13 February 2017

Battery drills - strengths and weaknesses

Its unusual for me to post about DiY, in fact I think that this is something of a first but, because I'm doing a bit of drilling and sanding, my attention turned to battery drills and how they have improved over the years.

I bought my first battery drill from Lidl back around 2003/4 and, although it was a relatively cheap model, it was a bit of a revelation. Firstly, I was no longer tethered to a mains supply as I had been for  decades before so, less tripping over wires and running out of length on the extension lead. Secondly, the drill had a keyless chuck so no more loosing the chuck-key. Then, thirdly, there was the clutch on the chuck which meant no more over-driving screws, now I could set the clutch to stop driving when the screw was firmly in place. All in all, battery drills were a revelation and I wouldn't be without one now, they make life easier and more productive.

More recently, when both of my Lidl drills clapped out (battery failure on both after about 10 years) I decided to invest in a slightly more upmarket drill. The features are much the same but now battery drills are fitted with LiPo batteries meaning they are much lighter and recharge quicker. Not only that but they seem rather more powerful than the old drills and it is quite easy to drive a screw straight in without any pilot hole. And therein lies the problem. Because these new drill/battery combos can drive screws that are quite beefy, the temptation is to do just that, no pilot hole, no countersink, just fit the screw on the driver tip and bang it in which doesn't result in the most pleasing of finishes where the screw head crushes its way into the wood, or ply in my case.

So, now I'm looking into the subject of countersink bits and that is a whole new world of joy because countersink bits have come a long way since I bought the old Stanley profile countersinks back in the 1960s. What I have found is that there are countersink bits designed not to 'chatter' (which provides a hole like a 50p piece) and not to marr the surface (when fitted with a depth guide).

All in all, power tools and drills have come a long way but, as ever, there are downsides and the biggest that I have seen is that current battery drills encourage speed (not a bad thing) but can also encourage sloppiness (not so good).

So, I'm off to invest in a decent countersink drill bit which, I hope, will make my battery drill all the more effective.