Fixing a shelf, hanging a frame, assembling a piece of furniture… a drill is essential for any self-respecting do-it-yourselfer. But between the price differences and the differences between models, choosing the right drill for your needs is not always easy.
Sold between 30 and 450 euros, drills fall into two main families: cordless and corded drill. The two tools are quite complementary. The first, more powerful, is designed to tackle drilling hard materials. The second, autonomous, is mainly designed for screwing in soft materials. However, one can sometimes replace the other.
BATTERY OR MAINS OPERATED?
– For screwing, the wireless is the most practical, but a wire drill may be suitable.
– For drilling in hard materials (concrete, granite, tile walls), a wired impact drill of more than 500 W is imperative.
– For drilling soft materials (soft concrete, plaster, brick), a wired drill is required, but a cordless drill may be suitable if it is a hammer drill.
– For drilling metal, the wired drill is irreplaceable, except occasionally, by a few high-performance cordless models.
– For wood drilling: with or without wire, both do the job.
WITH OR WITHOUT PERCUSSION?
Percussion is only used for drilling minerals (plaster, brick, soft concrete). It is therefore useless for screwing and drilling wood and metal.
TENSION, WHAT DOES IT MATTER?
In general, the higher the tension, the more powerful the device is, and the more expensive it is. The torque depends on the tension. The choice of tension depends on the type of work planned and its frequency. For simple screwing into wood or dowels, the lowest voltage (12 V) will suffice. For heavy and regular work, a wire drill is required. For intermediate situations, small regular DIY and occasional heavy work, a cordless is also sufficient, provided you choose a device with a voltage of 14.4 V or higher.
DOES SHAPE COUNT?
Let’s talk about ergonomics instead. It’s a good idea to get a feel for the device before you buy it to see if its shape is right for you. The ideal drill fits comfortably in your hand, is not unbalanced, and its controls are easily accessible. It is neither too light, a sign of fragility, nor too heavy, which would make it difficult to handle, especially at arm’s length.
WHAT TYPE OF BATTERY?
Batteries fall into three families: Ni-Cd, Ni-MH and Li-ion (see the “Batteries” glossary). For environmental reasons, we do not recommend Ni-Cd batteries (which are destined to disappear within 2 years) and for performance reasons, we recommend Li-ion batteries. On wireless phones, autonomy is of primary importance. The majority of batteries have a capacity of 1.5-ampere hours (Ah) but the 2 or even 3 Ah that are very slowly becoming established on the market really extend the autonomy of the device.
ONE OR TWO BATTERIES?
A single battery may be sufficient if the use is occasional and relatively short. For more important tasks, it is better to have a spare battery that can be used when the first one, once drained, is charged.
IS THE CHARGER IMPORTANT?
More than you might think. Absolutely avoid chargers that do not have any indicator lights: not only do you not know if charging is actually in progress (the socket or the charger may be defective!), but you also do not know when it is finished. This can lead to overcharging, which can damage the battery. It is best to have a charging indicator and a charging indicator to indicate when charging is complete. There are three types of chargers: classic (more than 1.5 hours of charging), fast (max. 1.5 hours) and ultra fast (10 to 30 minutes), or ICS charger.
A “well-equipped” device must be delivered with at least two mechanical speeds; a fast charger (less than 1 hour 30 minutes) with “charging in progress” and “charging complete” indicators; one or two high-capacity Li-ion batteries (over 2 Ah); a quick stop in rotation; an automatic shaft lock in rotation and a speed variator at the trigger, essential for screwing and unscrewing and for drilling large diameters at low speed. As an accessory, you will appreciate a second handle (usually removable) if you use the hammer.
ALSO GOOD TO KNOW…
Some units have a two-speed gearbox that doubles the torque and therefore allows better control of the screwdriving while sparing the drill motor. Others offer as an accessory a depth stop, an adjustable rod that stops the drilling as soon as the desired depth is reached. The chuck is also important. This part, located at the end of the drill and responsible for holding the drill bit or screwdriver bit, can take two forms. The classic chuck, used with two hands and a wrench, is still preferred by most professionals because it offers the ability to tighten the drill bit. For the hobby do-it-yourselfer, the self-clamping chuck is ideal, as it allows a bit to be installed more quickly and with one hand. And to avoid accidents and improve convenience, some drills are equipped with a system that immobilizes the chuck as soon as the trigger is released.