Power tool buying guide: drills

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Power tool buying guide: drills

A cordless drill is most likely going to be the first power tool you purchase. It saves time and effort in drilling holes and installing fasteners, such as screws, in a whole range of applications and projects – whether it’s at home or on a job site.

As versatile as it is, though, a standard drill may not be enough when drilling into thicker and denser materials. You may reach a point where your cordless drill won’t budge – the drill bit gets dull, the bit just turns in the chuck or you end up stripping the screw head.

It may be time to upgrade to an impact driver or hammer drill. While cordless drills and impact drivers use rotational action – they’re great companions that are often sold together – a hammer drill simultaneously rotates and pounds a drill bit, hence the name.


Standard Drill

Best tool for drilling holes or driving screws into wood, drywall or other soft materials.

  • PRO: hex/round bits;
  • CON: less power

Impact Driver

Best tool for driving into thicker and denser materials, like attaching a ledger board to your home using lag bolts.

  • PRO: small and light; two to three times more torque according to Popular Mechanics
  • CON: only hex bits, higher cost

Hammer Drill

Best tool for drilling holes into concrete, masonry, stone and other similar materials.

  • PRO: powerful; hex/round bits
  • CON: force may transfer to hand/wrist


Regular drills and impact drivers are generally available in corded or cordless models. Cordless tools can provide greater mobility and convenience, not having to find a power source to plug into. Cordless tools also can increase safety as cords can be tripping and electrocution hazards.

While advancements in battery technology have improved, corded tools still may provide more power for some applications, like drilling a large hole with a hole cutter. Corded tools also tend to be more affordable as battery technology comes at a cost.


Before setting out on your project, ensure your drill or screwdriver bits are appropriate for the job. Not only are there different shanks (i.e. hex, round or slotted-drive system), there are drill bits for different materials and purposes.

When in doubt, your local Co-op Home Centre can provide assistance on the right tools for your project.

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