you press, the faster the drill bit will rotate. They often include a keyless chuck which allows you to change out drill bits by hand quickly. A side handle gives more stability and control over the drill. Although cordless technology has caught up, a corded drill still gives you the ability to drill constantly without swapping out batteries. Their abilities shine when drilling large holes or when using holesaws. These are not for fine screwing applications as their high power makes driving small screws difficult.

 

Perfect for: Drilling through light masonry, bricks, mortar and concrete blocks. With the hammer function switched off they can drill through wood, plastic and metal. Holes into concrete piers, slabs and footings for the installation of metal anchors. Installation of wall plugs in brick for hanging objects. 

 

They say: "A hammer drill is the perfect tool for drilling through concrete. Our new deck was partially built over existing concrete, and we used post supports to hold the deck bearers." @joineryjo 

 

"If you're purchasing a new power drill it pays to spend a bit extra to have a hammer drill option. This is essential for drilling holes in brickwork or masonry." @Poppop 

 

Rotary hammer drill

 

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What: A rotational device powered by mains electricity for drilling that has a percussive action. They have three settings to choose from: drill mode, hammer drill or just hammer. They feature an SDS quick connect chuck, which holds the drill bit or chisel. 

  

Why: They provide a lot more impact energy than hammer drills and have the bonus of being able to chip and chisel masonry. They're more durable than standard hammer drills and are the preferred option for heavy-duty applications. What sets them apart from regular hammer drills is their high-power and ability to switch from a rotational drill to a chipping function. In the chipping function, they act as a mini jackhammer. These powerful tools are not suitable for screw installation or fine drilling jobs as they have a large amount of power.

 

Perfect for: Chiselling old tiles from walls and floors. Breaking up concrete, asphalt, stone, brick, or other masonry surfaces. Drilling many large holes in masonry surfaces.

 

They say: "My rotary hammer drill, when drilling masonry, is like drilling through butter. It can also take small masonry chisels, good for breaking up sections of concrete." @JoeAzza 

 

"Great for heavy drilling into concrete, rock and chiselling." @r23on 

 

Drill press 

 

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What: A rotational machine for boring holes fixed to a stand and worktable with facilities for lowering the tool to the workpiece. They feature a chuck that opens and closes around a drill bit and other accessories which feature a shank attachment like sanding drums. 

 

Why: A drill press excels over any other drill at accurately drilling into metal, timber and plastic due to its static nature. A wide variety of drilling applications can be completed with the adjustable drill table and depth lock. An ergonomic feed wheel, variable drilling depth adjustment and tilting table enable the user to perform repetitive work accurately. The steel column, steel table and base provide maximum rigidity and precision during operation. Due to their fixed nature, they are unsuitable for a large range of D.I.Y. projects around your home. Unless the object can be bought to their table, you’ll be unable to use this type of drill.

 

Perfect for: Drilling multiple holes that have a uniform size, angle, and depth. Counterboring, countersinking, deburring, reaming and tapping holes.

 

They say: "Very handy to have in the workshop when precision drilling is required. A good quality drill press will have selectable speeds for different materials and adjustable drill depth for perfect holes every time." @Poppop 

 

"I use mine for accurate drilling, when I want the drilled holes to be perpendicular to the timber being drilled, It's great for drilling holes for cupboard hinges." @JoeAzza 

 

"Wonderful, especially for repetitive drilling that needs speed fine control and pressure. You can hold the workpiece firmer on the press's table." @TedBear 

 

"One of the best tool/machines to have in the shed. They come in various sizes bench mounted small, bench mounted pedestal and full-size pedestal drill press." @r23on 

2 Replies
redracer01
Trusted Contributor

Hello @MitchellMc 

 

When I was beginning my diy journey I use to use a corded hammer drill to build my desks. It literally ripped right through the heads of the screws I was using and it would drive them so deep it was impossible to remove. That old hammer drill had two settings dead stop and unholy speed. There was no way to control it and it did not have any step down controller you could use like new modern drills where speed equates with the amount of trigger pressure you apply. Neither did you have the convenience of a keyless chuck. Oh how I would howl with frustration when my kids played and misplaced the key to the chuck! Now there are even sets with quick release heads and magnetic heads! But the corded drill was fantastic when it came to drilling through sleepers, went through those things like butter. But mind you the new 18 and 36 volt heavy duty cordless sets are no slouches either. We are at a point I would say where buying a drill is now dependent on what you plan on building. It also now becomes like a long term investment do you buy cheap and cheerful? Perhaps a mid range unit for possible frequent occasional use or perhaps something robust and professional that will last even with heavy duty use. The choices are endless and the decision is yours!

 

Cheers,

Red

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

@redracer01,

 

I still have my father's old drill with the on/off type switch, and it works reasonably well for drilling holes, albeit at breakneck speed. I no longer use it as the motor's graphite contacts have worn out, and I doubt I'll find replacements. Surprisingly, it still works, as I presume the contact springs are now running on the motor. Frighteningly it shoots sparks out the rear end during use. I'll still hold on to it for nostalgia's sake, but I might cut the power cord off it so it can't be used.

 

Mitchell

 

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