Different types of drills are tools that use a chipping or rotating motion to create a hole. This is a very simple and open definition that includes everything from tunnel boring machines to dental drills. We’re more interested in types of drills you can use on your projects around the house, like building a deck or working in your shop. Even though drills work for driving fasteners and boring holes, they can tackle many more projects. We’re going to list out various types of drills you may want to consider investing in below.
Why Choose a Drill?
Various types of drills have always been important staples in woodworking or machining. The electric drill is virtually irreplaceable for someone who routinely drives in deck screws or performs maintenance and repairs around the house. There are many types of drills available, and not all work like a screwdriver. Those that work in different ways are useful for a broad range of projects. You can use them to sand furniture, snake drains, and mix paint.
Besides driving screws, rotating a bit to bore a hole, and more, some drills give you a hammering action that is powerful enough to work on concrete. Some drills also make it possible to drive screws or bore holes in places where a screwdriver wouldn’t fit.
Since they don’t require as much power to run as other drills, electric drills were some of the first types of drills to go cordless. The portability factor makes cordless drills more popular than corded models to date. However, there are plenty of jobs that need the extra torque corded drills offer. No matter your needs, you’ll find the exact drill to help you power through.
Since there are many drill types to choose from and some have special functions, it’s not uncommon to see several drills in one workshop. Drills by Mark Hunter / CC BY 2.0
31 Types of Drills
The amount of drills available on the current market is very impressive. You can break them down into several broad categories when you first start shopping to help narrow down your choices, including impact drivers, traditional drills, and hammer drills. The most popular types of drills are:
1. Air (Pneumatic Drills)
A pneumatic drill gets power using compressed air. Some heavy-duty reversible types of drills come with variable speed throttles that allow you to direct air away from your work area to keep it clean. You hook it up to your air compressor to get a steady but forceful power source. However, these drills are much more popular in industrial or commercial sites over residential ones.
2. Battery (Cordless Drills)
A cordless type of drill runs on power from batteries that you can rechange, and this makes them very portable. Not being restricted by a cord to a power outlet is very convenient when you need to use it outdoors, like creating a new fence or fixing a broken bench. The biggest issue with cordless drills is that they will only last as long as the battery holds a charge, so your drill could run out of power in the middle of your project. This forces you to put your project on hold while you charge the batteries.
This is why it’s a good idea to invest in two batteries that fit this type of drill so that you can always have one battery on change while you run the drill. You won’t have to stop work to recharge in the middle of the project. Cordless drills have a reputation for being less powerful than corded ones, but technology is quickly allowing these types of drills to catch up to the corded options.
3. Beam Drill
This type of drill is a larger one that is designed to drill holes into beams, as the name leads you to guess. They work precisely and efficiently when it comes to drilling holes into structural beams to help support buildings. They’re very accurate as accuracy is vital to the building’s stability. This drill comes with a base that rests on wood, and there is a moveable arm with a drill that attaches vertically. You’ll get a gap in the base where you can clearly see where you’re drilling to keep everything neat.
4. Brace Drill
A brace drill is a nice woodworking hand tool that is very durable while being flexible enough that it rarely gets stuck when you drill wood. You get precision control over the pressure and speed as you work, and you get smooth, clean holes each time.
5. Breast Drill
A breast type of drill is very similar to a hand drill, but it comes with a unique design component that allows you to apply more pressure when you use it. This is very useful if you plan on working with a more dense material, and it’s also nice for saving the strength in your hands and arms. The drill comes with a curved plate design behind the handle, and this is where you can lean your chest against as you work. This design feature is also where this type of drill gets the name. It’s a very common tool to have in industrial settings or bigger workshops.
6. Brushed Motor Drill
The brushed type of drill is the original drill motor. The biggest benefit of using this drill type, especially the older models, is the cost. Any drill that comes with this type of motor is going to be less expensive than options that feature a brushless motor.
7. Brushless Drill
If you’ve ever set a brushed and brushless type of drill side by side, you’ll find that they look very similar. It’s not possible to tell by looking at them which drill has which motor. However, this becomes much more obvious when you actually use the different types of drills for your projects. Brushless motors offer more power and a higher efficiency. They run much cooler, have a smaller size to them, and are much lighter in weight. So, a drill with a brushless motor works faster and is easier to hold when you build a privacy fence.
8. Cranial Drill
A cranial type of drill is a surgical tool that you use to create openings or holes in a person’s skull, usually to allow surgeons to access the brain or to relieve pressure. These drills replaced bone saws that used to create holes in the skull. There is a specialized clutch mechanism that automatically stops the drill from moving when it comes into contact with the soft brain tissue, and this reduces the chances of damaging the brain. You can find them in electric, pneumatic, or manual models.
9. Core Drill
Core drills are a unique type of drill, and they’re totally different in terms of aesthetics or operation. It has a cylindrical and elongated assembly that makes it easy to identify it easily if you ever come across one. Use of this type of drill dates back to 3,000 BC, and modern core drills are very efficient. This drill category refers to any drill that you use to make holes in a surface.
