Your opinions of Cordless Drill-Drivers


Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
What cordless drills do you use?

I have a curiosity to inquire about.
Cordless drills are about a very standard tool used in building scenery now. There are lots of different models on the market too. Unlike in past years when they were called Makita’s because that was the only cordless drill worth using. (The mid 1980s)

What do you use at home and what does your school use? What do you think of the cordless drills/screw guns you have available or have tried and what do you think of them?

Since at one point most of you will be looking to buy your own cordless drill, having a data base of comments on them might be very useful in figuring out what you want to buy. You want the best screw gun for your money, but also the one that will live up to your expectations for it’s use. People feel strongly about the drills they own and get to use. It get’s political fast, (people feel strongly about their tools) but all the politics on cordless drills usually doesn’t give reasons for buying one over another or help people in choosing one over another. Magazines like Wood, Consumer Reports and American Woodworker have a home owner base of readers and as such what they recommend isn’t always the best tool to be recommended to someone that makes their living using their drill. What your school has might be a compromise in cost and brands they are authorized to be buying. While that might have a large impact on what you buy, it’s not always the best tool. By the way, saying this drill suckes, without saying why doesn’t help anyone.

If possible in a reply note the brand, style, voltage and model number of the drills you have and have used and comment about them good and bad. Such things might help and guide other towards buying the best drill they can.

(You will note, prices change every year and the more you shop around especially for sales, the better your prices are. So mentioning a specific place to buy them and a price like Amazon/Tool Crib of the North $99.00 isn’t really much help beyond giving a general idea of what it might cost. I bought my favorite drill for $245.00 back about 8 years ago from Home Depot. Not much help now - they don’t even offer it. Citing specific places that carry such tools is only good if you live locally to the person writing citing mail order sources, many times is frequently cheaper but what you save in cost in buying by mail you will loose in shipping charges. Buying used tools is often an option. Don’t buy E-Bay type tools, you don’t know who abused them before you, but many times the tool brand’s authorized service centers will have re-furbished tools that are sold at a discount and still carry the full warranty. Also look into what is being discontinued. Look at if the manufacturer is offering an improved battery for the drill, this would be a good indication of if when it’s time to replace batteries you will be able to get one in the future. Also if your drill has been replaced with a new line such as I cite below with the DW991K line verses the DW983K-2 line, it might become harder to get parts for it. The Skil Top Gun for instance is discontinued and for the most part, you cannot get parts for it anymore so the tool once broken is not fixable.
In getting parts for example 15 years ago, before Makita had a good foothold in the US, you had to wait weeks for parts. This might be and is a problem with tools such as Royobi/Tim Allen/Craftsman - usually all made by Royobi where they don’t have the parts in this country although they might have more parts now. Hitachi, Metibo, Freud and Fein would definitely have this problem. In some cases such as a 3x21" belt sander, there is no huge difference in design between the Bosch, Skil and Royobi sanders other than specific parts inside them. You can send your Royobi sander to a Skill/Bosch service center and they might even be able to install the higher quality parts in the tool for a price. Just be careful, often service centers in general will swap out what ever part they feel they want to and charge you for it. Send it in for a cleaning and chuck change and they might change out and charge you for a new plastic casing for it. Make them call you to get permission before they do any major replacements and if they should change out the housing, make sure all tags are still on the tool including it’s serial number or if it’s lost you will not have that anymore. Don’t be afraid to take your tools back and send it elsewhere.)

Here are some brands for example: DeWalt, Makita, Bosch, Porter Cable, Metibo, Panasonic, Hitachi, Skil, Black & Decker, Milwaukee, Royobi, Tim Allen, Craftsman, Master Mechanic, Chicago, Wagner, Freud, Fein (did I miss any?)

Voltages are less than 7.2v, 7.2v, 9.6v, 12v, 14.4v, 18v, 24v and other voltages.
Style of guns can vary in ways like: Grips can be of the T-Handle style or Pistol Grip style and with cushion grip or plastic grip, batteries can be of the magazine or mushroom style.

Than if possible mention your drill’s model number so we all can know specifically what it is you comment about. Perhaps one of us can compile a list of links to the companies above mentioned.

In making such a data base so everyone can read about drills, we might see if there is a standard drill used in woodshops in the industry that you can use in helping your school choose it’s next line of drill and also you will be able to see what the best drills are to buy for your own personal use when you are ready to buy one.

(Also by looking into this, and especially if your theater is slow and your are looking for something to do, you might go around the shop and copy down the brand, model number and serial number of all the tools in the shop or your personal tools. Keep the info in two very secure locations and separate from each other. Might also take photos of them. This way if anything is stolen or lost, you can use the info for the police report and for insurance purposes. Who knows with a serial number, you might even get your tools back one day. Also use an engraving tool to scribe your theater name and phone number on the tool. This will make it even easier to get back if lost and prevent many people from taking them and making it harder for you to do your job. A final thought is in security. Watch who is in your shop and where they go. I used to work in a shop that was near a gathering place for bums. Actually a few shops in those areas. Occasionally they would wander in off the street and even help people carry stuff around the shop. Who would suspect the new employee that’s obviously helping carry stuff around would be a thief? They would help a while, than wander into the tool room and help themselves to some tools, than walk right out the door. Once the tools are gone, it makes it harder for you to get your job done and it’s all the less cash you theater will have to buy more toys with. Every night after you are done in the shop, one person should be assigned to the tool room and they should inventory the tools and ensure everything is returned. If not, nobody goes home until the missing stuff is found. Who knows who will be in the shop when you are not around with sticky fingers or who might cut their hand off when playing with something they are not trained with. Than that tool is both gone and if someone hurt themself with them, you won’t be able to use it either. I have heard of many high schools that don’t allow students to used cutting tools much less climb ladders. The students cannot even possess a utility knife. You might also get the school to budget in getting the tools in for cleaning and a service call once a year or at least every other year. Otherwise, your warrantees will be void and any dirt and grit in them will tear up the drill from the inside out. The more you use a tool, the more it needs to see service and professional service at that.)
cordless drillls, more stuff

Here is some base data:
A T-Handle drill is the most popular drill to be using because it doesn’t take any real training to use properly and is easy to use. However with proper training in holding a pistol grip drill, it is much easier to use one handed and places your hand in line with what you are drilling thus it is more accurate. That’s given your hand is big and strong enough to hold one properly. Otherwise, it’s not an easy drill to use.

Synthetic padding on the handle of your drill will make it more comfortable to use. Ergonomics are a large factor in buying a drill and the more expensive drills will frequently have better ergonomic designs and harder more damage resistant plastic making it up.

