You want to get a quality tool, but don’t want to spend a ton, either.
Thankfully, your debate is not only your debate. Thousands, perhaps millions of people have also stood in the tool aisle, afraid to be guided by a commissioned salesperson. Does it matter if it can scoop you ice cream or if it has a laser level? Let’s find out!
When you are reading drill descriptions and manufacturers specifications, you often run into the chuck size expressed in inches. Common types at 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″. Getting down to basics, the chuck is the part of the drill that holds the drill bit. Most modern chucks are “keyless”, meaning you don’t need a special “key” in order to get your bit out. Your hands will work just fine, which is a time-saving modern convenience.
With that said, the chuck size represents 2 things. The first is the maximum size bit that your chuck can hold. However, above 1/2″, spade bits and hole saws come into play, but note that some of them even have a 1/2″ bit size, so they won’t work in a 3/8″ drill.
The 2nd thing that your chuck size represents is power. 1/4″ and 3/8″ drills just aren’t suited for the professional user, as they lack power and can easily burn out if you do a ton of drilling, or frequently drill through tougher or thicker materials.
Battery size and voltage correspond to the total run time and “uumph” that the battery of a given tool have. The highest voltage and largest size batteries also happen to be the heaviest, so many home and light-duty professional users choose a lower voltage drill for ease of use and overall size.
You also want to look at the battery type and charge speed to determine how many extra batteries you’ll be buying down the road. The battery is the most expensive part of most drills, so it’s important to choose wisely. Ni-Cad batteries are the standard, despite their short life span. They outperform Lithium and Ni-MH batteries in cold weather and during long term storage. Many professional drills will charge in under an hour, but also come with 2 batteries so that you don’t get stuck stopping to wait for a charge!
Many drills these days come integrated with a guide light, and some have it the whole way around the barrel. This is a feature you want, no matter who you are. I cannot even begin to count the amount of times this has allowed me to see right where I need to to line my drill for a perfect hole. You can’t go wrong with a guide light, and most drills these days come with them!
You need to know that many less expensive drills do not come with a storage case, so you may damage your drill in transport! This is not good, and I would recommend buying a drill with a case, or at least keep it in a bag unless you just use it at home!
Belt clips are a cool feature that allows you to look awesome and carry a big drill off of your tool belt. With that said, it is nice not to have to always be putting your drill down while working. Levels aren’t really all that helpful if you are decent at drilling. However, most drills do include them, so don’t worry if you do happen to want one.
Included bits and integrated bit holders are nice features, since they allow you to store different sized or shaped bits on the side of the drill. This is helpful if you only have 1 drill, but want to switch between drilling and shooting screws.