The hole size is something that sets these types of drills apart. They can easily drill holes up to five feet in diameter. It comes with a cylindrically-shaped core that is hollow in the center. When you switch it on to use it, the high rotation speed will pull out a neat cylinder from whatever surface you want to drill through.
Core drills are much more common in industrial settings than they are in residential, but they can be useful for drilling larger holes through concrete. Dewalt Diamond Core Drilling by Mark Hunter / CC BY 2.0
10. D-Handle Drill
This is a rotary hammer type of drill that comes with a unique shape on the handle. Taking on heavy-duty drilling projects with this type of drill can help decrease fatigue while increasing your control levels. You can use this drill for construction, carpentry, and home projects without an issue. Think about any bathroom or kitchen remodels you may have coming up and how having more control can ensure that you end up with a neat finished product without any screws sticking out.
11. Drill Driver
A drill driver is one of the most popular types of drills available amongst homeowners for one very simple reason. This is a very versatile power tool that you can use to take on a huge range of tasks, including driving screws or drilling holes into harder surfaces like metal or wood. A battery usually powers the drill driver. You can use it to loosen or tighten screws in different thicknesses and sizes directly by using this tool.
If you’re in the market for a sophisticated and simple type of drill that can come in handy on a range of small-scale projects around the shop or home, this is a great pick. It’s great for installing shelving around your home. It’s also very valuable when it comes to installing store-bought, flat-pack furniture like IKEA items. You can use it to effortlessly drill through the furniture, regardless of whether it has iron or timber makeup.
12. Drill Press
If you routinely work with metal or like materials in your woodshop, you can’t do everything using a handheld drill. Sometimes, your projects require the stability and precision of a stationary tool. A drill press lets you clamp the work in place and slowly lower the drill while you have precision control over how quickly it rotates. This allows you to take on repeatable and accurate drilling projects.
13. Electricity (Corded Drills)
A corded drill gives you endless power for your tool so you can use it throughout the duration of your project instead of having to quit as your battery dies. A corded drill will usually offer more force and power than a cordless option. It makes it convenient to use it on bigger projects because you won’t have to stop to replace or recharge the battery. However, finding an electrical outlet for the cord can be a drawback.
14. Floor Drill Press
A floor drill press is an enlarged version of the bench drill press. As the name suggests, this is a floor standing machine that will typically stay stationary in your workshop due to the bulky and large size. You may hear it called a pedestal drill or a pillar drill.
The base has a pillar on it that will extend up to your work area. The drill mechanism sits right over the top and gets pulled down to drill holes through your material that you clamp to the work surface. This drill type is known for being very sturdy and powerful, and they make a fantastic addition to any workshop.
15. Gilmet Drill
This type of drill is a handheld model that comes with a spiral-shaped head with a point on it. This tool works well to start holes in woodwork for nails or screws, or you can use it to create pilot holes without using a power tool. They were originally designed to drill your holes into the wood without causing cracking or splitting. One very common version of this type of drill is something you’d find in your kitchens, and it’s the corkscrew. You should use this drill on softer materials like cork or softwood as they’re not known for being extremely strong or powerful.
16. Ground Auger
A ground auger is also called an earth auger, and this is a very advanced version of the antique drills that had a thick and long metal bit attached to a hardwood handle that formed a T shape. Modern ground augers do have the same basic structure, but they get powered by electricity rather than being manual models. Some models will use gas instead of electricity to run the tool’s motor.
The primary use of this type of drill is to drill holes into the ground. It’s great for removing dirt or digging holes more efficiently and effectively than a shovel. You can use them to dig post holes and more.
17. Hammer Drills
Hammer drills are so efficient and heavy-duty that they have no issues drilling through concrete. They work well for demolition projects, or you can use them to remove things from various surfaces during your next remodeling project. They work using a very quick hammering motion. Both impact and hammer types of drills use concussion motion, they have a different mechanism that makes the end results different. While it’s far too powerful to help you make your porch railing, you can use it to fasten the railing into the concrete to keep it stable.
18. Hand Drill
Years ago, carpenters had to use brace-and-bit drills to finish their projects. For much lighter jobs, companies came up with a gear-driven type of drill. This is much more user-friendly and efficient while still allowing carpenters to finish their work. You may also find these drills in use by people who frequently work on circuit boards or in the jewelry industry because they need responsiveness and accuracy when they use their tools. If you like to work on circuits or you’re a hobbyist, this is one type of drill you should consider investing in. There is a broad section of bits as well.
Hand drills are lightweight manual drills that require a lot of force on your end to operate. You will use them for smaller projects to help avoid fatigue. Bodegon by A.Davey / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
19. Impact Driver
An impact type of drill or driver is a manual drill that you can use to tighten up screws or remove nuts and bolts. It’s a slightly more clunky tool that you need to hit on the back with a hammer so the tool thrusts itself onto the nut while you rotate a hexagonal bit to loosen everything up. It allows you to loosen up bolts or nuts that have been over tightened or corrosion has frozen them in place.
