Drills/Drivers – An Essential Guide
Nowadays, there are many different types of drills, drill/drivers, impact drivers,etc. What’s more, each model comes with an entirely unique set of features. While this abundance may allow professionals to pick the best drill/driver, a hobbyist would find it quite overwhelming.
Perhaps, you too, want to buy a drill/driver for occasional use? Choosing among so many models and features on the market may look daunting at first. For this reason, we’ve compiled an essential guide on drills and drivers.
Hopefully, this DIY know-how will give you a better insight into the different types of drills, drivers, etc. Besides, you’ll learn a thing or two on how to use these power tools. After all, you don’t have to be an expert to own and operate a drill/driver.
Corded vs. Cordless Drill/Driver – What’s the Difference?
Without a doubt, the first consideration when looking for drills and drivers is the type of power they use. In this regard, these power tools are either corded or cordless. While both options will do the trick for light and medium tasks, there may be a slight difference for tougher ones.
As the name suggests, corded models use a standard plug to feed the motor with power. Typically, the length of the cable varies, but it’s usually 1.5 or 2 meters.
Unlike corded models, cordless drills and drivers use onboard batteries clipped to the base of the handle. They come in a variety of outputs and battery sizes. Usually, you’d want to go for a 12V, 14.4V, or 18V models, but you can go as high as 54V. As you can imagine, each type has its perks and downsides. Therefore, you’d want to pick the style that will best fit your needs. In case you’re up for lots of drilling and screwing on the job site, you’d want an 18V cordless drill/driver. But if you plan to buy the machine for home DIY use, you should bet on a corded model.
Keyless Chuck vs. Keyed Chuck
If you want to drill holes or screw in screws, your power tool must have a chuck. This feature will hold the drill bit firmly so it can work properly. Of course, the jaws of the chuck need firm screwing down onto the bit, too. That way, the accessory will rotate along with the chuck. Usually, you’d need a key to insert into the side of the chuck so you can loosen or tighten the jaws.
When it comes to keyless chucks, there’s no need to use a key. You have to tighten the jaws by hand, which makes the process much easier and quicker. That’s why most new drill and driver models feature keyless chucks. However, keyless chucks aren’t always metal like their predecessors. In this regard, they may not be as reliable and hardwearing as keyed chucks. Still, people prefer them for their ease of use and higher functionality.
Bear in mind that there are different sizes of chucks available. Typically, you’ll find that the smaller the bit, the lighter the work it does and vice versa. Standard chuck sizes may vary from ¼ inch (6mm) to ½ inches (13mm) in diameter.
Brushed vs. Brushless Motor
Another essential feature to consider is the type of motor that your drill or driver is using. While both brushed and brushless motors work pretty much the same way, they have different configurations. In essence, a brushed engine uses brushes to supply a current to the motor windings.
On the other hand, a brushless motor doesn’t use communicator contacts. Instead, it switches on and off the current via an amplifier. This structure makes brushless motors much more efficient than their counterparts. What’s more, they are usually smaller and lighter, so they are handier during prolonged work.
Types of Drills and Drivers
Typically, the standard drill/driver is an entry-level option for DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists alike. You can use such a powerful tool for drilling into wood and softer metals or for screwing. Since they generally have lower power output, they tend to have fewer features, too. Still, they may have 1 to 3-speed levels.
Also, traditional drivers tend to be less sturdy than their combi counter parts. That’s why they may not be suitable for heavy-duty tasks. Perhaps, you can safely use a 12V or 14.4V model in a home environment.
Arguably, combi drill/drivers are a much more powerful alternative to standard drill/drivers. In this regard, they offer more features and are more hardwearing, too. Since most models have a hammer action setting, many people refer to them as hammer drill/drivers.
Thanks to their sturdiness, many professional tradesmen prefer combi drill/drivers as their go-to option. These power tools offer a high-quality build that can withstand heavy-duty work and daily wear and tear. Usually, what you get is a 2-speed gearbox for high-speed drilling and low-speed, high-torque screwing.
Most machines have a rotational selector switch between the chuck and the main body in torque speed. This feature allows the user to modify the amount of torque the drill outputs to the chuck. That way, you’ll be able to maintain superior and flush finishes.Unfortunately, many enthusiasts mistake speed for torque.
While the speed setting determines the chuck’s rotation speed, torque determines the amount of power the motor supplies. Typically, good-quality combi drills have at least 15 torque settings along with a unique drilling setting. Some of them have hammer drilling feature as well as forward and reverse settings. The latter allows users to switch the rotational direction of the chuck.
