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Top 5 Stud & Joist Drills Reviewed (A 2018 Update)

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stud and joist drill

What is the best stud and joist drill you can buy in 2018? That’s exactly what we will look into right now.

We’ve selected 5 top rated drills currently available and taken an in depth look to bring you the lowdown on the quality of each. For our findings at a glance just turn to the table below. For a comprehensive review of each stud and joist drill, plus a dedicated buyer’s guide, keep on reading.


Best Stud and Joist Drill – Top 5

DRILLNAMEDETAILSOUR RATING
TOP PICK
CORDED:
DEWALT DWD460
Stud and Joist
Drill with
Bind-Up Control
CORDED
11 Amp 1/2-Inch
Right Angle Drill
Milwaukee 1676-6
Hole Hawg Joist
and Stud Drill
CORDED
7.5 Amp 1/2-Inch
(includes case)
DEWALT DW124K
Joist and Stud
Drill
CORDED
11.5 Amp 1/2-Inch
Makita DA6300
Joist and Stud
Drill
CORDED
7.5 Amp 1/2-Inch
TOP PICK
CORDLESS:
DEWALT DCD460B
Stud/Joist Drill, 1/2"
CORDLESS
60V MAX Bare
Tool FLEXVOLT


What is a stud and joist drill?

Image Credit: DeWalt.com

Joist-and-Stud drills are heavy-duty right-angle power drills designed to bore large holes in confined spaces, especially the tight spaces around joists, studs, and the surrounding wall framings.

The drill construction

Joint-and-stud drills share a common design feature. The chuck of these drills is placed perpendicular to the body of the drill, while a rechargeable battery housing is located at the butt of the body (for cordless drills), or the butt features a cord that extends from the drill to the AC plug that fits into the socket of the power outlet (for corded drills).

These drills are powered by an electric motor which runs the chuck. The drill bit is fed into the chuck, and the main types of bits used are the self-feed bits, auger bits, and hole-saws.

What to consider when buying a stud and joist drill

Image Credit: RockTools.biz

When planning to purchase a joist-and-stud drill, the potential owner needs to consider 4 main factors; power, mobility, weight, and whether a drill is corded or cordless.

Let’s take a look at the corded or cordless question first.

Corded vs Cordless stud and joist drills – which to go for?

Image Credit: RockTools.biz

The most important feature, and also the most prominent characteristic that one needs to consider is whether the drill has a cord or if it is cordless.

This is important because a cordless drill indicates that it is powered by an in-built rechargeable battery, which means that it is heavier than a corded drill, but will be more portable than its corded counterpart.

Likewise, a corded drill can generate more power depending on its AC power source than a cordless drill whose power rating tends to be fixed and limited by its battery potential.

Even so, there are high-power cordless drill models that can handle heavy work, but these models need to have relatively large heavy-duty batteries which means that they are larger with a bulkier design when compared to a corded drill of an equivalent power rating.

Regardless of the extra bulk, cordless drills have two major advantages over corded drills. First of all, they can be used in areas without power supply while a corded is obviously less versatile in this regard.

Secondly, the risk of electric shock due to faulty wiring or poorly connected cables are eliminated in cordless drills as their batteries are housed in a fully insulated casing.

For ordinary work, cordless joist-and-stud drills are preferred over corded drills because they are highly mobile and can be used to bore holes in tight spaces away from a power outlet.

That being said, cordless drills need to be recharged as their batteries are drained of power during use. This also means that one can only use these drills for a specified duration before power drains out.

A question of power

On the subject of power, high-quality joist-and-stud drills have high amp-hour ratings. The amp-hour rating describes the maximum extent of current that can flow out of the battery in one hour, before the battery runs empty.

For instance, in a 7.5 amp-hour drill, a current of 7.5 amperes can power the drill for only 1 hour before the battery is completely drained of power.

However, in normal work settings, the amount of currents and voltage needed to power the drill are relatively small, hence if 1.0 amp is being used in a 7.5 amp-hour drill, the drill can continuously bore holes for 7.5 hours.

Even so, for heavy duty drilling, corded drills are preferred over their cordless counterparts.


