Whether you are a tradesperson, enjoy getting hands-on with home improvement projects, or prefer to tinker about with occasional DIY touch-ups, it’s likely you’ll own a drill. With so many drill types available it can be a minefield to know which one is best suited to your needs. To help you choose the right drill for you, our helpful and informative guide will give you an overview on the most popular drill types available.
Drill Types- Choosing the drill for your needs
The main function of a screwdriver, as the name implies, is to drive screws. It differs from a drill driver in the fact that it is normally supplied with just a hex bit holder (no keyless drill chuck). Furthermore, there is no speed selection. Depending on your requirements and preference, both corded and cordless versions are available.
When it comes to useful drill types, a drill driver is a great piece of kit. As a cordless tool, the main function of a drill driver is to drive screws. They can also be used to drill and countersink into wood, metal and many other materials. They can even be used on softer masonry such as brick and tiles if used with the right non impact bit. Drill drivers have a choice of 2 speeds; low for screwdriving and higher for drilling. Finally, many offer a choice of torque allowing you to determine how much force you want to drive the screw.
In essence, a cordless combi drill is two tools in one. The main function of a combi drill is to drill holes in wood, metal and other material. It will also drive screws and has the ability to drill holes into concrete and masonry via the useful hammer function. As with drill drivers, combi drills provide a choice of speed; up to 3 speeds in some versions, and also a variable torque range. Overall, combi drills are generally considered the most popular drill choice due to their all round capabilities.
Learn more about Combi Drills by reading our dedicated Knowledge piece...
Impact Drills and Wrenches
Impact drills are mainly used for repetitive fast screwdriving of fixings and fasteners. This is due to the fact they delivery high torque and speed at the same time. As such, impact drivers have fast become the fixing tool of choice for many tradesmen and women.
One of the biggest benefits of impact drills is their ability to give raw power from the bit rotation. What's more, concussive blows provide power to drive into thick dense materials, if required. Typically, impact drivers have a hex drive. In comparison, impact drills often give two or three times more driving force (torque) than an average drill.
Similarly, impact wrenches work on the same principle but deliver torque via a 3/8” and ½” square drive, suitable for impact sockets and other square drive fittings.
Want to know more? Read our article for more information on this subject...
These are the most common mains powered drills and were around long before cordless drills came along. This type of drill is ideal if you need to drill into all but the hardest of materials such as stone and granite. Fitted with non hammer and hammer action selection to allow a masonry bit to be used. Some percussion/hammer drills also have variable speed which means you can drive screws. However, one thing to consider is these drills are not as easy to control as cordless drills. They will often run too fast and most models do not have a torque setting.
As a very effective masonry drill, SDS+ drills allow you to drill with ease and speed into all types of masonry and stone, including flint. They are available in cordless and corded versions. SDS+ drills are often referred to as 2kg or 4kg hammers; the kg relates to the amount of joules of impact energy the tool provides.
SDS refers to the how the chuck interacts with the bit. SDS+ bits are slotted and the design allows them to be inserted into the chuck. With a simple twist, the bits are locked into place via the chuck's sprung ball bearings. Using slots on the SDS+ drill bits creates a back and forth motion. This increases the strength of the hammer action of the drill. At the same, it also reduces friction inside the drill.
Some versions allow you to turn the rotation off and use for chiselling. If you turn off the hammer, you can also use the drill for normal drilling tasks. Some also have an interchangeable keyless (or keyed) chuck that can be exchanged with the SDS+ chuck. Alternatively, a second chuck can be attached using an SDS+ arbour and chuck to allow drill bits without SDS+ fitting to be used with the rotary only mode.
SDS+ drills are available in 2 mode or 3 mode:
- 2 mode: rotary action and a rotary with a hammer action (SDS+)
- 3 mode: rotary, rotary hammer and hammer only action (no rotation for chiselling)
Want to learn more about SDS drills? Take a look at our dedicated Knowledge piece...
In addition to SDS+ drills, there's also a category called SDS Max. These drills are designed for the heaviest masonry work and take a different accessory fitting to SDS+ drills.
Available in corded or cordless versions, angle drills are excellent if you need to access spaces that conventional drills are unable to reach. This includes getting behind beams and joists. With this in mind, angle drills are very popular with plumbers and electricians. Angle drills allow plumbers to install pipe where they can best fit. Furthermore, electricians can drill through studs to run wire without having to hold the drill at an unnatural angle. This helps with the overall comfort and versatility of this type of drill.
Angle drills offer plenty of torque when you need it. This allows for slow drilling when necessary. The differing speeds mean the drill itself is less likely to burn out the motor from heavier use. In turn, this means the drill can be called on to drill through heavy wood at times.
Cordless and corded tools
Cordless battery powered drills have revolutionised the way we drill over the last 20 years, gaining more and more ground and far out selling corded mains powered drills. With increased battery technology, far longer run times and power that in many cases can match a mains powered drill, cordless versions continue to take over!
In a nutshell, torque is the turning force delivered by the cordless drill driver. Torque is needed to insert and remove screws as well as drill holes. As a rule of thumb, more demanding tasks (e.g. working with tougher materials or larger screws) will require higher levels of torque.
Almost completely gone are NiCd (Nickel cadmium) and NiMh (Nickel Metal hydride) batteries. These have been replaced with Li-Ion (Lithium- Ion) batteries. The main benefits of these batteries is that they are high capacity with no memory effect, offer low discharge in storage and fast charge times.
Another important consideration is that there is a host of battery voltages. The most common battery voltages are 10.8V/12V, 14.4V, 18V. Gaining more and more pace recently, 36V batteries are sometimes added to a tool as a twin 18V.
The Ah value is basically how much fuel is in the tank. These vary from the most compact of batteries at 1.5Ah increasing upwards in value. Here at Axminster, the furthest we go is 5.0Ah due to the complexities of shipping Li-Ion batteries.
Drill Types Roundup
With numerous drill types to choose from, deciding which option to buy can be an overwhelming task. However, as we've explained, the key to success is to choose a drill that fits your needs.
If you still can't decide on which drill type to choose, why not get in touch with one of our Axminster Experts? Either pop into your local Axminster store and chat with our experienced sales advisors, call our dedicated Customer Services team for advice or talk to us through our Online Chat function on our website. As always, you can get in touch and ask questions via any of our social media platforms. We are here to help you!
If you've enjoyed reading this Buying Guide, why not take a look at our other Power Tools Buying Guides? From How to Choose Your Next Power Tool Dust Extractor to overviews on Jigsaws, Multitools, Routers and Plunge Saws, we've got something for everyone.