Learn about power drills and drivers for your next DIY project. Cordless drill, hammer drill, impact drill or right angle drill? We carry the best names in the industry, from DEWALT and Kobalt to Bosch and BLACK + DECKER. In this buying guide, learn which drill or driver best suits your needs and how to use it properly and safely.

The Best Drill or Driver for Each Job

The type of drill or driver you ultimately end up with will depend on a few factors: the nature of the project, materials being drilled into, and frequency and location of use. 

Drills are used to create holes in materials, while drivers secure screws into those holes. The kind of bit you attach determines if you'll be drilling or driving — or even both. 

 We'll walk you through every step so you'll get the tool that best fits your budget and needs.

Comparing Corded & Cordless Drills

   CORDED  CORDLESS
 Advantages
  • Higher output.
  • Consistent level of power.
  • Immediate power (no charging).
  • Generally more affordable.
  • Portable and convenient.
  • Often more compact.
  • Comes with long-lasting rechargeable batteries.
 Disadvantages
  • Not very portable.
  • Relies on a wall socket.
  • Is prone to cord and prong wear and damage.
  • Often heavy and bulky with battery attached.
  • Batteries eventually need to be replaced.
  • Wait time while batteries recharge.

Screw Guns

Screw guns are almost always corded and used for projects like installing drywall or deck boards to drive in multiple screws in succession. The difference between a screw gun from a regular drill is it has a nose instead of a chuck. The nose is designed to prevent users from driving in screws too far, but still allow the screw head to sit flush with the material (countersinking).

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Drills & Drivers

Drills and drivers are widely used because of their versatility — they can be used on any material except masonry (concrete, stone, brick, etc.). Because of their widespread use, prices and features can vary quite a bit.

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What to Look for In Drills & Drivers

•  Clutch: This mechanism (available mostly on cordless models) allows you to control how much torque is applied to a screw so you don't sink the screw too deeply, strip the head, or break the shaft. Clutches will automatically disengage the bit from the motor when the torque exceeds a preset value.
  Power: The higher the voltage, the more torque-spinning strength is available to overcome resistance. However, extra power might not always be worth it as it can translate to extra weight on the drill. For smaller projects, look for voltage in the 6V to 7.2V range. Heavy-duty projects call for a minimum of 12V.
•  Shape/Design: Most of today's drills and drivers have a T-handle, which makes them easy to grip and balance. But if you're undertaking a big project, a drill or driver with a pistol grip (one where you can apply pressure higher up) can be better for using more force.
•  Speed: Less expensive drills and drivers will typically come with only one speed option, but most have two: 300rpm and 800rpm. The slower speed is typically for driving screws to prevent the screw head from getting stripped, while the higher speed is better suited for drilling holes.
•  Chuck: The chuck, which comes in one of two forms, is the part of the drill that clamps the bit in place. Keyless chucks can either rotate to lock the bit in place or be pulled down to insert or remove the bit. Keyed chucks require a key to be inserted before adjusting the tightness of the bit. Both types of chucks are available in various sub-types depending on where and what it's used for. The most common chuck sizes are 1/4 in., 1/2 in. and 3/8 in., with the smaller the chuck size, the better it is for smaller, lighter tasks

Impact Drivers

These tools are built for delivering high amounts of torque for either heavy-duty jobs or for removing “frozen” screws. They work by delivering a strong, sudden rotational and downward force.

When the bit encounters resistance, more torque is applied to either remove stuck screws or drive them in deeper than a simple screwdriver could.

This type of power drill is not suited for drilling holes because it operates at a lower speed and higher torque.

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Right Angle Drills

When you're in a tight, awkward spot and need to drive in screws, a right-angle drill is perfect for the job. They feature long handles and short heads set at 90-degree angles to get in easily in confined spaces.

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Hammer Drills

Masonry materials like brick, stone, concrete, granite, and more need a special drill to penetrate them without damaging the bit and motor. Hammer drills combine hammering action with rotational drilling to drill and drive through denser materials.

Because of their increased strength, hammer drills usually come with an auxiliary handle for added stability during use. There is also a switch so users can select to operate the drill in either hammer or drill mode exclusively.

For a more powerful option, consider rotary hammers. They perform the same tasks, but with increased strength. Another difference is rotary hammers pound bits forward with a piston and compressed air, while hammer drills use a clutch.

Rotary hammers are usually best-suited for professionals in construction and renovations, while hammer drills more than suffice for everything else.

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Buying Tips to Keep in Mind

Choose corded drills for more power and steadier drilling, as they're always connected to electricity, and pick cordless for convenience and portability so you can use your drill or driver in any location.

If you get a cordless model, it's a good idea to get a spare battery so you can have one charged and ready to swap out when the current battery needs to be recharged.

And when it comes to batteries, you can pick between two kinds: nickel-cadmium (NiCad) and lithium ion (Li-Ion).

Two yellow Dewalt drills, one corded and one cordless

Get Hands On with Drills & Drivers In-Store

As you're looking at which drill or driver to buy in-store, pick up each one and test the weight of it in your hand. This tool might be something you'll be operating multiple times, so it's important to know how it feels and if it could possibly cause strain. Each drill will have a reverse button, but check to see how accessible it is from your regular grip. If an extra speed option is available, also check to see how easy it is to reach it.
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Wraparound safety glasses

Don't Forget Safety Gear & Battery Recycling

Prevent accidents before they happen with proper planning and organization. Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE), such as protective glasses, gloves, and hearing protection. When it's time to dispose your damaged or dead battery, you can also drop it off at your nearest Lowe's Recycling Centre.
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Important Safety Tips While Drilling

Make sure to clear your workspace, and avoid wearing baggy clothes that can get caught in the rotating drill chuck (or you can also tuck them in). Drills are good at using the right amount of torque, so don't try and force it. If it doesn't seem to be working right, check the bit to see if it needs replacing or that it's the right one for the job. Before drilling or driving, mark the hole with a centre punch or pilot hole. When finished, lay the drill down sideways so it doesn't fall over and damage itself or the material.

Comparing Battery Types for Drills & Drivers

. NiCad(Nickel Cadmium) Li-Ion (Lithium Ion)

 

 

 

Advantages

  • Less expensive.
  • Higher cycle durability (the number of times it can be charged and discharged before it dies completely).
  • Longer battery life.
  • Can be charged at any time.
  • Doesn't suffer from "memory effect".
  • Requires little, if any, maintenance.
  • Can operate in a wider temperature range without damage.
  • Often smaller and more compact.
  • Shorter charging time.
Disadvantages
  • Can suffer from "memory effect" (the battery appears to "remember" the smaller capacity if charged after only being partially discharged).
  • Cannot be charged as often as Li-Ion.
  • Can deteriorate over time.
  • Heavy and bulky.
  • Can be damaged if stored without a charge.
  • Up to 40 percent more expensive than NiCad.

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