I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for a decent general purpose light use drill for around the home? It's not going to get a whole lot of use. When it does get used most of the time it'll probably be used to put a screw into some wood, or drilling a hole into a stud to mount some shelves on the wall. Stuff like that.

I was looking at this. I'd prefer to pick up something at a local store so that if it turns out to suck I can just bring it back. Plus I have a TV mounting rack I'd like to finish putting together today.

  • whatever you get, make sure it is cordless! Nov 16, 2010 at 0:17

6 Answers 6


I've had pretty good luck with Ryobi tools in the past, and the drill you are looking at will certainly do what you want it to.

Normally I'd recommend a cordless drill to just about anybody, but if you find that you will hardly ever use it, a corded drill might be better. No point in having a cordless drill if the battery is always dead when you need it because it sat around for 6 months without being used or charged.

  • Good point, i hadn't thought about the battery being dead when i might need it. Like i commented to doresoom - i was thinking corded just so i wouldn't have to worry about not having enough power. Someone else suggested if i get a cordless model to make sure it's at least 18v. The cheapest 18v starts at $70, and that doesn't include a battery or charger. If it were just $10-$20 bucks more for cordless i might consider it, but that much more doesn't seem worth it to me.
    – merk
    Nov 15, 2010 at 18:40
  • 3
    @merk - I wouldn't worry about power. An 18v cordless has enough power for almost anything. I have an 18v Ryobi cordless, and it can drive 3" screws or a 1" spade bit with no problem at all. Even a 12v cordless is probably enough for most uses. Nov 15, 2010 at 19:05
  • @merk - heh, sorry, nope. Have to pick just one. Nov 15, 2010 at 21:11
  • @merk It doesn't seem that long ago that a 12V was considered the "powerful" cordless drill. I've got one that's 11 years old and it still comes out of its semi-retirement pretty often. Don't worry about the battery voltage unless you've got a lot of screws to drive. Nov 15, 2010 at 21:14
  • 1
    This is exactly what I don't like about cordless tools. They are poor choices for the person who will use them in spurts, with a long time between jobs.
    – user558
    Nov 15, 2010 at 22:22

Consider a brace. Here's a really nice model: http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?c=&p=32300&cat=1,180,42337

  • Lightweight
  • Rechargeable batteries are made of nasty chemicals
  • Less work than you might guess
  • You won't drive a screw too far and damage the work
  • No worries about finding the battery is dead just when you need it
  • No need to string an extension cord through an attic. (Also works when no power is available at all!)
  • Feel closer to your work

For heavy work, driving many screws or drilling many holes, the easy of a power tool stands out. But for light work, a brace is a reasonable option.

  • I have several of these. You can get a great amount of torque from one for driving a screw, and you have tremendous control over the process. A nice thing is you can find them in antique shops for far less than the price of a new one. And the best thing? They are TOTALLY CORDLESS! No charging of batteries required!
    – user558
    Nov 15, 2010 at 22:27
  • cool - i didn't even know what those were called. I might have considered this but i already picked up the drill, which seems to work pretty well and since the trigger controls how fast it spins and it has a torque adjustment as well, it seems to work pretty well as far as how much control you have. The only problem for this particular project i see with the brace is that some of the screws go in right next to a metal tube, so turning the brace would i think have been a problem - my hand would have kept hitting the tube. It's close enough that even using a screw driver is hard.
    – merk
    Nov 17, 2010 at 18:04
  • @merk: sometimes a brace is preferred in tight quarters, as the racheting function lets you swing the handle around in open space.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Nov 19, 2010 at 3:04

I would definitely recommend a cordless drill for the intermittent use that you are describing. Corded will give you more power for less money but the value you get from having a cordless drill easily outweighs the extra cost and less power. I have this Black and Decker Cordless Drill but I do not love it (plastic casing is not tough enough for some jobs, it bends in your hand) but I do love several other black and decker rechargeable tools (cordless trimmer and reciprocating saw) and having them all use the same battery is awesome (I never run out of a charged battery).

