What is a Cordless Drill?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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A cordless drill is a useful tool for simple home repair tasks and in heavy-duty construction applications. These drills use a rechargeable battery, which frees them up to be carried wherever needed for tasks, without needing to worry about having a power source nearby. There are numerous cordless drills available, which can make purchasing one a little challenging for the consumer, especially because price range and features can truly vary among the different types.

Even though there is variance in the types of drills offered, most have several main features:

  • A handle with a button that operates the drill
  • Several differently sized drill bits for doing smaller or larger work
  • A battery and battery charger

Drills come in several power settings, measured in voltage. The lowest voltage is 6V, and these drills will be suited for very basic tasks around the home. Highest voltage is about 18V, and such drills can be used for heavy-duty construction work, and are even able to drill into things like steel.

Though it might be tempting to get the higher voltage drills, for small tasks, like hanging up curtains or pictures, a lower voltage drill is usually a better choice. On the other hand, drilling into harder wood can burn out the motor on a lower voltage drill — it’s important to consider planned uses for a cordless drill. Another consideration is weight; higher voltage drills weigh considerably more.


One feature to look for is speed settings. Many drills have two settings, which allow for greater flexibility when performing tasks. Furthermore, some drills have clutches that keep people from over-drilling, which can cause the motor to burn out if the drill is used on an application for which it’s unsuited or alternately, which can strip screws by continuing to run once the screw has been placed properly.

The difference in clutch availability, power, setting speeds, and weight can help people decide which cordless drill to purchase. For extremely lightweight tasks like drilling through soft wood or doing a few simple home projects, the lowest voltage drill may be best. When people want to build furniture, drill into hard wood types, and build fences, they’ll need a drill with at least 9.6V. For very heavy-duty construction work, an 18V drill is desirable. Most people are better off with drills with clutches and with variable speed settings.

In price, more powerful drills are usually the most expensive, and small lightweight low voltage drills cost the least. People can find tons of cordless drill types in all varieties in home improvement stores, hardware stores and online. For more information on best drills available, reading reviews from home improvement experts and agencies like Consumer Reports can help make choice of a cordless drill much easier.


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