Stud & Joist Drills – Top 5 Reviews

Image Credit: DeWalt.com

There are different types, qualities, models, and brands of joist-and-stud drills, but despite this diversity, they can still be rated and compared to each other on terms of cost-performance, energy-efficiency, and safety profiles.

We shall now dive in and take an in depth look at 5 top rated drills to bring you the low down on what you should buy.

1. TOP PICK CORDED: Dewalt DWD460 Stud and Joist Drill Review

This robust stud and joist drill kit from DeWalt has a clutch and bind-up control. It is categorized as a variable speed reversible (VSR) drill because it allows the drill bit to be driven at different speed ranges. It features a durable construction and offers application-specific performance.

The DeWalt DWD460 is a right-angle corded drill whose chuck can fit self-feed bits, auger bits, and hole-saws.

It can therefore be used by HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) installers, electricians, plumbers, and woodworkers.

This drill weighs about 11.8 pounds, and measures 19.2 inches in length and 10.8 inches in width, while its thickness is only 5.7 inches.

This drill is therefore not only portable, but its dimensions show that it has a compact design that makes it non-bulky and therefore easy to carry around.

This stud-joist drill is operated by a DeWalt-built motor that is powered by 120 volts relayed by an electric cord that is plugged into an AC power socket via a top plug.

The motor needs 11 amperes (of current) to run. Moreover, it has a power rating of 1015 watts, which also indicates that it can generate very high torques.

Its ability to deliver powerful rotations to the chuck and drill bits via a gear system makes this drill ideal for high-torque applications.

The use of gears to transmit motion from the motor to the drill bit allows for regulation of drilling speeds. In fact, there are 2 variable-speed ranges; the 0-330 revolutions-per-minute (rpm) range, and the 0-1300 rpm range. This allows the user to easily select which speed range is most suitable for a given application.

This drill also has a mechanical clutch which offers optimal gear protection, especially at low speeds when the gears are likely to wear out quickly because they remain in contact for longer as compared to high-speed motor rotations.

Moreover, the gears are housed in a metallic housing, which prevents debris from getting into the gear system.

When drilling through thick wood that is attached to a concrete wall, the drill bit can stall as it moves deeper into the wood, or may even become stuck as the tip drills into the concrete wall.

This stalling can be harmful to the user because the stalling of a rapidly-rotating drill bit creates a reactionary torque that generates a kick-back motion that is transmitted though the drill and into the hands of the operator.

This motion causes the hands to circumduct (that is rotate at the shoulder joints), and if the user is standing on a ladder, well you get the picture as to what the end result might be.

Luckily, the DeWalt DWD460 was built with worker-safety in mind. To prevent kickbacks, this drill features a bind-up control.

The bind-up control is a stall-sensing technology that detects any form of stall, and then quickly lowers the motor torque before readjusting it to manageable levels.

There is an indicator light that glows when the bind-up control is engaged so that the user is notified of a stalling bit, and thereby prepared to disengage the drill.

The main handle is adjustable and is conveniently-positioned at the front of the drill body. There is also a 2-position side handle that serves to increase the control and leverage that the user has over the drill during use. This minimizes fatigue as much as possible during use.

The 1/2-inch chuck supports drill bits of different capacities so long as they do not exceed their specific maximum boring capacities.

This maximum capacity rating is 1-1/2 inches for auger (or spade) bits, 4-5/8 inches for self-feed bits, and 6-inches for hole-saws. This means that the largest hole made by this drill measures 6 inches in diameter.

The drill also supports a 1/2-inch twist drill which can bore holes in steel. Likewise, a 5-inch hole-saw for boring holes in steel can still fit into this drill.

To protect the chuck from rapid wear and tear, it features a ball-bearing construction which allows it to rotate rapidly with marginal friction and minimal wear-and-tear. The drill comes with a chuck key.

The DeWalt DWD460 is shipped along with its easy-to-follow instruction manual. It also benefits from a 36-months limited warranty.

