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Top 4 Best Cordless Drills of 2018

Best cordless drill reviews 2018

Best-in-class
DEWALT DCD791D2

DEWALT DCD791D2 Brushless Compact Drill/Driver Kit

Best for the pros

High-performance cordless drill delivers industrial-grade capabilities and extended runtime.

DEWALT DCD791D2 Review

Powered by an XR 20V Max lithium-ion battery and equipped with a brushless motor, the DEWALT DCD791D2 is the best cordless drill on the market.

The battery and motor combined enhance the unit’s capacity and runtime with up to 57%, while the lightweight and compact design allows easy maneuvering in tight spaces.

Industrial performance is guaranteed by the reliable transmission which delivers a maximum speed of 2,000 RPM, while the half-inch ratcheting chuck ensures a superior bit gripping.

Like most cordless drills, this machine has both drilling and driving capabilities and comes as part of a kit comprising two batteries and a charger.

Powerful and well-balanced, the DEWALT DCD791D2 is a great choice for professionals.

Best value
Dewalt DCD771C2

Dewalt DCD771C2 Cordless Compact Drill Driver Kit

Best value for money

Perfect for both contractors and DIYers, this cordless drill packs sufficient power for most applications.

Dewalt DCD771C2 Review

Less powerful than our best-in-class pick but packing many of its features, the Dewalt DCD771C2 appeals to both professionals and homeowners due to its more attractive price point.

This unit also delivers high-performance thanks to the reliable transmission that spins the chuck up to 1,500 RPM. Despite the slightly lower speed, this cordless drill can still complete a wide range of applications.

Power is provided by the 20V Max lithium-ion battery which is interchangeable, and the kit comes with two batteries for extended runtime.

Ergonomic and easy to handle, the unit is easy to control and slim enough to use in tight spaces. Powerful, powered by a reliable battery and capable of handling most jobs, the Dewalt DCD771C2 is one of the best cordless drills for the money.

Also great
Bosch DDB181-02

Bosch DDB181-02 Compact Tough Drill/Driver Kit

Less powerful but cheaper

Ideal for homeowners and DIYers, this cordless drills comes equipped with an 18V battery.

Bosch DDB181-02 Review

The Bosch DDB181-02 is one of the most compact cordless drills on the market and is ideal for the homeowners and hobbyists who need a reliable yet more affordable tool.

The powerful transmission delivers an efficient drilling power and spins the chuck up to 1,300 RPM.

Like our best-value pick, the drill features a two-speed transmission which allows adjusting the output of the tool to the demands of the project, while the dual drilling and driving mode adds versatility.

Weighing only 3 pounds, this cordless drill is also easy to handle even in tight spaces, and like our best-in-class and best-value, it comes with two lithium-ion batteries and a charger for continuous operation.

Powered by 18-volt batteries yet powerful enough to withstand domestic and mid-duty workshop applications, the Bosch DDB181-02 is a great alternative if you’re aiming to get a better price.

Best budget
BLACK+DECKER BDC120VA100

BLACK+DECKER BDC120VA100 Cordless Project Kit

A pocket-friendly option

Perfect for domestic use but also ideal for light-duty workshop applications.

BLACK+DECKER BDC120VA100 Review

If absolute power is not the most important, but you still want a reliable tool, the BLACK+DECKER BDC120VA could be your best pick.

This light-duty cordless drill reaches speeds up to 750 RPM and is ideal for drilling or driving screws in wood and plastic.

This cordless drill is powered by a 20V Max lithium-ion battery with 18-volt nominal voltage and comes in a high-value kit comprising drilling and driving bits and multiple accessories.
A nice feature of this unit is the 24-position clutch that prevents overdriving the screws.

Withstanding most DIY applications, lightweight, and affordable, the BLACK+DECKER BDC120VA is perfect for the budget-conscious homeowners.

2. Why invest in a cordless drill?

Since the emergence of the newest types of batteries, cordless drills have become more popular than the corded drills among both professionals and DIYers. Their main advantage is the mobility, while today’s batteries offer both power and decent run time.

