Power drills buying guide

Packed with features and functions, power drills are likely to be one of your most versatile and useful tools, making easy work of drilling holes into wood, metal and concrete. It can even drive screws and fasten bolts with the right adaptors.

Main features to look for:

  • Corded vs. cordless drills
    • Cordless or battery operated drills: These drills are highly convenient, being lightweight and easy to get to places which are normally considered inaccessible with mains powered drills. They're also safer to work with as there are no trailing cords. The down side is, the tougher the material you're working with, the faster the battery will drain. Although the batteries can be interchanged for continuous power, cordless drills are advised for use with softer materials.
    • Corded or mains operated drills: This type of drill provides extra power, torque and additional features, making them ideal for tougher jobs and for the more experienced user. They do however require a power point nearby when in use.
  • Power

    The more power a drill has - measured in Volts for cordless and Watts for corded - the faster and more versatile it is.

  • Speed

    A drill's speed is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM), and this determines how well the drill will perform. Single speed drills run at one speed only, whereas variable speed drills can be adjusted to take the strength of the material into account.

  • Hammer action

    Hammer or precision action means a drill can tackle harder and heavier materials such as concrete. Using a pounding action, it pushes the toughened tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) masonry bits in and out at high speeds. Hammer drills can be difficult to control, so a secondary handle or grip can make the drill easier and more comfortable to use.

  • Torque

    Most drills come with five torque settings, enabling you to adjust the amount of twisting force and speed that you apply, giving you better control.

  • Chuck type

    The drill's chuck holds the bit tightly in position, and its capacity determines the largest bit size that the drill can take. A chuck capacity of 10mm will suit most users' needs. There are 3 types of mechanism: key operated, keyless or SDS. The most suitable mechanism depends on the type of drilling that needs to be done.

    • Key operated chucks are generally more secure as the chuck is tightened with the aid of a key. This helps to keep the drill working where you want it to, even when tackling hard materials.
    • Keyless chucks normally use a standard 13mm chuck. As there's no key, bits can be changed quickly and easily.
    • SDS chucks lock bits into place using a fast keyless mechanism. Often available on top of the range drills, the SDS system is good for using on tough drilling jobs.