Let’s face it – no jewelry toolkit is complete without a proper compact drill. The best compact drills are precision hand tools that make all sorts of jewelry tasks much easier. However, with so many different kinds of drills out there, we completely understand how difficult it can be to make the right choice.
That’s why we’re here to help! Our team has chosen and reviewed the best compact drills on the market to help you out.
Make sure you read out article until the very end, as we not only provide unbiased compact drill reviews, but we advise you on what features to consider when buying one. We also answer some frequently asked questions.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
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The Best Compact Drills: Our 2020 Reviews
The Makita XFD131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion brushless drill is without any doubt our go-to recommendation for those on a budget. It combines smooth, reliable performance and respectable durability at a very affordable price. Makita has a track record for being a solid budget brand, and this drill is no exception. If you ask us, it’s one of the best buys on the market right now. Although it may not be comparable to our more expensive picks, it’s far more reliable than other cheap options currently produced.
Compared to other compact drills out there, the Makita is very affordable. It’s absolutely the best value-for-money compact drill we’ve. It’s usually around $130 (or maybe even less), so it’s a really reasonable investment considering the quality you get. You can easily spend more and still end up with a less reliable, user-friendly tool.
“absolutely the best value-for-money compact drill we can find”
The Makita XFD13 18V LXT Lithium-Ion has a very compact design (quite ideal for working on small jewelry pieces) packed with useful features. It’s definitely a perfect fit for those on the lookout for a robust drill with a great power-to-weight ratio. What’s more, it weighs only 3.8 lbs and it has a soft, rubber-coated handle that makes operating this drill quite easy.
It also has built-in dual LED lights, a feature that allows you to work accurately in any lighting conditions, helping jewelry makers to see even the tiniest parts without any problem.
We also love its battery specifications. You get up to 50% more run time with the LXT Lithium-Ion battery, which means you can do more work while using the drill’s charger less – the battery is fully charged in 30 minutes!
This compact drill also packs considerable speed and power. The Makita XFD13 18V LXT Lithium-Ion comes with a mechanical 2-speed transmission and a brushless motor capable of delivering 440 in lbs. of max torque. These specifications make it more than adequate for a vast range of applications around the shop.
It has a three-year warranty. This includes everything: the tool itself, the charger, and the battery.
You may find that it’s less smooth than higher-end options, and some have complained that it bounces too much, thus being a bit trickier to control.
Also, you might be bothered by the fact that the forward/reverse switch can be easily bumped while you’re working, which in turn makes it jump out of gear sometimes. Our other recommendations are better-designed.
The Festool 564274 CXS Compact Drill Driver Set is one of the most practical drills you can buy for your work. It’s very well made, it runs smoothly, and it’s quite easy to use. If you’re looking for a super lightweight drill with a compact design, look no further.
What’s truly impressive is that despite its lightweight design, the capacity of the drill doesn’t suffer for it – it’s quite capable of doing delicate jewelry work, but it still has some serious brawn. Plus, the advanced electronics protect the overall tool and its batteries from overheating and from undervoltage.
The Festool’s exceptional ergonomics mean that you can freely use it on intricate pieces without losing control. Another big plus is that you can use it longer than other drills without getting fatigued due to the fact that it’s so lightweight.
The many extra features of the Festool 564274 CXS Compact Drill Driver Set make it really easy to use and give you lots of options, depending on the type of jewelry piece you’re working on at a given moment. The chuck is quite user-friendly, and the additional accessories come in handy quite frequently.
“allows you to access even the most awkward angles”
The FastFix system allows for an easy switch between the Centrotec chuck, keyless drill chuck, and the right angle chuck. The drill also allows you to work with even the most awkward angles thanks to its right angle attachment. All in all, it’s very user-friendly!
The Festool 564274 CXS Compact Drill Driver Set comes with a three-year warranty (including drill, batteries and charger). However, do keep in mind that any damage that may result from using any non-Festool appliances and accessories are excluded from the warranty plan.
The Festool 564274 CXS Compact Drill Driver Set may be a bit pricey for some (it’s usually around $300) so think about whether the features and design you’re getting with this drill justify the price.
If you’re a professional jewelry maker who really needs the most compact of compact drills to make your life easier for years to come, then this is definitely the right drill to invest in. However, if you’d like a more affordable option you can always go with the Makita XFD131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion.