Voltage is a large factor. Drills should have removable batteries and be of at least 12 volts to best balance battery life and power with cost and weight. A 12 volt battery in your drill is in most cases sufficient to do most shop work, but when you need to go away from the shop, a progressively larger battery might be useful. A 12v battery has sufficient power for about an hour’s worth of use. That’s fine because most chargers need an hour to charge them. A 14.4v battery will give a bit more torque and be usable for about 2 hours. If you are out working in a professional setting where you get break time every two hours, it’s easy to swap out batteries at that point. This is also about the heaviest drill you want to be carrying around all day long because a 18 volt drill will get really heavy really fast if you use it all day long. So the 18v battery will last about 4 hours or more. If you are out in the woods, without any power, than this drill is ideal especially for high torque situations when you cannot get a corded drill. More power isn’t always the best ideal when buying a drill. On the other hand, with the old 9.6v Makita magazine batteries, they were light and easy to carry even in a rifle’s magazine pouch.

At one point I had (10) 14.4 batteries, and I worked with 4 other carpenters with the same drill. Between us, we had 18 batteries available for 4 people. In addition to this, our 14.4v drills could use a 12v battery in a pinch so we never ran out of power. Standardizing your personal tools with that of what your co-workers use has it’s advantages as is considering what other tools are available using the same battery. For instance, I have two drills, one saw, one flash light, and one right angle drill using the same battery. Makes it easy to swap between them.

Options: most of today’s drills have upwards of 15 torque settings, two or more speeds and various other things available like hammer drill settings. I for instance frequently install electrical boxes in brick and block so my hammer drill comes in very handy. That option however for a carpenter for the most part isn’t much use you don’t drill into masonry much, it’s not extremely valuable especially since the blows per minute and force of the blows on a cordless tool isn’t sufficient to drill thru many surfaces such as concrete. A corded drill especially a SDS type will do the job much better. The more speed your drill has, the more fasteners you can drive per minute but the more torque in general you trade off in it’s stead. For instance, a 12v drill might not be able to drive in a 3" drywall screw in dense wood after it’s first half an hour or when the battery gets old. It certainly cannot in high gear. A 14.4v drill can do this in high gear for about an hour when you need it to. However, speed is a concern on any drill of any voltage. Drill bits are designed to work at certain speeds depending upon what they are coated with and are drilling into. Going at the wrong speed can dull them and make it take longer to drill into surfaces. Even beyond this, if your drill is putting in a 1.5/8" drywall screw that’s a normal loading on it and it should work properly no matter what speed you have on the drill. A drill with top speed of 800rpms, puts in less than half the screws of a drill with a top speed of 1750rpms. For clutch settings, think I have seen them go all the way up to 28 settings. How many do you really need? In most instances, you only use 6 settings for your drill yet the more settings your drill has, the bigger selling feature companies market your drill at. Clutch settings isn’t a large selling point of any drill, just makes it more confusing as to what to set it at. Some drills come with bubble levels and even flashlights. Nice features to have, but you can do the same with a stick on level in most instances and can install velcro on your drill for your flashlight given your mouth isn’t a good enough flash light mounting bracket.
cordless drills, what I have used

Okay, this is getting long, but I'm going for brownie points and to skip skill levels. Havn't been called a newbie or actor grade tech person in years.

By the way, here is a new term for all of you, "Bi-techual" that means a person that is both actor and competent tech person. ha ha. No I'm not an actor, but have met my share of them that can act and build stuff.

So what do I use and have used to start this off?

My favorite drill is the DeWalt #DW996K. It’s a pistol grip 14.4v very fast hammer drill with a ½" keyless chuck and lots of cooling vents on it. As I said, I install stuff in masonry walls so I need a hammer drill, but beyond that, I bought the drill for two reasons. 1) It at 1,750 rpms was faster than a standard 1,400 rpm drill and thus could drive more screws per minute. 2) I was raised with pistol grip drills and was instructed how to hold them properly in the palm of your hand and drilling with a index finger not your trigger finger. The T-handle drill given this was always off center in balance and drilling to me. This drill given it’s high speed isn’t as powerful as a T-handle drill at a lower speed but the 14.4v makes up a lot for that, and if I need more torque, I can just grab a corded tool. Balance for me is perfect. When I am not using it, and it’s not in my shoulder holster, I balance the drill in it’s neutral setting (as all drills should be stored in to prevent a accident of fire) on it’s trigger from what ever is nearest. This drill balances exactly on it’s trigger, you can hang it off a extension ladder rung, pipe, or what ever and with it’s weight, it is very stable and won’t fall. With it’s ½” chuck, I don’t have to use step down bits in it also.
Disadvantages of my drill would be that if you are not trained in the proper way to hold it and have small hands, it’s an awkward tool to use. Also it’s keyless chuck - and Jacobs makes most of the chucks used on most of the drills on the market today, doesn’t hold drill bits as tight as they need to be. A drill with a ratcheting keyless chuck would be much better. At times, I even miss my keyed chuck. A keyless chuck featuring a key lock that can be used to make it extra tight or loosen a stuck bit would be very useful. Another problem with this drill is that if you drop it just right, it will split the plastic frame from forward/reverse to trigger - and expensive and necessary repair. That’s why I use it when not on the ground with a lanyard attached to it. This drill cost about $245.00 at the time.

I also own a DW991K. It’s a 14.4v T-Handle drill and in my view about the best drill in the industry for a carpenter to own as their personal tool given they use T-handle drills. It has plenty of torque to spare and a good amount of speed. It’s also very rugged - takes a licking and keeps on ticking. It’s not the fastest drill on the market, but 1,400 rpms isn’t bad.
Drawbacks of this drill for me are that it’s a T-handle and thus awkward, slow comparatively, and doesn’t have as good of a balance for storage though it will stand up on it’s battery. I say it’s awkward because I tend to choke up on my drills in trying to put it’s balance or the palm of my hand as close to the center of the axis of the drill bit as possible. Having something with a seam where my hand is trying to be can get annoying. This drill had at the time cost about $200.00

This drill has also been upgraded to a newer style the #DW983K-2. I bought one for the shop after the shop manager took the only shop screw gun with him on a show and I got tired of loaning out mine. Not that the second drill did any good, last month he took both drills and did not bother saying anything so at least I could bring in my second drill. Anyway this upgraded drill is very nice. It’s maximum speed is 1,800 rpms which is faster than my pistol grip - I’m pissed, and it has a ½" chuck. That’s very nice, but it’s a heavy drill - those extra ounces add up fast. This drill have three speed settings which is nice and highly improved torque over the older models. It also features that ratcheting chuck. This would be the tool I would buy to replace my T-handle were I to replace it. Just wish it were available in a pistol grip hammer drill. Granted this drill cost like $245.00.

