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 2nd September 2021

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Cordless Drills For Home Use

Compact Micro Drills

Powered Screwdrivers & Impact Drivers

Cordless Drills For Pro Use

Corded Drills For a Cheaper Alternative

The Best Drill Bits

Choosing the Right Wallplug

 

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Choosing the best Cordless Drill

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, there are now so many options for tools and powerdrills have improved massively in recent years.

I have spent the last 20 years researching drills, powered screwdrivers, drill bits and wall plugs.

Here is my simple guide to buying a power drill and other tools for the job, then further down the page tips for drilling holes and using wall plugs.

 

I took advice from the technical trainers at Makita Power Tools and Bosch UK.  For wall plugs training I went to the research laboratory of Fischer fixing systems. If you find my page helpful you can support it by using the links for any purchases or making a small donation with the paypal donate button at the bottom of the page.

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy reading my page, Fred

If you are a tradesman or builder and interested in more powerful professional drills see my Builders Tools Page

 

THESE ARE THE LATEST TOOLS FOR DRILLING HOLES

 

A Lithium ion cordless drill - hammer type for drilling masonry.

A Lithium ion powered impact driver.

Bosch Multi-Purpose Drill Bits

 

 
 

DIY Drills

Choosing a drill for DIY work

Reasonable corded electric drills like the Bosch EasyImpact 550 Hammer Drill can be purchased from as little as 40 but for ease of use you cant beat a battery powered cordless drill and thanks to Lithium Ion batteries the cordless drill is now the no1 tool for builders, tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts.

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 (and the bits you use) , that's why many adverts don't like to tell you the amp hour of the battery and instead concentrate on the voltage!

To find the best measure of power for a drill look for Nm, which means Newton metres and is a measure of torque.

Best Value Cordless Drills

Latest model - now with brushless motor!

Brushless Drill, WESCO 18V 2.0Ah Cordless Impact Drill Set

The latest development with powertools is to use brushless motors to give more power and longer battery duration.

As the cost is more these were first seen in premium brands like Makita and Dewalt

This new budget price Wesco is actually made by Positec who own Worx and in fact the batteries fit the Worx 20v range of tools.

The battery has overcharge and discharge protection and the chuck is a generous 13mm.

I am currently testing this drill which comes with a sturdy holdall, battery, charger and a few drill bits.

It also has a 2 year warranty backed by Positec and my initial impression is that it performs as well or better than my 18v Makita combi.

 

The drill kicks out a massive 60 Nm of torque so if you use a drill a lot and keep your receipt for any warranty claims I don't think you can go far wrong with this tool.

 

 Lowest Price Bosch Cordless Comb Drill

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

 Bosch Cordless Hammer Drill UniversalImpact 18v (2x Batteries, in Carrying Case)

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 novice DIYER to semi professional user. At around 90 with 2 batteries it is excellent for drilling all materials but only has a 10mm chuck. The batteries from this drill can also be used in many other Bosch tools including my favorite hedge trimmer and chainsaw shown below.

Bosch UniversalChain 18 Cordless Chainsaw

 

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

 

Higher Spec Combi Drills with Motor Upgrades

 I have used a Makita 18 V Cordless  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 but the upgraded versions with brushless motors and big batteries are over 200 and are the choice of most builders and tradesmen. The great thing about the Makita 18v drill is that the batteries can be used in 135 other power tools that are available naked so you save money and don't end up with a collection of chargers.

 MAKITA DHP485RMJ DHP485Z 18V LXT BRUSHLESS Combi Drill 2 x 4 Ah Batteries

Makita DUH523Z 18V 52cm Cordless LXT Hedge Trimmer - No Battery

 

 Makita BL1850 18v 5 AH Lithium-Ion Battery

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 my Wesco brushless drill that can do the job but won't break the bank to replace.

Brushless Drill, WESCO 18V 2.0Ah Cordless Impact Drill Set

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10.8v and 12v MICRO TOOLS

Bosch green is marketed at DIY users

Bosch blue is aimed at professional users

Bosch GSB 120 - LI Professional 12V with 2 x 1.5 Ah Batteries with Charger and Carry Case

Bosch, Makita and DeWalt and a range of Chinese manufacturers offer similar tools that are ideal for drilling into softer materials and driving in screws.

12v impact drivers are available but not as popular as before due to the new breed of snub nose 18v impact driers being available at moderate prices.

 

Bosch were the pioneers of these small drills with their 12v blue range and these still represent good value and the batteries can be used in a range of other tools. Makita and Dewalt use flat bottom batteries so the tools can stand up. The Dewalt set below is very popular but be aware that it includes a drill driver and not a combi drill.

 

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Drill Drivers and Impact Drivers - what is the difference?