Impact drivers are relatively new to the power tool market. Their primary purpose is to screw in screws and perform heavy-duty tasks. Since they operate at high speeds, they often serve as a replacement for drills. Thanks to their compact build, impact drivers are perfect for getting into tight spaces where larger drill/drivers are usually unsuccessful.
Perhaps, the main advantage of impact drivers is that they feature a hammer action. It rotates and hammers down on the screw at the same time while screwing it in. You can insert large screws into wood effortlessly. The chuck looks like a hex socket to eliminate the winding. Consequently, you can swap bits much more straightforward than standard drill/drivers.
Conventional Hammer Drill
Undoubtedly, the standard hammer drill has been the go-to method for making holes for many years. The traditional option features a switchable 2-speed gearbox or a trigger-controlled speed. Some modern power drills include an interchangeable hammer action as a feature. That way, the user can employ standard drilling action when drilling metal or metal and hammer action for masonry.
Usually, these power tools come with 750-800W of power output and about 2700 RPM rotational speed. In essence, the higher the rate of the drill, the more powerful it will be. Because of the need for a constant supply of power, hammer drills are usually corded. Of course, you can get hold of a cordless model, but it may cost you a fortune.
Rotary Hammer Drill
Arguably, the most potent type of hammer and power drill is the SDS rotary hammer drill. Some people may also call them kango hammers or pneumatic drills. These beasts are ideal for heavy-duty tasks of hole drilling and masonry work. If you plan on putting new soil pipes in the side of your house, this power tool will do wonders.
Unlike standard drills, SDS rotary hammer drills use pneumatic action generated by a piston that compresses air against a spring-loaded metal plate. Therefore, the measurement of speed is in BPM, or blows per minute. Of course, a standard drill’s BPM will nearly always be higher than a rotary one. However, SDS hammer drills generate much more power, so they don’t need more blows per minute.
In terms of features, these machines are similar to rotary drills. The difference is that some rotary hammer drills may have a chiseling mode. In other words, you can use such a powerful tool for its hammer without the rotation. That way, you can easily use it for demolishing. Typically, the power range of SDS rotary hammer drills is somewhere between 600W and 1500W.
A Basic Guide on How to Use Drills and Drivers
One of the biggest mistakes inexperienced users make is believing they know how to use a drill. While it may look easy, operating a drill requires some basic knowledge. Now that you learn more about drivers, the following guide will give you practical experience. Check out some essential steps on how to operate a drill/driver properly in a real situation:
Choose the right drill bit
Before you start screwing, you need to pick the right bit for the task. In other words, you need a drill bit for drilling and a screwdriver bit for screwing. What’s more, the bit has to be the correct type (e.g., flathead, Pozi drive, etc.) and size. If you’re going to screw in a screw, remember to drill out a pilot hole first. You can do this by merely marking the location of the hole and drilling it. Then, you can proceed to the next step of the fastening.
Of course, you have to first change the bit. In this regard, you’ll have to loosen the chuck’s jaws enough so that you can insert the bit holder. After you do this, tighten the jaws fully to ensure a firm grip. Usually, turning the chuck clockwise will open it. Consequently, you can close it by turning it anti-clockwise.
Check the direction settings
Another essential part of the preparation is checking the direction of the drill and chuck. You’ll either direct it clockwise/forward or anti-clockwise/reverse. While this step may look pretty obvious, it may be hard to tell the direction once the drill starts running.
Choose the speed setting
Of course, you’ll want to be precise with your drilling/screwing. Therefore, you should carefully set the desired speed setting. Ideally, you’d like to drill at higher speeds and fasten and unfasten at slower speeds.
Fasten the screw
Finally, you’re ready to screw in the screw. You should start without a rush, slowly depressing the trigger to build momentum. Otherwise, you risk ruining the flush finish.
If your machine’s clutch starts slipping, it means the screwhead has reached the surface of the wood. Once the screw is in, you can safely remove the drill.
As you can imagine, using drills and drivers isn’t as easy as it looks. Unless you’re a seasoned expert in using such power tools, you’d want to learn a thing or two. In the least, you’ll have a better insight into the different drills, hammer drills, etc., available online today. Understanding their differences, pros, and cons will give you confidence when choosing such a power tool. Besides, knowing how to use one will save you possible headaches when it’s time for some drilling and fastening.