Choosing The Best Corded Drill
The drill is one tool you are likely to find in millions of households, right behind hammers and screwdrivers. While cordless models have shaken things up, there is still a place for corded drills and several good reasons why should want to own one.
Before we get into the fine details and tech specs, we’re going to give you some tips on how to find the best corded drill. From powerful models that pack a punch to budget-friendly drills, we have an option for everyone.
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Corded Drill vs Cordless Drill
Corded drills can do the same tasks as cordless drills, but better in some cases. Power will never be a factor as you have the cord, so work won’t stop when it’s time to recharge. They also tend to be tougher where it counts and can have larger motors and metal casings.
Cordless drills are tempting, and definitely an option if you need something to drive a screw or drill a hole. The obvious benefit is the fact they don’t have cords so you can use them in places where you don’t have access to electricity.
Cordless Drills Benefits
Corded drills are more powerful than their battery-powered counterparts, and they are also cheaper unless you need an industrial model.
They don’t rely on batteries for power and are built to handle heavier loads. You can do things with a corded drill that would wear the battery out in a cordless model in 20 minutes.
You will also maintain your power level from start to finish unless there’s a power outage or you trip over the cord. Some battery-powered models idle down as the battery runs dry – that won’t happen with a corded drill. The only limitation when it comes to power is the length of your cord.
Want to mix up a big batch or grout?
A cordless drill can do it but will have issues running a heavy paddle bit for extended periods of time. Corded drills won’t.
You can also use drills as a buffer or grinder if you have the right attachment and enough oomph. Both styles can do that, but only one won’t leave you hanging within 30 minutes. Nobody wants to have to stop work due to a dead battery.
On that note, you also won’t have to buy extra batteries or replacements a few years down the line. Even the best cordless drills only usually only have a 3-year warranty on the battery. On corded models, it isn’t an issue at all.
Corded drill disadvantages
While we are fans of corded drills, there are a few drawbacks.
Cords are easy to trip over, and nothing is worse than coming unplugged when you’re trying to sink a screw. They are also a weak point on the drill, especially if you tend to pick tools up by their cords – we’ve all done it.
While having an endless amount of power is an advantage, it can also be a drawback if you’re working outdoors without an outlet.
You can run a long extension cord, but that’s going to add weight, and in the end, it’s more cord to trip over. Aside from the cord and working away from a wall socket, there are no other major drawbacks when compared to cordless models.
Considerations before buying a corded drill
You may be gearing up to pick up your very first drill, or you could just want a corded model that’s got a bit more pop than your 18-volt cordless.
Sure, you can go out and scoop one up off the shelf, but you may regret your purchase once you put it into action. In other words, there are plenty of things to think about before you run out to pick up a corded drill.
How often will you use it?
Are you going to put together some furniture and take on the occasional DIY project?
If so, you don’t need an industrial model or hammer drill. You just need a light-duty model that’s easy to use and has enough power to get the job done. These drills are also more affordable than your next option.
For industrial use, there are plenty of options from heavy hitters like Porter-Cable, Milwaukee, and DeWalt. These drills are heavier, and have enough power to get through anything from steel and poured cinder blocks to 12” logs.
Keep your needs in mind, then consider the features.
Even if you don’t plan to use your drill that often, it still needs to be comfortable in your hand. Cordless drills generally just have a few styles of handles due to the battery at the bottom. That isn’t the case with corded drills, and you have a variety of options to choose from.
The most common style would be the pistol grip handle. It will be the most familiar and you can find it on plenty of other power tools including cordless models. This type of handle can be made from plastic sculpted for your comfort or cold, hard metal.
The motor sites above the handle with pistol grip drills although you won’t notice the weight if balanced properly.
Want to mix mud or get through masonry work with a heavy-duty industrial bit? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you might want a drill with a spade handle.
A spade handle drill has an “extra” handle on the back like you’d find on a classic spade. This gives you a better grip when you’re mixing and keeps you from injuring your wrists during a bog down. It also allows you to put more leverage behind the drill when you need to get through tough material.
T-handle & D-Handle
D-handle drills aren’t as common as our top two options, but something many people will be familiar with. Have you ever used a Sawzall? They have the same type of handle which resembles a D and is located behind the motor on this type of drill.
T-handles are like D-handles whereas they resemble the letter T. This type of handle is typically found on industrial models where you need to drill down and typically located towards the middle of the motor.
In some cases, the style of handle dictates the type of drill. You won’t find a pistol grip on a drill built to go through 12” block, but it could have D-handle or spade handle. Whatever style you choose, keep comfort in mind and the ergonomics of the handle itself.
