Is it possible to buy a cordless drill that doesn't wobble? If not, is a wobbly drill fixable?

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Forum topic by MrDan posted 12-17-2013 07:58 PM 33083 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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209 posts in 3706 days

12-17-2013 07:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question drill-driver runout run-out wobble

The wobbly cordless drill has become a little too ubiquitous for my liking. So I wanted to see what my fellow lumberjocks had to say on this issue.

By wobble, I mean runout of a straight bit chucked into the drill, either caused by the chuck or the spindle/shaft. I’ve been looking into this for awhile now and have found MANY people are struggling with their cordless drills in this manner…and from all the major manufacturers: DeWalt, PC, Makita, Bosch, Ridgid, Ryobi etc… do a google search and you’ll find the same.

I’ve read that since most tool manufacturers source their parts from some of the same chinese suppliers there might have been a bad batch (from 2011 or 2012) of shafts that has caused this ‘outbreak’ of wobbly drills in recent years. Not sure about this theory, so I wanted to see if there has been any improvement.

My first cordless drill, purchased about 10 years ago was a Ryobi that had wobble. I returned it, and the new one was no different. I figured at that price point, that was just what I had to deal with… So I dealt with it for years and just figured I’d buy a better quality one when the batteries died.

So last year that time came and I bought a Porter Cable 18v Li Hammer drill combo set. Recently I have noticed that it too wobbles. I don’t know if it did so when I first purchased it, (I think I would have noticed) but anyhow it’s doing it quite a bit now and I find it extremely annoying. It is still under warranty but I never registered it and I lost my receipt so I can’t prove to PC when I bought it. So now I’m stuck with it, but I’d like to fix it if I can, as I’d prefer not to buy another one (partly due to my fear that they are all like this now.) I’ve read accounts of people buying and returning drills 5+ times from the home center and even sending them away to the service centers only to still end up with a drill that wobbles. (Here’s one guy’s nightmare:

So my questions to all of you are:
1. Do you have any experience with this?
2. Do you know how to fix it?
3. And, lastly are there any consistently reliable brands out there, with QC still in tact, that are making a decent drill, or do I have to spend $500 on a festool simply to get a drill that doesn’t wobble?

Thanks for any input!

26 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5949 posts in 3231 days

#1 posted 12-17-2013 08:05 PM

I have had many brands and types of drills, and none of them has ever had visible runout. I use a Dewalt 12v lithium-ion drill for furniture construction, and it has worked flawlessly.

Before that I used a Dewalt 14v ni-cad and it worked hard for 10 years.
I would go with Dewalt again.
Makita usually ranks well too.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View JAAune's profile


1864 posts in 2735 days

#2 posted 12-17-2013 08:06 PM

I’m in the “buy $500 tool and get back to work” camp but that being said, the quality of cheaper power tools always seemed hit or miss to me rather than consistently bad. They weren’t always bad, just sometimes. My complaints about Bosch and DeWalt cordless drills had to do more with weight, battery life and bulkiness. Excessive run out in the chuck wasn’t something I experienced.

I’m sure you already checked but are you certain that you own a decent set of drill bits? Some of the cheaper sets don’t always have straight bits.

-- See my work at and

View jordanp's profile


1086 posts in 2358 days

#3 posted 12-17-2013 08:08 PM

My Dewalt wobbles a little bit

I still use it from time to time..

But i have upgraded my cordless drill to one of these..

-- J. Palmer Woodworks - Rockwall TX -I woke up this morning thinking “man, I really hope someone posted some soul scarring sh*t on LJs today.” -- - Billy

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3403 days

#4 posted 12-17-2013 08:11 PM

I have had a drill that wobbles, but it wasn’t all that bad (several thousandths wobble at the tip of a 1/2” drill bit). Typically, wobble is a problem with the bearings, and that is an easy place for the manufacturers to skimp. However, couple that to a device that many people who don’t use it correctly use frequently, and issues will come up. The bearings used in drills/drill presses are only meant to handle loads in line with the drill bit. However, as any homeowner will likely attest, there is usually at least once where you are driving in a tough screw or something and you give it some “help” to one side or the other. This is terrible for the bearings. This is the same reason you shouldn’t put lateral loads on a drill press. I did a few times, and now need to replace the bearings.