Unfortunately, the drill I bought was not using the same battery as the original shop screw gun. The shop manager actually had a 12v drill, and he forgot what tool he actually had that I was trying to match. This means, that the 12v drill only has it’s original two very old and weak batteries to it because the extra battery I also bought was 14.4v and you can’t use the new drills batteries to power it up. Or at least you should not be able to - they are supposted to have slots that prevent a higher voltage battery from working in lower voltage tools. For some reason, our shop drill fits the 14.4v battery - probably broken latch in it allowing you to fit the larger battery because you should not be able to fit a larger battery in it. Shop manager loves how much more powerful the 12v drill is with the larger battery. Don’t follow his lead.
Consider what happens if you have a Christmas tree string of lamps and install a lamp from a 100 lamp string into a 50 lamp string. Burns really bright before it burns out and takes the string down with it unless you have the shunt type lamps. You can however install 50 lamp string lamps in a 100 lamp strings of lamps. This will at least double the lamp life if not extend it by many more times.
(The effect of voltage on a lamp will cause a significant change in lamp performance. For any particular lamp, light output varies by a factor of 3.6 times and life varies inversely by a factor of 12 times any percentage variation in supply. For every 1% change in supply voltage light output will rise by 3.6% and lamp life will be reduced by 12%. This applies to both DC and AC current. Most standard line voltage lamps are offered at 130v. Since most line voltage power is applied at 120volts, the result is a slight under voltaging of the filament. The effect of this is substantially enhanced lifehours, protection from voltage spikes and energy cost savings.)
When ever you install a higher voltage on a tool or lamp rated for lesser voltage, you burn the tool or lamp out much faster. In this case, the motor is rated for 12v and using the extra power cell in it is going to burn the motor out within say a year of use.

The old shop tool is a DeWalt #DW972K-2, 12v T-handle drill. This is in my opinion the standard shop cordless drill in the industry - and I have seen it used in a lot of other scene shops. It has almost as much torque as a 14.4v drill, and the same speed. With it’s 12v battery, it’s good for most applications of not having to constantly change the battery out and it’s grip is the ergonomic cushion type. It’s also very light. This is a very cost effective drill to buy for a shop tool, it balances torque and speed with price very well and is very rugged. That’s given your school does not have a problem with theft.

If your drills disappear before they wear out, than I wold suggest buying the lesser DW953K version. It has less torque and speed but uses the same very easy to get 12v battery. It’s a rugged tool that is not as comfortable to use but costs a lot less. One of my scene shops bought into them to replace their aging Skil Top Guns right after I left. They haven’t had problems with them other than not being as powerful as the more expensive guns. Most of the shop carpenters had their own guns anyway so this was not a big deal. It was more of a question of providing drills for those temporary workers that needed them since they did not have their own. Within the first year of getting out of college and becoming pro, you will be unofficially expected to provide your own cordless drill. Shops provide them and cannot force you to buy one but it is now becoming an industry standard that in other than Union shops you provide your own hand tools and this is a personal hand tool. You will find that many if not most union crews won’t provide much of their own electric tools still. Providing them for use is still the norm. The point is, you will be needing to buy a cordless drill in addition to other tools and there is a large difference between what the shop buys and what is the best tool for you to buy.

Other drills I have worked on or used in the interest of starting a good base of a debate:
DeWalt used to offer the pistol grip ray gun #DW942R. The one I worked on had very warn out gears or clutch. It didn’t have much power, had a lot of slack in it’s trigger between when the drill was on and off - it’s variable speed dimmer if it had one was very warn out and it’s clutch was blown so it could not drive 3" screws. It’s early ergonomics were not comfortable and it’s balance was off.

This drill was very similar to the first cordless drill I ever bought and under threat by my own high school’s technical director were I to buy anything else. Makita doesn’t offer this tool anymore but it was the standard for the industry and one of the most rugged designs of cordless tool ever designed. I bought the #6012HDW. It was 9.6v with magazine type batteries that were shaped like rifle magazines and fit completely into the tool instead of being a mushroom shape. This tool lasted me happily for years, I even bought the cordless saw and flashlight to it. Granted the saw was only good for 1x4 lumber and it’s 14.4v Dewalt saw can cut 2x4 lumber without a problem.
The 6012HDW was only two speed and 5 clutch settings without a variable speed but what a wonderful tool. Very dependable even if you had to stick it in the freezer at times to cool it down when overworked. By today’s standards, this drill is slow and lacking in power, but this tool with it’s keyed chuck was the workhorse for the industry back when screw guns were first coming on the market and nothing was better or had more torque. You could abuse it day after day and it would always work without a problem very dependably. You could use it so hard that it burned your skin as you touched the housing as long as you serviced it’s grease, it worked the next day. I finally killed mine off using a 5/8" auger bit on it while drilling like 30 holes in a 6" thick beam - that after using it all day long. Could have fixed it but replaced it instead. Wonder what ever happened to my old drill? Trigger switches and clutches were the only things that ever went wrong with these tools. The trigger switch being an arcing on/off type just wore out and the clutch had grooves that developed in it necessitating replacement every few years. Overall it was a very good drill and it’s motor could take a lot of abuse.

This drill was “improved” by other cordless drill styles by Makita, and the second generation of drills by all brands based much of their abilities off this drill as a base. The #6093DW was the improved version of the HD. It featured a electronic brake to save against wear on the motor and get the bit in the drill to stop at the same rotation as when you shut off the drill. This electronic brake is a good thing. Ever notice how many times your cordless drills will with a Philips bit, stop at the same orientation as the screw which did not move while the drill was running down? With this little feature, you don’t have to twist the drill to re-insert it into a screw to drive it further. Problem was with these “improved” drills they had a “overload protector”. This feature was short lived on premium cordless drills but might still be found on lower end products to protect the motors. In practice, if you continue using a drill when the motor gets too hot, it will burn up and be very costly to repair. Problem was in this early technology, when the motor got hot, it triggered a thermostat switch that shut the motor down while you were using it. Now there is a good way of pissing off a carpenter - having his drill click off on him while in mid-screw. This problem was compounded with the fact that once it clicked back on and was cool enough, all too frequently it would click back off during use saying “Oh, I’m too hot again and I’m lame.” You could be on your first screw after the gun got cool enough to use again, and the gun would just click off on you again... wait a minute, drive the screw further than “click”, the gun is back off. Not a way to build scenery. This drill just was not a good industrial tool and the auto shut off to my knowledge has never been re-introduced since than even though technology has advanced a lot since the 80s. Makita, was once the leading edge of power tool design, this was long before DeWalt became a large national product with it’s industry standard second generation technology that I still use. They for a while were the only company developing new and very useful features and good tools. DeWalt and Craftsman now are in the same market of being innovative.

