Bosch Cordless Drill

Buying Guide: How to Buy a Cordless Drill

Cordless power drills make almost any job more manageable, from heavy-duty construction to fine woodworking. These versatile tools adapt to the task at hand thanks to countless bits. Among power drills, cordless drills are some of the most portable and adaptable, and recent advances in battery technology have made them more powerful and efficient than ever. Many types of cordless drills exist, so you will need a firm understanding of which is best for your needs before buying. Power and performance can vary widely between products, and as versatile as cordless drills are, some drills are better than others.

The Motor

Let us start by looking at raw power. The voltage rating of a given drill is a good predictor of overall power and an excellent point for cordless drill comparison. A 12-volt drill is suitable for lighter drilling and fastening jobs. It is smaller and more portable than most 18 or 20-volt drills designed for more rigid materials, longer fasteners, and more significant bits. Make sure to check the max rpm of a drill before buying. For example, a drill that runs at 1500 rpm is an average maximum. Anything less than 1500 max rpm will not be an excellent choice for big jobs. Many top-rated cordless drills feature brushless motors, which can achieve a higher rpm with less electricity, making them more robust, durable, and energy efficient.

The Clutch

Especially when using a powerful drill, an adjustable clutch is an essential cordless drill feature to consider. Drilling holes requires a much higher rpm than driving fasteners, and trying to drive a screw too quickly can sink it too deep or split your material. That is why many cordless drills include a two-speed switch designed to switch between drilling and driving tasks.

Some cordless drills include an adjustable clutch with twenty or more speeds, allowing for fine control over torque. This style is handy for driving small or delicate fasteners into thin material, where over-sinking is a grave concern. Choosing one drill with a good clutch means you can do a broad range of tasks with a single tool.

The Chuck

One of the cordless drill features you will interact with most often is the chuck. This part of the drill securely holds the bit while you work. Several different chuck designs exist, and each has its unique uses.

Keyless Chucks

The most common types of cordless drills use keyless chucks, which use three or more metal fingers to grip a bit tightly. These can be tightened by hand and are suitable for general-purpose drilling and driving because they hold almost any bit. Check the maximum and minimum bit sizes for your keyless chuck, which vary significantly from drill to drill.

Hex Chucks

Quick connecting hex chucks are an innovative cordless drill feature specifically designed to hold hexagonal bits, and the streamlined design makes swapping out bits extremely efficient. They are ideal for driving long screws or when the task will place extra stress on the bit. The chuck grips the bit tightly on all six sides, preventing it from slipping, falling out, deforming, or stripping the screw, which is why some top-rated cordless drills use hex chucks.

These chucks are primarily found on impact drivers and other cordless drill drivers. Their main drawback is that they only work with hexagonal bits, so you will still need a standard keyless chuck for some jobs. Drills with hex chucks are often sold with traditional keyless chuck drills to give you the best cordless drilling experience, regardless of your current or future project’s scope.

Other Specialized Chucks

Some cordless drills allow you to swap out chucks for specific tasks, such as right-angle drilling or offset drilling. A specially designed right-angle also exists for this purpose. This can be especially important in cabinetry and other installation jobs where fasteners may be challenging to reach with a standard drill.

The Battery

When making a cordless drill comparison, one of the primary concerns is battery life. Right now, there are two types of power tool batteries available on the market. Nickel-cadmium batteries are the older and cheaper technology. The downside is that they lose charge even when unused and can discharge entirely in as little as two months when stored.

On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries are the most modern option and are utilized in all the top-rated cordless drills. Not only are they smaller and lighter than nickel-cadmium batteries, but they also charge faster, discharge slowly, and can repeatedly be recharged without losing their effectiveness.

Pro tip: On every level, lithium-ion batteries are the wiser choice.

  • Whatever battery type you choose, it’s wise to pick a battery design that will work with your other cordless tools so that you can power your whole shop with the same batteries.

The Material You’re Drilling

The type of cordless drill you choose will depend on what material you are using. For woodworking, you will want at least one standard cordless drill. Ideally, it is good to have a smaller drill (say, twelve volts) for driving and drilling small pilot holes. Purchase a larger one (18 to 20 volts) for boring deep holes, using a spade bit or hole saw, and so on. A wood drill will also work for drywall and acrylic.

When working with metal, you will want as much power as you can muster, and it is also wise to invest in carbide-tipped bits that prevent premature dulling. Most types of cordless drills are only really suited for drilling light metal. For heavier applications, you may need a metal drill press. Cordless hammer drills are the best choice for drilling through masonry. Their high-speed hammering action assists a spinning masonry bit in fragmenting and boring through concrete, stone, and more. Specialized drill bits also exist for glass and tile surfaces.


No matter the job, there is a type of cordless drill out there that is right for you. Be sure to pay particular attention to the voltage, rpm, and motor type. Consider what you will use the drill for, and look for a variable-speed drill if versatility is essential. Consider purchasing a drill that uses Lithium-Ion batteries, as they add immense utility to all cordless tools.

Lastly, consider the materials you will be working with and any unique challenges you may encounter on the job, and then invest in the equipment and bits to help you succeed. A cordless drill comparison is easy, and cordless drill features help you find a tool that is precisely right for you.

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