Which Type of Drill do You Need? A Drill Buying Guide for Beginners

This post may contain affiliate links. At no cost to you, we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The power drill is a staple tool in home improvement and therefore an essential part of every DIY toolkit.

From assembling furniture to installing fixtures, power drills and drivers make the work quicker and easier. If you’re looking to buy a new or replacement power drill, this article will guide you through the essential considerations, helping you make an informed choice.

Understanding your needs

Before diving into the vast world of power drills, identify your specific needs. Are you planning to use the drill for light DIY tasks around the house such as hanging pictures, putting up shelves or assembling flat-pack furniture, or for heavy-duty construction work? 

The frequency of use also matters – if you’re going to use it occasionally, a basic model might suffice, whereas frequent or professional use may demand a higher-end model.

Owning your own drill also saves you from the recurring costs and availability issues of renting or borrowing.

Types of power drills on the market

The UK market offers an extensive range of drills, catering to a variety of needs and purposes. Here’s an overview of the different types:

Combi Drills (Combination Drills)

Combi drills are versatile, as they can perform the functions of both a drill driver and a hammer drill.

This type of drill is capable of drilling holes, driving screws, and even boring into harder materials like brick or concrete when the hammer function is activated.

These drills are perfect for homeowners who need a multi-purpose tool for various DIY tasks around the house. 

Drill Drivers

Drill drivers are a standard type of drill found in many UK homes.

They are mainly used for drilling holes and driving screws into wood, metal, and plastic.

These drills are typically lightweight, making them easy to handle for basic DIY tasks. They are not suitable for drilling into harder materials such as brick or concrete.

Hammer Drills

Hammer drills, also known as percussion drills, are designed to tackle tough materials.

They deliver a hammering action that makes drilling into hard surfaces like concrete, stone, or brick easier.

However, they are heavier and more powerful than standard drill drivers or combi drills, making them better suited for heavy-duty tasks or construction work.

SDS Drills

SDS drills (which stands for Special Direct System) are high-performance power tools primarily used in construction.

They have an advanced hammering function that’s far more powerful than the one found in standard hammer drills. There are two main types of SDS drills in the UK: SDS Plus and SDS Max.

The former is suitable for lighter masonry work, while the latter is used for heavy-duty tasks involving concrete or stone.

Impact Drivers

Impact drivers are powerful tools designed to drive screws, bolts, and other fasteners with high torque.

While they look similar to drill drivers, impact drivers deliver a concussive rotational force ideal for driving large screws or removing stubborn bolts. However, they are not primarily used for drilling holes.

Cordless Screwdrivers

Cordless screwdrivers are lightweight, portable, and ideal for light-duty tasks such as assembling flat-pack furniture or tightening loose screws.

They lack the power of other drill types, but they’re highly convenient for quick fixes around the home.

Each of these drills has its strengths and ideal use cases. Depending on the nature of your DIY projects, you might need one or more of these tools in your kit.

Always remember to consider the drill’s power, weight, and features to find the most suitable one for your needs.

Power drill features

Key features to consider include power, measured in volts (V) for cordless drills and watts (W) for corded drills, speed (usually given in RPM), and chuck size, which determines the size of drill bit you can use.

Some drills also offer advanced features like LED work lights for better visibility, built-in levels for precision, and adjustable clutch settings for controlling torque.

Power source considerations

For many DIYers, cordless drills are the best option.

You have extra flexibility and can freely move around the work area without fear of the cable getting in your way.

One of the negative sides of a cordless drill is battery power. Once the battery runs down, you’ll need to charge it to carry on working.

Not ideal if you’re in the middle of a job.

For this reason, it makes sense to have a fully-charged spare ready to take over while you recharge the flat one. Especially if you do a lot of DIY or you’re working on a large project, such as fitting a kitchen, laying decking or building a summerhouse.

Some drills come with a spare battery, but many don’t. Be sure to check this when making a buying decision. 

Key brands and price points

Brands like DeWalt, Makita, and Bosch are renowned for their quality power drills. While top brands tend to be more expensive, they often offer better durability, performance, and customer support.

Carefully examine the warranty period and conditions, which can be a lifesaver if your drill encounters issues down the line.

Safety precautions

Safety is paramount when using power drills. Always wear protective eyewear, avoid loose clothing, and ensure your work area is clean and well-lit.

Look for drills with safety features like a lock-on button and an auxiliary handle.

Regular cleaning and proper storage will also extend the lifespan of your drill and keep it safe to use.

Buying tips

Both online retailers and physical stores have their advantages. While online stores may offer better deals, physical stores allow you to handle the drill before purchasing. Try to hold the drill in your hand, check its weight, and ensure that it feels comfortable and balanced. When buying, remember to check whether the drill comes with necessary accessories like a battery (for cordless drills) or drill bits.

Which is the right power drill for you?

Purchasing a power drill is an investment in your DIY journey. By understanding your needs, the different types of drills, and key features, you’re equipped to make an informed decision that will serve you well for years to come.