When it comes to shopping for power drills, it's easy to get lost in the great bleak sea of sameness that's available today. Pistol shaped power-houses dominate the market. Whether you look at DeWalt, Makita, Milwaukee, Porter Cable or others, they could all be the same drills with different paint jobs.
Don't get me wrong, I Love these hole-shooting gadgets, and own about five of them myself. And I have to admit, the first drill I reach for is my tried-and-true Makita cordless. There is something to be said for a cordless when you need to drill something quickly. This article isn't about quick and dirty hole grinding, but rather about the elegance and utility of good functional tool design.
Last year I was haunting the tool section of the local lumber yard, kind of like a candy store for guys, and I caught something a little different out of the corner of my eye. There among all the "normal" drills was this sleek little thing that didn't hardly look like it belonged there. As I picked it up, it seemed to fit into my hand and balance itself like no drill ever had before. It gleamed a saucy red, and I knew this was no normal drill. It was a Milwaukee 3/8" Close Quarter Drill, Model 0375-6.
Unlike other drills, where the bulk of the weight (the motor) is set above the users hand, the Close Quarter Drill (CQD) has the motor below the users hand. The difference this makes in the balance of the drill is astonishing. My hand and arm can get tired trying to keep my regular drill balanced while I use it. No such problem with the CQD. I've described the motor as being below the hand, but in actuality, you grip the upper part of the motor housing, so the center of gravity is only slightly below the hand. This is much less tiring, and consequently more comfortable.
The position and angle of the chuck on the CQD is such that it is almost an extension of the users index finger. This makes drilling holes with this tool is almost as easy as pointing your finger. The chuck is angled at 55 degrees, which is about perfect for it's specialty - close quarter drilling.
My first project after getting the Model 0375-6 was to build a new cabinet for our bathroom. It required drilling numerous holes and sinking a multitude of screws inside the cabinet carcase. In spaces that my normal drill wouldn't think of fitting, the CQD worked flawlessly. Using this tool has made drilling holes fun again.
The Close Quarter Drill has a 3.5 amp motor that puts out up to 1300 RPM's. This may seem underpowered when other drills have anywhere from 4 amp to 7 amp motors, and top speeds from 1200 to 4000 RPM's. But I've never found that the CQD lacked power to do anything I wanted it to. It is variable speed, and reversing; and the position of the reversing switch is about the only inconvenient thing on the machine, being located down on the tail end of the drill, next to the cord. It requires the use of a second hand to work the reversing switch, and although inconvenient, isn't a major problem.
I don't know who designed the first pistol-shaped power drill, or why everyone decided to copy that design, but I know I'm glad Milwaukee took a different path with this drill. It has quickly become the favorite drill for both my Wife and I. It also comes in a keyless chuck model (0380-1) in the 3/8", as well as a «" keyed chuck model (0379-1). The only other manufacturer I've seen offer a drill like this is Sioux. They offer what appears to be the exact same three drills as Milwaukee does, only in a sleek black color. They also offer a fourth model that is another 3/8" with a keyed chuck, but they have upped the RPM's to a max of 2500 to meet high speed drilling requirements. The Sioux drills seem to be about the same price, or maybe a few dollars cheaper than the Milwaukee models. The Milwaukee Close Quarter Drill, Model 0375-6 is available for about $150.
If you want to see how power drills should have been designed, go check out the Close Quarter Drill. But don't go without some money in your pocket, because you're going to want one of these drills!