Which is the best cordless drill for at-home DIY? A hammer drill, a combi or an impact drill?
Whatever drilling and driving tasks you face, there’s a tool to handle the job at hand - here is what our expert recommends
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If you’re about to embark on a spot of DIY, there’s a good chance that a drill will be towards the top of your ‘must buy power tools’ list. And with rechargeable batteries going through a big increase in performance over recent years, a cordless drill might well suit you best.
Besides allowing you to work where you want, rather than at a cable-length from a power source, they’re much safer to use – those cables have a habit of getting in the way when twisting around furniture and ladders.
As with most DIY products, spending more will usually get you a better drill – more power, greater performance, enhanced features and longer battery life. But if you’re only an occasional DIYer there’s no need to dismiss the cheaper models, as many of them will comfortably power you through an afternoon session of shelf-fitting without a hitch.
In this list we’ve covered a range of price points for various DIY requirements but, before you delve into our recommendations, there are a few technical terms it’s worth knowing to help you decide on what’s right for you.
Best drills at a glance
- Best combi drill for value: DeWalt DCD778D2T-SFGB 18V 2X2.0Ah Li-ion Brushless Combi Drill
- Best drill and driver pack: Milwaukee M18 BPP2Q-402C 18V 2 X 4.0Ah Li-ion Redlithium Twin Pack
- Best cordless combi drill for precision: Draper D20 20V Brushless Combi Drill Kit
- Best for all-round drilling: Milwaukee M12 FPDXKIT-602X Fuel 12V 2 X 6.0Ah Redlithium Brushless Cordless 6-in-1 Combi Drill
- Best bargain driver: Ferrex Pro 20V Brushless Impact Driver
- Best combi drill for DIY beginners: Gtech Combi Drill Bundle
- Best compact screwdrive: Bosch IXO 7 3.6v Cordless Screwdriver
- Best all-round impact driver: Einhell Power X-Change 18V Brushless Impact Driver
What’s the difference between a drill and an impact driver?
A drill does the first task of drilling the hole, and the impact driver (often shortened to simply ‘driver’) is used to drive the screw into the hole (and in many instances, without needing a hole drilled first).
Drivers use rapid bursts of high rotational power which are much better at forcing screws into place than drills. If you’re only ever fastening the occasional small screws into pre-drilled holes then most drills should suffice; if, however, you have a large wood-based project to complete, such as a shed or decking, then a quality driver will save you lots of time and effort.
What is a hammer drill?
A hammer drill vibrates in a rapid hammering action while it’s rotating. This action is advantageous when drilling holes into bricks or concrete, and you’ll need a special drill bit to make it work effectively. The hammer action is built into some combi drill models, so you can switch between standard drilling and hammer actions as you require.
What is a brushless drill?
‘Brushless’ refers to the motor used within a drill. Without going into the technical aspects of how brushed and brushless motors differ, the latter tends to suffer less from wear and tear and gives you more power, efficiency and control. Inevitably, it also makes your power tool more expensive.
Drill and screw bits
You could own the best cordless drill in the world, but if your screw and drill bits are substandard then you’ll struggle to do a decent job. Always use top quality drill bits (the attachments that actually make the holes) and make sure they’re the right ones for the material you’re drilling into (eg wood, concrete or metal).
It’s equally as important to ensure that you have screw bits that are appropriately sized for the screws you’re working with.
Don’t forget the battery
Before you buy you’ll need to check to see if batteries and chargers are included in the price. If there are more items on your power tool list then it’s worth opting for a brand that covers all your needs and provides interchangeable battery packs and chargers, as this will save you money in the long run.
In this list we’ve picked out some of the best rated cordless drills, from many of the most respected brands, and highlighted the benefits you’ll get from using them. To help narrow our selection we consulted some expert tradesmen for their opinions and tested numerous drills and drivers ourselves. So, whatever drilling and driving tasks you’re about to embark on, there should be something here for you.