PHOTO: Daniel Johnson
If you live on a farm, then chances are you’ve purchased a portable electric drill (or two or three) over the years. As I described in a previous column, the electric drill is an essential farm tool, perfectly suited to a wide variety of tasks and useful time and time again. I’d argue that there’s no tool you’ll use more frequently than a high-quality electric drill.
Of course, you probably know the main features to look for in an electric drill (battery voltage, variable speeds, adjustable clutch, torque capabilities, and so on), but you should consider other, less obvious features when shopping for a drill, even if they might not cross your mind at first.
Here are a few electric drill features that I find beneficial.
1. Magnetic Drill Bit Holders
It’s not the first feature that you might think to look for, but some electric drills include small magnets so that you can carry spare drill bits around with the drill—very useful if you’re working with several different screw types.
In my opinion, magnetic drill bit holders are superior to other options for a couple of reasons. Some drills have plastic drill bit holders that require you to snap the drill bit into place. While these work well, they can eventually wear out, letting the drill bits slip out when you least expect it. (Believe me, I’ve lost drill bits this way.) Magnetic holders don’t wear out the same way, and they can also help if you drop a screw or drill bit in the grass—running the magnets across the ground can help you find it.
2. A Built-in Light
One of my electric drills has a bright light that comes on whenever the drill is in use and shines directly at the area where I’m working. This can help when working in dim conditions (which seems to happen more often than you’d think), allowing you to better see what you’re doing.
3. Extra Batteries
If the electric drill that you’re considering comes with more than one battery, this is a big positive. There’s not much more annoying than having a battery die when you’re way out in a pasture fixing a fence, so having a backup battery is essential. Charge the batteries to the max and bring both to your projects. When you’re using the drill close to home, always keep one battery in the drill and one in the charger so that one is always ready to go. After a while, you’ll never know how you got along with only one battery.
4. Brushless Motor
A quality brushless motor is a great feature for an electric drill. Brushless motors are more power efficient than brushed motors—a big benefit for portable electric drills—and they’re also quieter and more reliable. If you can get a brushless motor, you’ll probably be pleased.
What features do you like to look for in an electric drill?