Drilling Holes and Using Wallplugs

DIY help from Fred-in-the-Shed

How to Choose a Power Drill

Also the latest and best cordless drills

Updated 12th April 2018


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Cordless Drills For Home Use

Cordless Drills For Pro Use

Impact Drivers

Compact Micro Drills

Corded and SDS Drills For Hard Drilling

The Best Drill Bits

Choosing the Right Wallplug


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At some time or other most people need to drill a hole in something or perhaps fit a shelf or bracket to a wall.

Whilst this might sound simple, unless you have been taught how to do it , there can be problems - and dangers.

I know of people who have been injured by shelves and kitchen units falling on them due to poorly fitted brackets and wall plugs.

Here is my simple guide to drilling holes and using wall plugs.

I took advice from the technical people at Fischer systems after visiting their research laboratory, the technical trainers at Makita Power Tools and Bosch UK.

Fischer invented the wallplug and their wallplugs are still the best.

Many people in the UK refer to wallplugs as Rawlplugs.

Rawlplug is a trade name like Hoover is a vacuum cleaner.

So a Rawlplug is a wallplug but a wallplug is not necessarily a Rawlplug.



An electric drill - hammer type if you are drilling masonry.

There are 2 sorts of hammer drill

Percussion hammer - for normal use

Makita DHP480RF1J 18 V Cordless Li-Ion Brushless Combi Drill

Rotary hammer - for the hardest concrete

Bosch PSB 650 RE Rotary Hammer Drill

A range of drill bits

DeWalt DT6952-QZ Stone Drill Cylindrical Bit Set in Plastic Case 5 Pieces

You will need different drill bits for wood, metal, and masonry (brick and concrete)

The right size wallplug and screw.



DIY Drills

Choosing a drill for DIY work

Electric drills can be purchased from as little as 30 and may be adequate for occasionally drilling onto softwood like pine or even into plasterboard.

The chances are that if you buy a drill you will at some stage want to drill into concrete or brick. For this you will usually need a hammer action or more accurately, a percussion drill. These "hammer drills" cost more and need much more power than a standard electric drill.

A cordless hammer drill will cost more than a mains powered one because it requires powerful rechargeable batteries and a charger. Cordless "hammer drills" start at 10.8v volts but most builders prefer 18 volts for the power to drill larger holes.

Remember - a cordless tool is only as good as its battery, that's why many adverts don't like to tell you the amp hour of the battery and instead concentrate on the voltage!

Best Value Cordless Drills

 Bosch 18v Cordless Hammer Drill for maximum 10mm holes in brick

For drilling brick and masonry an 18v Combi drill is my usual choice

Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2 Cordless Lithium-Ion Hammer Drill with 2 x 18 V Batteries, 1.5 Ah

Entry Level 18v Combi drills with Li-ion batteries

The drill shown above is the Bosch PSB 1800-Li2 18v Combi drill which is a basic drill aimed at the serious DIYER to semi professional user. At around 80 with 2 decent batteries it is excellent for drilling all materials but only has a 10mm chuck. Black & Decker offer a similar drill with 10mm chuck but only one Li-ion battery which is fine for occasional home use.

BLACK+DECKER 18V Lithium Ion 2 Gear Hammer Drill

As well as this drill I have used a Makita 18v combi drill for the last 10 years and it is still working using the original 3 amp hour Li-on battery. The entry level Makita 18v combi is now available for around 150.

The best cordless drills are made by Makita, Dewalt, Hitachi, Bosch and Metabo and are the choice of serious professionals, and thieves!

For this reason many builders prefer cheaper ranges like the Draper and Bosch green range that can do the job but won't break the bank to replace.

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Professional Quality Cordless Drills

Higher Spec Combi Drills with Motor Upgrades

Makita and Dewalt are engaged in a constant battle to produce the best tools.

The latest drills use brushless motors that run with less resistance and therefore allow your battery to last longer.

 Dewalt now offer an entry level brushless motor drill that has 60 Newton metres of torque which is 5 more than the equivalent Makita.

Use links below for Latest Dewalt & Makita drills with "brushless" motors

Dewalt DCD795M1 18 V XR Brushless Compact Lithium-Ion Combi Drill

 Makita DHP480RF1J 18 V Cordless Li-Ion Brushless Combi Drill

Batteries and Other Tools In the DeWalt 18v range

Dewalt is the professional arm of Black & Decker and is very popular with tradesmen.

The downside with Dewalt is that they make a bewildering and incompatible range of 18v batteries and drills.

Some batteries push in, others slide in. It is also hard to compare performance of each drills as companies use different performance yardsticks.