Pros of the DeWalt DWD460 Stud & Joist Drill
  • Easy to use.
  • Durable construction.
  • Portable, non-bulky design
  • Generous 36-months limited warranty.
  • Can drill holes of up-to 6-inches diameter.
  • Bind-up control lowers reactionary torque to help prevent any kick-back
  • Can handle large framing applications.
The Cons
  • Cannot operate away from a power outlet
  • Needs expansion cable when working in tightly-enclosed spaces away from mains power

Bottom-line

The DeWalt DWD460 is a high-quality, high-performance, and well-designed corded right-angle stud-joist VSR drill kit.

The added addition of features such as the clutch and bind-up control, really does set this drill above the competition.

The superb cost-performance ratio, high energy-efficiency, and commendable safety profile of the DWD460 makes it in our opinion the best stud-and-joist drill in our top 5 review round up.


2. Milwaukee 1676-6 Hole-Hawg Stud & Joist Drill Review

This is a VSR stud-joist drill kit with a durable construction that features a hole hawg. It is manufactured by Milwaukee Tool.

Just like our top pick DeWalt, the Milwaukee 1676-6 is a right-angle corded drill. It weighs about 11.5 pounds, and measures 20 inches in length and 18 inches in width, while its thickness is only 6.2 inches.

This makes this drill bulkier than the DeWalt DWD460. However, it is still portable and compact enough for a wide range of mobile drilling applications.

The entire drill is housed inside a tough a nylon-resin casing. This casing is much lighter than the metallic casing of the DWD460, however its heat dissipation rate is almost equivalent.

This nylon-resin casing is also resistant to chemical erosion which allows this drill to be used in adverse conditions.

The Hole-Hawg drill is operated by a powerful motor that is powered by 120 volts relayed by an electric cord that is plugged into an AC power socket via a top plug.

However, unlike the motor in the DWD460, the Milwaukee 1676-6 motor needs 7.5 amperes (of current) to run. The motor can generate very high torques, and its ability to deliver powerful rotations to the drill bits via a gear train is a real selling point.

A built in gear system allows the user to regulate drilling speeds. In fact, there are 2 variable-speed ranges with the 1676-6: the 0-300 rpm range, and the 0-1200 rpm range. This allows the user to choose which speed range is most suitable for a given work.

Unlike the DeWalt DWD460 which uses a mechanical clutch and bind-up control to regulate drill speed and minimize kickbacks, Milwaukee have opted to use a triple gear train to minimize kickback.

However, this process is much less effective as compared to that of DeWalt. The user must therefore be on the lookout for kickbacks and do all they can to prevent the drill bit becoming obstructed.

The main handle of Milwaukee 1676-6 is adjustable and conveniently-positioned at the front of the drill body.

There is also a 2-position side handle that serves to increase the control and leverage that the user has over the drill during use. These two handles are designed to minimize fatigue as much as possible during work.

Unlike the DeWalt DWD460 which uses a chuck-drill bit assembly, the Milwaukee 1676-6 uses a Hole-Hawg to clamp the drills that bore holes in woods, steel, and other materials.

The Hole-Hawg can support a much higher load capacity than ordinary chucks, and this makes the Milwaukee ideal for heavy-duty stud drilling and joist boring.

Even so, the use of Hole-Hawg means that self-feed bits are the only suitable drill bits for this machine.

The maximum capacity of self-feed bit supported is 4-5/8 inches. Nevertheless, a twist bit can be used to bore holes in steel, while an 1-1/2 inches auger bit can be used with this drill to create holes in wooden joists and studs.

The Hole-Hawg is protected from rapid wear and tear, by its ball-bearing construction which allows it to rotate rapidly with marginal friction and minimal strain.

Finally, this drill kit comes with a very generous 5 years warranty.

Pros of the Milwaukee 1676-6 Hole-Hawg Stud & Joist Drill
  • Easy to use, (although slightly bulkier than the top pick DeWalt)
  • Durable construction
  • Excellent 60-months warranty.
  • Can drill holes of up-to 4-5/8 inches diameter.
  • Can handle large framing applications.
The Cons
  • The only real problem is the corded operation means an electrical power outlet is a must.

