Best Electric Drill For Daughter?

My daughter just bought her first house about 40 miles away. She is very handy, but I need to give her some or her own tools so she stops borrowing mine...

1st item is a small(ish) 3/8" electric drill. Various thoughts & concerns:

1) Keyless chucks: She is small (~ 110 lbs), and doesn't have a ton of handstrength. I have a 12 year old DeWalt that has one, and unless I crank on it, it slips occasionally. Are the new ones better enough that I should go that route? She is not the sort to lose a chuck key, but keyed chucks are getting scarce on the better brands of drills.

2) Cordless vs corded. She will probably use a drill once a month tops, and maybe every 6 months after she gets settled in. When she needs a drill, she isn't going to want to wait to charge up a battery, which means leaving one on the charger. Are the chargers & battery chemistries good enough that it's not a big deal now? My DeWalt has NiCd's, and they are not very reliable for intermittent use. I've had a couple packs rebuilt with NiMH, but I don't have enough mileage on them to compare. I know most vendors seem to have gone to lithium, but I'm guessing they need to live on a charger or they will self discharge. Going corded would work, but they are getting scarcer. A keyed chuck corded drill is a very rare beast.

3) Brands: I know this is a bit like Ford vs Chevy. Between the batteries & the slipping chuck, I'm not real happy with DeWalt, but that is old news. I'd like to get her something with some of the niceer new features, like levels & LED lights.

Suggestions & comments?


Doug White

Reply to
Doug White
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I have an older version similar to below that has treated me well. Mine has the keyless chuck which is a pain when drilling in metal with larger bits. I'm not fond of battery tools for occasional use. Only have one small battery drill now (that works) that I would not recommend. You can get similar to this with a keyless chuck too.

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Look for models with around a 7amp motor. Anything less will be pretty wimpy and not able to run say a 3/4 inch wood paddle bit very well...

Reply to
Leon Fisk

On 02/26/2017 8:25 AM, Doug White wrote: ...

Just avoid the two-piece ones; the one-piece Milwaukee is not difficult to tighten and holds fine even for larger drill sizes in concrete in hammer mode, for example.

OTHO, every two-piece I've ever had is essentially worthless for anything but advertising that doesn't have a key to lose.

OTOH, having to have the extension cord to get to many places can be terribly inconvenient, too.

I've two old Milwaukee NiMH that are pushing 20 yo now and all four battery packs are still functional with no discernible loss in charge life or power. They get periodic use that may be quite some time between, just depending on what's going on. The packs that aren't on the drill live in the chargers but I can't tell that the ones on the drills discharge just sitting to speak of, either. OTOH, they're not made any more and Milwaukee red may be more $$ than is worth spending for the purpose.

I've avoided the Li-ion technology; early ones were prone to occasional overheating; the JD dealer here is the local large Milwaukee retail outlet; the shop owner had one of the newer ones in his house and nearly burnt the place down when left it on the charger as had been used to do with NiMH. Perhaps they've got those kinks worked out...

Anyway, for this use, I'd venture probably essentially anything in the homeowner aisle at the big box outlet with only a modicum of care in selecting features will be more than satisfactory...and if, after a while she wants something more than the $29 special offers, will have a pretty good idea of what and what for based on whether she does become a DIY'er or not.

$0.02, imo, ymmv, etc., etc., etc., ...

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I'm happy with the chuck and new battery of my older DeWalt DC730, but the drill I grab most often for small house projects (not metalworking) is a little Ryobi TEK-4 that's powerful enough to install hinges and brackets and small enough to stash in a pocket, the reason I bought it. The 1/4" hex chuck substantially reduces its size and weight and is very convenient for alternately drilling and installing screws up on a ladder. Its Lithium battery holds a charge much better than my NiCd drills. It is less of a risk to the furniture than the DeWalt which I don't carry in a holster often enough to remember not to bang it into things.

Since the Ryobi handles the little jobs, the other drill I couldn't do without is a corded 1/2" Milwaukee Magnum Holeshooter that is powerful enough to drill a steel door for the lockset. I think that's the upper limit of what the average homeowner might need.

I'm not the average homeowner, most of my woodworking is with oak and PT SYP which need pilot holes more than pine does.

