What Do The Numbers on Your Drill Mean

What Do The Numbers on Your Drill Mean

Arguably, the drill is one of the must-have power tools in every homeowner’s collection. The multi-purpose machine will help you complete a myriad of tasks around the house and much more. From drilling and driving to rust removal, such a unit will prove to be indispensable on any given day.

When purchasing one of those nifty tools, many people face the challenge of picking the right drill. As there are corded and cordless drills, each type has its unique features. This makes choosing such a machine quite daunting, especially for those who ignore the details.

Perhaps, you’ve seen both types of drills, but you still have no idea what these numbers on the tool mean. While it’s a feature that many people underutilize, it’s as essential as it can get. Luckily, we’re here to help with some explanations that will improve your understanding.

The Lowdown on 20V Cordless Drills

Drilling speed

While this term seems self-explanatory, many people have misconceptions about it. Typically, the drilling speed measures how fast a drill bit spins. However, this feature may not do much if the device doesn’t have the right amount of torque.

Typically, lower torque may cause loss of speed when working with denser materials like wood or aluminum. The higher resistance of more rigid materials will quickly make the drill lose momentum.

That’s why it’s essential to look for a drill with higher speed and adequate torque level. That way, you’ll ensure your machine will keep fighting for resistance to push through materials. Having a clutch control feature on your device will significantly improve the precision when working with different objects.

Clutch control and torque

The little numbers you’ll see on most modern drills are the so-called clutch control or slip clutch. This feature is a movable collar behind the chuck. Usually, it has different numbers that indicate the amount of torque that the tool will apply before disengaging the motor. That way, you’ll safely drive screws without the risk of overdriving.

Technically speaking, torque is the amount of force that a drill applies to the spinning drill bit. While it indicates the unit’s muscle, it’s essential to know that torque is different from speed. In most cases, that’s what people look for when buying a drill driver.

However, excessive torque has some disadvantages. For example, you may have a hard time maintaining control of the tool. After all, you don’t always want to pin the fasteners deep in your material. Instead, the aim is to have the head of the screw to be just slightly recessed.

Too much drilling torque poses the risk of overdriving as well as cam-outs. The latter happens when the fastener stops turning, but the drill keeps spinning. Ultimately, the unit jumps out of the screw and ruins the slot, creating a crater in the head.

How does the clutch control work?

Fortunately, properly regulating the clutch control will apply just the right amount of torque and then stop. When the torque reaches the desired point, it simply slips out of gear, and the bit stops spinning. This is when the drill driver will start making the so-called ratcheting sound. It happens when the clutch disengages, letting the power gear spin harmlessly.

This feature is beneficial in tasks where you have to work with delicate materials like drywall. Since you want the screws to barely dimple the surface, you’ll need extra precision when doing the driving. The clutch will allow you to set the perfect amount of torque without overdriving or tearing the drywall. Let’s not forget about the low-quality screws that are very easy to cam-out.

If you buy a drill without a clutch or set it too high, you’ll have to monitor the driving process.Ultimately, you’ll have to back the machine’s trigger at the right time or do everything in pauses to prevent overdriving.


What Do The Numbers on Your Drill Mean

How to properly use the clutch settings on a drill

As already mentioned, the clutch settings regulate the amount of torque that the machine applies to the drill bit. The higher the number, the higher the unit’s torque power will apply to the fastener of choice.

Since the “1” setting is the lowest, the highest number has to put out the maximum torque that the drill has. But there may also be some other settings like the “drill icon.”It will bypass all clutch settings and drive the fastener with the maximum power possible.

Of course, there’s always some experimentation before you find the golden mean of your clutch dial. Different settings work for various materials, so it may take a bit to learn your power tool’s basics. You can get a sample piece of the material and set the clutch dial somewhere in the middle.

Try to drive a fastener and see how far it goes in. If the screw didn’t drive flush, you could increase the clutch. If it sunk into the material, then you need to reduce the torque. After that, you’re ready to go. Just make sure you keep an eye on the fasteners, so you don’t make any mistakes.


The difference between cordless drills and corded drills

Perhaps, the main trouble with choosing the right tool often stems from the difference between corded and cordless drills. While each type’s advantages and disadvantages are pretty obvious, many DIY enthusiasts fail to grasp the main idea.

Typically, corded drills are well-known for their higher torque capacity. That’s because they have a direct connection to the electrical source.Meanwhile, any 18V or higher-voltage cordless drill may be decent enough to put out a high amount of torque; that all depends on the unit’s battery. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the pros and cons of each type:

Cordless drills

In a way, cordless drills are much more popular than their predecessors due to their ease of use. Their main feature is the battery loaded at its root. Thanks to their wireless nature, they are portable and suitable for use on sites without a source of electricity. When the battery runs out, you can quickly replace it with another one and continue working. This feature adds optimal versatility and a consistent level of torque.

What’s more, the compact design and built-in lights allow for use in restricted areas. But the most essential features that every cordless drill has are speed and clutch control. These two characteristics will help the user achieve maximum precision when drilling and driving.

Advantages of Cordless Drills:

  • The portable nature of cordless drills allow for use everywhere without the need for an electrical source;
  • Thanks to their compact size and versatility, they are great for use in limited spaces;
  • They have a much greater precision due to the extra options for control;
  • They come with different speed settings;
  • Cordless drills are easy to store without taking up much space.

Disadvantages of Cordless Drills:

  • They tend to have less torque than their corded counterparts;
  • Cordless models require frequent battery change and recharging;
  • They are typically far more expensive than corded models.


What Do The Numbers on Your Drill Mean

Corded drills

Perhaps, corded drills are far more traditional than their high-tech cousins. Still, they have a lot to show, as their main feature is high torque. Since they don’t use batteries for power, they have enormous power and speed output. This specification makes them ideal for drilling and boring out holes, but not so much for driving.

The main reason for this is the lack of clutch control, which means everything will depend on the drill trigger. In other words, the fasteners will almost always cam-out because the drill bit just can’t stop. You have no control over it because the corded drill will always keep fighting the resistance. Besides, you have to tether this machine into a socket that supplies electrical input.

Advantages of Corded Drills:

  • Corded models have much higher torque and speed output than cordless ones;
  • They are great at drilling and boring out holes;
  • Corded drills won’t lose power unless you pull it out of the socket;
  • These models are generally cheaper than their cordless counterparts.

Disadvantages of Corded Drills:

  • Using a corded drill requires the availability of an electrical outlet;
  • Not as storage friendly as cordless models;
  • The lack of clutch control decreases the precision during driving.

Final Thoughts

All in all, it’s safe to say that the small colored collar behind the drill chuck is just as important as torque and speed. That’s why it’s crucial to decide whether you’ll need it and how to use it. No matter what your needs are, cordless drills are versatile enough to serve you for years. Of course, they’re not so great for drilling, but an impact driver can solve all your problems. Besides, cordless drills will provide the ultimate precision when driving fasteners.

But remember that clutch control can be both a blessing and a curse. Corded models don’t have one, which makes them perfect for drilling holes. If you plan to use the drill for woodworking and such around the house, you won’t need to go cordless. Ultimately, you can have both types for optimal efficiency during your DIY tasks.

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