The new late 1st generation drills also had problems with the batteries. Really a bad idea that has become a myth today in bad practice. Someone decided to install a memory chip in the batteries to have them monitor how much the battery needed to be charged last time it was in the charger, and repeat it. Hello, what if you did not use it as much last time? So it was frequently necessary to completely drain the battery, not once but three times in ensuring that on this next future charging, it would again get a full charge and be usable for the proper period of time. Unfortunately, many less informed people with modern batteries continue to do this even though the more modern chargers sense how much charge your batteries need and give only that much. Note: if your drills are of an older design, it might still be needed to totally discharge the batteries to get a full charge out of them. Depends upon if the chip is in them.

The only time you need to discharge your battery is if you are putting them into storage and do not plan to use them for about 3 months or longer. Since your battery will loose it’s charge over that amount of time if you use it or not, it’s better to drain it or it will loose some of it’s power. Also don’t leave batteries on a charger for more than a week without use - not good for them even if receiving an occasional boosting charge as they run down in power. If your theater has frequent phase harmonic problems such as you find that there are constantly exit and work lights burning out, it’s not a good idea to leave the batteries in the charger at all or they will also suffer from these problems and tend to die faster. In general however, most modern batteries are not harmed by leaving them in the charger and charging them even when not drained of power. I personally have a fresh-never charged battery for my home drill. I don’t use it much and so don’t need the battery. Probably don’t even need the new battery much less drill since what projects are large enough to necessitate me using the drill at home are large enough in notice for me to bring home a battery from work and not charge my emergency battery. Only reason I need a second drill is that when I was a carpenter, I frequently burned out or broke my main drill and had to send it in for a week of maintenance necessitating a replacement. I expect most of you won’t need a second drill much less 7 or 8 of them owned personally by you. The second drill is also useful when I have help in building shows but the help doesn’t have their own tools. Wait a few years before considering a backup drill however. You need to send your personal drills in for service at least once or twice a year, but buying a second drill if quality is a major investment. If you do, ensure it uses the same battery so at least you can use the extra batteries. Having extra batteries comes in useful as they get older and hold less of a charge. When you need a drill however, especially if you don’t own your own, remember to ask for permission to use a drill owned by the school. Borrowing a drill to install a picture in your bedroom, much less to help dad install a deck is considered theft and a good way to get you thrown out of your theater and suspended.

On other battery issues, it’s very possible for the amperage of a battery to start a fire when the terminals are arched together. Never just set a battery in a tool box with other metal tools unless you can ensure it won’t touch other tools or the terminals are recessed. When possible take the batteries out of your cordless tools when in storage or at least ensure that their locks or neutral – not off or on settings are engaged. Ensure your tool won’t work in the neutral setting. I have a cordless right angle drill that easily slips out of neutral and goes into gear without even pressing the forward/reverse. All drills worth buying need to have the neutral if not a locking mechanism.

Here you are driving your car home after a full day of work and you hear from the back seat, your drill starting to run inside your tool bag as you turned that last corner... not good. (Okay, this is probably a few years in all of your futures.) Hmm, pull over and loose your pole position during rush hour traffic to shut off the stupid drill before it drills a hole in the side of the case, and drives you mad by a drill running without an operator or reach around and try to shut the thing off while trying to say on the road. (What happen to me, Na.)
More importantly, a drill that is stored with it’s battery and should it go out of it’s non-run/safe position will run at a speed equal to the amount of pressure on it’s trigger (the weight of the drill or the tool leaning against it) until you shut it off. (This is where a drill with a thermostat would be useful.) Most frequently, this is not enough pressure to discharge the battery sufficiently and at a speed that the drill just runs out of juice under no-load conditions. Instead, the drill will run until you notice it and shut it off or it gets so hot that the drill burns itself out to say the least. In the case of a weekend without you going in to visit the drill, this could mean that the drill has been running all weekend long. Can you say a hot enough tool that both the battery and the drill get hot enough to start a fire? If you don’t want your theater to burn down and you to loose the fun of doing shows, I would say a least you need to verify that the drills are in their neutral settings and they cannot slip out into gear, if not remove the batteries when not in use. Another reason for one person to be in charged of the tool room and ensuring everything is put away when not in use and stored safely.

So let’s see, and back to the subject, I was speaking about various drills on the market and specifically about drills I had problems with or was given that didn’t poove very sound in day to day use engineering.

I recommend DeWalt cordless tools in general as they are the only ones I have play tested to date that are industrial, heavy duty and an industry standard. 12v for the work shop and 12v to 14.4v for you depending upon your needs. DeWalt tools also since they have encased motors and gears are not user serviceable constantly confounding me because I do fix a lot of tools. That says something about the tool, good or bad, I’m yet to know. Let’s say good, there are professionals out there much more qualified than I am even if I own T-10 security screw drives. But as I said, personal tools are very political and subject to personal observation. The motor housing to my DeWalt has gotten a few pits or rust on it after use in the rain, but it still runs as if new.

On the other hand, I have a love/hate relationship to Bosch tools. They are the best tools on the market in quality, but for a screw gun, if they are not properly maintained or get dirty, those fine tolerances in between parts will tear apart the drill from the inside out. Bosch makes some of the best products on the market. I own three Bosch tools and consider them the BMW of tools. One of my carpenters owned a 12v Bosch #3954VSRK drill. Looked like another ray gun. (Older people from the 1980s generation X will know what I mean by “ray gun”.) He never sent the thing in for maintenance and you could just hear the gears grinding against each other when the tool was used. Finally it seized up and the owner bought a DeWalt. On a Bosch cordless tool, the quality is there to an extreme, but like on a German gun, it’s tolerances are so tight, that if it is used in the field without proper cleaning, it’s not going to last. Because of the original experience with gears grinding more seriously than any other drill, and cost, I did not seriously consider such drills. The best in medium routers and drywall tools, in addition to medium belt sanders, but even their corded medium amperage hammer drills have problems with getting too hot and burning out. On the other hand, the Bosch “Bulldog” is the standard for the industry in being a very good heavy duty SDS hammer drill. If you don’t use your drill every day and for a living, a Bosch tool is probably equal if not better in my opinion in quality to a DeWalt drill. In that case, the 12v Bosch drill is possibly the best for you.