An impact drill will also ensure that all of your screws are tightened properly where your screwdriver won’t give you enough torque. You can do this by changing the drill bit to a more compatible one and putting the drill in reverse. Some versions of this type of drill can be power operated, but they tend to have fewer functions compared to manual ones.
20. Manual Drill
As the name suggests, you power this drill using your muscles. Hand drills are a great example of this. Some use a crank motion, some use a pushing motion, and some use a twisting motion. These types of drills come specially designed to use in tight spaces or for any project that needs a high level of finesses and control.
21. Mill Drill
Milling is where you remove material from your project using a machine, and this type of drill works to strip away the material instead of just creating a hole like most other drills. It’s a great alternative to having a milling machine because it’s a lot more compact and lightweight. It looks very similar to what you’d see if you had a bench drill press, and it mounts right to your workbench with a drill mechanism above it vertically.
22. Paper Drill
As the name suggests, you’d use this type of drill to create holes in paper. If you have a few pieces of paper that you want to put holes in, you would need a much simpler device like a hole punch. A paper drill is a common tool in industrial settings, including printing shops or places where notebooks are made. A paper drill looks very close to the drill press’s appearance. The base gets mounted on or sits on a bench or table. It can create one or several holes at once in paper stacks up to two inches thick.
23. Push Drill
A push type of drill is a very effective but simple manual hand tool. It looks very similar to your screwdriver, but you’ll find a shaft with a special mechanism instead of the traditional handle. When you push the tool into your material, it makes the internal nut rotate and causes the drill bit to turn. This type of drill works great for when you have to work in awkward or small spaces where you can’t get to with larger tools.
24. Radial Drill
A radial drill works nicely for helping drill a series of holes in a straight, precise line. The drill head gets fixed to a radial arm, and you can move the drill along it in a totally straight line. This makes drilling several holes quick and easy, and you won’t have to keep resetting it or double-checking the angle as you work. It works very well for creating holes in wood that you assemble into furniture pieces where accuracy is vital to ensure that the process goes smoothly. They’re also powerful enough to drill through various pieces of metal.
25. Ratchet Drill
A ratchet drill uses a ratchet lever to rotate the bit with a ratchet wheel, and this is where this type of drill gets the name. The drills are handheld, small tools with a narrow body that makes them suitable to use in difficult to reach or tight spaces. They get designed to drill small holes, and they’re very popular tools with crafters or hobbyists.
26. Reversible Drill
You can switch the direction your drill rotates in when you use this type of drill, as the name suggests. They usually feature a button slide or a push button to do so. This is nice when you need to remove screws or other fasteners. The overall function on this drill is slightly less precise than non-reversible models.
Reversible drills are nice to have if you find yourself routinely taking fasteners or screws out of your projects. It saves you time and reduces the chances of causing damage. Drill by eltpics / CC BY-NC 2.0
27. Right-Angle Drill
The chuck on this type of drill faces perpendicular to the body, and this allows you to slot the drill into tight spaces. It’s an invaluable tool when you’re taking on DIY plumbing, electrical, or carpentry work with limited space to move. If you have to drill a hole in your existing cabinet to run a dishwasher drain line, a stud or hole to install electrical wires, or anything else, this is a nice tool to have.
28. Rotary Hammer Drill
Although this is very close to a regular hammer drill, it can operate just like a traditional hammer would without any rotation to it. It also comes with a different mechanism in it to produce the hammering movements. This type of drill works well for drilling into ceramic tile or concrete instead of mortar and bricks. It will operate to slowly chisel away at the material to create a hole. There are several different drill bit attachments you can get for this drill type, with most of the attachments intended for use on larger projects.
29. Straight Air Drill
This is a handheld drill that is perfect for getting into tight or small spaces and drilling holes where a traditional type of drill can’t fit. It’s lightweight and nice to use on very basic tasks.
30. Traditional Drills
This drill works well to drill holes, install fasteners in drywall or wood, or to help take on other small projects around your home. For basic projects, you may only need this type of drill. If you’re taking on much more involved and heavy-duty ones, a standard or traditional drill may not be powerful enough.
31. Two Headed Drill (Switchdriver)
As you may have guessed by the name, the final drill on the list can hold two drill bits at one time. They don’t get used in unison, but you can quickly select them to save time while you work. If you need to use one drill bit to make a pilot hole and a second bit to drive the screw into your pilot hole, you could pick the bit needed on your two-headed drill instead of having to stop and swap out the bits.
The drills are relatively new, and they’re marketed toward users who want to improve how efficient they are or people who want two tools in one. The two-headed drill looks like a cordless drill, so it uses a battery as the main power source. You’ll want to have dual batteries on hand so you don’t have to stop and rechange it in the middle of a project.
We’ve outlined 31 types of drills for you to consider adding to your collection at home. They can help you take on a broad range of tasks while reducing your fatigue levels. We encourage you to take a look and mix and match to fill out your toolbox.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.