A light pocketable drill for pilot holes and a powerful one to sink the screws has been a good combination. Two larger corded or cordless ones are awkward unless you have a table to set one on. My neighbor who installed kitchens used two identical cordless drills (same battery & charger) which was fine when he had the countertop handy, but when we do outdoor jobs one always lands in the dirt.


Reply to
Jim Wilkins

The new model Dewalts have a different kind of keyless chuck. You tighten it while the drill is still til it clicks a couple of time. The only time I've had it slip is when I forget and try to tighten it like my old Makita by grabbing the chuck and pressing the trigger.

If you shop the sales you can get their 20v 3/8 vsr and their 1/4 impact driver with 2 batteries, charger and a tool bag for around $150.

Paul K. Dickman

Reply to
Paul K. Dickman

I gave my daughter a Ridgid combo package. It has an impact driver, a drill, a circular saw, two 2 amp/hour batteries and a charger. When used in the drill or driver the batteries will last all day. The saw was a frustrating toy until I bought a 4 amp/hour battery for it. I think hers is generation 4. The current line is GenX and much improved as I also have the same kit as her and the impact drill in GenX. Each of the tools have a useful light. I don't know whether they have a level.

The gen 4 and GenX batteries can be used in either but the GenX equipment is lighter, stronger, and the batteries last longer.

I chose the Ridgid model because the entire package is guaranteed forever - including the batteries and charger.

After retiring, I use my tools less with periods up to a month without touching them. The batteries always have enough of a charge to get the next project done.


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Either cordless or lithium. Anything else WILL always be dead when needed. Keyless chuck for sure. Strong fingers are required to properly tighten a keyed chuck, and cheap ones always slip - even worse than keyless. The led light is a gimick. Level is nice but I've never had a drill with one. as long as it has a straight section on the top that is parallel to the chuck centerline it is easy to "suare up" a drill / hole. Up here in Canada I've got a "Mastercraft" (Canadian Tire) lithium cordless, a Craftsman 3/8" corded, and a Makita 1/2 inch corded. My experience has been anything in the "consumer grade" with Black and Decker on it your wasting time and energy taking it home - even if you get it for free. Since B&D took over DeWalt their low end stuff is pretty much the same situation. Used to be, with the keyed chucks, anything with the "jacobs" name on it was pretty good stuff - not sure today - but they make Keyless chucks as well. - but they GENERALLY are not low priced.

Any drill with a Jacobs Softgrip should be great as nobody would put it on a crappy drill - simply due to cost. Aftermarket softgrips are avaiable at Lowes and Home Despot (at least in the states) for around $30 - so you can see why you won't likelt find one od a $50 drill - -

- -.

Reply to

I have an assortment of drill motors. Most of them bought at garage sales or at a thrift store. Some times a drill motor with a keyed chuck is best , sometimes one that has a low rpm is best. Sometimes it is nice to have a pilot drill in one drill motor and a screw driver bit in another.

My suggestion would be to buy a used drill motor and then some other tools such as a hammer and or a pry bar.


Reply to

I can understand that.

Hmm ... the keyless chuck on my Ridgid 1/2" drill does not give me trouble with slipping. It is a fairly large OD, with a rubber grip surface, and as long as her hand is large enough to wrap around it she should have little trouble. (Granted --bits with triple flats will help under questionable tightness situations.)

Since it is a 1/2" one, with quite a bit of torque, it comes with a second handle which clamps one easily, and helps greatly with high-torque tasks like drilling 1/8" holes in 1/8" steel or thicker.

It has two-speed gearing, as well as variable speed with the trigger. This gets it fast enough to cover the 3/8" drill speeds as well as the 1/2" ones.

It also has an adjustable torque limit which can be very useful when driving screws with it. Down to reasonable torques for 6-32, and up to locked for serious drilling.

And -- it has a light near the bottom of the handle which comes on when you operate the trigger, or when you squeeze the bottom with your little finger.

Cordless -- these days -- is *very* good. The 18-Volt Lithium-Ion packs sit quite a while with a good charge, and have an indicator which will tell you the state of charge at the push of a button on the pack -- whether it is in the tool or not.

