I'm going to change it up a little bit for today's Toolbox Tuesday. Thus far in our (somewhat) weekly series we've been talking about tools that we own that have worked out particularly well for us. While this has hopefully been a good approach for those of you trying to build a good tool collection, or perhaps it has helped you to find that perfect gift for the hard to shop for person, it only covers a small aspect of "owned" tools, leaving out the wide array of "coveted" tools I hope to some day own. I think today is an important day to show you that I don't have every tool I need, and that there is still plenty of room in my workbench. We'll start this little exercise in power tool desire with the replacement of an existing tool, my cordless drill.

One of the best gifts we received at Christmas just before we moved into our house was a Dewalt 14 volt cordless drill. Little did I know when opening that box what an incredibly useful and dependable tool had been gifted to me. This drill has almost been my right hand on some aspect of nearly every project we've undertaken since buying the house. Looking back through our photos you can see it as early as building our basement shelves (during my fatter days)...

...to the more recent projects, like our vestibule (uh-oh, I can see a gray hair in that photo).

I've used and abused this drill constantly, and it has withstood the test of time. I've put a very solid nine years of loving use on this drill. It's been witness to good times and bad, DIY triumphs and tribulations, masterpieces and remuddling. I've used this drill for everything from sinking a drywall screw to mixing grout and everything in between, and it has dependably been there when called upon. But like me, the age of this drill is beginning to show.

The drill I have is essentially the one to the right. I absolutely love it and will surely keep it for as long as it will last. I fully expect it to keep going like the Energizer bunny of our home renovation that it has proved to be thus far. That being said, there are a few issues with it that I currently see. It is not compact, it's hard on the battery (which means more frequent recharges), takes only a 14.4 volt battery rather than the more robust 18 volt, and the gears for the various speeds are starting to slip after being dropped from the roof one too many times. Lately I've started to dream about the drill I may one day purchase, and today I'm going to express those dreams to you to both share and to get your opinion.

Since I've had such a great experience with my Dewalt drill, and I already have several 18 volt batteries that will fit, I'm leaning towards another Dewalt purchase, but I'm not totally sure which one I would like to go with. It's really a bit of a tossup.

On one hand I'd really like to get a compact drill. There's been many an instance where I've been unable to worm my way into an opening to drill a hole or sink a screw because the drill I have is just a couple inches too long. To remedy this I've been looking at the 720KA drill. At just 4.7 inches deep it is less than half the depth of my current drill. Add the fact that it is light weight and rugged and it seems to be a great option. 

The one drawback I can see is the drill is only dual speed. My current drill has three speeds and I use each somewhat extensively depending on the work I'm doing. Low speed for delicate work, medium for drywall screws or gentle mixing, high speed for drilling or doing some heavier mixing. I worry that I would miss those middle speeds. 

Though a compact drill might be great, one of the things I've long lacked in my current drill is the capability as a hammer drill. I used to have a corded hammer drill from my college days, but that drill finally burned out a few years ago. (When I smelled that sweet motor burning odor fill the basement I knew it was over). Now that my hammer drill is dead, I've been left to struggle when drilling into masonry. Perhaps might be a good chance to replace my current drill with a cordless hammer drill.

If I were to go this route I'd be giving up the flexibility that a compact drill offers, but I'd have the speed variability I'm used to along with the added bonus of a hammer drill option. This will come in particularly handy on an upcoming project I'm planning that will require me to drill into brick many times over.

Quite honestly I'm a little torn. I can see an argument for both and the benefits of each, but I'm looking for one that clearly outweighs the other. If you have any thoughts, opinions, or ideas that might help me, I'd love it if you would share them with me. Tell me a little about your drills and what makes you hate or love them, and let me know which of the one's I've mentioned (if either) you'd choose.

Did you enjoy reading this post? Want to learn more about our first-hand experiences with other tools, devices or items used throughout our renovation? If so, check out our complete list of product reviews in our Toolbox Tuesday section

Note: We weren't compensated for this review. We simply want to share good products when we see them, and hope that learning from our mistakes can help save you time, money and frustration.

Comments 4


Karla aka threadbndr
2/22/2012 at 9:13 AM
Hammer drill - with a rock and masonry foundation, they are invaluable.

The compact cordless drill I had just didn't stand up to the abuse. But it was, like your current drill, the smaller, lighter battery one. I thought at the time that I got it that I'd not be able to handle the weight of the bigger drill. But I love my late husband's 18v Dewalt.

Having had corded drills for most of my adult life (the first one was a hand-me-down 1960s era Craftsman from my dad when I moved into my first apartment), I LOVE cordless tools. I lust after the big Dewalt "tool box" combination packages that Home Depot has around Christmas time. I need to win the lottery LOL.

For light work, I also have a cordless screwdriver. Great for the odd job and small enough to live in the 'junk drawer' in the kitchen instead of in the shop in the basement. Not sure I would have bought one, but it came as a freebie with another tool purchase.
2/22/2012 at 2:20 PM
I second the hammer drill comment. We abuse them in my lab and they have stood up to a minimum of 5 years (some are even older).
2/23/2012 at 12:09 AM
I don't know how many drills we have (cordless and plug-in), and one of them is a hammer drill which gets used enough to justify its inclusion in the toolbox.

I kind of thought my husband was only collecting all of these drills because of his propensity to misplace tools, but no, there is actually a method in his madness. For instance, when building a slatted deck constructed entirely of 1x2 lumber, I found it very handy to have one drill with a small drill bit (for making pilot holes to avoid splitting) and a second drill to drive the screws joining the wood strips. Sometimes I even used a third drill nearby to pre-drill the spacer pieces.

I guess I should sign this "Crazy for Tools"!
2/23/2012 at 11:34 AM
Even with 'quick' release bits, changing back and forth for a job like your deck would be a pain. When I'm have something like that going on, I'm usually working with my son and we have matching drills LOL. It's convienent since between us we also have a couple of spare battery packs and chargers, too.

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