This is all during the 90s and a world away for most of you, but while my HD Makita, even T-handle DeWalt was in the freezer I frequently had the opportunity to borrow other Makita tools. They didn’t have the advancements of DeWalt at the time and had stagnated in quality. I had recommended as “TD” to someone to buy a 9.6v/12v Makita that could take either battery. Sorry. This early drill in features was no more than my HD Makita with it’s non-variable speed and lack of brake, only offering a extended life battery at the cost of weight and balance. The thing was just clunkie to use. Had the same rough gears as the HD’ and the same clutch problems that were not fixable. It was also not variable speed. This Makita #6011DW that anyone that who has seen it will know it instantly by description, was innovative for the market, and was not much of an improvement beyond like with the SAW machine gun taking dual feeding sources. Okay drill overall, but it was produced right before the next generation of drills came out, much like the M-60E3 machine gun with it’s front handle. At least it did not have the confounded thermostat if I remember right. Didn’t really burn out this drill, but came close.

Than again, I also got to use and burn out a new (at least at the time) Makita #6211D drill. It featured the new extreme output 12 volt batteries as compared to the 9.6v standard, and a dimmer controlled trigger and brake. It was a T-handle tool that was the basis of all second generation T-handle tools. This tool in my hands, in driving more screws per minute than most home owners, got really hot and thus it was fortunate it was not mine. Sorry, probably should have paid for it to be sent in for a re-lube. Than again the theater should have paid. Just not enough cooling vents or a lack of cooling fan for the motor - an early design but nice early design - very smooth in running.

Dad used Craftsman corded drills and I because of him was raised on them as my standard. That is until I started burning them out. Got to the point that Craftsman drills or saws would last about an hour in duration in the days of me burning out at least two power tools per year. Now they, especially the cordless tools are much improved in quality and innovation but still have the same warranty. No, on Craftsman power tools, that “take it back any time” for a new tool does not apply. (Sears didn’t at the time even make their tools, Skil and Royobi made them.) If you burn out your drill, you will probably have to pay to get it fixed. After burning out my first few Craftsman power tools, they gained a bad taste in my mouth and I now only buy their sockets and wrenches. I also frequently laugh at other Craftsman sold on tools people. I probably should give Craftsman power tools a bit more credit, they rate well in most trade magazine ratings, but I have also had a few of the older models of cordless tool in my hand that were not very well designed or that did not hold up to my or others abuse well. The new tools just might be good and industrial.

Craftsman at a product brand has a good following and lately has come out with many innovations - given the strap wrench doesn’t work as well as implied when used on multi-pin Socopex connectors and the laminated pliers tear up set screws to lighting fixtures worse than Channel Locks. Anyone in the shop or theater I catch using either tool instead of a C-wrench or ratcheting box wrench spends their days coiling cable and not using their tools until they buy the proper tool for the job. And a 8" C-wrench is the proper wrench to own in my opinion, anyone using a 6" or 10" wrench goes home for the day. (Am I mean, perhaps, but I was trained properly and have profit sharing with the company I work for. This means the more money I save the company, the more I make back at the end of the year. That in addition to being management.)

(Note companies such as Huskey, Klien, Ace, S&K and others have the same warranty and are just as easy to replace if not easier as Craftsman. Buy tools based upon your comfort and likings of them given the same warranty. You don’t have to buy just Craftsman hand tools to get the warranty even if the box wrenches are perhaps a bit better in quality. Klien tools are better in quality overall, and you don’t have to return them to Sears should they break. Any one that sells those brands of tools will replace them. Buy S&K from True Value, and Ace will take it back. At least in the case of Klien, they don’t break as easily as the Craftsman, why replace tools if they don’t break or strip out? That’s the idea of buying tools, getting the ones that are the most economical and ergonomic, but also the ones that will live up to your use. I never broke an Ace hardware box wrench myself much less a Stanley socket given the Stanley doesn’t have a warranty. I did break off the tip of a Klien screw driver when using it as a pry bar as I should not have been. Sears took it back and exchanged it for a different cabinet tip model even if they did not sell the square shank model and it was definite I did not buy it there - probably an Ace Hardware buy. Not sure if I like a cabinet tip replacement, but the point is that with a Klien hand tool, it does not matter where you bought it, it’s warranty also. These are all notes you should take when buying tools in your future. See what professionals use and buy similar products. Those people you really respect probably have put a lot of study into the tools they choose. My high school teacher also demanded I buy a Estwing 22oz waffle head hammer. I lost my first one and bought a 16oz since than in addition to my 22oz. But this hammer is the best for me and she was right. It’s even a veteran of Operation Desert Shield. My war hammer.)

So where was I again? Oh’ yea, cordless screw drivers.

One scene shop I worked for had like 30 of the Skil Top Gun. This early second generation 12v tool was economical considering they had a lot of theft, and for it’s era, a good amount of power.
Not a bad drill. Each drill as normal came with two batteries and thus we had a good amount of batteries for them even if in this case we used them in installing scenery and booths for City of Chicago special events uses where you were at times blocks away from your charger and a fresh battery and had to carry a few extra - like one or two per drill as opposed to the 14.4v XL DeWalt battery where only one battery was needed for two or three drills. That was until a city contractor tapped into a high leg of power and wiped out like half of the Skil, DeWalt and “guest” batteries charged for the install in a single day. Now there is an expensive problem to fix. “My battery does not work, and it did before I came here.” Talking about blowing the budget for a show, try replacing like 30 cordless tool batteries due to them shorting out or something like that from the same problem. Took some defiant sneaking in of purchase orders to replace batteries for that gig, and we got to be quickly over budget.

By the way, if your dad or you own your own power tools, much less hand tools, you should not be using them at school. The schools’ insurance does not cover them much less if you injure yourself or others with them, and should there be a problem, you will be lucky if they are replaced, much less if you are not responsible for any damage caused by them. If you want to go to college, and you should, don’t put any liability claims or lawsuits on your parents. In the case of your professional - after you get out of school type work, you only get them replaced if your manager like me sees your problem as the companies fault and they are nice enough to replace them at company expense. Or in my case can provide enough tools that the company does not have and in my case buy the tools anyway, thus can replace your tools when they wear out. This is a management or very high level tech person type thing, don’t expect to get paid to keep up your tools on or off budget as I am right out of school. Any wonder most Union people are hesitant to drag out their expensive tools from their tool boxes? For now, use what is provided for you even if it seems ancient and less capable.

