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I am trying to get myself a brushless+cordless Combi Drill to replace my nightmare Terratek corded drill and support my home DIY package. I don't need advice for drill, as I know it's not the right purpose of this forum.

What I am going to be using the combi drill for

  1. General screw driving with lower torque settings (Ikea stuff, we've all been there!)
  2. Screwing/Unscrewing things quickly rather than using hand tools
  3. drilling holes in the wall

** What I already know **

Some supermarket brands e.g. Screwfix/Wickes, and big names (JCB, Erbauer, Erbauer etc.) have speed and mode settings.

** My question / What I can't see to find / What I am blind to **

Do I have to seek "Alternating" directions in my combi drill (i.e. clockwise counter clockwise) ? Or, is this a "Given/Guaranteed" thing to have in any make/model?

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There's nothing in the mechanism of a hammer drill preventing it to turn in both directions, although the hammer action is meant to be used with the "screwing" direction.

If you buy a combi drill that's meant to screw screws, it will have forward and reverse, otherwise it would be useless for unscrewing. You can always check for presence of the direction switch on the product photos.

That said, hammer drills are useless at most things except making a lot of noise. Hell, I have a Makita DHP486 which is a monster, and the hammer drill on it is useless, as expected.

There's a contradiction in your requirements: for light screwing, you need a small lightweight driver that is short enough to fit where it needs to go inside furniture and cabinets, and it has to be usable with one hand in awkward positions. It needs good trigger speed and torque control, so you can set the screw flush with the workpiece without over-driving it into the board.

For hammer drilling, nothing beats a SDS drill. But if you want a combi drill that does both, it'll have the useless hammer action, and it will also be large and heavy. So it will be less practical for the stuff you actually use it the most for.

So instead, I'd say keep the corded hammer drill to make holes in bricks, and get a nice, small, lightweight driver-drill without hammer action. For example this one:

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It's the smallest 18V brushless from Makita. I have big hands, but still, it's tiny. It will screw screws larger than itself into 5" thick wood, and it also has a very accurate trigger, so the small screws .

enter image description here

So basically, don't get the big drill just because you'll drill into brick twice a year. Dust off your corded one for that, and instead get a small light drill, 14V or 18V. I got the small battery instead of the big one, because it is lighter, and if you have two batteries instead of one, you can have a battery in the charger. With the 2-speed gearbox, you get a nice combination of speed and torque.

Especially, don't buy a big drill like the Makita DHP486 if you want to do furniture. It's for the big lag bolts. It has so much torque it will throw you off the ladder if you're not careful. It's just ridiculous.

As for brand, don't listen to the fanboys, between Makita Dewalt Milwaukee there's no winner, they're all top-notch. Also too expensive for occasional use, unless you get a very good deal. I've renovated a few condos and built a house with a pair of €30 LIDL cordless drills, that also works, but of course it's less... luxurious, and after an encounter with a stubborn piece of wood, one of them just burned. So that was definitely too cheap. Problem with cheap brands also is they change models often and come up with new batteries (or go out of business) so when the battery dies you have to buy a new drill. So I'd recommend mid-range brands instead.

A good test is to see if you can put in a 1" screw into particle board in second gear, and have it perfectly flush without overdriving it.

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I think what you'll find is that the mechanism that makes a consumer hammer drill work is not compatible with bi-directionality. Think of it as lifting up a ramp, then dropping rapidly off the end, into a hole. Reverse that direction & it will hit the 'wall' at the wrong end of the ramp each time.
Conversely, an SDS can spin either way, or not spin at all yet still hammer [like a chisel or mini road drill], because the mechanism isn't reliant on that simple ramp system & not connected to the rotation mechanism. Rotation & hammer action are completely independent of each other & can be switched on or off individually. It's far, far too heavy to use as a screwdriver, though.

I'd consider how often you'd need a hammer drill vs the other functions, and also how small a [good] drill driver can be, compared to a hammer drill.
Also consider that consumer hammer drills are complete & utter rubbish …ermm… useless ..er.. not very good.

I'd buy a decent [minimum 14v 3A, ideally 18v 5A] multispeed, bi-directional drill-driver & rent/borrow an SDS if you need to actually drill masonry.

If you're looking at modular structures like Erbauer, then you buy the batteries & chargers separately to the actual tools - so you get the chance to get several devices all of which can use the same power structure. This is quite economical overall, compared to owning 5 things of different makes.

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  • Not part of the answer but an opinion - the Erbauer stuff seems pretty good. I have, of course, 5 different tools of 5 different manufacturers already, each beautifully suited to what I did as a profession; but recently I've been filling in on some DIY kit I've never owned previously & went Erbauer. It doesn't get the kind of usage my pro kit got, so it'll take me 20 years to be able to report how robust it is long-term, but early signs are good ;) My drill-driver, btw, is a £400 Panasonic - 15 years old & tough as boots. A bit expensive for a bit of DIY, though.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 9, 2022 at 11:07

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