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Drill Recommendation for Aging Tech

Discussion in 'Scenery, Props, and Rigging' started by kjones9999, Apr 6, 2019.

  1. kjones9999

    kjones9999 Member

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    Hi all.

    Working on 60th set this spring. I have always used simple electric drills to drive the 20lbs of drywall screws that I typically use over the 3-4 week period. It takes a lot of muscle, and now I have severe tendinitis where my biceps meet by elbow.

    Does anyone have a drill that is easy to drive screws that you can recommend? if its battery powered it needs to be long life. I have some recommend to me hammer-type but not sure how that would work with driving screws.
     
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  2. techieman33

    techieman33 Well-Known Member

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    You don't want a drill for driving screws. You want an impact driver. It takes a lot less effort to drive a screw with an impact driver. They do shake some and I'm not sure how that would effect your tendinitis. So for most people I would reccomend looking at the Milwaukee M12 fuel impact driver or the Makita 18v sub compact. They're small and light weight and with two batteries the 2nd one will be long charged before you could run the first one down. The route I would suggest for you is a hydraulic impact driver. It's similar to the above impacts but it has a fluid inside the mechanism that smooths things out. They are a little bigger and heavier though, but not by much. I think the smoothness will more than counter the extra weight, especially for you. Milwaukee makes one called the "surge," and Makita makes one calls theirs an oil impulse driver or something like that. Rigid makes one as well, it's cheaper than the other two. Downsides are that it's bigger, heavier, and not quite as smooth as the other two. And for an impact driver I would avoid Dewalt. They make great drills, but their impacts aren't in the same league as the stuff Milwaukee and Makita put out. The only reason I would buy a Dewalt impact is if I was already heavily invested in their cordless line.
     
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  3. Colin

    Colin Well-Known Member

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    Consider getting one of several commonly on-sale cordless drill and impact driver sets. For nothing but driving screws, a cordless impact driver alone is a powerful and lightweight tool. In my shop the Milwaukees and Makitas are nice, but at home I have a Rigid set and they've been pretty great for a pretty long time for the cost. The low-cost combo deals usually have one small 1.5Ah battery per tool but you can often get a deal that throws in a free third battery. Or just buy some 5Ah batteries if you want long life. Those'll do it, but are considerably heavier and bulkier - maybe something to consider for your tendinitis.

    Consider also that if ease of driving (or strength, or re-usability) is a priority, the type of screw matters as well as the driving tool. Drywall screws aren't the best choice. I use a lot of GRK construction screws lately and they're expensive but worth it if you can afford. There are plenty of other middle-ground products too - anything with a better drive style than a Phillips.
     
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  4. Jon Taylor

    Jon Taylor Member

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  5. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    I've used my Dewalt lithium drill and driver for years under seriously heavy use and they've held up fantastically and are still my favorite to use. That being said I'll second the Milwaukee brushless stuff, they're light, powerful and real nice, as well as Makita's stuff which seems to be a real big favorite in a lot of the shops I've been around, also real light, and with a good amount of power.
     
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  6. dbaxter

    dbaxter Well-Known Member

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    Another vote for an impact driver. They don't give you that little tweak on your wrist at the end of being driven. We've used Makita and more recently the DeWalt versions. DeWalt has a much better LED light, you can better see what you're doing in those dark spots behind the whatever. I would also recommend going with square drive screws, not Philips head. If the head gets some paint in it you can still back it out come strike. We get ours from McFeely's - black oxide. I built a tray to hold a line of old plastic peanut jars labeled 1", 1 1/2", 1 3/4", 2", etc. Keeps them nice and handy. Finally, we don't usually reuse them, finding it very time consuming to sort them back into the right sizes and nothing more annoying then reaching for a 1 3/4" screw and coming out with a 1 1/4".
     
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  7. sk8rsdad

    sk8rsdad Well-Known Member Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    +1 for DeWalt XR brushless impact driver. Great for screws. Even better for 1/2" lag bolts which it will drive just as easily.
     
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  8. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    I have the Milwaukee M18 Surge impulse driver. I love that tool. It has three power settings as well as a setting for self-tapping screws that really works.
     
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  9. kenact

    kenact Member

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    In addition to the impact driver, I would also recommend a drill clutch, which disengages the bit, as soon as it meets the drywall. We've all run screws all the way through a piece of drywall. :(
     
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  10. kicknargel

    kicknargel Well-Known Member

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    +1 for McFeeley's screw. We use the promaster sawtooth with a combo head. They work great with square drive, but you can use a phillips in a pinch. With an impact gun they melt into 2x4 without drilling.
     
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  11. manuallyfocused

    manuallyfocused Active Member

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    +1 on the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Surge hydraulic impact driver. The noise level is significantly lower than other standard impact drivers, and it has plenty of power for 3" drywall screws and 1/4" lags. With the compact 2.0 amp-hour battery I can get a good half day of heavy use out of it, with the larger extended life batteries it'll last more than a day of heavy use, or several days (or weeks) of lighter use. I own one in my personal kit, and I've now bought 4 for the school where I teach and the kids love them. We also have the M18 brushed and brushless Fuel impact drivers, and the M12 brushless Fuel impact drivers (and a 20v Dewalt brushed impact just for variety), and while they are all great the Surge is just so much more pleasant to use that I always reach for it first for almost everything we do.

    As far as screws go, about 3 years ago we switched over to the gold T25 Torx screws that Home Depot has been carrying, and they are working out really well for us. My students have a way easier time driving them in than they had with our old Philips screw inventory, and we throw away a lot fewer screws during strike (the ever-present 5 gallon bucket of screws to be sorted is another story, however...). They do spoil you though, my home shop is still Philips and now I have a much harder time driving them than before I got used to the Torx.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
  12. DIYLED

    DIYLED Active Member

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    One trick to avoid injuries or recover from them is to learn how to do basic tasks with non-dominate hand. So if you're right-handed and it doesn't require too much coordination, holding the drill with the left hand can really pay off. Then in rare moments that require more skill, using the right hand doesn't put too much stress on the injury over a day's work.

    The DeWalt lithium drills (20V, non-impact) are light and have a smooth start. I haven't used an impact drill, so I can't compare the two. The torque limiter or a special drywall bit can also help with injuries. Fine thread screws probably take less torque I would imagine.
     
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  13. RussWig

    RussWig Member

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    Both of my shop mates love their impact drivers and both have a tendency to over-drive and bury the screws. I find impact drivers lack the speed control finesse of screw guns and drills. They are great if all you are doing is roughing in 2x framing but for 1x materials I prefer more control. They also tend to jump out of the screw so do go with torx or square drive heads if you adopt an impact. Lastly we are a Bosch shop, having both 12V and 18V systems. They have been very reliable tools for us and the 12v is light and long lasting.

    RW...
     
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  14. eadler

    eadler Active Member

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    The latest RIGID battery operated impact driver is VERY smooth feeling. Barely even feels like an impact driver most of the time. A friend has a whole rigid collection and buys every new one as soon as it comes out and the latest ones are beautiful. I believe it's this one: https://www.ridgid.com/us/en/cordless-brushless-impact-driver - I'd recommend you go to your local hardware retailer and try it.
     
  15. Marty Lynch

    Marty Lynch Member

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    I would go with Makita if you are a teacher. They survive students better than any other I've used.
     
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  16. SHCP

    SHCP Active Member

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    I also like the Rigid impact drivers for my school setting. The main attraction for me has been the lifetime warranty that covers the batteries as well. Torx is also the way to go, especially for removing screws. Much easier on the arms.
     

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