The Best Cordless Drills for Your DIY Projects - Backyard Boss
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The Best Cordless Drills for Your DIY Projects

You don’t have to do many DIY projects before you realize which tools are must-haves. The best cordless drills can make your jobs easier and your work more efficient, but advances in technology have made for a dizzying range of choices. Our guide will drill down to only those worth considering.

Bosch PS31-2A Drill Kit - The Best Cordless Drills for Your DIY ProjectsBosch PS31-2A Drill Kit
  • Voltage: 12
  • Max RPM: 1300
  • No. Clutch Settings: 20
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BLACK+DECKER LDX120C Cordless Drill - The Best Cordless Drills for Your DIY ProjectsBLACK+DECKER LDX120C Cordless Drill
  • Voltage: 20
  • Max RPM: 650
  • No. Clutch Settings: 11
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Dewalt DCD771C2 Cordless Drill - The Best Cordless Drills for Your DIY ProjectsDewalt DCD771C2 Cordless Drill
  • Voltage: 20
  • Max RPM: 1500
  • No. Clutch Settings: 16
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Craftsman CMCD700C1 Cordless Drill - The Best Cordless Drills for Your DIY ProjectsCraftsman CMCD700C1 Cordless Drill
  • Voltage: 20
  • Max RPM: 1500
  • No. Clutch Settings: 23
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KIMO Cordless Drill - The Best Cordless Drills for Your DIY ProjectsKIMO Cordless Drill
  • Voltage: 20
  • Max RPM: 1350
  • No. Clutch Settings: 21
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Why Should You Get A Cordless Drill?

Labor-saving is the number one reason you should buy a cordless drill. It’s a no-brainer if you’ve ever put together an assembly-required bookcase or any large DIY project. Screwdrivers take far too long and leave your hands throbbing when you finally finish. A cordless drill will also make short work of common household tasks, like installing gutter guards.

Cordless Drill

Drills allow tighter seals, which means sturdier structures; they prevent screws from stripping; and honestly, compared to a slew of screwdrivers, one powerful and versatile drill is a bargain.

Features to Look For in the Best Drills

The first thing you’ll probably notice is the vast number of specs involved with cordless drills. We’ll focus on the ones that are most important for DiYers. Generally, you’ll find these tools in two broad classes: products for household projects and big guns for heavy-duty construction. That said, many specs are relevant across all types of drills.

Power and Speed Specs

Voltage and RPM are the two most prominent power specs. The most common voltages are 12, 18, 20, and even as high as 36. For most light-duty DIY projects, 12 volts is plenty. You’ll also find that these drills are less expensive, especially the most basic ones.

Higher voltage drills are best suited for construction or harder materials. They are also heftier, which can make a difference when using them for big projects; you’ll be surprised how heavy 4 pounds becomes after an hour of work.

The other specs to consider include RPM (rotations per minute) and torque. The two are interrelated. The RPM is essentially the speed at which the chuck (the business end of the drill) spins. Some have multiple settings going as low as 300 RPM with higher-end models up to 2,000. You’ll often see RPM expressed as the maximum figure. The torque, which is the twisting force generated by the motor, is what actually causes the rotation of the drill.

Dewalt products will provide a UWO (unit watts out) figure that qualifies the actual power. The calculation is complicated. Suffice to say that it’s not an industry-wide measure. It also doesn’t relate directly to other figures we’ll discuss. It’s most useful for comparing drills made by Dewalt and only Dewalt.

Your required power is mostly driven by the materials that you work with; tough materials like metal obviously require more. Many drills have clutch settings that will allow you to match torque to the task. This can prevent damage to surfaces and damage to the tool itself. Even low-end products will have clutch settings.

Battery Power

Most modern drills have lithium-ion batteries. They have a greater energy density than traditional nickel-cadmium (NiCad). They’ll also hang on to juice longer.

The primary battery spec is amp hours (Ah). The higher it is, the longer your drill will operate. However, there are some tradeoffs with weight and price. A drill with around 1.3 Ah is suitable for smaller DIY projects. For heavy-duty work, look for a product with 4 or 5. We’d suggest having a spare battery so that you don’t have to wait when the drill sputters to a stop.

Charge Time

Charging Drill

Many product descriptions include the time to recharge the battery in minutes or hours. This also shows the other major benefit of opting for a lithium-ion battery: shorter downtime. We’re talking about the difference between 30 minutes versus the 3 or more hours with a NiCad power source. Make sure that the charger is included with your purchase; it usually is.

Brushed Versus Brushless

The concept of brushless is an example of the increased efficiency with advanced technology. The difference between brushed and brushless is how the power gets to the chuck. The latter optimizes battery usage with reduced heat generation. The results are longer drill life and more power to the drill.

Dimensions and Weight

These figures matter when considering the type of work and reflect the technology of the components. We’d also suggest looking at the ergonomics of the design, especially if you’ll use it for long stretches.

Another key dimension is the chuck size. You may see this figure expressed in imperial or metric. A ⅜-inch chuck is appropriate for most household uses. Larger drills may have a ½-inch chuck. You’ll also see hex or keyless ones. Both simplify the process of changing bits for greater ease of operation.

Other Desirable Features

There are a host of other options that fall into the nice-to-have category. You’ll see products with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity along with an accompanying smartphone app to better manage the drill. As far as safety is concerned, we like drills that include a UL safety listing.


Even low-end cordless drills will likely have a warranty. Many manufacturers also guarantee the batteries. Read the terms carefully before buying. We’d also suggest hanging onto your original receipt, just in case.

