Different Types of power drills explained

Buying a drill is easy right? Yeah, nah. Do you need to smash through concrete? Drive screws in? hang a picture? Choose the wrong drill for the task, and it is going to take a long time. I’m going to explain the different types of drills and their uses.

Quick Reference

First, here’s a quick reference chart of which drill you should use for each material.

Driver / Drill

Your most basic drill is the driver/drill. It can drill a hole into wood or metal (the drill part of the name), or drive a screw in (the driver part of the name).

If you’ve ever been using a drill to drive a screw in and found the drill starts vigorously clicking – that is the driver action. The idea is that the clicking action will use a sideways hammer action to drive the screw in. In a regular drill this action is not particularly strong. Don’t rely on it to drive screws into anything more than softwood.


  • A mains powered drill will have a lot more power than a cordless model
  • Most driver/drills have a 2 speed gear box (slow for wood, fast for metal)
  • has a (poor) rotary driver action


A dedicated driver is one of those tools you don’t realise you need until you own one. It has a quick connect socket (rather than a chuck) for swapping attachments. Normal drill bits do not fit. The advantage of a driver is that it has ungodly amounts of torque and can drive a screw into hardwood without ‘camming out’ (slipping). This allows a screw to be driven in to hardwood without being stripped.


  • uses quick release attachments
  • has a rotary driver action

Hammer Drill

Now we’re talking. A hammer drill has a hammering action that moves from the front to back of the drill. If you want to drill into masonry or concrete, this is your drill. A cordless version is a good multipurpose, tackle anything drill.


  • hammer action can be turned off so you can use it like a regular drill/Driver

Rotary Hammer Drill

This is like a hammer drill that has been snorting PCP. It is double the size of the other drills here, and makes over 100db of noise. You will need ear protection. It has a much more powerful hammer action than a regular hammer drill.

This drill is not only good at drilling holes in concrete, it can also be used as a small jackhammer. I’ve used one to chisel a trench in a concrete slab.

Ozito hammer drills are great. Cheap Aldi drills are not. I managed to catch two on fire.

These sorts of drills need special drill bits (SDS or SDS+). These bits can take the hammer action without breaking. That said, I have snapped cheap SDS chisel attachments! (from Aldi, surprise!) You also need to do maintenance on these drills. The gearbox needs to be re-greased from time to time (easy enough), and the bits need grease put on them before locking them into the chuck.

Word of advice: cheap Ozito hammer drills are great. Cheap Aldi drills are not. I managed to catch two on fire. I took the first back and swapped it, then the replacement caught fire too. The Ozito handdled the same work like a champ.


  • you need special drill bits
  • you need hearing protection
  • can be used as a jackhammer
  • if you are having trouble getting SDS bits in and out, you have probably forgotten to put a dab of grease on the end of the drill bit (the end that goes in the drill)
rotary hammer

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