We touched on this in our drill feature guide as chuck isn’t a person, but an important part of your drill.
The chuck is where the bit goes and if the chuck isn’t big enough for the bit, you are either out of luck or need an adapter. While handy, there is no need for additional accessories if you buy the right tool the first time around.
Chuck sizes vary to a degree, but most consumer models are at 3/8” with a few exceptions. As a rule of thumb, the larger the chuck, the bigger the bit your drill can take.
It’s not just about size however as the design and durability of the chuck matter as well. It should be made from high-quality materials, and keyless chucks are ideal for ease of use.
Power and Speed
This area ties into our first question, what do you plan to use the drill for?
For heavy-duty or industrial use, you will want a beastly drill with enough power to get through anything with the right bit. In this class, that means something around 10 amps which is the strength of some of the best hammer drills.
If you are just going to use your drill for regular tasks, a more reasonable number to shot for is between 4 and 8 amps. Budget-friendly models are usually found on the low end of the spectrum, but still powerful enough to handle normal tasks.
If you’re going by RPMs, 800 – 1000 is about the average for general usage and a speed most models are capable of hitting. Metal and harder materials will require a higher speed.
Cord Length & Quality
Cord length and the quality of said cord are two important, but overlooked areas when looking for the best corded drill.
Early corded drills barely had a cord at all, and you were lucky to get even a foot before you needed an extension cord. Thankfully, things have gotten better, and you may be able to leave those cords in the drawer this year.
There is no average length, but it’s not uncommon to find cords between 4 and 8-feet. That’s long enough for most folks although you want to make sure it’s a thick, sturdy cord so it will hold up over time.
You should also consider the warranty. Like with cord length, there is no set number so warranties can vary between 60-days and several years depending on the model and the brand.
Features are what separate the pack and can mean the difference when you find yourself torn between two models.
While corded drills do not have nearly as many features as their battery-powered brethren, there are a few things to consider if you want to get the most out of your tool.
There are dedicated “hammer drills” on the market, but it is also a feature you can find on some regular drills as well.
If you’ve never used one, a hammer drill basically hammers while it drives, which is ideal when you need to get through masonry or drill into concrete. It will make short work on those materials but isn’t all that useful for wood or household tasks.
While a hammer feature is nice to have on hand, it’s more of a luxury than a requirement.
Reverse and Trigger Lock
The same can’t be said of the trigger, which can hold a few tricks up its plastic sleeves.
A lock button is one of them and a nifty feature that should be standard by now. This allows you to drill at a set speed and is great when you have a tough hole to get through.
A reverse trigger is another feature to look for. While many drills have a reverse switch on the side or top, some have it built into the trigger. If you’re going to run a lot of screws, this is definitely a feature you’ll want to consider.
Corded Drill Buying Guide
Products Picks List
Now that you know what to look for when it comes to a corded drill, it’s time to get to the good stuff. That would be our top choices, and we’ve gone with three drills we feel provide you with a lot of bang for your buck.
While none are in the industrial class, most have more than enough power for general usage and light to medium-duty work. While they all share a few things in common, the features and price points set them apart.
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Top Choice: DeWalt DWD112
Our top choice for the best corded drill comes from DeWalt. The DWD112 is a drill that will look good in your toolbox and is powerful enough to be used in your garage or on the job site.
Construction and durability
While plastic, the DeWalt DWD112 is rugged and tough enough for use on the job thanks to 100% ball bearing construction. It has a pistol grip style handle that’s comfortable to use and sports an anti-slip grip across the back.
Aside from a few models, most drills in this class take the same type of bits. That’s no different for the DWD112 as it has the standard 3/8” chuck. It’s keyless and made from metal for better bit retention.
An all-metal chuck is almost worth the price alone, and a feature that adds to the overall durability of the drill.
The trigger is large and of the variable speed variety, and overall, it’s light despite its toughness clocking in at around 4.1 pounds. It won’t put a strain on you throughout the day and has a cord close to 8-feet long.
No extension cord will be required for this particular model.
Power & speed
While it walks a fine line between the industrial and consumer class thanks to its ease of use, the DWD112 has a strong motor. The 8 amp motor can get you through steel or wood with ease as long as you have the right bit.
It doesn’t have a lock, but you will get variable speeds which you can adjust through the trigger. The ability to go from a crawl to 2,500 RPM in seconds is certainly a bonus as well.
One of the great things about the DeWalt tools is the fact you know you’ll get a quality product. They make some of the tougher tools on the market, and their Black and Yellow color scheme is easy to recognize.