But a cordless drill can serve many more purposes than just drilling holes. Here are the most common alternative uses:

  • Replace the traditional screwdriver
  • Drill pilot holes to minimize wood splits when inserting screws
  • Stirring paint
  • Cutting holes in different materials

3. What type of cordless drill do you need?

There are two types of cordless drills, drill/drivers and combination drills.

  • Cordless drill/drivers: Are designed to drill holes and drive screws, and almost all cordless drills can perform both operations. This type is the most common among homeowners and can be used for multiple applications, from hanging shelves and hooks to woodworking. However, they can’t handle particularly hard materials, like masonry.
  • Cordless combinationdrills: Also called hammer drills, they have the same functions of the drill/drivers as well as a hammer-drilling mode which allows drilling holes into masonry materials. These machines combine the rotating motion with the hammer action, and to do this they use more power than the standard drill/drivers, which typically means a shorter runtime.

4. Cordless drill battery

Almost all cordless drills available on the market come with lithium-ion batteries, although you can still find nickel-cadmium batteries on the older models. Regardless of the technology involved, you must check the voltage and ampere-hours (Ah) to assess the battery’s performance.

The voltage is the first rating to check, as it offers a clear indication of the machine’s power and torque. However, not all batteries can generate the same power despite having the same voltage, mostly because manufacturers express the voltage of their batteries at no load, which typically means a lower nominal value.

The ampere-hours rating determines the battery’s capacity and runtime, with a higher Ah rating typically meaning a longer runtime.

How to choose the right voltage

Power is expressed in watts and is easy to calculate multiplying the power tool’s amperes by its voltage. But cordless drill manufacturers rarely disclose the amperage of their tools, which is different than the Ah rating above. This means assessing wattage is often impossible, so you’ll have to figure out which is the best cordless drill for you based on voltage alone.

The voltage of the cordless drill is typically printed on the battery and usually varies between 6 and 36 volts.

The easiest way to assess the right voltage is by considering your needs.

  • Light duty applications, such as drilling or cutting holes and driving screws into softer materials like wood, plastic, and drywall require lower power, and a voltage up to 18 volts is usually sufficient.
  • Heavy-duty applications that involve drilling or driving screws through harder materials including hardwood, ceramic, and metals, require higher power and a battery of at least 18 volts.

5. Cordless drill speed

The speed of the cordless drill, measured in revolutions per minute (RPM), determines how fast the chuck can spin and ultimately determines the tool’s capability of handling heavier duty applications.

Most cordless drills come with speeds up to 2,000 RPM, and they can have either a one or two-speed settings.

One vs. two-speed settings

  • Cordless drills with a single speed setting typically operate in the 0-750 RPM range and are ideal for light-duty applications. These cordless drills are cheaper than the models with two-speed settings and are popular among homeowners.
  • Cordless drills with two-speed settings allow you to switch from lower to higher torque depending on the application. The lower speed setting can reach 500 RPM, while the upper-speed setting often exceeds 1,500 RPM, and these machines are popular among hobbyists and professionals who need the tool for heavy-duty applications.

Choosing the right speed

Lower speeds generate higher torque and are used for drilling harder materials like metal and masonry, but also for driving screws. Higher speeds are used for drilling through softer materials, including wood, drywall, and plastic.

You will typically need:

A speed of about

For drilling through

500 RPM

Hard metals (high carbon steel alloys, cast iron)

1,500 RPM

Bronze and brass

2,000 RPM

Wood and soft metals (aluminum)

6. Torque and torque settings

The torque determines the rotary turning force of the chuck measured in pound-inch (in-lbs). It is commonly believed that a higher torque defines a higher-grade tool, but before choosing the highest torque you must also consider safety.

A too powerful drill can overpower your strength, causing you to lose control over the machine. Most low-speed drilling and screw driving applications don’t require a torque over 600 in-lbs., and the best cordless drills don’t exceed 650 in-lbs. torque.

Clutch

A cordless drill’s clutch is a device similar to the transmission clutch of a vehicle and allows the user to control the amount of torque applied for various drilling and driving applications.

Clutches have multiple settings that vary from low to high torque.

  • Low torque settings: Allow for higher speed applications, such as driving screws in wood or drywall.
  • High torque settings: Provide a greater power during lower speed applications, such as driving screws in metal.