Bottom-line

The Milwaukee 1676-6 Hole-Hawg is a very reputable choice VSR right-angle, stud-joist drill kit.

Good design along with the durable construction makes it ideal for boring large holes of specified width in both wood and metal. Likewise, its heavy-duty hole-hawg can handle large framing applications. Highly recommended.


3. DeWalt DW124K Stud and Joist Drill Review

Here we have another corded heavy-duty stud-joist drill kit (this time featuring ball-bearing construction for its rotating components), manufactured by DeWalt.

It also has a mechanical clutch to reduce gear stress, while its triple gear reduction minimizes reactionary torque. Likewise, it can offer application-specific performance.

The DeWalt DW124K is a right-angle corded drill whose chuck can fit self-feed bits, auger bits, and hole-saws.

It weighs about 28.6 pounds which makes it quite heavier than either the DeWalt DWD460 or the Milwaukee 1676-6 Hole-Hawg reviewed above.

This also makes it less portable than either of these two aforementioned corded drills. It is also larger measuring in at 27 inches in length and 12.9 inches wide.

The drill is operated by a 2-speed DeWalt-built motor that is powered by 120 volts. This motor needs 11.5 amperes to run, which is slightly higher than the current rating on the DeWalt DWD460.

The use of a 2-speed motor allows this drill to synchronize the motor speed with the drill bit spinning speed, hence minimizing wear-and-tear in its gear train.

Likewise, this drill can deliver powerful rotations to the chuck and drill bits, and this makes it ideal for high-torque applications.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGkW1pM9Hvs

The built in mechanical slip clutch not only offers optimized gear protection, but also helps minimize the kickback generated when the drill bit stalls.

Furthermore, this mechanical slip clutch works together with its triple gear reduction mechanism to drastically reduce the reactionary torque, hence minimizing potential kickbacks.

The main handle of the DeWalt DW124K is adjustable and well-positioned at the front of the drill body.

There is also a 2-position side handle and another bail handle which serve to increase the control and leverage that the user has over the drill during use. This also minimizes fatigue.

The DW124K has an 1/2-inch chuck that supports drill bits of different capacities including the 1-1/2 inches auger and spade bits, 4-5/8 inches self-feed bits, and 6-inches hole-saws.

Finally the drill benefits from DeWalt’s 36-months limited warranty.

Pros of the DeWalt DW124K Stud and Joist Drill
  • Long lasting DeWalt quality construction.
  • 36-months warranty.
  • Kick-back protection
The Cons
  • Corded so requires a power outlet.
  • The design makes this one less portable than other drills in our top 5.

Bottom-line

The DeWalt DW124K is a high-quality, high-performance, and well-designed corded VSR drill kit that features a mechanical slip clutch as well as a durable ball-bearing construction.

It is bulkier than some of our other picks so this should be considered when it comes to the type of work you plan on carrying out.


4. Makita DA6300 Stud and Joist Drill Review

This is a VSR stud-joist drill kit whose solid construction features a hole hawg. It is manufactured by Makita.

The closest drill that the Makita DA6300 resembles in terms of functionality is the Milwaukee 1676-6; both models feature a Hole-Hawg.

This drill weighs only 9.5 pounds, which makes it lighter than the Milwaukee and the DeWalt drill models reviewed above. This also means that it is lightweight and portable.

With regards to its size, it measures 18.8 inches in length and 8.9 inches in width, while its thickness is 7.7 inches.

This stud-joist drill is operated by a powerful motor that is powered by 120 volts of AC current, (this is yet another corded model).

All the rotating parts of Makita DA6300 are supported by well-positioned ball-and-needle bearings. This allows for smooth operations of these parts without risk of overheating or unnecessary wear and tear.

The gears allow for regulation of drilling speeds. In fact, there are 2 variable-speed ranges in Makita DA6300; the 0-300 rpm range, and the 0-1200 rpm range.

This allows the user to choose which speed range is most suitable for a given work. Likewise, it uses a triple reduction gearing mechanism to maximize power output.

This allows the motor speed to be amplified thus causing the drill bits to spin sometimes at speeds far greater than the motor speed.