They (the Skil Top Gun) were also available with flash lights though we never bought into them. Flashlights, jig saws, circular trim saws, sawzalls, right angle drills, and who knows what else are all other tools available using the same battery, and to consider when buying a tool line. If you expect at some point to be up on a ladder installing trim and need a cordless jigsaw, it becomes a large consideration in choosing a line of tools. I think the Skil brand even came up with a cordless saw for it’s battery. Such tools are very useful given it’s a good tool to begin with and a good sized battery to do other jobs, buy them in multi-packs if possible with budget to save money given you can deal with having a few less batteries overall to power them off of. Hmm, Master Carpenter wandering around Taste of Chicago (a very large event) custom fitting stuff with a cordless saw, this at first made the management very worried until they saw how useful such tools could be in the field.

The Skil Top Gun had one basic flaw much similar to theat of the HD’ Makita, it’s clutch though different in mechanism wore out too easily, it also slipped out of gear too easily. This was easily corrected at least temporarily by going into the tool and squeezing the leaf spring controlling the clutch/speed control smaller as it stretched out, but wasn’t a permanent fix. Some novel carpenters even fitted a wooden block into the switch controlling the speed to prevent it from slipping out of gear. Very nice improvement, a small piece of wood would make the tool extra strong in keeping it running at the higher torque. They didn’t hold up well with professional use, but at least older drills were easy enough to fix temporarily. A few stolen, or in my case dropped off a roof during winter and one of the city’s worst and we needed to replace them badly. Hmm, have the master carpenter fix tools or direct things being built in the shop.... much more useful to have him supervise.

The Skil Top Gun, was replaced by the Skil Warrior series. Got to be hard to replace them and we eventually went DeWalt (much due to my pressure and staff carpenter demonstration). The Warrior series of 3rd generation drill didn’t share the same parts as the Top Gun and if we were to switch, it would not be worth the money as opposed to pricing out perhaps other drills. Since I was expected to be buying at least a few (30) in bulk - and this gives you the attention of any supplier, my local supplier sent me a test sample. That’s a note should any of you be charged with buying a new tool or light, get a sample to play test first. The Warrior was using even a lesser grade of plastic than the Top Gun and thus given it’s motor was even powerful enough, would mean it would rip itself apart from the inside out. Wouldn’t trade my Skil Worm Drive 7.1/2" saw for the world, it cuts thru steel like butter, but for a drill, there is better.
(Plus we were sold on DeWalt as a good dependable brand.)

To my tastes, in trying a Porter Cable cordless drill, it was heavy and very large in the hand. Nice drill, but not for me. Probably like a #9872 14.4v drill. Porter Cable is known to make the best in heavy duty routers and belt sanders, but on cordless drills, they are not the best in my opinion. They also make a great laminate trimmer, and random orbital sander, but for cordless tools, during the 90s I was not impressed given the weight and large size.

Tried one of the new line of Milwaukee drills, they were my second choice in drill especially with their extremely cool clip on flashlight. (Much more useful than the other major option of a bubble level considering it only measured one dimension and not diagonal perpendicularness to the surface you drilled.) We used drills in the dark a lot, city turned off the light in the booth on their own schedule not ours and frequently you would be in some large ticket booth tent that had no light at all. Based upon years of use with my Super SawZall, and it being the only brand of heavy duty drill I buy given Bosch has problems with burning out in high gear, I really wanted to be a believer in the Milwaukee cordless. Heck, my “birdie” or sort of right angle drill from them is one of my favorite drills, however I was never impressed with the 12v #0501-20 reversable battery pack drill. Pistol grip and flash light or not, a reversible battery pack means at all times one set of contacts are exposed to the elements. Even if there is no chance of them shorting out or shocking you, that means an extra set of contacts that will always get dirty and corroded. Since Milwaukee offered not protection for the exposed contacts, I was not impressed enough to buy. Good drill, good brand but a slight downfall in having a not well thought out option for my application. Very well designed tool for normal usage however and unlike Bosch, Milwaukee holds up in my opinion just as well as DeWalt in abuse. When I got to the new shop, one of the tech people had a Milwaukee Cordless tool - all be it, probably an older model like the #0502-20. It had never seen maintenance, but had never been up to my level of abuse either. By the time I got there, the drill was on it’s last legs and about to be replaced. Same normal problems of a early second generation drill- when it runs dry with grease and abuse due to over-use, it rips itself apart from the gearing outward. Given the user can handle a pistol grip 12v drill, and it’s not been later improved this 0501-20 drill with it’s flash light and reversible battery pack, still seems to me to be a really good design even if the exposed contacts might be of concern to me.

Panasonic makes great low voltage cordless screw drivers - even manufacturing them for brands such as Milwaukee. They also manufacturer the batteries for many cordless tools thus given good drill engineering, would make a good tools. (There are only a few manufacturers of batteries, Panosonic and Makita are a few known for good quality an innovation.) Major disadvantage for me early on was being laughed at for owning a Panasonic drill and thus not a “name brand” and having over 20 clutch settings. Since than Panasonic has mad a really good and dependable name for themselves as a good dependable tool and while you might get a few snickers with what tool you buy, in my impression, it’s a good brand even if you don’t need all those clutch settings.

I have two of their cordless 3.6v screw drivers at work, much superior to other cordless screw drivers on the market.

On the other hand, the Black & Decker with it’s Versi-Pack system is crap in my opinion. Sure you can put a few batteries in a single tool to power it up, and there is a lot of tools you have available to buy, but what happens if one of those batteries you put in isn’t as good in holding a charge or is not charged to full? What happens to a flash light with one good and one bad battery? Had a TD once that bought into the Versi-Pack system, he was not happy even doing the most simple of operations, the battery packs simply did not hold enough of a charge.

With Black & Decker on mind there is the “FireStorm”. This drill is a direct copy of the DeWalt (Black & Decker owned) drill with lesser parts making it up. Do not buy this drill. When this drill was coming to market, I was considering buying 20 or 30 of them but my Black & Decker/DeWalt service center reps specifically told me not to purchase it because it was a home owner - occasional use grade of tool not meant for use by professionals and that it would burn up. It even has less powerful, non-XP batteries on it. The plastic making up the housing was not as strong, and it’s motor was weaker. Had a good experience with the industrial line of compound miter box being just as good as the DeWalt, but than again, the first Jigsaw I bought was a Black & Decker and it lasted about a month. Plus I did burn out a few of their corded drills. I was on the fence and liked the price before the sales people said it would not hold up to normal shop/professional usage.