 DEWALT DCM563PB-GB 18 V XR Cordless Hedge Trimmer - Bare Unit

Dewalt DCL050-XJ 18 V Li-Ion Cordless Handheld LED Light

 DeWalt 18V XR Lithium-Ion Body Only Grinder

 DeWalt DCG412N 18V XR Cordless Angle Grinder 125mm With DS300 Kitbox



Batteries and Other Tools In the Makita 18v range


The chainsaw and vacuum are my favourite Makita 18v power tools.

Makita DUC122Z Pruning Chainsaw 18 V

 MAKITA DUC302Z 36V (18V x 2) CHAINSAW 300mm LXT

 Makita BUC122RFE 18V 1/4-inch/ 115mm LXT Chainsaw with 2 Batteries


Breaking news - 5 amp hour battery now available from the link below

 Makita BL1850 18v 5.0Ah Li-ion LXT Battery Pack

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Drill Drivers and Impact Drivers - what is the difference?

 Bosch Professional GDR 18 V-LI Cordless Impact Driver

 DeWalt 18V XR Lithium-Ion Body Only Impact Driver

Drill/drivers are the cheaper style cordless drills that do not have the hammer action and power to drill into masonry.

A combi drill is one step up and is a drill/driver with hammer action

An impact driver looks similar but it has more low level torque than a drill/driver or (combi drill)

Impact drivers have a short snout and a quick release chuck for bits with a hex shaped shank.

An impact driver is the best tool for driving long screws into hard materials.

The 18v impact driver is an essential tool for most builders but now lighter, cheaper 10.8v models with high capacity Li-ion batteries are gaining popularity.

These small powertools are known as micro tools and are very comfortable to use.

Makita CLX202AJ 10.8 V Impact Driver & Combi Drill

Bosch, Makita and DeWalt  all offer twin packs of a drill and an impact driver together.




Makita Li-ion Combi Drill and Impact driver



Makita CLX202AJ 10.8 V CXT Li-Ion Cordless Kit (2-Piece)

This new kit is a superb improvement on the old one and comes in a rugged carry case complete with 2 batteries and charger.

Available for around 135 for the pair with 2 batteries, charger and  carrying case.

The advantage of any twin pack is that you can drill with one tool and screw with the other.

As both tools use the same battery you can still carry on working if one goes flat.

Dewalt Li-ion Mini drills and Impact driver

 DeWalt DCK211D2T 10.8V Li-ion Cordless Compact Drill Driver and Impact Driver (Twin Pack)

Dewalt were slow to enter the 10.8v mini power tool market but then came up with these 3 tools that I tested at the Interbuild tradeshow launch.

The Dewalt tools have a Li-ion battery with a flat bottom to enable the tools to stand upright.

I like this feature as it reduces the amount of wear and tear on the body of the tools when you put them down.

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Best Value Corded Drills


Bosch Impact 700 Hammer Drill

A bog standard 700 watt corded hammer drill is the most practical, cost effective powertool you can own. It has no fancy gimmicks, is good quality and will do most DIY jobs. Price around 55- you can't go wrong. I used the Bosch PSB 650RE drill for several years and unlike my cordless drills it was always ready to go.

The latest version of this tool now has more power and an LED light incorporated into the side handle.

For general DIY this simple drill has all the features and Bosch reliability at a great price.

If you do a lot of DIY or use your drill for work the powerful 2000w Bosch Rotary action drill for around 70 will make the job that little bit easier and should last longer. Rotary action hammer drills are the next level up from percussion action hammer drills and are usually mains powered. However if you go up to this level you will also need new drill bits as these heavy duty drills use SDS bits.

Green Bosch tools are designed for DIY use.

Blue Bosch tools are for professional use and have stronger parts and a longer warranty.

Whilst this the Bosch PSB 650 will easily handle brick and plaster it may struggle if you try to drill into concrete lintels that are found above some windows. For this type of work you would need a high powered rotary hammer drill and the SDS bits that you see builders use.

Budget Price Tools

Check out this similar mains powered drill, with even more power than the Bosch, from my friends at Draper. You can't go wrong at this price which is less than a replacement battery for most cordless drills.


Draper 20500 810W 230V Hammer Drill  

Bosch Universal Impact 700 Hammer Drill


Professional Quality Corded SDS Drills

Can chisel as well as drill!

Metabo 800w SDS drill

If you undertake some serious DIY like drilling into lintels or chiselling away brickwork then you will need a much sturdier drill and unless you want to spend megabucks a corded one is best value. If you can only afford one drill this type is the best, and will last many years in normal use.

