Power Drills

Power drills help to make DIY easy, drilling holes in all sorts of materials quickly and accurately. You have a choice between mains and battery-powered drills. Our guide will help you to pick the one that best suits your level of DIY activity.

Drill Power

The motors of power drills are rated in Watts, typically ranging from 400 Watts for basic models up to around 850 Watts for the biggest hammer drills. The more powerful the motor, the faster it will drill, and a bigger motor also means it's less likely to burn out if you overwork it. So it pays to pick a higher power model if you're likely to do more than drill holes in wood from time to time.

Chuck Types

The chuck is the front end of the drill that holds the drill bits and, once upon a time you had to use a T-shaped 'chuck' key to tighten the jaws of the chuck. Nowadays all but the cheapest drills have a so-called keyless chuck that you can tighten by hand. It's a feature well worth having as it means an end to hunting for those lost chuck keys!

Basic Mains Drills

If all you ever want to do is to drill small holes in wood and occasionally masonry, the best choice you can make is an inexpensive single-speed drill with hammer action. Pick one with an input power of at least 400 Watts and a chuck size of 13mm - this means it will fit drill bits of up to 13mm in diameter. At this price you'll get an old-fashioned chuck that needs a key to tighten it.

Always buy a spare key in case you lose the original, and keep it in your tool box. You'll also need to invest in an extension cable so the drill can be used at a distance from power points.

Basic Cordless Drill

The obvious advantage of a cordless drill is that you can take it anywhere without having to tow an extension cable behind you. Their slow chuck speed, compared with mains drills, also makes them ideal for driving screws, and with a reverse gear it's easy to undo screws as well.

All but the cheapest models have a keyless chuck, allowing you to change drill bits by hand without the need for a chuck key. However, most have a maximum chuck capacity of only 10mm.

Single-speed models are usually the cheapest but it's worth picking one with variable speed and hammer action allowing you to tackle masonry as well as wood and metal. One with a 9.6 Volt battery is suitable for the most typical DIY jobs.

Advanced Power Drills

If you do a lot of DIY it pays to invest in a more powerful drill - it will work more quickly and last longer too. More power means bigger drilling capacities - up to 40mm in wood, 20mm in concrete and 13mm in steel.

Keyless chucks and hammer action come as standard and some models have two speed ranges, others continuously variable speed; the latter is the more versatile. Other features include reverse gear and torque control, enabling the drill to do double duty as a power screwdriver. The most expensive models offer rotary hammer or percussion action - a good choice if you do a lot of drilling into masonry. Most of these drills come with a storage case.

Advanced Cordless Drills

As with mains drills, paying more for a cordless drill buys you a bigger chuck, more drilling capacity and a longer battery life. Models with 12, 14.4 and massive 18 Volt batteries are now available offering drilling capacities of up to 30mm in wood, 13mm in metal and also 13mm in masonry if the drill has hammer action.

Many have two speed ranges and torque control that allows them to be used as drill-drivers. Models in this price range usually come with a spare battery and a storage case.

Bench Drills

If you do a lot of woodworking it pays to invest in a drill stand that will convert your mains power drill into a bench drill, and allow you to drill accurate holes at precise 90° angles. Check that the drill and stand are compatible or buy a combined drill and stand set.

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