Clutch drills

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What is a clutch drill? What's the difference between a clutch drill and a regular/non-clutch drill? Which one would be better for a beginner?
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A clutch drill will disengage when it meets a certain amount of resistance - nominally it keeps the drill from ruining whatever it's screwing in, or keeps it from breaking drill bits, or I guess keeps it from driving screws in too far or marring the surface. I haven't seen one that could be controlled enough to prevent a screw from sinking beneath a wood surface but I don't really care about a clutch anyway. I'm sure one of the old hands here will have a better description though.
As for which is better for a beginner - you can always turn the clutch up so high that your wrist would snap before the clutch disengaged or you can not worry about it until you run into a situation where you'll need to use a clutch.
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Drills have a drill setting that bypasses the clutch. I think the overriding concern is that you don't want the drill bit to bind. If you used a clutch setting for drilling, I think you would be asking for trouble.
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wrote:

Some do anyway.

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Eigenvector wrote:

Unaware of any drills that don't -- drivers, otoh...
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That may depend on semantics more than anything. My Craftsman cordless drill doesn't have a means to bypass the clutch - except by cranking it up past what your wrist would take. When it comes to cordless drills the line seems to blur between driver and drill anyway.
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Eigenvector wrote:

That's a type I've not seen, then. But then again, it's Craftsman and I gave up on any of their branded power tools long, long ago... :(
Any I've looked at seriously have a separate indentation for drill, typically marked w/ an icon of a drill bit...
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Dewalt 959K currently underpriced at Lowes for ~$99
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I have never seen a clutch on a corded drill. Every cordless drill has them from what I have seen. A clutch is a nice feature but not necessary for a beginner. A beginner should first buy a corded drill and many will agree.
Most situations have electric available and corded drills have more power, last longer, and are cheaper than the cordless ones. When you stop liking your corded drill then you can look a cordless ones. One tip: be sure to buy a drill with a 1/2" chuck. With the 3/8" you are limited as to what size of bit you can use. Really, I think the 3/8" could be dropped and no one would notice or complain. It's only the maximum chuck-opening and has nothing else to do with the performance of the drill.
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Lawrence wrote:

You never heard of reduced shank drills?
http://power-tools.hardwarestore.com/54-383-drill-bits-reduced-shank.aspx
Really, I think the 3/8"

In theory, that is. Generally, the larger the maximum chuck opening, the more powerfull the drill.
And, for a "beginner" I believe a drill with a 1/2" chuck would likely be a needless overkill.
Jeff
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Jeff Wisnia wrote:

I disagree.
Get the very best drill you can afford and it will last a lifetime. A 3/8" chuck is insufficient for future needs..
My favorite brand is Milwaukee, followed by Boshe, and De Walt.
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Agree that no tool is "too good" even for a beginner. I went to the store to buy a Bosh, but came home with a Panasonic. Nice feel, plenty of power with the 15.6 volt, yet it is smaller than may 14.4 models.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

But Harry seems to confuse size w/ quality... :)
By his logic we should all have 3/4" magnetic mount monsters because "future use" might require it... :(
There are reasons to still have 1/4" as well as 3/8" and 1/2" in the tool drawer...
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Newsgroup writes:

The best first drill for someone's needs is more likely to be a good- quality 3/8 inch unit than one with a 1/2 inch chuck. The extra chuck capacity might be useful very occasionally, but the half-inch drill will *always* be heavier to hold and take up more space. It will also generally be geared lower to give more torque and lower RPM than a 3/8 inch drill, which is good for large bits but worse for small bits.
My father had both a good 1/2 inch drill and a cheap B&D 3/8 inch unit. We used the latter 95% of the time. Now I have corded and cordless 3/8 inch drills, and I've almost never wanted a 1/2 inch handheld drill.
In almost all cases, when drilling a hole larger than 3/8 inch, I want to use the drill press anyway. And that has a 1/2 inch chuck.
    Dave
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In the case of corded drill, yes, especially the industrial strength 1/2" drill that take two hands to hold. In the case of many battery drills, no. My Panasonic 15.6 with 1/2" chuck is lighter and easier to use than a couple of Porter Cable and Ryobi tools with the 3/8" chuck.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

But what about torque and rpm range(s)?
(Devil's advocate :) )
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That is exactly why generalizations are generally wrong. The typical 1/2" corded drill of old was a monster that had maybe 500 rpm and lots of torque, thus the auxiliary handles. Today, many cordless tools have a chuck of 1/2" capacity, but nowhere near the torque and they operate a higher rpms, often two ranges on a variable speed. Not at all comparable to the industrial sized drills.
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So, does it have enough torque to actually drill a 1/2" hole in metal? If not, what's the point of having a 1/2" chuck?
    Dave
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Not as well as the industrial tools, but yes, it can drill a hole in metal, but there are other bits with half inch shanks for other purposes too and materials too. Saves the trouble of turning down the shanks to fit the smaller chuck.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote: ...

...
:)
But the more realistic comparison is between like beasties -- tailless to tailless; tailed to tailed makes much more sense. And, rarely are 1/2" cordless comparable to the 3/8" cordless, either...at least, if one makes the comparisons at equivalent quality/price points.
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