And, with two packs, I can put one to charge and it will be ready before the other reaches the bottom of its charge (indicated 1/4 full). I do not leave it on the charger, and sometimes it can be several months between uses, while others it gets used frequently.

The manual for the battery says once it is charged to remove it from the charger. Store in a ziploc baggie to keep things from shorting the battery.

NiCad batteries have the memory problem, and the self-discharge. The NiMH have the self discharge. The Li_Ion ones are better than either.

Corded drills can lead to excitement if you drill into a hot wire. The cordless (at least mine) is covered with insulation, so a shock is unlikely. (Granted, giving her a tool for checking the location of studs and the location of hot wires is good insurance, but it may need a new 9V battery from just sitting around.

Of course i is a religious issue. :-) I just happened to want a

1/2" battery operated drill at a time that Home Despot was having an introductory sale on this Ridgid drill -- approaching Christmas time. It came with two battery packs at the time, which saved me from having to separately purchase a spare.

You have my opinions above.

Good Luck, DoN.

Reply to
DoN. Nichols

Lithiums ARE cordless. That was a point I was going to make. I gave my sister my old nicad cordless Ryobi and the battery was always dead by the time she used it again. Then she lost the charger, so I told her to go to HFT and buy the $12.99 3/8 VSR. She's still happy, and I got one to replace my old B&D that only lasted 28 years. Oops, $20 now, not on sale.

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A set of hex-shanked bits is only $7, so even a cheap keyed or keyless chuck will hold them tightly enough.

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These are brittle, but last well enough.

And buy her a 25' TWELVE GAUGE extension cord. I've seen people try to run borrowed table saws on sets of 5 zip-corded extensions with interestingly flashy results. Magic smoke release is imminent without a good heavy-duty cord.

Reply to
Larry Jaques

Those Emerson built Direct Drive Craftsman table saws use a NLA thermal starter. The one my dad had died, so I bought an adjustable potential relay to see if I can repair it. The first sign of a bad thermal starter is erratically tripping the breaker, or blowing the fuse. You can give te blade a spin by hand before turning the saw on, and it will run but it has to be done every time you turn it on. One careless time and you can lose part of your hand. :(

Reply to
Michael A. Terrell

I've watched zip-cord extensions melt and flame/spark due to the massive current from starting and stopping. I'm hoping they never did the "but it was handy" thing again. And never loan out your good tools, your first aid kit, your ladders, or your extension cords. You never know what condition they'll return in.

But ya gotta keep the sequence. Isn't that right, Pawless? ;) Please mention push sticks, so people remember to -use- them every single time they push a board through a table saw. I got careless once and slipped in the sawdust after half a dozen cuts. My face (no big loss, right? ;) came far too close to the spinning blade as I caught myself. Now I sweep or vacuum before, during, and after sawing, JIC.

Reply to
Larry Jaques

Good question, since the chargers from the two are usually incompatible. You won't get a full charge on NIMH using a NICAD charger, or overcharge, losing the pack, so the builder would be hard pressed to guarantee that combo. Unless DeWally decided to put warning stickers on them (to cover themselves. New ladders have 13 warning stickers but people still use them unwisely) and built the new batteries in the same cases, ensure more battery sales _when_ the owner got careless and interchanged. I finally moved from NICAD to LITHIUM for the extra density, with quicker charging, no memory, and much longer life.

Speaking of repacks, I won't use Interstate ever again. They used either smaller capacity or mismatched batteries in my Ryobi 14.4, so it has never been the same after rebuild. When I complained, they said they used the proper capacity, but I showed them the extra RPM from the other old battery and they shrugged. Most rebuilders use higher cap batteries so the owner will be back. Anyway, it wasn't even as strong as it had been when I took it in to be repaired so that soured me on the company. It was a stupid business choice on their part.

Reply to
Larry Jaques

I've got a collection of really bad tools, to offer when someone wants to borrow something. ;-)

I've never met a running saw blade with any body parts.

You just mentioned just. :)

Reply to
Michael A. Terrell

I suggest that you take a look at the drills from this website

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. They are used, but some of them are in a perfect condition. Hope it helps!

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