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TESTED: Best Cordless Drill Reviews for 2017

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. 

If you are a professional woodworker or a casual DIYer, a router table, thickness planer, cordless drill etc. are a few bare essentials.

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.

In this article, you will find top recommendations, detailed reviews, comparison charts and more. Lets’ start with the top recommendations –

Best Cordless Drill for Professional Woodworker

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.

Best Cordless Drill for DIYers and Hobbyists

Bosch PS31-2A – This is lightest cordless drill in the market, but doesn’t compromise on power and performance.

Best Cordless Drill for Light Home Use

Black+Decker LDX120PK – With a 20V motor and a long lasting battery, this is the best bang for your buck drill for occasional home use.

  A list of the top Cordless Drills for 2017

 

Cordless DrillSuited ForBest FeatureBudgetRating
Dewalt DCK281D2Contractors57% More run timePremium4.7/5
Bosch PS31-2ADIYersLightweightMid - Range4.5/5
Black+Decker LDX120PKDIYersGreat DurabilityBudget3.8/5
Makita XPH102Secondary DrillDust & water Resistant Premium3.8/5
Bosch DDS181A-02Beginner & DIYersLED lightPremium3.5/5

#1 Pick: Dewalt DCK281D2 Lithium Ion Brushless Compact Drill/Driver

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 –

Dewalt DCK281D2 

A Power Performer

Both the compact drill and impact driver were able to handle 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 upon 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.

Intelligent Design

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.

Cons

The most common issue with the Dewalt DCK281D2 has to be the wobbly chuck 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.

Overall

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.

Pros

  • The 20V brushless motor gives you all the power to drill holes and drive fasteners into tough jobs like hardwoods and concrete.
  • Comes with two 2.0Ah batteries which provide enough juice for all day application. (The brushless motor also helps in increasing battery efficiency).
  • The drill/driver comes with 2-speed settings which give flexibility to the user to change the torque depending upon the application.
  • The tiny footprint of both the driver and the impact drill are of big help when space is an issue.
  • The LED lights are nice and bright, and working in dark areas in no more an inconvenience.

Cons

  • The chuck of the drill/driver wobbles sometimes. (Ensure that chuck is properly tightened before use).
  • The trigger on the driver is slightly small and requires some time to get used too.

#2 Pick: Bosch PS31-2A Compact 2 Speed Cordless Drill Driver Kit

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 –

Bosch PS31-2A

Performance

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 run time. 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.

Cons

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.

Overall

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.

Pros

  • It packs all the versatility you expect from a cordless drill with two-speed settings and 20+1 Torque settings. (This baby can drive multiple screws and drill holes without stalling).
  • With just 2 pounds of weight, it is perfect for DIYer who is not used to handle power tools on a daily basis. (We loved to work on this and overhead jobs were less tiring).
  • The battery life throws competition out of the park and lasts longer than most 18V Drills.

Cons

  • The LED lights don’t add much utility because of the position which is near the trigger.
  • The thinner handle might be uncomfortable for some.

Budget Pick: Black+Decker LDX120PK Smart Select Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver

The LDX120PK by Black+Decker is designed for homeowners. The 20V might seem a bit of an overkill, but the max torque generated by this is far less than most 20V drills. Here is more –

Black+Decker LDX120PK

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 –

  • It comes with an entire tool kit, which includes bits of different sizes. This removes the guess work a homeowner has to go through (before buying bits) and as per the task in hand, you can choose the bits. (The Instruction Manual is enough to guide you while choosing bits for a task).
  • With the 11 clutch settings, you can perform wide varieties of tasks. Drill holes of different sizes, drive different sized screws and more. (So if you need to fix loose screws, drill holes for hanging frames or assemble furniture, this drill has all the power you need)
  • The Lithium Ion batteries hold the charge for days, so even if you don’t use it for multiple days, you can take it out and it will be good to go.
  • The entire kit (with the drill, bits and other tools) costs less than 80 bucks. This is a complete steal, and if you don’t stretch the drill with complex projects, it proves to be an investment of a lifetime.

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.

Overall

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.

Pros

  • Comes with a complete toolkit, which has everything a homeowner could ask for.
  • The 11 position clutch gives you the flexibility to drive and remove different types of screws.
  • Has enough power to drills holes into home walls and common woods like mahogany, pine, and even oak.

Cons

  • It is majorly made of plastic and doesn’t rank high in durability.
  • The motor gets heated fairly quickly, especially while drilling holes.
  • The kit bag is also flimsy and fails to provide proper support (and protection) to your tools.

#4 Pick: Makita XPH102 Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2″ Hammer Driver-Drill Kit

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 –

Makita XPH102

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.

Pros

  • You get two-speed settings (0-600 & 0-1900 RPM) making it suitable for both drilling and driving screws. (At 28,500 BPM it provides enough power to handle standard hammer applications.)
  • At just 3.9 lbs. of weight you can work on this all day. (The 3.0Ah battery is also enough for all day application).
  • It also features LED lights and XPT technology (guarding the drill against dust and water), which is a great bonus considering the price.
  • The battery charges up quickly and with just 30 minutes of charge, you get over 2 hours of operation.

Cons

  • This is not designed for tough applications, but still, can be used for occasional masonry jobs.

#5 Pick: Bosch DDS181A-02 Compact Tough 1/2″ Drill/Driver Kit

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.

Bosch DDS181A-02

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.


Ultimate Buying Guide for Cordless Drill (How we tested)

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 –

Professional Woodworker

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.

DIYer and Woodworking Projects

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.

Casual Home Use

Sometimes you need to hang crafts or frames in 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 –

Performance

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.

Durability

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.

Battery Life

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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