  • I dont think i've been in a situation yet where i could have used a drill but an outlet wasn't nearby. Getting an 18v cordless looks like it'll wind up costing a lot more since they start at $70. homedepot.com/Tools-Hardware-Power-Tools-Drills/h_d1/… That one is $80, dbl the price of the cordless. Do you think that will have enough power to handle basic tasks? Heaviest thing i can think of it doing is drilling into a wall stud. Think it's worth the extra price for cordless?
    – merk
    Nov 15, 2010 at 18:44
  • You will be surprised how much you will find a cordless drill so much more useful and easier to handle once you start using one. I put together a swing set with many 4"x4" posts where 3" lag screws were used and the lower end cordless drills just did not have the power. With that said this B&D drill (and possibly that Ryobi you link to) is probably more power than you need but I brought it up just because it uses the same batteries as several other B&D tools which means I always have a fully charged battery ready to go. Nov 15, 2010 at 19:03
  • Ok, well i'll probably make up my mind once i get to the store. I thought the cordless was going to be much more expensive since the first one i looked at didn't include a battery or charger. But 2nd one i looked at was $10 more but includes 2 batteries and a charger, so that's not bad. I'd be happier spending $40 :) but $80 isn't too horrible. I'll probably flip a coin at the store :)
    – merk
    Nov 15, 2010 at 19:17

Personally, I'd go with the freedom of a cordless for $10 more. If you're just doing small projects, you shouldn't need to worry about battery life. My only concern would be not enough power for drilling and long screws with only a 12V battery. The drill in the link seems to have fairly good reviews.

@Eric makes a good point though about the reliability of a corded drill.

  • Well the power is the reason i was thinking of going with a corded drill. I didn't really see the cord as being a problem for me since so far any time i could have used a drill, it's been indoors with a wall socket no more then a few feet away. So i figured i'd be better off getting a corded drill and knowing i had enough power to do the basic tasks I need it for.
    – merk
    Nov 15, 2010 at 18:32

I have a DeWalt 18.8V cordless and the thing is a workhorse. Yes, it's more expensive, but there are some tools I feel you really should spend a little extra on, and a drill/driver is one of them. I've seen the same drill in ads this year for $99 with 2 batteries and a charger.

Definitely go for the cordless. Not for lack of available outlets, but just for ease of use and convenience. It's not something you think about until you have to deal with a cord all the time. If you get a GOOD cordless, like the DeWalt, you won't need to worry about battery life. Cheapy batteries will not last long at all.

  • well i just got back, and i went with the corded drill. I appreciate the suggestions about going cordless, but given how little i'll probably use this (2 or 3x a year maybe) cordless just didn't seem that important to me. I did however save the receipt in case i get home and realize i've been stupid and should have listened to everyone :)
    – merk
    Nov 15, 2010 at 21:04

The Ryobi will work fine for your purposes. If you want to get it today, this is probably your best bet.

If you are looking for the cheapest solution, it would be hard to beat the Harbor Freight variable speed drill.

People tend to trash talk Harbor Freight tools, but I would say they will be fine for your purposes. It is for light duty occasional use, and it is cheap enough that if it eventually breaks, you don't feel bad about buying another one (or upgrading).

Actually, I would get the corded drill and the cordless version, and you will only be spending an additional $5+shipping on top of the Ryobi. Then, you will have the best of both worlds... the freedom of a cordless drill, the power of a corded drill, and a backup in case one of them dies prematurely.

  • well i dont mind spending a little more then $15. Spending the $40 on the ryobi is fine. I just dont want to spend gobs of money on a uber-powerful drill if i don't really need that much power. I think putting a screw into a 2x4 is probably the toughest thing it'll have to do. Most people seem to think the ryobi is a good brand, so right now i think i'm leaning towards the corded $40 ryobi at homedepot or the $80 cordless ryobi. Are cordless drills much heavier then cordless? does the extra weight make it any harder to use in awkward positions?
    – merk
    Nov 15, 2010 at 18:52
  • The weight is not really that big of an issue. I think the real issue is keeping the battery charged over long periods without ruining the battery from constant charging. If you have to choose one of the two, I would go with the corded drill first. You can add the cordless later if you think you will use it enough to justify the cost premium. Nov 15, 2010 at 19:47
  • most good cordless drills come with a smart charger that will not kill batteries. Nov 15, 2010 at 20:31
  • All rechargeables will self-discharge over time, though. When they do, the charger will top them up. Over long periods, these discharge-recharge cycles will kill the battery. A smart charger will slow the process, but it will not eliminate it. Nov 15, 2010 at 21:40

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