How to Pick Out a Great Drill



This article is specifically aimed at drills scaled on the compact side which fit a woman’s hand better.  Our hands are smaller, not as strong, and usually worse for the wear than a men’s.  We need to consider different options when buying power tools than what you might read in tool descriptions.  Most advertising is aimed at men, but what is great for them is not necessarily great for us. Their projects are usually much larger and can range from raising a garage to tightening up bolts on an I-beam.  Let’s discuss a few things to consider before you spend the money on a tool which will only frustrate you and make your ‘project’ hard.  The project will be enough of a challenge.  Don’t make it worse by having the wrong tools.

Let me say firstly, with the tips that follow, always make sure you test it firsthand.  Unless you have held it in your hand and used it in a sample demo, don’t expect to be happy with your drill.  Because you use a drill in just about any DIY project you’ll do, make sure it is comfortable, easy to handle, provides the power you’ll need, and gives you the options important to you.  I’m on my 5th drill, and it isn’t because I’ve worn them out, though some of them lasted longer than others.  It’s a bit of a swap out, but you’ll get the picture as you try them out and see what is important to you.

The Grip

Make sure the grip of your drill is comfortable and doesn’t weigh heavily forward.  If it rocks forward out of your hand when you grip it lightly, then it is too heavy for you. Pick a smaller drill.  It may not be an 18-volt DeWalt, but if you have a drill too heavy, you won’t be able to use it when you need it most, in smaller or more technical situations.  You may also have a larger bit on the end at some point, which weighs down your drill and makes maneuverability harder. 

The Weight

Pick a lighter model.  They will be more expensive but will be worth the extra $10 to $20 in the long run.  When you have a hard wood beam you need to drill a two-inch screw into, you’ll appreciate the lighter weight.  It will also be easier to hold at odd angles or when you are working above your head.  Even if you are trading in power, go for the lighter one.  You will be able to get your shoulder into it if need be, and have other options, such as drilling a hole before setting the screw.  Believe me, at the end of the day, your hands will say thanks!

Also, determine if you would like a battery on the drill (heavier) or if you are going for a plug-in model.  Both are great and have their own advantages.  Nowadays, I’ve noticed the rechargeable batteries are smaller and more efficient than even 5 years ago, so consider them both.  It’s also a bit hard to find a drill with a cord, but they are out there.  Try them all out and see if you can find your convenience and costs match up.

The Ease of Handling

Lastly, make sure it feels as if your drill is an extension of your hand.  This is important, and seems like a given, but you won’t know the feeling until you have it.  I now have a drill which I love even when it is sitting in the case, and it’s my fourth drill.  It’s that great.  It’s not the most powerful, but I get more done with it as it fits me perfectly.  I still have the more powerful drill, but I always go to the smaller version, even when I think it won’t tackle the job.  It is just that much easier to use.  And in all actuality, it always does the job well.  She’s a keeper…

Below, I’m rating a couple of the manufacturers I am familiar with and is a fair sampling of what is available.  Some are known for their power, some for their ease in changing bits or battery life, and some come with all the bells and whistles like lights when they are in use and a plumb on the side.  Just be weary when you read the descriptions and remember they probably aren’t written with a woman’s hand in mind.  Always, always, give them a ‘test drive’.  I didn’t for my first two.  I lucked out, but have since seen I should have done this, if only to further appreciate the one I had bought!  I am also giving a general description, as if I went for a particular model, sure enough, it would be discontinued and muck up the points I love about the company!

Makita – This is the drill I am currently using, and I love it!  The grip is narrow, it is lightweight, and it packs as much power as I’ll ever need.  When I remodeled my kitchen, this wouldn’t have been powerful enough (I borrowed a friends’ powerful, but older model Ryobi).  It is a bit more expensive than I wanted to spend when I first started out doing DIY projects, but now know I am inclined to do more around my home than I ever anticipated and am not making myself work any harder than I must!

DeWalt– There are several great DeWalt’s to pick from, and I am incredibly happy with the new compact line they’ve come out with.  It’s smaller gauged and still delivers a powerful tool (18V to 20V).  They are well-built tools and I have never been unhappy with any I’ve used.  They are a bit heavier, but the battery life is longer.

Milwaukee– These drills are also ‘compact’ and have a wonderful reputation for lasting a lifetime.  There is one drill which has 18V power and a slim battery which slips in the handle like the Makita.  They are also a bit pricey, but the quality will last. Be sure to pick this one out to last you a long time.

Ryobi– I’m not as inclined to purchase a Ryobi, as the battery sits as a square on the bottom of the drill instead of in the grip.  My own silly preference, and it makes absolutely no difference other than that. I’ve had my share of battery’s like this, but due to my arthritis, it’s a bit hard for me to grip both tabs on either side of the pack to remove it from the drill.  The price is a bit less and if you like the grip and weight, go for it.  Do try the battery removal though, to make sure your hand can grip it easily.

Black & Decker- This was my first drill and I loved it.  I bought one which had a switch out chuck, so I kept the drill on the outer one, and the screw tip on the inner one, making it easy when I was drilling and screwing in things.  It was just a 12 volt, they have larger ones now, but at the time, I was just starting to do projects and really loved the lower price and it’s ability to make my life easier.  It did last me quite some time also!  They’ve decreased the need for the large batteries also, so the profile is smaller too!