What are the 5 types of drill?

What are the 5 types of drill?

Are you looking to grow your drill collection or find out more about the best drill for the job?

Our guide to the five types of drill will help you to understand which drill is best for you.

5 types of drills

To be clear, a drill is a power tool specifically designed and used for making holes in various materials such as wood, metal and masonry.  Some models of drills have extra features such as the ability to fasten and loosen screws, or have a hammer and percussion mode which allows you to drill holes into harder masonry materials with the appropriate drill bit attached.

While there are various drills available on the market for a selection of jobs, the most common types of drills can be simplified into these five types of drills: Screwdrivers, Drill Drivers, Combi Drills, Rotary Hammer Drills and Impact Drivers.

Here our experts answer your common drill Q&As, and explore what types of drills and screwdrivers are best to buy for the job at hand.

What is the best drill to buy?

Deciding what is the best drill to buy, will depend entirely on what you need to drill (or screw-drive) and how often you will use it. 

For example, the Ryobi R18PD31-215S 18V ONE+ cordless compact combi drill starter kit is ideal for beginners and experienced DIYers alike, who need to use a drill every few weeks or months.  This features models to drill and turn screws into multiple materials such as wood, metal, plastic and masonry. 

But for heavier DIY users, the Ryobi RPD18X-0 18V ONE+ HP cordless performance brushless combi drill is the best and most powerful drill Ryobi currently produces. 

Can you use an impact driver as a regular drill?

While you can use an impact driver as a regular drill, for example by using an impact rated drill bit with 1/4" hex shank - an impact drivers won’t be as efficient at drilling holes as a regular drill and isn’t advised for this purpose. 

Impact drivers can drill holes in wood and metal up to 10mm in diameter, but any larger and it will struggle to be accurate. Also, note that impact drivers also can't be used to drill masonry materials.

  • A drill vs impact driver

A drill can… be used to drill holes and fasten screws into several materials such as wood, plastic, metal and sometimes masonry.  Drills typically feature an adjustable chuck that can be tightened around various types and sizes of the accessory such as drill bits and screwdriver bits. 

Impact drivers… are very powerful screwdrivers with a fixed 1/4" chuck.  Their mechanism can produce up to 4X the power of a conventional drill and therefore requires specially hardened accessories such as impact-rated screwdriver bits.  Impact drivers are typically more compact than drills and are used for large and repetitive screw-driving tasks such as roofing, fencing and decking.

What is a Combi drill good for?

A combi drill is typically a compact handheld cordless drill that allows you to drill and drive screws into various materials such as wood, metal, plastic and masonry. 

It is the best all-rounder type of drill for typical DIY tasks around the home and features an adjustable chuck to accommodate different sizes of drill bits as well as standard 1/4" hex screwdriver bits.

Can a hammer drill be used as a regular drill?

Hammer drills are typically used only for drilling holes into masonry.  Some models feature a percussion action and adjustable chuck allowing for most masonry drill bits up to 13mm in diameter. 

The vast majority of hammer drills feature an SDS+ or SDS Max chuck which uses specific masonry drill bits which lock into the chuck.  Hammer drills are more commonly known as Rotary Hammer Drills or SDS Drills.

What is a hammer drill best used for?

A hammer drill is best used to drill holes in masonry materials such as brick, stone and concrete.  A suitable masonry drill bit will need to be used but typical DIY tasks around the home will involve drilling 6, 8 or 10mm holes to accept Rawl Plugs before fastening an item to the wall with a screw such as a shelf bracket or TV bracket. 

Some hammer drills also feature a rotation lock which allows the user to attach a chisel bit that can be used to remove the old floor and wall tiles from a kitchen or bathroom.

What is a hammer drill vs a regular drill?

A typical drill driver can drill and screw-drive into multiple materials such as wood, plastic, metal and plasterboard.  A hammer drill (or rotary hammer) is used primarily to drill holes into masonry materials such as brick, concrete and stone.  Both drill types use different accessories and hammer drills typically can't be used for screw-driving functions.

Browse Ryobi’s range of power tool drills and screwdrivers.