Looking for the best cordless drill? Read our in-depth cordless drill reviews, comparison charts and top picks for 2017 to help you make the right buying decision.
Woodworking is not merely a profession for carpenters, it can also be a fulfilling hobby for everyone else.
Dewalt DCK281D2: The combines power, performance, build and a solid battery life to create a complete package. Perfect for contractors, this can handle anything you throw at it.
Bosch PS31-2A: This is lightest cordless drill in the market but doesn’t compromise on power and performance.
Makita XPH102: With a 18V motor and a long-lasting battery, this is the best bang for your buck drill for occasional home use.
You will need it to drill screws and even drill holes for completing projects. If you are looking to buy a new cordless drill, we are here to make that job easy for you. After testing out over 30 drills we have narrowed down to the top 5.
Generally, drill drivers which fit the specifications of a contractor are bulky and difficult to carry. The Dewalt Max XR changes that and provides a truckload of power in a tiny footprint. Here is everything about it –
A Power Performer
Both the compact drill and impact driver handled anything we threw at it. The kit comes with a 20V impact driver (DCB886) which uses 1-inch hex bits. With a maximum torque of 1500 inch/pound, we were able to drive screws into hardwood, metal, and even concrete. The driver also comes with a quick-release mechanism, so you can change the bit with just one hand (super convenient).
The compact drill/driver is also powered by a 20V brushless motor and comes with two-speed settings. Lower speed of 0-600 RPM can be used to drive screws and higher speeds can be used to drill holes. The drill/driver also provides 15 different settings to change the torque and it can be varied depending on the job.
Overall, the kit was able to handle 95% of the applications and unless you need something from Masonry, this is the only drill kit you’ll need.
The thing that impressed us the most was the tiny footprint of both the compact drill and impact driver. The drill/driver is 7.2 inches in length while the impact driver is just 5.50 inch in length. Dewalt managed to reduce the size without compromising on power.
With the tiny footprint, we were able to work in tiny workspaces and driving screws on edges was a breeze. The LED lights come in handy when you are working in darker environments.
Finally, with an ergonomic grip and lightweight body, we could work on this for extended hours.
Overall, it combines utility and power to create an ultimate package for a contractor or professional woodworker.
The most common issue with the Dewalt DCK281D2 has to be the wobbly chunk of the compact drill/driver. While working you have to check occasionally to ensure it is completely secure, otherwise, the bit can fall out of the drill. It is something you can live with and ensure you tighten the chuck before use. The wobbly chuck also takes a hit on accuracy at lower speeds.
Secondly, the nylon carry bag which comes with the kit is complete trash and we will recommend you to get a Dewalt Plastic Tool Box.
The Dewalt DCK281D2 will be able to perform 95% of the tasks you throw at it, but if you need something for masonry, you can get Dewalt DCK287D2 Combo Kit which comes with hammer drill functionality.
The standard 18V drills seem to be an overkill for most DIYers and the low power 11 volts don’t hold up for most tasks. To find the perfect middle ground is what we set for and our search ended with the Bosch PS31-2A Drill/Driver. It has all the power a DIYer would need, but comes in the smallest footprint among all the drills we tested. Here is our full review of this little wonder –
Looking at all the specifications we weren’t expecting much from this drill, but it surprised us with its performance.
It comes with a 3/8-inch chuck which is able to accommodate most bits, giving you the versatility to drive different sized screws. We were able to drive a 3-inch screw with complete ease. (This was not the case with other 12V drills.) You also get variable speed and variable torque settings, so you can
We were also able to drill holes on hardwoods. We were able to drill 10 holes one after the other before the drill started overheating. (Which is insane considering the rating).
At 26 inches per pound of torque, it clearly isn’t recommended for professional use. For DIY projects like small cabinets, tables etc. this has all the firepower you’ll need.
Design and Battery
The size of the Bosch PS31-2A is something that took us all by surprise. It is just 7 inches in length making it the smallest drill (that we recommend) and at the weight is just over two pounds, making it the lightest 12V drill you can buy.
We worked on cabinets and windows, and doing this we had to work in an overhead position for quite a lot of time. Working on bigger drills you feel tired after continuous hours of operation, but this wasn’t the case with Bosch PS31-2A. This is a big bonus especially for beginners and DIYers, who can work on their projects for longer durations, without having to stop.
The battery life on this also insane. The motor efficiency has clearly been improved by Bosch and this has helped in increasing the battery runtime. We drove close to 150 screws and drilled around 25 holes on a single charge. Long story short, it will last you an entire day and the battery life is more than enough for most DIYers needs.
The Bosch PS31-2A comes with LED lights, but since they are situated near the trigger, it doesn’t focus on the job. So if you have to work in the dark, we recommend carrying an additional flashlight for proper use.
It packs quite a punch, in a lightweight frame and can handle the occasional drop. And you can get all of this for just over 100 bucks.