However, this process can cause asynchronism in the gear system which can lead to unwanted wear due to the last gears in the gear train being subjected to a greater load than the gears near the motor.

For this reason, the gear system is supported by a series of bearings which improve lubrication and avoid over-heating.

This drill uses a Rocker-type reversing switch for a one-off reversal of drill bit rotation direction. This allows for easy disengagement of the drill in case the drill bit becomes stuck in the workpiece.

The main handle of the Makita DA6300 is adjustable and conveniently-positioned at the front of the drill body.

The Makita DA6300 uses a Hole-Hawg to clamp the drill bits that bore holes in woods, steel, and other materials.

The Hole-Hawg can support a very high load capacities, and this makes the DA6300 ideal for heavy-duty stud drilling and joist boring.

Even so, the use of Hole-Hawg means that self-feed bits are the only suitable drill bits for this machine.

Pros of the Makita DA6300 Stud & Joist Drill
  • Easy to use.
  • Useful Hole Hawg capabilities
  • Reversing switch to combat kick-back
  • Improved bearing system for long lasting application
The Cons
  • This is a corded model therefore is less versatile than a battery powered drill.
  • More expensive than a number of the entries in our top 5 list.

Bottom-line

The Makita DA6300 is a VSR stud-joist power drill that features a hole hawg. This high-performance and high-quality drill kit also features a durable construction which makes it ideal for boring large holes in wood and metals.


5. TOP PICK CORDLESS: DeWalt DCD460B Stud & Joist Drill Review

The DCD460B is a cordless, battery powered drill that uses a 60-volt brush-less motor to drive its drill bits.

It features an E-clutch for countering reactionary torque, while its adjustable bail handle allows for the drill to be steadied during use. It is another top quality stud and joist drill manufactured by DeWalt.

It weighs 15 pounds which makes it heavier than DeWalt DWD460, but much lighter than the two Hole-Hawg drills reviewed above.

This stud-joist drill is operated by a 2-speed DeWalt-built motor that is powered by direct-current voltage provided by a 9 amp-hour battery.

The use of a 2-speed motor allows this drill to synchronize the motor speed with the drill bit spinning speed, hence minimizing wear-and-tear in its gear train.

Likewise, this drill can deliver powerful rotations to the chuck and drill bits, and this makes it useful in high-torque applications.

This drill model features an E-clutch system alongside the mechanical clutch. Both work together to optimize gear protection, as well as minimize the intensity of kickbacks generated by stalling of the drill bit.

This mechanical slip clutch works together with its triple gear reduction mechanism to drastically reduce the reactionary torque, hence minimizing potential kickbacks.

This drill can be used anywhere and at any time. For night use, it features LED light which enhances the visibility of the work-piece. This makes it the most flexible drill in this review.

This drill uses Flexvolt technology to support power consumption, as well as promote energy efficiency. Flexvolt allows the battery to switch voltages automatically when the user changes the drill bits and other replaceable tools.

This way, the battery allows this drill to use either 60-volts tools or 120-volts tools. The battery is also compatible with 20-volts tools.

The main handle of the DeWalt DCD460B is adjustable, and well-positioned at the front of the drill body.

There is also a 2-position side handle and another bail handle which serve to increase the control and leverage that the user has over the drill during use. This also minimizes fatigue.

The DeWalt DCD460B has an 1/2-inch chuck that supports drill bits of different capacities including the 1-1/2 inches auger and spade bits, 4-5/8 inches self-feed bits, and 6-inches hole-saws.

Pros of the DeWalt DCD460B Stud & Joist Drill
  • Battery powered for ultimate portability
  • Durable construction and design from DeWalt
  • Still packs enough punch for heavy duty drilling applications
The Cons
  • Expensive
  • Requires regular inspection.

Bottom-line

The DeWalt DCD460B is a high-quality, high-performance, and well-designed cordless VSR drill kit that features both an E-clutch and a mechanical slip clutch. In our opinion it is the best battery powered stud and joist drill on the market today.


Image Credits: RockTools.biz, DeWalt.com