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
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
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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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