I once owned a Royobi 3x21" belt sander. Looked the same as the Bosch I was constantly using at work and was much cheaper. Unfortunately, it had an aluminum drive gear that kept burning thru drive belts when abused and the tool was a constant sink hole for money in keeping it working. Plus I went thru 3 switches in two years. Bought a Bosch later and never had a problem even many years later with it even if similar in design. The carpenters that bought into the Royobi line of tools had similar problems with them lasting once they got to using them. Even had an electrician lately who was given a Royobi drill as a gift, who a few months later, he found it could not even drive a 2" screw without the clutch slipping. A caution I would give perspective buyers is that you get what you pay for.

This brand of tool also makes the “Tim Allen” line of tool. Now why would someone buy an actor’s personal line of tool? Does the actor who once in a spoof on home repair show know anything about tool design, much less have any real impute into it’s overall construction? I’m not union, but I give a real good mocking laugh to buyers of such tools. You get what you pay for... The actor in developing the line of tools remarked that “he designed the tools as he would want them.” I go back to, now what does an actor know about tools? Now if Norm Abrams a person with real and demonstrated knowledge of tools ever came out with a line of tools, that would be products to watch. Until than, what he uses should be good enough for you, even if it’s primarily what his sponsors give him for free. Even Sears spokesperson Bob Via, doesn’t know what the heck he is doing - listen to people who know tools and building stuff. In one of his later shows in reference to installing tile board in a tub surround, his Master Carpenter apparently had enough of his lack of knowledge and corrected a stupid comment he made. “Guess you are using 2" drywall screws on this?” “No Bob, it’s 1.5.8". Anyone that has sorted a bucket of drywall screws can easily tell the difference between 1.5/8" an 2" screws. Bob once came to Chicago to construct a kiddie playhouse. His staff carpenters spent many hours in building such a thing, only for him to come on site for like a half an hour during filming to “lend a hand.” I know this because I was in charged of installing all the fencing and walkways to the play land and was there while he was there. Who do you think Tim Allen based his show off of? No, I’m not buying tools because of a spokes person, I’m more interested in how they actually last to abuse.

Finally, the shop I currently work for had a Wagner - sort of cordless drill. It was one speed and did not have a removable battery. Kind of reminds me of some of the 7.2v Makita drills I used in a real pinch but at a lot more weight and a much lower gear ratio. This drill was a major joke even for a electrical shop. Don’t know who swiped the drill, but I’m not missing it’s absence. Once the battery got old even a at a lower speed, it didn’t have much torque at all, plus you couldn’t get a fresh battery for it. Overall a useless tool.

Granted, many of these drills are 1980s and 1990s drills that’s about my personal experiences with them. What experiences do all of you have with cordless tools? Any of this help you think about what you are using or will eventually buy? Dispute my choices and views? Really like or dislike something for different reasons? Let’s start a large data base on tool types here starting with this cordless type first as it’s something about everyone will buy or use eventually. Since it will become a major personal investment, I would assume wasting money on it would be a bad thing. It’s also something everyone can comment on.
I favor DeWalts

I definitely favor my DeWalts.... DeWalts are usually made for construction use as opposed to "around-the-house" drills.... like Black and Decker. I have used DeWalts for 5 years and haven't had one break, bust, or wear out. On the other hand, I've also gone through 4 B&Ds and
3 craftsman. That's my experience with drills. I typically use 14.4v DeWalts because I like the way they balance in my hands.

Okay here is my 2 cents on the issue, but I'll try to keep my post shorter than Webster's Unabridged dictionary. I am personnally on my third cordless drill. My first one was a Makita 9.6 volt. I bought it at a garage sale 13 years ago and still works fine. A little under powered by todays standards, but indestuctable. My second was a DeWalt 12 Volt (you know to keep up with the times) After three years I retired it to a dumpster. The battery no longer seated correctly, the chuck would not lock, the brushes were toast, and when I got a repair estimate, I did not find it worth any more investment. I never actually was fond of the feel. And my third is a Bosch 14.4 Volt. I love the weighting and the feel, and I have had no problems with it.

Now here is where I think people should be careful. You have to go out and talk to people at the time you buy your tool. It is amazing how much can change in one years production time.

My Makita rocked I knew somebody who had the same model, but two years newer and it was a piece of junk, they replaced the hard plastic chuck to a soft rubber. Great for grip, but it had been chewed up all to hell. And for some reason he was frying batteries with his.

I worked as a TD at one summer stock that had just bought all new Bosch 14.4's about a year and a half before I bought mine. They bought 5 at the beginning of the summer after three months 1 motor was fried 3 chucks were shot and 1's battery wouldn't seat worth a damn.

The next scene shopI worked in had all new DeWalt 18 Volts after one season of use they were all replaced. All of the 7 had been sent in for repairs at least 4 times. Of course it was during that season that I purchased my Bosch after many talks with a sales rep. He told me how they had totally reworked the motor, the gears, the chuck...I was also given a month to give it a test drive. i loved it, I bought it, I recommended it. when the shop replaced all the DeWalts. They went with the Bosch 14.4. After a year only two are working and they have now switched to the Black and Decker Firestorm 14.4(I believe). they love them. They're cheap, but so far they have outlasted DeWalt and Bosch.

So it is very much a case of buyer beware. Company's have a tendency to put out a really good gun get a reputation and then cut back on expenses until people relate the name with junk. And then they start all over again.
in our theater we use makita. We've used them for as longa as anyone can remember because their batteries are almost completly interchangeable between newer models and all the batteries no matter how old use the same chargers. This makes it easy at the end of the day when we just take out the batteries and put them in any charger.

Oh and, ship, for people who act and are techies, we use the term "halfbreed" they call them selves "tactors" but thats to easly confused with "techtors" from the techie gosple.
Mattech said:
Oh and, ship, for people who act and are techies, we use the term "halfbreed" they call them selves "tactors" but thats to easly confused with "techtors" from the techie gosple.

Tractor's? Terradactyl's? those are some interesting terms. lol j/p. I've never heard of those before though. interesting.
Our crew here in American Fork had preciously been on 9.6v Makitas. While these drills still work they are slow and very frustrating to work with. 3 years ago we bought 4 new 12 v Dewalts. They are like miracle working machines. They could use some more power occasionally and we do have one 14.4 v which works great for that. I dont have a lot of experience on other models but I do know that the 12v DeWalts are wonderful drills and I would highly recomend them.
Great to have around the theater but be sure to have at least 5-10 spare batteries on the charger per drill for an 8 hour workday. Otherwise a having cordless drill becomes nothing but a hammer after you run out of battery power. :D
digitaltec said:
Great to have around the theater but be sure to have at least 5-10 spare batteries on the charger per drill for an 8 hour workday. Otherwise a having cordless drill becomes nothing but a hammer after you run out of battery power. :D

hehe...and when the battery butt is done being a hammer the whole thing makes a great boomerrang to throw in frustration...tho it doesnt return to you unless you hit someone with it and they hurl it back.