The Festool 574700 is hands-down the most feature-packed brushless drill out of our three recommendations and one of the leading drills on the market – and with good reason. It’s one of the best drilling tools available. And because it’s that good, we think every jewelry artist serious about the work they do won’t go wrong with this tool.
The Festool 574700 is equipped with a superb four-speed gearbox. This enables loads of torque for drilling materials with a larger diameter bit, and it also offers some serious precision.
It’s got everything the CXS model has and more! Like the other Festool, this drill has its own set of fast fix interchangeable chucks and it boasts a great drilling capacity. Everything’s extremely well-designed and user-friendly, just as you’d expect from a premium tool.
“the drill has its own set of fast fix interchangeable chucks and it boasts a great drilling capacity”
It also has a powerful battery. Namely, the 3.1 Ah 18 V battery is a major jump from the standard airstream 5.2 Ah battery. The high-quality battery technology is especially important if you’re planning on using the drill quite a lot.
It has a three-year warranty. However, keep in mind that proof of purchase will be required.
What might put you off from buying this drill could be its price – it costs around $350. However, it’s still not the priciest drill on the market, and investing in a proper drill could prove to be worthwhile.
So, which of these compact drills should you opt for? What’s the best compact drill?
Well, if you’re looking for an affordable drilling tool that still packs a lot of power, we’d definitely recommend buying The Makita XFD131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion. It’s perfect if you’re just getting started in the jewelry business. It’s also very practical, and its lightweight design is also a big plus.
However, if you want a more sophisticated drill and you have no problem spending more money, you can consider purchasing The Festool 564274 CXS Compact Drill Driver Set. Unlike the Makita XFD131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion, which is less precise and refined, the ultra-compact and sophisticated design of The Festool 564274 CXS Compact Drill Driver Set allow far greater stability and ergonomic comfort.
If money isn’t any issue and you want the best compact drill currently available on the market, our recommendation would be the Festool 574700. If you’re a professional jewelry artist looking for a drill that you can count on for any project at the drop of a hat, then this drill is for you.
How to Choose the Best Compact Drill
Decide on your Budget
There are a plethora of differently priced drills out there and there’s something for every budget. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a high-quality, powerful drilling tool.
“You can get a great compact drill for less than $150”
In fact, if you opt for a drill such as The Makita XFD131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion, you can get a great compact drill for less than $150. If you’re smart and practical, you can get great value for money without having to compromise on quality.
However, if budget is not a problem, then it’s definitely worth it to really invest in a more high-end compact drill that will serve you for years to come. Making a larger one-time investment gets you better durability, more thoughtful design, and superior precision.
When it comes to choosing any cordless tool, battery life is one of the key criteria you need to consider. The longer your battery lasts between charges, the more uninterrupted work you can get done, and the less time you’ll spend waiting for a recharge or swapping power cells.
“Battery life is more important than you might initially think because the more your battery lasts the more work you can do in a shorter amount of time”
You’ll get great battery life for sure with all of our recommendations. Even if battery life is one of the features you care about the most you can’t go wrong with any of them. However, our more expensive picks do outperform cheaper alternatives. Since their prices differ substantially, though, your decision should mostly be based on the other features and design elements offered.
Consider Your Current Needs
Do you need a workhorse you’ll use every day, or an affordable tool for occasional projects? Maybe your only criteria are ease of use and compact design? Or you’re on the lookout for an all-encompassing drilling tool?
“What do you need from your new compact drill?”
Let’s say you’re just getting into jewelry and aren’t looking for a big investment, yet you still need the basics to work well – in this case, it’s pointless to spend a lot of money. Feel free to opt for The Makita XFD131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion.
However, if you want a durable and truly powerful drill that you’ll be using on a daily basis, you should most definitely invest more money. And the drill that offers the most features is definitely The Festool 574700. So, the important question is: do you know what you want at the moment?
We truly hope you enjoyed reading our reviews of our favorite compact drills on the market and that now you’re properly equipped to make an informed purchasing decision.
If you want to see more of the best jewelry-making tools we recommend, be sure to browse our other buying guides on jewelry-making gadgets and equipment.
Is there a good compact drill you’d like to see on our list? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!