Most clutches have a marked drilling setting which must be selected when using the tool for drilling.

7. Chuck size

The chuck size determines the diameter of the drill bits compatible with the tool. Cordless drills have either 3/8-inch (10mm) or 1/2-inch (13mm) chucks.

  • 3/8-inch (10mm) chucks: Can only accommodate drill bits with a maximum shank diameter of 3/8 inches and are suitable for lighter duty applications.
  • 1/2-inch (13mm) chucks: Are typically adjustable and can accommodate both 3/8-inch bits and larger bits with a maximum shank diameter up to 1/2 inches.

8. Best drill bits for cordless drills

The drill bits come in a wide range of sizes and types, each of them suitable for specific applications. When choosing the best drill bits, you must consider the size and type of the shank, the size of the drill bit, the material it is made from, and its purpose.

Shank size and type

Determines the drill bit’s compatibility with your tool. As mentioned above, drill bits can have shank diameters up to 1/2 inches. Regarding the shank type, it can be either round or hexagonal.

  • Round shank drill bits: Are easier to center in the chuck but the rounded shape makes it difficult for the chuck to provide a good grip.
  • Hexagonal (or hex) shank drill bits: Are harder to center accurately but the flat surface allows the chuck to grip the bit securely. Due to this, hex shank drill bits are more popular than the round shank bits.

Best drill bits material

The most common types of drill bits are:

  • High-speed steel (HSS): The most common and cheapest drill bits designed for high-speed applications. They are ideal for drilling wood, plastics, and soft metals.
  • Black oxide-coated: Are made from metal and coated with a rust-resistant material that improves their durability. They are ideal for drilling soft and hardwood, plastics, and harder metals, such as steel.
  • Titanium-coated: Are the upgraded version of the black oxide-coated drill bits and last longer. They are typically employed in the same drilling applications as the black oxide-coated type.
  • Cobalt: These drill bits are some of the strongest, and they can drill hard metals and steel. The main advantage of cobalt is the quick heat dissipation and the resistance to abrasion, which improves their strength and lifespan.
  • Carbide-tipped: Are the strongest and best drill bits used for the heaviest applications. These drill bits are typically used to drill masonry and hard metals, and they stay sharp for a very long time.

Drill bits purpose comparison

The easiest way to choose the best drill bits is by considering the application. Manufacturers make specific drill bits for wood, metal, masonry, and specialty drill bits for other materials. The most common types include:

Material

Type of drill bit

Application

Wood

Auger

Drill large holes

Wood

Brad point

Drill straight holes

Wood

Spade

Drill wide holes

Metal

Rivet

Drill rivet holes

Metal

Reduced shank

Drill large holes

Masonry

Percussion

Drill holes with hammer function engaged

Multiple

Multi-purpose

Drill holes in most materials

Besides the common types mentioned in the table above, there are multiple types of specialty drill bits used for drilling glass, tiles, or large holes.

Screwdriver bits

Since almost all cordless drills double as an electric screwdriver, the manufacturers also propose a wide selection of screwdriver bits compatible with most types of screws. Some screwdriver bits come with a standard hex or round shank and can be placed directly in the chuck, while others will require you to use them with an adapter.

9. Other important features

The best cordless drills often come with a range of other features that either improve your user experience or your safety.

  • Spotlight: Provides the extra-light you need when working in confined or dark spaces. Some tools have a convenient auto shutoff function for the spotlight, prolonging the runtime.
  • Fast recharging: The latest generation batteries can recharge in under an hour, and some of the best models can even recharge in less than 40 minutes.
  • Multiple batteries: If you’re aiming for continuous operation, invest in a battery kit that comes with two batteries.
  • Ergonomic design: Look for a well-balanced tool that is comfortable to maneuver. A soft grip handle can also improve your comfort.
  • Carrying case: Is ideal for storage and transport purposes. Most carrying cases have slots for accessories, so you’ll be able to keep everything in one place.
  • Belt hook: Allows you to attach the drill to your belt for hands-free operation.
  • Spindle lock: Prevents the chuck from moving when the trigger is released, allowing for a safer change of the drill bits.
  • Automatic brake: Stops the chuck instantly when the trigger is released, lowering the risk of injuries.
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