A red electric drill on a black background.

Make DIY easy with the definitive guide to drills

Published 30th November 2022
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Drills are a DIY essential, but do you know your combi drills from your hammer drills? Don't let that put you off your DIY as we've put together everything you need to know to find the perfect tool for the job in this handy guide!

A man working outside with two different types of drills.

The different types of drill

The main question when it comes to buying these power tools is whether corded or cordless are better, but there are a few other types of drills to consider too.

Below, we've broken down the different types and the jobs they're ideal for.

Corded drills vs cordless drills

As you've probably guessed, the main difference between corded (electric drills) and cordless drills is one uses battery power and is portable, the other uses mains (or generator) power and is tied down by a power cable.

A cordless drill is better suited for:

  • Odd DIY jobs around the home
  • Working away from mains power
  • Drilling in hard-to-reach areas
  • Saving money on energy output

A corded drill is better suited for:

  • Managing long projects without interruption
  • Drilling into tough materials with more power
  • Drilling in workshop or on a fixed bench
  • Someone who would prefer a lightweight drill

Combi drills

Buy a combi drill and you've got the 'jack of all trades'. These nifty little tools are ideal for someone who does light DIY around the home: they're not the most powerful, but their adjustable torque (force) means they can be used as a cordless drill and electric screwdriver.

Hammer drills

If you want a powerful drill, you want a hammer drill! They're beefed up compared to most drills and feature a 'hammering' action that adds extra force - that means they can get through most materials.

SDS drills

Need even more force than you'd get in a hammer drill? It's time to dig out the SDS drill! Thanks to their unique chuck (the piece that holds the drill bit) design, they can penetrate even tougher materials like brick and concrete.

Someone working at a workbench with a drill.

What features should I consider in a drill?

Here are some of the more important aspects to consider when shopping for your drill. Hint: Remember to use our filter options so you only see the drills with the features you want.

Voltage

It’s a good idea to narrow down your search based on voltage as this is an indication of power. Voltages range from 12V to 24V: the higher the battery’s voltage, the more power and torque you’ll have.

A high-powered tool, like an 18V drill, is usually the best choice if you’re planning heavy-duty DIY work. A low-voltage drill is more suitable if you’re doing light, indoor DIY work - 12V drills can handle most household jobs.

Chuck size

The chuck is what holds the drill bits. Generally, if a drill can hold a bigger bit, it can deal with tougher challenges, so it's a good indication of how heavy-duty a drill is. Drills in the heavy-duty category have a chuck size of around 10-13mm, while light-duty drills have a chuck size of about 6.5mm.

Battery capacity

Because the battery drives the power, choosing a good power tool battery pack is almost as important as the choice of drill itself!

Torque

The maximum torque is the maximum rotary turning force of the drill, which can be vital if you’ll be drilling into tough materials. Torque settings are most important when it comes to screwdriving, because too much force can strip the screw head.

Brushless motor

Brushless motors reduce friction for a higher power-to-weight ratio, higher speed, and greater control. However, those advantages tend to come with a more premium price tag.

Gears

Drills with more than one gear allow you to choose your speed range - lower speeds are best for using the screwdriver feature or drilling into soft materials, such as wood. Higher gear speeds are more suitable for tackling harder surfaces like stone and brick.

Want to save money when picking your power tools? Check out our blog on how to find the best affordable drill that won't let you down.

Drill FAQs

What drill brands are best?

Whether it's affordable or quality, there are plenty of top drill brands available through OnBuy, each with a strong heritage in making reliable and rugged power tools. A few of the brands we love include Bosch, Milwaukee, Makita, Terratek and DeWalt, but there are plenty more to discover!

Which drills are more affordable, corded or cordless?

Due to the freedom and portability they give you, cordless drills tend to be more expensive than corded drills, but that's because you're also buying the convenience that comes with a cordless drill (plus the batteries!).

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