You can use your drill as a powered screwdriver but it is handy to have a separate tool for this especially if you are drilling multiple holes or using multiple fixings.

The cheapest option is a small cordless driver like the Bosch IXO Cordless Screwdriver which is fine for small screws but for serious work an impact driver like the Makita one shown above is better as it has the power to drive large screws in and remove them in a second.

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 domestic power tool to use a 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!

The IXO 5 lost its charging base in favour of a USB cable charger but has 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 accessories also fit the newer models.

In 2021 the IXO 6 was introduced in a range of colours but more importantly variable speed.

The IXO 6 charges by USB cable but a charging base is available as an extra.

Bosch Electric Screwdriver IXO (6th Generation, green, rechargeable with micro USB-cable, variable speed control)

A similar tool is the Works 4v slider cordless screwdriver that uses a round cassette of bits much like a revolver to give you easy access to the correct bit. I also love the screw holder attachment so that you can put screws in with one hand.

 

WORX WX255.1 SD Slide Driver 4V with Screw Holder Attachment

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

Bosch PushDrive Cordless Screwdriver

 

Impact Drivers -This is the latest and best Dewalt brushless model

DEWALT DCF887M1-GB XR Brushless Lithium-Ion Impact Driver, 18 V

An impact driver looks similar to a drill but has a shorter snub nose body. It also has more low level torque so it can drive in long screws right through wood without a pilot hole and even into masonry. It is also able to remove screws and fixtures that would otherwise be stuck.

Impact drivers usually have a quick release chuck for bits with a hex shaped shank.

The 18v impact driver is an essential tool for most builders and my guys use the new Dewalt brushless XR model shown above. It has a huge amount of torque, (205nm) 3 LED lights with 3 settings and a superb magnetic bit holder so you can easily access the bits you need. This tool is essential for construction workers but if you do a lighter trade like kitchen fitting, cheaper 10.8v models with high capacity Li-ion batteries are gaining popularity. See more on my Builders Tools Page

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More Powerful and Professional Quality Cordless Drills

Makita and Dewalt are engaged in a constant battle to produce the best tools ( or more accurately sell the most 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 Li-Ion Combi Drill

MAKITA DHP485RMJ DHP485Z 18V LXT BRUSHLESS Combi Drill 2 x 4 Ah Batteries

Batteries and Other Tools In the Makita 18v range

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

 Makita DUC254Z 18v LXT Cordless Brushless 25cm Chainsaw Top Handle - Bare Unit

 

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

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

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

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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.

 

Draper 20500 810W 230V Hammer Drill

Bosch Universal Impact 700 Hammer Drill

 

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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 distinguished from other drill bits by the blunt wide blade on the tip.

Concrete is harder than brick so only the best, or specialised bits will drill concrete effectivly.

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

There are some variant designs of masonry drill bit and you usually get what you pay for.

So always buy the best drill bits you can afford.

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

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

I have been extensively testing Bosch and DeWalt masonry bits

The DeWalt set is great value and best for general drilling into brick but if you drill brick AND concrete the Bosch special concrete bits are better.

DeWalt Stone Drill Bit Set - 5 Pieces

 

New Product! - All Purpose Drill Bits for All Materials?

 Bosch Multi-Construction Drill Bits, 7 Pieces

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

I usually say that "multi-tools" are never as good as specialised tools but these work superbly and can even drill porcelain tiles if you spray water during drilling. In fact they drill porcelain BETTER than some of the diamond tip bits I have previously used.

If you are short on space and drill multiple products then these drill bits are the answer.

Larger sizes are available to purchase separately.

 

 

Best Drill Bit Sets with other tools included

Titanium Drill and Screwdriver 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. Another annoying feature can be poorly made clasps that cause the box to pop open and everything fall out.

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.

 Bosch X-Line Accessory Set, 50 Pieces

 Bosch 103 Piece Titanium Drill and Screwdriver Set

 

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Choosing The Right Wallplug

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.

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.

Assorted Wall - Plugs 3 sizes (Pack of 120)

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.

The plugs have a flange at the top to keep it flush with the surface of the wall. It also has 4 splits for better grip.

Each plug has drill bit and screw size marked on the side and can be used in voided material such as aerated concrete.

The latest innovation are the red and grey Duopower plugs that work in solid or hollow walls.

Both components are Nylon so these plugs can take heavy weights and stresses.

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

Fischer Boxes of mixed size wallplugs

Fischer 100-Piece 6 x 30 mm 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.

FISCHER SELF DRILLING PLASTERBOARD WALL PLUGS X 10

 

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

You know the story, you have drilled a hole, go to push in the wall plug and damm!, 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 (20 Discs) - Fixing Wall Plugs Fast!

 

 
 

 

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 !

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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 Thanks - Fred

 

 

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