16 Types Of Drills And Their Uses

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

When you first try to get into the world of home improvement, one thing becomes abundantly clear: you will need a lot of tools. One of the most important things you will need in your arsenal is a drill. However, you’ll notice that there are tons of different types of drills. If you want to make good on your investment, you are going to have to make sure that you get the right type for the project that you have.

There are many different types of drills that you can use in a typical project, many of which are specialized for one to two goals. The most common types include:

  • Corded Power Drills
  • Cordless Power Drills
  • Hand Drills
  • Hammer Drills
  • Rotary Hammers
  • Coring Drills
  • Drill Brush
  • Impact Driver
  • Earth Auger
  • Straight Air Drill
  • Breast Drills
  • Reversible Drills
  • Pneumatic Drills
  • Brushed Motor
  • Brushless Motor
  • Dremel

Getting the right drill can do more than just make your project go easier. It can be a good way to ensure that your future projects turn out well and that you won’t have to spend extra. To help you on your first foray into the world of drills, we’re going to create a shopping guide!

The Many, Many Types Of Drills

Most of our needs for drills will come with a lot of different questions. Finding the right drill can make a huge difference. To ensure that you get the right choice, our guide will give you the run-through on everything related to each drill type.

1. Corded Power Drills

via Shutterstock

If you are simply looking to drill some screws into a new piece of furniture, then a standard corded power drill is going to be what you need. This plugs into your electrical outlet and will be able to work with most different types of drill bits. Since these are not battery-powered, you can use them continuously without worrying about losing power. (Unless, like, a tree hits your power line or something.)

These drills are generally meant for woodworking, putting furniture together, and drilling through drywall. In other words, if you are doing most projects around your home, you will do well with this. The only drawback is how cumbersome the cord can be and the fact that they rarely are capable of handling drill bits larger than 1/2 inch.

2. Cordless Drill

via Shutterstock

Cordless drills are exactly like a typical corded hand drill, with one little difference: they do not have a power cord. They’re battery-powered. Aside from that, they tend to work with the same drill bits, offer similar power, and make jobs just as easy as their corded buddies. These drills are great for people who want to have convenience and ease of use.

Because they tend to be more convenient than corded drills, these are typically the most common type of drill you will find on a worksite. They are amazingly versatile like that. If you are doing most typical repairs around a house or are just starting on a woodworking project, then a cordless drill will be able to help you.

Related Guide: What To Do With Old Cordless Drills?

3. Hand Drills

via Shutterstock

Usually seen in antique stores, hand drills do not have a motor attached to them and rarely ever have any widespead form of drill bit compatibility. They are operated by turning a crank on the drill manually. Most people tend to agree that you probably will not need this in most situations. However, some people prefer to use them when drilling needs to be done gently.

These are extremely rare to see in a house or even in a mechanic shop. Unless you have a very unusual antique remodeling shop that upcycles goods, you probably will not need one of these. With that said, hand drills tend to be used when you need a gentle touch that is totally in your control. Thankfully, if you have one of these, you can generally expect to use it for the rest of your life.

4. Cordless Hammer Drills

via Pexels

Hammer drills are a lot like most standard power drills. In fact, they are basically an offset of a typical powder drill. The big difference is that they have a hammer mechanism at the bottom of the drill. This causes a subtle hammering/vibrating motion that helps drive the drill bit further in. These drills are good for breaking apart concrete up to 1/4 inch max.

These drills can hammer, drill, or hammer-drill depending on the mode that you choose. They’re fairly high-powered and can be a great addition to your drill set. Like most standard power drills, you will be able to use most drill bit kits with them. They are slightly higher in price, but they often are worth the money. They’re hyper-versatile compared to standard drills.

5. Rotary Hammers

via Shutterstock

Rotary hammers are incredibly powerful tools that are mostly for pushing away stone or other forms of masonry. They tend to be a more powerful form of a hammer drill in most respects. Unlike hammer drills, rotary hammers tend to be used for larger masonry projects that require you to break through a hard surface. They have larger drills and have to use specialty drill bits…if they even use bits at all.

This is not a tool that most people will have to invest in unless they are professional contractors. If you need to chip away at something (like a mini-demolition project) or hammer away at something, then this is a good tool to use. Most home improvement stores tend to have these for rent up at the front of their power tool section.