Most drills calling themselves hammer drills are in fact impact drills and are not the most effective at drilling concrete.

A proper hammer drill can have a "rotary stop" function so the tool just hammers, without turning. This enables the drill to chisel, which is brilliant for brick and concrete. These proper hammer drills take SDS or SDS plus bits which come as drill and chisel bits.

This type of drill costs more and is likely to be quite heavy. However when it comes to serious drilling they will save you a lot of time and effort. There are cheap versions about but these are enormously heavy, (4-6KG) whereas lighter weight versions like the Metabo 2KG metal bodied drill shown above start from about 105 up. If you drill or chisel into concrete a lot then it is best to buy a pro quality SDS tool like the Makita.


 Makita 240V 3-Mode SDS Plus Rotary Hammer Drill

Metabo 6.06157.00 240 V SDS Plus Combination Hammer Drill

Metabo are a top quality German power tool company with an excellent reputation and large range of professional hammer drills.



SDS drills require special SDS bits and can drill AND chisel concrete.

There are currently 3 SDS formats

SDS and SDS Plus are the same - just to confuse us.

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Guide to Masonry Drill Bits

Masonry bits always have a flat tip.

Drill bits for drilling masonry (brick and concrete) can be identified and distinguished from other drill bits by the blunt wide blade on the tip.

Whilst drill bits for metal can be re sharpened, masonry bits cannot.

There are many different designs of masonry drill bit and you usually get what you pay for.

 Bosch 2607010546 Multi-Construction Drill Bits, 7 Pieces

All Purpose Drill Bits for All Materials?

 This ingenious design enables you to drill masonry, wood, plastic and some metals using the same bit!

I will say that "multi-tools" are never as good as specialised tools but these work well enough and if you don't do a lot of specialised work then they are very convenient.

If you want specialised bits then the Bosch concrete drill bit set is great value at around 5 and will outperform even a standard masonry bit.

As concrete is harder than brick buy the bits for concrete. I found the Bosch masonry bits to be much less durable and the price difference is minimal.

DeWalt DT6952-QZ Stone Drill Cylindrical Bit Set in Plastic Case 5 Pieces

I am currently testing Bosch and DeWalt masonry bits

Bosch make different, special, bits for brick and concrete

(the set for concrete is the best and will do brick too)

The Dewalt set is great value, best quality and best sizes!


DeWalt and Makita Drill Bit Sets

Dewalt make superb kits where each individual type of drill bit is contained within its own yellow box that can be taken out of the larger box and taken to the job alone. This feature is handy when you know exactly what tools you need for the particular job and it saves you lugging too much kit from your van for example.  You can also swap the yellow boxes around to customise the kit for a particular job.

Makita kits don't have this feature but they do make some very good kits that come with the actual drill. see the links below for examples that I recommend.

 DeWalt DT6952-QZ Stone Drill Cylindrical Bit Set in Plastic Case 5 Pieces

 Bosch X-Line Accessory Set, 50 Pieces

 Bosch 103 Piece Titanium Drill and Screwdriver Set

The little DeWalt set is the best I have found for drilling brick and concrete

It is also amazingly good value at around 5.

I now only use the Dewalt masonry drill bits.

The larger sets contain the bits for wood and metal too.

Best Drill Bit Sets with other tools included

Bosch 100 piece titanium coated drill bit set.

I recommend a kit like this for DIY use. It contains the common sizes of drill bit for wood, masonry and metal. It also contains a host of other tools that are useful when drilling holes and fitting wall plugs.

Many sets use poor quality bits but this one is made by Bosch and has top quality titanium coated drill bits. One thing that does annoy me about some sets is how hard it is to get your bits out. The Bosch kit resolves this by having all your bits on a holder that folds out.

lf you plan on drilling into very hard material like lintels, it may be worth buying more specialist drill bits as most masonry bits are general purpose and will either not be up to the job or go blunt quickly. Bosch make special bits just for concrete and at around 5 a kit are well worth getting.

Bosch 103 Titanium Drill and Screwdriver Set

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Choosing The Right Wallplug

A wallplug holds the screw securely into the wall.

The screw, and hole, should be longer than the plug!

The screw should go all the way through the wallplug and split it open to force the tightest possible fit with the wall.

General Purpose Plastic Wallplug

For most DIY jobs a bog standard plastic Wallplug will suffice. They are available everywhere and for the UK market are often colour coded by size. Yellow, Red and Brown.

Yellow 5mm hole 35mm deep use screws no 4-8

Red 6mm hole 45mm deep use screws no 6-10

Brown 8mm hole 55mm deep use screws no 10-14

However you may come across different colours and even brown ones that are a different size. To be on the safe side drill a smaller hole first if the wall plug does not have the drill size marked on it. Then go up a drill size if your plug does not fit.