Professional repairman using a drill

Using Your Drill Safely

The main concern with using cordless or frankly, any type of drill, is slippage. Often it occurs when trying to penetrate harder materials without ample power behind the task. Another risk is eye injury, primarily from flying debris from the drill holes. That’s why it’s imperative to wear safety glasses whenever you use power tools.

Getting the Longest Life Out of Your Drill and Battery

Many things that you can do to prolong the life of your drill are the same as would apply to any battery-powered device. They work best if you keep them charged, especially those with NiCad batteries. You should also clean them between uses to prevent dust from getting into the internal circuitry. Finally, if your drill has a case, use it.

Our 5 Top-Rated Cordless Drills

The top drills have a variety of functions that go beyond setting screws or drilling holes. Top-notch products will give you the ability to do several other tasks, with or without attachments.

Bosch PS31-2A Power Tools Drill Kit

The Bosch PS31-2A Power Tools Drill Kit offers several features and add-ons, which make it worth a look as the only 12-volt model on our list. The specs are impressive with two different speed settings for the ⅜-inch chuck with 20 clutch settings (to find the perfect amount of power for your job). The grip makes it comfortable to use. It has an LED light and a battery gauge so you can monitor charge.

The kit includes everything you need to power up and get to work with two lithium-ion 2Ah batteries, a charger, two bits, and a carrying case for storage. The compact size and lighter weight make it easy to use for longer periods. It comes with a three-year warranty with tool replacement followed by two years of free repair. Overall, it’s a decent performer that is adequate for a wide range of DIY projects.

Bosch PS31-2A Drill Kit
    This drill is a decent choice for those looking for a smaller tool that still packs enough power for most household tasks.



BLACK+DECKER LDX120C Cordless Drill

The BLACK+DECKER LDX120C Cordless Drill just looks sleek. It weighs just over 3 pounds. It runs on a 1.5 Ah, lithium-ion battery, which is included with the tool. The max RPM is 650 with 11 clutch settings. It has a ⅜-inch chuck and includes the charger and a double-ended bit.

The up-time isn’t very long at just one hour, which is also the charge time. It can hold the juice for up to 18 months, which means it may still have power when you fish it from the back of your closet. It is a utilitarian tool without smart technology, making it a decent old-school option. It has enough oomph to go through a variety of materials, including plastic and metal. Both the drill and battery have a two-year warranty.

BLACK+DECKER LDX120C Cordless Drill
    The drill is a good value for the price with a user-friendly design and enough juice for light-duty jobs.



Dewalt DCD771C2 Cordless Drill

The Dewalt DCD771C2 Cordless Drill has a 1500 max RPM with two speeds and 16 clutch settings. It has a ½-inch chuck. It’s a bigger model at 3.6 pounds with a 1.3 Ah, lithium-ion battery. You get two batteries with your purchase, along with a charger and soft carrying case. It’s also an old-school model with no connectivity or smart device features.

This drill is a wise choice for those looking for a more powerful DIY tool for jobs like installing a deck. It is extremely well-built with a comfortable handle. It has a charge time of 60 minutes and comes with a three-year, limited warranty for both the tool and the battery. Overall, it’s a good choice for intermediate DIYers.

Dewalt DCD771C2 Cordless Drill
    This drill is well-made and a smart choice for DIYers who need a tool to handle bigger jobs with more power.



Craftsman CMCD700C1 Cordless Drill

The Craftsman CMCD700C1 Cordless Drill plays on the manufacturer’s well-earned reputation. It includes the charger, one 1.3Ah lithium-ion battery, and a double-sided bit. It has 23 clutch settings and a max RPM of 1500. It has a ½-inch keyless chuck. It unfortunately doesn’t come with a case.

Like others on this list, the drill charges in 60 minutes. It is easy to use and very light: just over 2.6 pounds. The tool is well-balanced, although it doesn’t include any extras. There is an LED work light along with a charge gauge to monitor the battery level. It has a three-year warranty on the drill and two years on the battery. It’s a good choice for an all-purpose drill from a good brand.

Craftsman CMCD700C1 Cordless Drill
    This tool handles a wide range of jobs with the ability to finetune the power to what you need.



KIMO Cordless Drill

The KIMO Cordless Drill has several features that give it an edge. It has a ⅜-inch keyless chuck with 21 clutch settings. It is also multi-functional as an impact driver and screw-driver. It is well-equipped with a built-in LED. Unlike the other products we reviewed, you can buy this one with a complete kit that includes a 2.0 Ah lithium-ion battery, charger, carrying case, and a drill bit set.

The drill is lightweight at just over 2 pounds. It has a max RPM of 1350. The charge time is a bit longer at 1.5 hours; however, it can handle a wide variety of materials, making it a versatile choice. There are also several optional attachments that can increase its usefulness. If you want to minimize your costs, it’s worth a look because of what it’s capable of doing. It has a 24-month warranty.

KIMO Cordless Drill
    This kit is an excellent choice for DIYers who are starting from scratch and need accessories to start on their projects.



Final Thoughts About the Best Cordless Drills

The most useful products serve a variety of purposes, which adds to their value. That’s one of the reasons that we picked the Dewalt DCD771C2 Cordless Drill as our favorite. It has the power to tackle small and large jobs. Its reputation stands for itself as an excellent all-around product for a variety of tasks. It is the perfect mid-range product. Great for DIY but also the occasional bigger project. Go get it, then tell us about your experience in the comments.