The SLMan Guide To… Electric Drills

The SLMan Guide To… Electric Drills


Chances are lockdown has made you realise there are a few home improvements you need to make. Electric drills can help with anything from screw-driving to hammering through concrete. Martin Parker-Elms, who looks after power tools for B&Q, is here to tell you about the options – plus we’ve rounded up the best models on the market today.


There are seven elements you want to consider when buying a drill…

1. Type 

There are five main types of drill you can choose from:

Power screwdrivers
Often cordless, these are made for tightening loose screws in confined spaces and quickly assembling flat-pack furniture. They are, however, purely for screwdriving – they cannot drill holes.

Drill drivers
These versatile machines not only drill holes into wood and metal – they are also screwdrivers. Drill drivers are great for putting up shelves and hanging pictures.

Combi drills
Ever popular, the combi drill is a drill driver – with an additional hammer-action feature. That means it’s good for drilling into masonry and brick too.

Impact drivers
Think of this as a heavy-duty screwdriver for repetitive or larger screwdriving projects. It includes a mechanism to reduce the impact on your wrist by doing more of the hard work for you.

Hammer drills
These powerful units are suitable for drilling hard substances like concrete and masonry. Go to a hammer drill for more heavy-duty jobs like putting up shelves or securing gutters in place.

2. Cord Vs Cordless 

Corded drills are often lighter than their cordless cousins because they don’t have a heavy battery pack. However, cordless drill are more popular for indoor DIY jobs because they give you greater mobility – you can take them anywhere without having to tow an extension cable behind you.


3. Battery 
Cordless drills are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which charge quicker (often in under an hour) and hold power for longer. You can often reduce costs by using the same battery for other power tools from the same brand.


4. Speed 

Ideally you want multiple gear options so you can change the speed of the drill depending on the material you’re drilling into. A low speed is ideal for driving screws or drilling into softer materials like wood; a higher speed is better for drilling into harder materials like stone.


5. Extras 
There are lots of possible extra features, including a trigger-activated LED light, a hook for storage, an auxiliary handle – to improve safety and accuracy – and a handy belt clip. You also want a drill with a brushless motor. This will reduce friction and heat build-up, giving you better control and a faster speed. It also increases the lifespan of the tool.


6. Comfort 
Your drill’s grip should feel comfortable to hold, with an ergonomic design. If you’re going cordless, bear in mind the weight of the battery as well as the drill. Some tools will feel light until you add the battery in.


7. Price 
Drills start at £40 and can go up to several hundred pounds. Combi drills are often expensive because they have more features. Cordless drills can be sold either as a standalone drill with battery and charger; a bare drill with no battery or charger; or as a collection, with a range of tools in a kit.

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Bosch YOUseries Electric Power Drill, £119

Easy to use with a handy interchangeable battery and USB charging, this sleek cordless number is versatile and good value. It can be both drill and screwdriver, switching easily between the two. It can work with wood, metal or plastic, so is good for assembling furniture or fixing shelves in place.

DeWalt XR Cordless 18V 2Ah Lithium Ion Combi Drill, £150

DeWalt’s combi drill has three functions – drill, hammer and driver – to meet all your DIY needs. It comes with a battery charger and carry case. A two-speed gearbox means you can adjust its speed to match the material you’re working on.

Bosch 550W 240V Corded Brushed Hammer Drill EasyImpact 550, £40

This corded drill from Bosch is a solid entry-level option. It can pierce materials including concrete, and switches easily into screwdriving mode. A low weight and auxiliary handle ensure it’s comfortable to use. 

Bosch AdvancedDrill 18 Cordless Electric Drill, £235

The AdvancedDrill 18 is compact and simple to use. It automatically changes gears to match each application – it can screw-drive and drill into wood, plastic and metal. A handy magnetic screw garage at its base holds screws and bits ready for when you need them.

Makita LXT Cordless Combi Drill, £170

This cordless drill takes 60 minutes to fully charge and has three functions: rotary, hammer drill and screwdriver. Alongside a two-speed gearbox and variable speed triggers, it offers a soft grip handle to ensure optimal comfort.

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