6. Coring Drill

via Shutterstock

So, I’ll be honest. You will never need to buy this if you’re a typical person who’s just doing a little work around the house. In fact, most professional crews won’t even need this type of drill. However, this is still a type of drill that you might see once in a blue moon. As the name suggests, this is an extremely heavy-duty power drill that is meant to core through large swaths of concrete and masonry.

You will rarely ever see coring drill rentals at standard home improvement stores. These are almost exclusively seen as professionals-only tools simply because they are so powerful and need to have a certain level of skill to operate. In many cases, the only time you may see them will be in major building construction sites or civil construction sites.

7. Drill Brush

via Shutterstock

I was debating whether this should be included in this article, but it definitely does. Drill brushes aren’t technically a type of drill. Rather, they tend to be a type of drill extension. There are two main types of drill brushes out there: those meant for premature aging for stylistic purposes and those that are meant to make cleaning easier.

The bristles on “aging” or weathering brush drills are going to be stiffer than what you would find on a cleaning brush. This is because those brushes are meant to slowly sand away bits of the wood. With cleaning brushes, you should expect them to look more like a toilet scrubber. They’re there to make cleaning grout and tile faster and easier.

Note: The author of this article loves using a cleaning drill on their bathroom tile. Highly recommended for people who have problems with mold clinging to grout.

8. Impact Driver

via Shutterstock

Yes, yes, I know this is not technically a drill. But, it has a lot of heads that it can switch out in a pinch, much like most drills do. It also looks like a drill and can be used to push items into place or chip away masonry like one. So, we’re going to add it in. Impact drivers are basically hammers on steroids, at least when it comes to results.

The rotating hammer-and-anvil mechanism gives you a much heftier punch than a typical hammer would. Though they don’t offer as clean a hole as most drills do, it’s definitely a good choice if you are struggling with a particularly rough installation. For example, these are commonly used on hardwoods, metals, and plastics. So, custom furniture might actually require these if you’re in the business of making it.

If you want to use one, then chances are that you will need to buy one. Most hardware stores sell them relatively cheap, which means that renting them out is rarely economical. With that said, more home improvement stores in urban areas are starting to carry them simply because people don’t have enough space to keep them in their apartments.

9. Earth Auger

via Shutterstock

You may have seen construction crews use earth augers (or ground augers, or earth drills, or whatever your region calls them) during the creation of a new building. Or, maybe you have seen them after people had to install a new pipeline. Whatever the occasion may be, it’s clear that these tools are meant to help drill through the earth. More specifically, they’re there to bore a hole in the ground using a massive drill head.

Earth augers can be either corded or cordless, depending on the purpose. If they are cordless, then you will usually have to power them through gas, rather than batteries. If you have a corded drill, I strongly encourage you to get a generator as it can be difficult to run an extension cord from your home’s interior to your yard.

For the most part, people don’t really buy augers unless they need to do a ton of special yardwork or construction work. That’s why they are most commonly seen rented out in home improvement stores or bought for large-scale construction crews.

10. Straight Air Drills

via Shutterstock

Straight air drills are air-powered (or occasionally electric) drills that have a body that’s in a completely straight line. These handheld drills are made to make it easier to drill items found in tight spaces. Most handheld drills are somewhat bulky, which means that you’d need to have tiny hands or a lot of luck to get items secured in place or drilled out.

A straight air drill makes it easier to get a hole drilled in a space that would be downright impossible otherwise. If you do a lot of work with robotics or electronics, then you may already own one of these. They’re pretty popular when it comes to making your own stuff involving computer chips and wood. (Like, say, a smart mirror with a wooden frame.)

Like most other smaller drills, this type of drill uses a standard drill kit to bore holes. Also like other smaller drills, they aren’t really rented out. You can buy one for a very small price.

11. Reversible Drill

via Shutterstock

Reversible drills can be corded or cordless, or even air-powered. These look almost identical to standard handheld drills, especially if you are used to a simpler drill. However, they have one button that makes them different from a standard drill. Unlike regular drills, reversible drills can change the direction of the drill bit’s rotation. All you have to do is turn the switch from one way to another.

