We describe an effective and inexpensive device for sampling forest floors. It is based on a rechargeable, battery-powered drill that drives a sharpened steel coring tube. The corer is simple to fabricate, is lightweight (3.5 kg) and can be used easily by one person to obtain intact, natural volume cores of the forest floor. It has been used extensively to obtain samples in 114 boreal forest stands of western Canada. We found that coefficients of variation were typically 30% for forest floor organic matter and bulk density, and tended to be higher in Pinus banksiana stands than in Picea glauca and Populus tremuloides. Ten samples per stand gave adequate precision for a study of forest floor dynamics and autocorrelation did not appear to be a problem with five-metre sampling intervals. In addition to sampling forest floors, the corer has proven suitable for sampling moss and lichen layers and mineral soil down to about 20 cm. A similar powered system can also be used for increment boring of trees.