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I own a decent, powerful corded drill, but I've always been somewhat hesitant about cordless tools due to the potential lifespan of the batteries, and maybe also the bulkiness. (Case study: for our old Makita drill, a trustworthy replacement battery would have cost almost the price of a new tool.)

However, I need to screw thin floor boards (15 mm thickness, or 5/8") on a chipboard subfloor. The area is about 19 m2, or 200 square feet. I'll be using 3.9 mm x 42 mm screws. What's the absolute minimum of a tool that you would use for this kind of flooring job?

I am definitely going to drill pilot holes in the boards (this is fine, and a definite safety measure, since the boards are so thin). This is no issue with even a hand drill.

For screwing, however, I am thinking of a 7.2V one or even a 6V one, with AA batteries.

That laste one, by Black&Decker, appears to be a contemporary version of the AS6NG, which I found to be praised on Youtube.

I often prefer silence over power, so I would probably also test out something like an oldschool ratcheting screwdriver, but these appear to be impossible to find in my country.

There's also the Stanley Fatmax Speed Drive.

I wonder if, in practice, I should actually ditch the idea of flooring with these low-powered tools in the first place? Maybe I'll just end up burning the engines, so I would need to buy something like a 10.8V (or more) battery tool anyhow.

so, I guess, the more general point of discussion for the Stackexchange database is something like -- can you actually do serious repetitive work (like flooring) with something like a 4-8V battery screwdriver, or even with manual tools? Maybe this is just nostalgia, but I often think whether we are actually overusing power (especially battery powered) tools in our times.

Thanks for any thoughts and suggestions!

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    Most cordless drills - good ones and even cheap ones have torque limiting controls, so full power is not an issue.
    – Solar Mike
    Jul 14, 2023 at 11:02
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    You're WAY overthinking this. Get a subcompact 18v drill with an adjustable clutch and a 2ah or 4ah battery. This will suit light to medium duty drilling and driving till your heart's content. Those electric screwdrivers are a joke; you couldn't pay me to use one.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jul 14, 2023 at 12:45
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    For screws, I actually prefer my impact driver over my drill.
    – Huesmann
    Jul 14, 2023 at 14:02
  • @MonkeyZeus Yeah, I have used a 18V Makita (for a previous flooring job, with similar boards). I guess it was fine, but I do remember my wrist being tired due to the weight of the battery. (Also, the battery was weak.) That's why I started to think about alternatives now. "Overthinking" is probably a spot-on keyword, though. Thanks! It... got me thinking! :)
    – martz
    Jul 14, 2023 at 18:26
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    @martz I see. You had mentioned considering the Yankee screwdriver so I figured so you already have stamina for days. Anyways, you could also consider a 12v variant which would be plenty suitable for your task and other light-duty uses. In the states, Milwaukee makes a M12 12V Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/4 in. Hex Screwdriver which you might find inspiring.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jul 14, 2023 at 19:27

2 Answers 2

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If you are actually going to buy one, 14v 5A 40Nm minimum spec for a drill driver for floor boarding. Two batteries at least. Buy high spec batteries so you can charge one by the time you flattened the other, unless you really like tea breaks.

Nothing powered by AA batteries will be any good whatsoever for jobs heavier than taking the screws out of computers.

I can't understand a word on that video, but that Fatmax looks like a toy. [& I just looked at the other links. Nope. Not those. Toys. Don't walk away from those… run.] Unless you already have arms like Popeye, you'll have just one like him by the end, if both the tool & your arm lasts the job.

You actually want a 'drill shape' driver for 200-screws-an-hour floorboarding, not a 'screwdriver' shape. You get a lot more leverage & a lot less Popeye.

I oughtn't to be sexist, Popeye or Rosie the riveter...

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The ratcheting driver will pump screws all day, every day & outlive your grandchildren… except your arm will fall off in 30 minutes. They're for people who do this all day, every day… or used to be, before we had drill-drivers for multi-purpose, or dedicated single-purpose collated screwdrivers & nail-guns.

Don't waste your time pre-drilling - that will take forever. You just need the right screws so you're not overstressing the board.

Now, of course this stuff doesn't come cheap. My drill-driver was £400 with 2 batteries - but on the upside it's still as good now as when I bought it, maybe 12 or so years ago. Great if you need to do this a lot. Expensive if you only need to do it once.

So, what to do?
Rent one.
If you're renting one, you don't need a multi-purpose drill driver, you can rent something designed to ram screws in all day, every day. You don't even need to pause to pick up your next screw. This is the collated screwdriver. [Collated because the screws are on a plastic auto-fed strip.]
Some are drywall spec, some flooring & some both. Some are long enough you don't even need to bend down.

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    So much this! The small, low voltage ones have small motors that won't produce enough torque to drive screws into the floor and come with tiny batteries that will wear out after a dozen screws, if you're lucky. They're designed for a few screws into rawl plugs to hold a picture to a wall, not for heavy construction work. One good tool will last the below average DIYer (in terms of project frequency, not person capability) more than a lifetime. Sure battery platforms may change in the future, but you're not required to use the newest battery type - just use what you've got.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 14, 2023 at 16:01
  • Somehow that green monstrocity scares me :D Jul 14, 2023 at 16:17
  • I added an even bigger green monster ;) [That last one is a bit overkill, It can do wood to metal too.]
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 14, 2023 at 16:22
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    Thanks very much for such a detailed reply! I did consider renting a drill; I will reconsider it now (will probably skip the more monstrous ones on your photos, though :). I was hoping that the AA-powered tools are good enough, provided I also have pilot holes (drilled with a corded drill or a mechanical one, not with the AA-powered bit!). There seems to be a clear consensus that they're not. I'm not going to bother with these then, and save those 20-30 euros. Thanks again!
    – martz
    Jul 14, 2023 at 18:15
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    Wish you luck. The €30 spent on a useless underpowered DIY tool will be far better spent on a day or two of … perhaps not the biggest of the green monsters, but something eminently capable of doing the task without even blinking - and no pre-drilling required, for even less physical effort. btw, that DeWalt is advertised as a drywall driver. You might need something stronger, if less photogenic. :)
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 14, 2023 at 18:38
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I have a drill that's in this class - a Black and Decker BDCD8C, its 8V, USB chargeable (so in theory I can keep it topped off with a power bank), and while I love it to bits, I cannot imagine drilling a large number of holes with one of these. Also looking at the specs, its supposed to only really be able to drill up to 20mm of wood. Your screwdriver is probably worse, and will likely chew through AAs

I've used this for fairly serious assembly and disassembly with a little ratcheting bit driver when I needed a bit of extra torque but I can't imagine driving a large number of screws with this. Its comfortable. Its just not very powerful and designed for long duty cycles.

As much as I love Janky Tools - if its a one off, renting or borrowing a proper cordless drill and a spare battery and keeping one topped off while working on the other is the sensible option. Make sure its comfortable, make sure it has a little more power, and remember its a lot of screws. You might not need it after this after all.

There's also jigs that let you drill 'straight' - I believe they are called portable drill guides - which would be worth looking at if you're doing a lot of screws. You're going to get tired, they will get wonky, and it'll also help with the pilot holes.

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  • Thanks very much for your reply! Since one of the drivers I was aiming also has 7.2V, your feedback the powers of a similar tool is very valuable to me. I'm seriously reconsidering renting a tool now.
    – martz
    Jul 14, 2023 at 18:18

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