DeWalt’s products usually come with great warranties as well, and you’ll get one on the DeWalt DWD112. This powerful drill comes with a 90-day money back guarantee and a 3-year warranty.
This drill came in at the top for a reason as it has more than enough power to get the job done, and is affordable for what it brings to the table.
There are more powerful drills and a few with cooler features, but you won’t get the same peace of mind that comes from buying a DeWalt product. If you’ve owned a drill before, you already know how nice the all-metal chuck is.
While we do dig this particular model, there are a few minor drawbacks.
The trigger can be a little tricky by some accounts. It doesn’t stick, but sometimes you may get a little more power than you bargained for and overdo it. An oversensitive trigger is far from a deal breaker, but something to keep in mind nonetheless.
Mid-tier choice (runner-up): Porter-Cable PC600D
Porter-Cable is another company that makes great tools for pros and enthusiast so it should be no surprise to find the Porter-Cable PC600D on your list. While not as powerful as the DeWalt, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice a difference.
This drill has a high-output 6.5 amp motor which is capable of drilling holes and driving screws with relative ease. It’s not strong enough to deal with some tougher tasks but can hit speeds between 0 to 2500 RPM.
Porter-Cable installed a variable speed trigger in this drill as well. That means you can adjust the speed to suit the task and you can also lock the trigger. For extended jobs, this will come in handy although you can only lock it in at full speed.
While the Porter-Cable PC600D’s high-torque design helps distribute the power, it’s also easy on the eyes and simple to use. At 4.32 pounds, it won’t strain your wrists either.
This corded drill has a clean design with a Black and Grey plastic shell. It’s no replacement for metal, but is surprisingly sturdy and won’t crack if it takes a short tumble. The cord is also better than expected and in line with what you would find on industrial models.
Unfortunately, one thing keeps this drill from being in that class, and it’s not the motor. It would be the chuck.
While keyless, it’s not metal so it won’t hold up as well over time and doesn’t have the same “bite” as good metal chuck. It performs about as you would expect, and can handle bits up to 3/8” in size.
The Porter-Cable PC600D is a solid drill, even if it is a little barebones compared to similar models in its class.
You get all the standard features you’d expect including a variable speed trigger and reverse, but it doesn’t have any real standout features to speak of. There’s no metal chuck, and you can only use the lock button on full-speed as well.
It does have a sturdy 6-foot cord that’s built to take some abuse and a belt clip. The Porter-Cable PC600D also comes with a nice 3-year warranty which includes 1-year of free service.
Budget Choice: Black + Decker BDEDMT Matrix
If you took our crash course on the history of the drill, you already know the role this company played when it comes to the tools we use today.
While not our top overall choice for the best corded drill, the Black + Decker BDEDMT Matrix is the most affordable option we’ve come across that still delivers what it promises. Billed as a drill/driver, the Matrix can help you get things done quicker around the house thanks to a peppy 4.0 amp motor.
The motor can hit 1200 RPM and is variable speed, but there is no trigger lock, and it has a plastic chuck. It can still handle bits up to 3/8” in size, and while not as sturdy as we’d like, it has a nice grip.Black + Decker has certainly come a long way in the design department.
One of the cool things about this model aside from the design is the fact it has an adjustable clutch. This allows you to manually set the strength which keeps you from sinking screws too far or destroying their heads.
The big draw for the Black + Decker BDEDMT Matrix actually lies in its name. The front of the drill can detach, which is something you typically don’t see on budget-friendly corded models.
As part of the company’s “Matrix” lineup, you can swap out the drill section with anything from a router or sander to a tiny trim saw.
This corded rill comes with a double-sided tip for screws and tips the scales at only 3.31 pounds. It has a 2-year warranty and is an affordable solution for homeowners that don’t want to break the bank.
If you like the idea of those expensive modular tool sets that run off Lithium-ion power but aren’t ready to cut the cord, you may have found your best option in the Black + Decker BDEDMT Matrix.
The motor limits what you can use this one for although it’s not going to have any issues putting screws into decks, drywall or drilling holes into wood. Obviously, you won’t want to use this one for industrial work.
On the flipside, it’s extremely comfortable to use thanks to an ergonomic handle, and it’s also lightweight. While we wish it had a metal chuck, the versatility of this particular tool more than makes up for that.
In today’s cordless world, this style of drill is still somewhat of an acquired taste. Not everyone wants to deal with a cord, but it is well worth the trade-off if you want something with more power and work around an electric outlet most of the time.
They are also considerably cheaper than cordless models in many cases while still delivering the same standard set of features. Once you’ve chosen the drill that’s right for you, be sure to check out our drill bit guide.