These drills are great for people who want to bore holes or remove screws from their construction projects. Since they can do both, they can work amazingly well in the place of screwdrivers. If you want to make sure that you have a good way to get rid of fastened screws, this is it. All you need is the right tip. With that said, their accuracy isn’t always the best, so try to stick to screwdrivers if you can.

12. Breast Drills

via Shutterstock

Breast drills sound like something out of a Benny Benassi music video, but don’t be fooled. They actually have a really good use. These are unusually large drills that are made to push through wood and masonry, as well as certain metals. Because they are so huge, most people won’t be able to hold them in their hands like a normal drill.

These drills often have a handlebar for one hand to hold them in place. To ensure that you get a good grip and balance on the drill, they also tend to have handles that you can lean on. As you can imagine, these are pretty hefty tools that tend to be used on major construction sites. Due to the fact that they are large, pricey, and more specialized, they tend to be rented out at hardware stores.

13. Pneumatic Drills

via Shutterstock

Technically, any type of drill has the potential of being a pneumatic drill. Also known as air drills, these drills use pressurized air to turn the drill. They are often used for smaller jobs that involve drilling holes in rocks, masonry, wood, or plastics. They’re pretty high-powered and offer a fairly clean hole in most cases.

It’s important to know that you will still need to fuel your air drill. In most cases, this type of drill will have a diesel-based engine. However, you may be able to find some smaller air drills that run on gas. Either way, they are pretty popular among mechanics as well as people who just need to get quick home improvement jobs done.

14. Brushed Motor

All handheld electric drills will be either a brushed motor or a brushless motor type. Brushed motor drills are the older type of motors for drills out there. They tend to be more cost-efficient, but they also have a lot of drawbacks. These motors tend to last for a shorter period of time, may require more energy, and generally do not run very efficiently.

With that said, most people won’t notice much of a difference between a brushed motor and a brushless motor when they’re handling them. It’s more about the long term results. In some cases, you may have a slight difference when it comes to the time it takes to drill a hole or the cleanliness of the hole that’s drilled, but that’s about it.

15. Brushless Drills

via Shutterstock

Brushless motors are the upgraded version of a drill, and in most cases, this is what you’ll see as the standard among premium drilled brands. Brushless motors use magnets to help act as an external rotor. Since the magnets are able to force the rotor with minimal friction, these motors tend to work smoothly and seamlessly.

The lack of friction also means that your drill will be able to last longer. Most building experts agree that brushless drills are well worth the splurge. If you want to get a commercial-grade drill, then you will need to check out the brushless section of your power tool collection. As a general rule of thumb, brushless motors also tend to use slightly less electricity to get the same amount of power.

Note: While brushless drills are generally more energy-efficient, do not assume that all brushless motors are going to be eco-friendly. Some will still require a serious amount of electricity or gas to function.

16. Dremels

via Shutterstock

If we were going to be honest, Dremels are not officially considered to be drills. They are considered to be rotary tools that can shave, shand, and occasionally drill. However, most people tend to forget that they aren’t just sanders. These tools can be turned into drills thanks to their surprisingly powerful rotary motors.

These motors tend to be frail compared to most hand drills, which is why they are generally only used for fine work—such as petite electronics that need to be pieced together or small woodworking gigs. If you are a nail artist, there’s also a chance that you might use a Dremel drill for certain extreme effects on acrylics and gel nail styles.

Related Questions

How fast can a Dremel drill spin?

Dremels are remarkably fast when it comes to their motor rotations. You can expect a Dremel to spin anywhere from 3,000 to 37,000 RPMs. This makes it an ideal tool for drilling holes that feel smooth to the touch. If you are looking for a cheap hand drill, then a Dremel is a smart and efficient way to make it happen. (Well, at least, that’s true for smaller, finer items.)

How long does an electric cordless drill last?

While there are going to be some differences from brand to brand and model to model, electric drills are not going to be the most long-lived of machines. The batteries tend to give out fairly quickly. If you use an electric cordless drill on a regular basis and care for it under standard circumstances, then you will be able to get 3 to 5 years out of most cordless drills.

How deep can a typical dirt auger dig?

It depends on auger, but the truth is that they are fairly limited as to what they may be able to accomplish. Most dirt augers will only be able to drill 3 feet deep on average. If you need to drill further, then you may need a specialized machine to do it.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

More by Ossiana Tepfenhart