If you are a seasoned contractor, you get called for all kinds of jobs. Sometimes you don’t need to bring all the firepower. Makita XPH102 works great as secondary drill, and here is everything you need to know about it –
A Secondary Drill
It does everything you expect a compact drill to do. Firstly, with an ergonomic grip and lightweight design, this can be used for extended hours of operations. The 3.0Ah battery is not the most efficient but still, gives you enough runtime for an entire day of operation. The LED lights were also quite bright and we were able to rely on them in darker environments.
Coming to performance, you get two-speed ranges, and even the hammer drill is rated to go up to 28,500 RPM. We tested on standard applications like sheds and fence, and it was able to handle them without a hiccup. We drilled a hole in concrete, but this drill is not designed for regular masonry tasks.
Overall for the prize, the performance is top notch and if you need a secondary drill, this will be our top recommendation.
A Home Owner’s Drill
We tested drills by Bosch, Milwaukee, and even Dewalt, but for needs of the homeowner, we found this drill by Black+Decker the best. Here are four reasons, why we say that –
On the downside, the outer construction is prone to wear and tear. Also, we won’t recommend using this for DIY projects. We tested this on a small garden project, but the drill got heated up. However, for standard applications, there were no issues.
With the Black+Decker LDX120PK, you get what you pay for. There is no over the top torque, or crazy speed settings. This drill is designed keeping a homeowner in mind and if you fall into that category, we will recommend getting this one.
Finally, if you picked up woodworking as a hobby, and need a drill that you can start with, then the Bosch DDS181A-02 (Plastic Chuck) is what we would recommend.
First things first, like other Bosch drills, this is a lightweight and balanced drill. For beginners, this is a big PRO as it takes some time to get used to a machine, and the lighter weight helps them work on projects without any discomfort.
Secondly, we were also impressed with the battery life. We tested this out while building a study desk, and we completed the project without having to recharge. It can easily drive close to 100 screws on a single charge.
It also drills through wood with ease, however, we would recommend giving this machine a rest after drilling 5-8 holes, otherwise, the motor might stall.
The biggest issue with the performance is the wobbly chuck. This can be seen at lower speeds and it has a clear impact on accuracy. For beginners, this won’t be a big issue, but as you move to a complex project, you would have to be careful.
If woodworking is just a hobby, this is a drill you can get started with. It packs enough power, to drive through basic projects, the ergonomic grip, and lightweight frame ensure that beginners can easily maneuver this and finally, you get the reliability that is a hallmark of any Bosch tool.
Buying a cordless drill is not easy, especially with so many options available in the market today. Without a proper system, you’ll end up buying a drill that just doesn’t do the trick.
So the first thing we did was categorize the needs. Most people using a cordless drill belong to the following three categories –
Combi drill is something that you will use the most as they come with three applications (and different speed settings). At higher speeds, you can drill holes into wood and metal, while at lower speeds you will be able to drill screws. Such drills have all the power to handle regular operation. With the hammer functions, you can drill holes into concrete for masonry.
The impact drill is used to drive holes into tougher workpieces. They come with a hex chuck and have a very high torque, which is crucial for drilling screws.
Most manufacturers offer a kit, which contains both a combi drill and an impact drill. This makes the job easier for the woodworker, as you can carry your entire drilling equipment in one briefcase.
If woodworking is more of a hobby and you make your own projects, then a drill/driver will do the trick. They are similar to Combi Drills but come with lesser power. Having said that, the power is enough for most DIY projects and our recommendations pack enough power at a lighter weight.
Sometimes you need to hang crafts or frames on your walls or want to fix a thing by drilling screws. You can do that with a casual drill which is low in power. They also retail at cheaper prices compared to other drills.
We have made recommendations in all the three categories.
Next up, while testing a drill, we considered three major metrics – performance, durability and battery life. Here is more about them –
Like any power tool, it all comes down to performance. For a cordless drill, performance was judged on how well it can perform different kinds of tasks. We drilled different types of woods and even tested on some thick metals.
Another thing we considered in performance was how consistent was the drill in its performance. So we tested out the drills for long hours and compared the levels of performance.
In a drill, the bits are the ones’ that take the major brunt. But they can be easily replaced. We were more concerned with the durability of the motor, chuck, and batteries. A motor should be able to consistently run smoothly for longer durations, the chuck should be able to handle the brunt, and the batteries should last longer.
We asked longtime users of the drills and consulted some seasoned woodworkers, to rate the durability of the drill.
Finally, a cordless drill runs on battery. Generally, a larger AMP battery will be able to last longer before it needs a recharge.
We would like to give a shout out to Bosch as their batteries were able to last longer even at a lower AMP rating. (This helps in reducing the overall weight of the drill)
However, we made sure that all our recommendations give excellent battery life to the user.
So this is the entire process of how we made our recommendations. We will be testing out newer models, and if we find a drill that replaces our current recommendations, then we will update this article.
If there is anything you would like to know, drop a comment below.
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