If you do drill the hole too large or have crumbly masonry then all is not lost, you could use the wet-n-fix to save the job.

Rawlplug Plastic Plugs Assorted (Trade Pack of 300)



The Silverline box of wallplugs above has a good selection of sizes for around a fiver.

Don't forget to buy the best drill bits you can afford.

They will make your drill, battery and arms last longer.

Don't ruin a good drill buy using rubbish drill bits!


Top Quality Nylon Wallplugs

Fischer SX Wallplug

The Best Wallplug for Building and DIY Perfectionists

For professionals and serious DIY people a Nylon wallplug is much stronger than a cheap plastic one.

Fischer  Fixing Systems invented the plastic wallplug in 1958 and still make the best and most innovative wallplugs

This pro-quality wall plug has a flange at the top to keep it flush with the surface of the wall. It also has 4 splits for better grip.

These superb plugs  have the required drill bit and screw size marked on the side and can be used in voided material such as aerated concrete.

If you are a true craftsman and proud of your work, this plug won't let you (or your shelves) down.

 Fischer 070006 6 x 30 mm SX Expansion Plug - Zinc (100-Piece)

Fischer fixtainer Storage Bag for Screws etc, 532892

Fischer 100-Piece 6 x 30 mm SX Zinc Expansion Plug  

Best wall plug for plasterboard

As plasterboard is so thin and soft a different sort of wallplug is required that can spread the load more.

The best wallplug for plasterboard is a self drilling metal or even a nylon "wall anchor".

Wall anchors give the strongest fixing in plasterboard and are much better than the alternative plastic "scrunching" ones.



Loose fitting Wall plugs?  - save the day with Fischer Wet-n-fix

You know the story, your putting up shelves, drill a hole, go to push in the wall plug and dam!, the hole is too big and the wall plug is wobbly.

Then you have to drill another hole, move the shelves up an inch and get out the filler to repair the other hole.

This problem usually occurs because you are either crap at DIY - or you have soft plaster that crumbles when drilled.

Well curse no more, simply soak the Wet-n-Fix disc in water, wrap it around the wall plug and push it in . Three minutes later it is ready for screwing - magic!

I have found this product to be extremely useful when repairing other peoples bodges, such as loose curtain rails and collapsing shelves.( Obviously  I have  never bodged a job myself but keep some available just in case)

WETNFIX (10 DISCS) - Fixing Wall Plugs Fast! No need to fill or redrill





More DIY Tips - How to remove a wallplug and how to fill in a wallplug hole

If you try and fill a hole that contained a wallplug it is likely that the filler will shrink and you are left with a dink in the wall.

As a perfectionist decorator this would annoy me . So I just grind the top 5mm of the plastic wallplug down with a cone shaped grinding stone on my cordless Dremel.

Then I only need a small amount of filler that will not shrink back

You can also "bodge" this technique by cutting the top edge of the wallplug away with a Stanley knife - be careful not to slip and cut your finger or eye!

Removing a wallplug is easy if you insert a large headed screw and then pull out the screw and wallplug with a claw hammer

Thanks to Fisher Fixing Systems for my day at their technical centre.


Important safety info for using wallplugs

1 The screw should be slightly longer than the wallplug.

2 Blow the dust out of the hole after drilling.

3 If in doubt use a longer plug and screw.

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Best Small Cordless Screwdriver

Golden Shed winner improved further!

Bosch IXO Cordless Lithium-Ion Screwdriver

The truly excellent Bosch IXO cordless screwdriver has been improved further with the addition of an LED work light, better battery and improved switches and accessories.

I gave the original IXO a coveted Golden Shed Award as it was the first power tool to have the unbeatable Lithium Ion battery.

The IXO was one of my favourite tools and the IXO 2 was even better. The came the IXO 3 with angled head. The IXO 4 added attachments for screwing at strange angles, and gadgets for opening wine bottles and fanning your BBQ!

Now the new IXO 5 has 30% better battery capacity!

 Use the IXO and you will never want to be without it! This is the smallest cordless screwdriver available and has been copied by many manufacturers.

The IXO 4 came with a charging station and optional right angled or offset head attachment. These new accessories made the IXO 4 the best and most versatile small cordless screwdriver.

For 2017 the IXO 5 has been remodelled and has a larger 1.5 amp hour battery but no longer has a charging base.

Bosch IXO Cordless Lithium-Ion Screwdriver with 3.6 V Battery, 1.5 Ah



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 Thanks - Fred









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