4 drill/drivers; clockwise from top left: Black & Decker, Hitachi, Porter-Cable and DeWalt »

Tool Test: 12-Volt Drill/Drivers

Thanks to lithium-ion batteries, compact drills that would have been laughably undersized a few years ago can now handle drilling and driving tasks once reserved for much larger, heavier tools. This Old House assistant editor Sal Vaglica put these -inch drills through their paces to find which ones have the best power, comfort, and run time.

How the test was done:
At the beginning of every test, each drill received a freshly charged battery.

Screwing power:
After setting the speed selector set to HIGH, all the clutches were set at 10. If that proved insufficient, then we dialed up the clutch until the drill was able to successfully drive a 1¼-inch-long fine-thread drywall screw into ½-inch-thick drywall and 2x pine lumber. Each fastener was driven to the same depth using a drywall bit. The test continued until the drill couldn't sink a screw completely.

Drilling power:
Using a new Irwin ¾-inch spade bit and a speed selector set to LOW, we bored hole after hole through ¾-inch-thick red oak until the battery conked out.

For this torture test, each drill was fitted with a -inch socket so that we could drive a 3-inch long, -inch-diameter lag bolt into a pressure-treated pine 4x4 topped with a 2x4. When the tool stalled, we measured how much of the bolt remained above the lumber's surface.
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