As for brands, obviously you get what you pay for, but every device has factory tolerances. Some of those tolerances may be loose. I would expect Makita or Milwaukee to still do well, but don’t know first hand. If you are really fed up with it, you can investigate replacing the bearings in an older drill yourself. They can be had cheap, so you won’t lose much.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2661 days

#5 posted 12-17-2013 08:14 PM

Havent noticed it, or maybe I’m used to it, but my Milwaukee M18s work pretty well and seem solid / not wobbly to me. Far cry from the Ryobis and BnDs that they replaced. I recommend checking them out… or there was a drill shootout in WoodWorking that compared the Milwaukee, PC, Bosch, Ridgid, and I think a Hitachi. It was very enlightening and helped me pick the Milwaukee. They all have their strenghts and weaknesses though.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View johnstoneb's profile


3115 posts in 2591 days

#6 posted 12-18-2013 03:54 AM

A cordless drill is hand held. I couldn’t tell you when I’m drilling with one if it is wobble in the drill or wobble in my hand. To consitently drill straight you’re going to need a drill press or something mechanical to hold the cordless steady

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View dawsonbob's profile


3345 posts in 2173 days

#7 posted 12-18-2013 04:01 AM

I use Bosch. Never had any kind of wobble, although my buddy’s Dewalt wobbled so bad he had to return it. I have a 40 year old Skil (corded) that still runs as true as the day I got it.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2704 days

#8 posted 12-18-2013 04:10 AM

I have a couple of Dewalt 20V drills that I bought in 2012, and they don’t demonstrate any perceptible wobble. How much runout are we talking about here?

-- John, BC, Canada

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4066 days

#9 posted 12-18-2013 04:17 AM

I’ve never noticed the issue in the 5 or 6 cordless
drills I have owned by Bosch, Milwaukee and Ryobi.

That said, walking and deflection of drill bits in
wood is often an issue to consider in precision
work. I have never had to attribute this to
a wobbly chuck.

View retfr8flyr's profile


386 posts in 2087 days

#10 posted 12-18-2013 04:54 AM

I have the Milwaukee M18 and M12 drills and both have never given me any problems with any kind of wobble. I have drilled many, many holes with both of them and they drill as true today as when i first got them.

-- Earl

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2855 days

#11 posted 12-18-2013 05:01 AM

I have a Ridgid 12v, 14v and a Milwaukee 18v and none of them have runout. I’ve used various Dewalt, Bosch, Ryobi, Makita and BD, none of them has had any wobble. The only drill, cordless or otherwise I’ve used that had any, was a BD 12v with a removable chuck that had a driver behind it. That one sucked.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View realcowtown_eric's profile


617 posts in 2355 days

#12 posted 12-18-2013 05:19 AM

I have a wobblin’ corded drill in the broken tools pile. This one has a problem with the chuck, when tightened right up, one of the chuck prongs sticks out more than the other two. Chuck is toast. Gotta get another.

Some imported drill bits are so soft that they will bend and wobble. and once you got them in yer drill bit stand, consider it poluted! cheap sh*t drill bits will typically cause you at least 32 frustrations!

More often than not, it’s cheap drill bits that are bent, possibly mis-sharpened (point off centre)


-- Real_cowtown_eric

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 2845 days

#13 posted 12-18-2013 06:08 AM

Panasonic makes the best cordless drill.

I could not believe how satisfying is is to own and use this rugged tough easy to use drill. The battery lasts and lasts, and when you need to charge one of the two that come with it 14 minutes is all it takes. I have tried all the others, even own the latest Makita Li ion, still find myself reaching for my old Panasonic time and again.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2922 days

#14 posted 12-18-2013 07:30 AM

Samsung makes a great “no wobble” cordless drill.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Manitario's profile


2762 posts in 3301 days

#15 posted 12-18-2013 08:29 AM

I have runout on all of my corded/cordless drills, but honestly, who cares? Anything handheld is going to wobble from me holding it; if I want a perfect hole I use my drill press.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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