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Home > Ideas & Tips > Drill Buying Guide

Drill Buying Guide

The Essential Power Tool

No DIYer's toolbox is complete without a power drill

What type of drill do you need?

The power drill is essential in any DIYer's tool box. It can drill holes, drive screws, remove stuck or rusty bolts and even mix paint and buff cars. The power drill is the Swiss Army Knife of tools, able to assist in many tasks and projects.

In the Lowes' Canada Power Drill Buying Guide, we will discuss the different types of power drills, what they are designed for and what they can do, additional features and characteristics and general best practices and safety tips.

Choosing the right drill means knowing what you'll be using it for.

Depending on what type of products or tasks you'll be using your power drill for, your needs will vary as not all drills can complete all tasks.

Before deciding on a model or type, first consider what you'll be using your drill for:

Choosing the right drill means knowing what you'll be using it for.

What materials will you be drilling or screwing into?

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Masonry
  • Plastic
  • Glass & Tile

How often will you be using your drill?

  • Once in a blue moon
  • Every weekend
  • Every day

Where will you be using it?

  • In the garage
  • Around the house
  • At different locations and job sites

Corded Vs. Cordless, the battle of power and portability.

When deciding between corded and cordless drills remember this: Corded will always provide a higher level of more consistent power where cordless provides portability and versatility.

However, battery operated drills have been slowly bridging the gap by offering multiple long lasting batteries and more efficient drill motors. Consider the following:



  • Higher output
  • Consistent level of power
  • Immediate power (no charging)
  • Generally more affordable


  • Not very portable
  • Relies on a wall socket
  • Is prone to cord or prong damage & wear



  • Portability & Convenience
  • Often more compact
  • Long lasting rechargeable batteries


  • Often heavy and bulky with battery attached
  • Batteries eventually need to be replaced
  • Can be forced to wait as batteries recharge
Electric Screw Driver

Electric Screw Driver

The electric screw driver has one purpose, to drive screws into light material such as wood, sheet metal or plastic. These models are often designed with a swivelling or rotating head to allow it operate in tight spots. However, these models are designed only for the lightest of tasks and if size and maneuverability aren't at the forefront of your checklist, it is advised to consider a larger, more versatile model.

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These are the most commonly used power drills as they can drill and drive into most materials (excluding masonry). Drill Drivers also vary widely in price and as price climbs so to do the available features and performance level. Most offer two speed settings, high for drilling holes and low for driving screws, and multiple clutch and torque settings for driving into different materials. Most drill drivers (unless specified) are not equipped to drill or drive into masonry (concrete, stone, brick etc).

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Impact Driver

Impact Driver

Impact drivers are designed specifically for driving screws into any material. Unlike the hammer drill, the impact driver adds rapid blows to the rotation of the drill bit allowing it to remove or drive in fasteners with more torque. Although there are attachments that allow the user to drill holes in materials as well, impact drivers are specifically designed for driving fasteners.

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Hammer Drill

Hammer Drill

The addition of the hammering action combined with the rotational spinning of the chuck allows the hammer drill to drill and drive into almost any material including masonry. The Hammer Drills signature advantage is its added hammer like blows to the drill bit forcing the bit into the material. Because of the added hammering action and the torque of the drill, hammer drills are often equipped with an additional auxiliary handle to allow the user more stability when using it. In most hammer drills, the user is able to switch off the hammer function allowing it to perform as a Drill/Driver as well.

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Screw Gun

Screw Gun

Screw guns are typically corded and are designed for driving multiple screws in succession. Screw guns are typically used for projects such as installing drywall or deck boards. The Screw gun looks like a normal drill however it is equipped with a nose instead of a chuck. The nose is designed to limit over driving fasteners while still countersinking (allowing the screws head to sit flush with the material) the screw to the material. The drills clutch is only activated when pressure is applied to the tip.