Just got the new upgraded Makita and must say I LIKE its power and torque over my original 14.4 makita... I've had tooo many Dewalts die on me and have had problems with their gearings slip. Milwaulkee--nice tools...

When I started doing theater many moons ago the shops were all Makita shops. Since the late '90s a lot of shops have made the conversion to Dewalt shops. Now the dewalts do not like to be dropped or mishandles as much as the Makitas, but the dewalt made up for it with power.

With regard to battery life we use dewalt super chargers to speed up the recovery of the batteries.
In the home I use a Craftsman 19v drill it is ok but I am not really a fan of craftsman It is my our 3rd in 5 years but im not the one who buys it its all my dad. In the Theatre I use a Makita 18v and I love it. That is the most versitile tool I have ever used. Most People in the theatre preder the older thatn dirt Milwakee Corded drills but that 18v makita will do more than the corded drills in less time.

Rock Springs Wy.
I like new ones becasue the batters last longer Our theaters cordless drills are starting to age to the point where they wont take a full charge, now after you let them charge over night the drills are only good for 4 or 5 2.5 inch screws in tough wood so highly impractical. I like my uncles dewalts and my dads black and deker laugh all you want but it has a nice sold feel to it and it keeps up with a corded drill pretty well.
We have 3 Dewalt 14.4v cordless drills similiar to this model:

2 of them are 4/5 years old and one is 3 years old. We have never had any problems with them until recently. Both of the older ones now have problems. One always runs like it has a low battery even when the battery is fully charged. I am guessing it is a motor problem but I havent looked at it. The other one has its speed switch (on the top lets you pick the speed between level one and level two) slip out and end up in between which makes the drill run like your car does when it is in neutral.

We have six batteries with three chargers total for the three drills. We have never had a problem with running out of batteries since the charge time is only an hour.
Never Use Makitas, I've had a lot of trouble with them. They use plastic gearing (from what I've learned) and they strip extremly easily. I agree wemeck dewalts are the best. But if you want the absolute best in power and durability, just use a corded drill. :)
OnWithTheShow said:
We have 3 Dewalt 14.4v cordless drills similiar to this model:
2 of them are 4/5 years old and one is 3 years old. We have never had any problems with them until recently. Both of the older ones now have problems. One always runs like it has a low battery even when the battery is fully charged. I am guessing it is a motor problem but I havent looked at it. The other one has its speed switch (on the top lets you pick the speed between level one and level two) slip out and end up in between which makes the drill run like your car does when it is in neutral.

We have six batteries with three chargers total for the three drills. We have never had a problem with running out of batteries since the charge time is only an hour.

It's very possible that your drills are fine - excepting the one with the weak gear shifter. You might look towards new batteries. In general any brand of batteries have a certain amount of charges they can recieve before they just don't hold a charge anymore. On a DeWalt gun, that's a life of about three years for me, possibly longer for others. The all need a service call but you should get about a 4 hour charge out of a 14.4v DeWalt battery for at least the first two to three years under average use.

Also, since your batteries no longer have a memory chip in them (a bad idea from Makita at one point during the early 1990s) and as uniformly stated in just about all manuals, do not run the batteries out. Or at least this is not necessary unless you are not planning to use them for a few months such as packing them up for the summer. While it does not do a lot of damage to the battery to run it out, it can damage the tool in doing so, and overheat the battery so it can't take the full charge.

Another option to extend battery life is to get the NiMH batteries instead of the NiCad ones. They don't have the umpth of the nicad but have a longer lifespan and charge holding power. A further note is to invest in fast chargers such as the 15 minute chargers. For some reason on charging batteries, the longer you take to charge them up, the more it destroys the battery while doing so - probably also another heat issue.

In a nutshell, that's it, probably old batteries unless you have phase harmonics problems which is it's own story.

On the drill slipping between gears, I have that on my favorite drill at the moment. It's time to get it in for service. All tools for a school should see a service center at least every other year if you want them to keep working properly. For me it was once every six months as a carpenter and that's why I have the same drill from about 1993 plus a second drill to use while it was in the shop.

On batteries for two 14.4v drills, one flash light, one saw and one right angle drill, I probably have 4 batteries left out of like 16 in the last 10 years. They wear out granted at one point I had 10 of them at the same time.
Cannot argue that DeWalt are the cream of the crop. However, Black & Decker are actually made by DeWalt and I must admit that for their price, I have not been able to fault them. I have recently purchased the 14.4V Firestorm (Model # FSD142K-2) which has a really cool feature.

The chuck is removable leaving a standard hex drive, which accepts most driver bits. This enables you to drill and screw without having to change bits. After putting up panell sections in the workshop I find it hard to imagine having to use 2 drills again. In Australia it came with 2 batteries, charger and case.
i have a 12v MAKITA, pistol grip and mushroom style batteries-
i have owned this bit of gold for nigh on 10 years now and it hasn't failed me yet-
it hasn't had to have any repairs at all and was about 200 dollars at a Home Depot in Salt Lake City Utah
Just thought that I would add to my previous post as I think that it wasn't as helpful as it may have been.

In essence, my choice (the 14.4V Black & Decker Firestorm) was based on price range, on different opinions of sales people in various shops (I tend to look for trends in advice) and options. There were a couple of drills that were all priced in the similar range and in the 14.4V category. The Firestorm also comes as an 18V drill, which was the same price as the 14.4V. However, the 14.4V came with a second battery. For me, this was a very attractive offer and with the removable chuck, was the selling point.

The removable chuck for me set the Firestorm above the other drills as much of the work I do involves drilling and screwing at the same time. Especially when you need to get something in place before drilling the remaining holes. Secondly, the extra battery was the basis for my decision between the 14.4V and the 18V version. I don’t know why it is (well I do) but undoubtedly, I will get half way through an important job and the battery will die. When I am just pottering and filling in time, the battery never dies! Anyway, now I can have one in the charger and one in the drill when I know I have a lot of work to do. I always use either my corded drill or my drill press for heavy drilling and so the cordless is only used for light work and driving screw or hex head self drillers (both wood and metal).

The other point is that I do not use my drill day-in, day-out and in fact, there are times when I don’t use it for days. So it comes down to what you want to do with it and obviously this differs from individual to individual.

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