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The right tool for the job

Have you ever searched for a product review to get an insight into whether the product will do the job and felt that either the reviewer was paid or the information left you none the wiser?

As we develop the Artimus business, we need to move towards more specialist and therefore more expensive equipment to do the job right. So a good understanding of whether the equipment will be any good is key to us doing a good job and not wasting money.

pipework for two of the heating zones, mains and pressure regulated cold water and a recirculating hot water circuit, plus some of the new wiring

One of these jobs is joist drilling for pipework and electrical cabling, for example when we’re installing new heat pump heating systems. But it’s just drilling, right? The project we’re working on at the moment involves a three-zone heating system and a full rewire throughout the house (replacing very old wiring). This photo shows the pipework for two of the heating zones, mains and pressure regulated cold water and a recirculating hot water circuit, plus some of the new wiring. There’s quite a lot of drilling…

As much as possible, we’ve moved away from corded equipment because cordless tools make working on site so much simpler. We’ve gravitated towards DeWalt, purely because we don’t want to have multiple batteries from different manufacturers. Trying to find a battery-powered joist drill with enough oomph to drill all day proved to be rather time consuming. DeWalt make two units suitable for the job, both 54V:


DCD460N-XJ – advertised by DeWalt as a stud and joist drill.


DCD470N-XJ – advertised by DeWalt as a right angle drill. On other sites that sell DeWalt tools, it’s advertised as a joist and diamond core drill.

We decided to go for the DCD470N-XJ because it does both joist drilling and diamond coring. It also has a 5 out of 5 rating in customer reviews.


So, what is important when drilling joists? Well, it needs to have the power and capacity to drill holes all day long and needs to protect the operator if the bit binds. This unit is powerful – very powerful! – and fast, with a two-speed gearbox. The power means we can use the unit for a full day of drilling and not need to stop due to heat build-up within the unit. The two-speed gearbox caters for small drilling bits as well as large diamond coring bits. Binding protection is afforded by the E-Clutch. As DeWalt say: “E-Clutch is a Perform and Protect™ feature that detects reactionary torque caused by a bind-up or stall and reduces speed to a manageable level until control is regained”. This feature really works and, particularly with diamond coring, gives us the reassurance that it will not cause serious injury when the inevitable bind occurs. But, as always, care should be exercised when using something with this level of capability.

DCD470N-XJ in action

It is a heavy drill, which isn’t a problem for most core drilling but can be tiring when drilling joists from below. Another consideration is that it has a high power demand so you need to use appropriately sized batteries. We use 54V 9Ah batteries and a fast charger and find that three batteries pretty much guarantees we don’t run out of power.

The best price we can find online at the moment is £349.99, but we believe this is absolutely worth the investment.

Artimus team photo

We’re going to try and post regular reviews like this to help others make informed choices. We don’t have an affiliation with any tool manufacturers or suppliers – this is our unbiased opinion and we simply hope it’s helpful!

Artimus is a family-run design and installation company specialising in renewable technologies such as PV panels, battery storage, heat pumps and wind turbines.

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