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Drill Amperage/Voltage

The amount of power your drill has will directly affect its ability to perform strenuous tasks consistently. When selecting a drill to perform tough tasks like drilling stone or concrete, mixing paint or mortar continuously consider a drill with a higher amperage (if corded) or voltage (if cordless). When considering a cordless power drill generally the higher the voltage of the battery, the heavier the assembly will be.

Clutch Torque Variability

Clutch Torque Variability

The ability to vary the sensitivity of the clutch affects just how much torque is applied to the drill chuck, and consequently, the drill or drive bit. The clutch is designed to limit torque to prevent over driving fasteners, limiting bit slippage and thus stripping out the head of the fastener, and generally saving the drill motor. Look for a drill with variable clutch tensions to ensure multiple applications can be tackled

Battery Type

The cordless Power Drills offered at Lowe's come equipped with one of two different styles of battery.

NiCad (Nickel-Cadmium)


  • Less expensive
  • Higher cycle durability (the number of times It can be charged and discharged before it dies completely)


  • Can suffer from "memory effect"
  • Cannot be recharged as often as Li-Ion
  • Can deteriorate over time
  • Heavy & bulky

Li-Ion (Lithium Ion)


  • Longer battery life
  • Can be charged at any time
  • Does not suffer from "memory effect" (an issue that causes NiCad batteries to hold less of a charge over time)
  • Requires little if any maintenance
  • Can operate without damage at a wider temperature range
  • Are often smaller and more compact
  • Shorter charging times


  • May become damaged if stored without charge
  • Up to 40% more expensive than NiCad

Brushed vs. Brushless Motor

The newest revelation in Power Drill technology is the use of brushless motors Typically, Power Drill motors have been fitted with carbon brushes used to facilitate the electric current that generates motor drive. Brushless motors remove these brushes reducing rotational friction and increasing the run time per battery and longevity of the drill.

Drill Chuck

Drill Chuck

The drill chuck is the mechanism that holds the drill bit or driver in place. Drill chucks can range in size and are designed to accommodate drill bits as large as 1 1/2". Drill's often come equipped with keyless chucks for user convenience but some models require a key to loosen and tighten the chuck. Where a keyless chuck offers convenience, a keyed chuck allows you to tighten the chuck much more and secures the drill bit in place. This feature is often necessary with drills designed to drill and drive into tough material such as masonry and thick metal.

Best Practice Usage Tips

  1. Always wear Personal Protective Equipment. Eye glasses, protective gloves and hearing protection should all be worn to prevent injury.
  2. Avoid wearing loose or baggy clothes. Loose clothing can get tangled in the rotating drill chuck and seriously injure you. Be sure to remove or tuck in any loose clothing before operating a drill.
  3. Ensure your work space is free of anything that could get caught in the drill. Loose obstacles, other tools and material scraps should be removed for a clean workspace.
  4. Don't exert excessive force to the piece you're working on, let the drill do the work. Excessive force can cause the bit to slip and injure you. If the bit is not cutting, sharpen or replace it.
  5. When drilling, use a centre punch to mark and guide the drill bit. This will cradle the drill bit as it starts cutting and minimize slippage.
  6. Drill pilot holes in your material before driving in a screw. This will ensure your material does not split or splinter.
  7. Use a drill bit rated for the material you are drilling. If an improper bit is used, it could fracture and injure you.
  8. Before drilling or driving, consult your manual for information on which torque setting is right for the material in use.
  9. If a battery becomes damaged do not continue to use it, instead replace it and return the damaged battery to your local Lowe's store for proper recycling.

Buying Tips and Things to Consider

Before deciding on a particular drill, consider the following:

  1. How does the weight of the drill feel? Is it something you can operate multiple times without strain?
  2. Are the controls convenient? Are the forward, reverse, high and low gear options easily reached?
  3. Does the drill come with a warranty? If so, is it for an appropriate amount of time? Is an extended warranty needed? (See our extended product protection plan).
  4. If you find the model you are looking for less at another retailer, bring the ad into Lowe's and we'll match there price and reduce it by 10%.
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