Cordless Drill Reviews & Buying Guide 2017

Cordless Drill Features To Look For

Battery power

Cordless drills run on battery power. Because of their demands, drills require lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are rechargeable and offer significantly more power than traditional batteries. They can power drills with motors that require 450 watts and more. Most drills use 18-volts, though smaller ones use only 12 volts. The benefit of lithium-ion is that they hold a charge for a long time and recharge quickly. Lithium can have 3-5x more battery life, endure more charges, and recharge in as little as 15-30 minutes. Many drill brands produce their own batteries and include the required number (usually 2) in the box as well as the battery charger.

Variable RPMs

The speed on a cordless drill is measured in RPMs, or, revolutions per minute. This can be confusing, since materials (wood, iron, etc) often use a different measure for speed, called SFM. This represents the speed necessary for a cutter to be pushed in a straight line. To figure out the SFM using the RPMs, the formula is (.26) x RPM x diameter. As a general rule, you want to use a slower RPM for very hard materials like steel, and a faster one for wood. For more versatility and precision, the RPMs on drills bits are variable, so you can easily choose a slower RPM if necessary from a drill that includes high RPMs. Drills usually get at least a two-speed gearbox, so you can set the speed from 0-400, or 0-1,300, give or take. Especially fast drills can even have variable speeds of 0-500 and 0-1,700, or even a 3-speed, all-metal transmission.

Enough torque

In addition RPMs, drill power is measured in torque. Really difficult woodworking and masonry jobs require a lot of torque, which is the term for how much force is needed to twist an object, in a drill’s case, a screw. If you own a piece of equipment like a rototiller, you are familiar with how torque plays out in the real world and how important it is when working through solid ground. It is essentially the same with drills, except it’s measured in inches and not feet, and the materials you’re working through are wood, concrete, and so on as opposed to dirt. Smaller, less powerful drills intended for jobs like hanging pictures and lighter woodworking can have as little as 100 inch/pounds, while heavy-duty drills boast 450+ in/lb.

Clutch settings

Clutches are not present on corded drills, so you may not know how to use the clutch on your cordless model. Clutch settings allow you to choose the right angle and depth for the material you’re working on, so you don’t damage it. This would be important if you’re working with drywall, which is prone to tearing. A lot of clutch settings let you work on a variety of materials and makes your drill more versatile. In terms of how positions you get, drills start with 10 and can have as many as 20+.

Chuck clamp

Chuck clamps are the part of the drill where you insert the bit or other rotary tool. Many chucks have star-like jaws (also called “dogs”) that grip the bit. Most drills have three dogs. You can tighten or loosen the jaws with a wrench-like tool called a chuck key. Many chucks are now keyless, which means you can tighten/loosen them by hand. Some even tighten as you work, which ensures a powerful grip and more secure drilling. Keyless chucks make changing out bits easier and faster than with a keyed chuck. Most chucks on cordless drills are either ½-inch or ⅜ inch, which fit a variety of bits for different jobs.


Drills are built from hard plastic and metal, so they stay safe against debris and accidental drops. Rubber bumpers also protect a cordless drill against wear and provide soft, ergonomic grip for the user. Steel-enforced collars serve as an additional guard against wear from temperature changes, harsh weather and so on, while protections on the motor can shield the tool against overheating or stalling.


Cordless drills are automatically more convenient than their corded counterparts, but there are other features to be on the lookout for. Weight is a concern, since you do not want your arm to get tired after using the drill for a long time. Cordless drills can be as light as 3-3 ½ pounds and reach 5 or so pounds if they’re larger. Most drills are also pretty compact, so you can use them in more cramped spaces. For working in darker environments, most drills now include a built-in LED light.

Best Cordless Drill Brands

Black & Decker

Created in 1910, Black & Decker is one of the leading power tool brands in the world. They produced the first portable electric drill in 1917, and secured a patent for their pistol-grip and trigger switch designs. As time went on, they acquired other brands, like the small business branch of the General Electric Company. In 2010, Black & Decker merged with Stanley Works. Throughout their history, Black & Decker (now officially Stanley Black & Decker) contributed to the WWII effort and produced technology for the NASA space program. In addition to cordless drills, they sell a wide range of power tool accessories, yard equipment, cleaning products, and so on.


In 1924, Raymond E. DeWalt was inspired to establish a company that could create products to cut down on high labor costs. As a veteran of mill and construction jobs, he had already invented several machines to speed up the work process. When he was hired as the head of a woodworking mill, DeWalt invented the radial arm saw. The contraption performed the work of four men and saved the company a ton of money. Under his leadership, the company became DeWalt Inc. in 1947 and grew rapidly. In 1949, it was sold to Black & Decker, which still owns it to this day. DeWalt produces tools like wrenches, saws, hammers, and more, including the new lithium ion tools with the 20V Max System.


Robert Bosch created his workshop, which he called the Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering in 1886. Established in Germany, the company quickly became known for its quality design and performance. In 1932, Bosch released a power drill. Currently, Bosch has several branches for all the different products it creates, including one for auto parts, one for industrial products, and one for building products like household appliances and power tools, like the portable cordless drill.


Makita was founded by Mosaburo Makita in 1915 in Japan and originally sold and fixed motors, transformers, and lighting equipment. After establishing itself with this product, they introduced the world’s first rechargeable battery-operated power tool in 1969. Nine years later, they launched the first nickel cadmium battery tool, and in 2005, the first Lithium-Ion tool. Makita produces some of the most powerful and long-lasting batteries available to consumers.

Features of Professional & Commercial Cordless Drills

Included kit accessories

Many drills, for a slightly higher price, will include a full accessory kit. This means you can get right to work and have all your necessary accessories (bits, screws, etc) conveniently organized for you. A kit includes the cordless drill, battery, battery charger, and accessories.

Advanced batteries

The Black & Decker brand has recently created the 20-volt Max lithium-ion system, which not only gives you an incredibly powerful battery equipped to handle long, hard jobs, but also provides you with one battery that can power a wide variety of other Black & Decker tools. This includes hedge trimmers, chain saws, and cultivators. With one battery pack, you can switch out what tools you use without having to purchase a bunch of separate batteries.

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