Drills are arguably the holiest of grails when it comes to hand tools in any DIY workspace. They are commonly used for metalworking, construction, carpentry, and many other applications. They are considered a time (and life) saver by anyone who has ever experienced the thumb-crushing horrors of having to manually drive a nail or screw through a wall with a hammer or screwdriver.
Drill: Corded Vs Cordless
Being an electrical appliance, most drills usually come with cords attached to them. And as useful as these devices can be around any workspace, they can also be a real pain in the neck. With a cord power drill, you have to worry about where the nearest power outlet is. But that’s where the cordless kinds of drills come in.
These lightweight, compact drills come with rechargeable batteries and sleek, handy designs that reduce hand strain and put no restrictions whatsoever on movement while you work. Ah, the sweet smell of fresh freedom.
COMPONENTS OF A CORDLESS DRILL
Although cordless drills look just like regular corded ones, there are a few key differences in design, ranging from the types of drill bits, battery compartment, and overall appearance. Perhaps the most obvious of them all is, you guessed it:
1) THE BATTERY COMPARTMENT/CHARGER
Cordless drills come with high-capacity rechargeable batteries that supply power to the device, which in turn powers the internal mechanism of the device and produces a torque that moves the drill bit. And as with any battery-powered device, a charger is often part of the package.
Most cordless drills have detachable batteries that can be disconnected, charged, and reused. It’s a lot easier to have a spare battery you can charge as you use the other. This way, your drill never runs out.
2) THE SPEED CONTROL TRIGGER
The speed control trigger controls the speed of the car. Reducing pressure on the speed control trigger reduces the speed but also increases torque. This is because the power of the machine’s rotation is a combination of speed and torque. And an increase in speed reduces torque, while an increase in torque reduces speed (Feel free to read that again. : I know I would).
3) THE REVERSE BUTTON
As it is with most rotating devices that have forward directions, there is usually a provision for reversing the direction of rotation. And the drill’s reverse button allows just this. The reverse button is usually located at the sides of the machine near the speed control trigger and around where the thumb and index finger of a human should (presumably) be. Pushing this button simply reverses the direction of the drill’s rotation from clockwise to anticlockwise and vice versa depending on the operator’s preference.
4) THE DRIVER CHUCK
Driver chucks are an important part of drills. These are the round-ended, conical parts at the tip of drills that hold the screwdriver or drill bit in place during operations. This part of drills is adjustable with or without a key and can be resized to accommodate bits of almost any size. Chucks usually come with three or four jaws to grip the bits, but cordless drills nowadays typically have three.
5) THE TORQUE CONTROL RING
The torque control ring is a round bit of plastic (a literal ring) around the tip of the machine, right behind the chuck. These rings usually come numbered from one to fifteen or nineteen and can be adjusted depending on the amount of torque required. The torque control ring and the speed control switch might sound the same to anyone. Only torque and speed (though used interchangeably sometimes) aren’t quite the same thing.
Speed refers to how many revolutions (or turns) the rotating bit can complete per second or minute (depending on who you ask), while torque is, well, the turning force of the device’s internal driving mechanism. The torque you need depends mostly on the type of material you’re working with, while your speed depends on the diameter of the hole you’re trying to drill.
The more speed you apply, the less torque the machine can deliver. And the more torque you apply, the less speed your machine rotates with.
6) THE GEAR SELECTOR SWITCH
Some cordless drills like cars have several gears, depending on the types of operation being performed. And these gears come with varying speeds, making it easier to ‘configure’ the drill for a single type of work until it needs to be changed at a later time. Most drills come with two or three gears, the lowest delivering low to minimal speed and the highest delivering mid-range to maximum speed.
The lowest gear is great for driving screws in or out of the woods, while the highest is ideal for more heavyweight operations like drilling and boring into metal or concrete.
7) THE MOTOR
The motor is the spirit, body, and soul of the entire machine. It is located in the main compartment of the drill, rotating a shaft wrapped in coils of wire and providing torque as well as speed when a current (from the battery) is applied.
8) THE GRIP/HANDLE
The last and maybe even one of the most important parts of the cordless drill is the grip or handle. This part of the drill is responsible for holding up the drill motor and keeping the battery secured in place while giving you a comfortable grip as you work, as well as less arm strain from the vibration of the machine.
DRILL BIT SELECTION
When it comes to selecting the perfect drill bit for a job, the task alone can be daunting. This is because drill bits come in various sizes, diameters, lengths, compositions, and even shapes.
For regular hand-drills, the factors you need to consider are merely composition and geometry/size. And as for composition, there are three main types.
REGULAR HIGH-SPEED STEEL BITS (HSS Bits)
The most common types of drill bits on the market are the high-speed steel drill bits. These bits are the kinds you’ll most commonly find in toolboxes because they’re inexpensive, easy to resharpen, and meet the bare minimum requirement for strength and rigidity. And unless your job is an extra heavyweight operation, regular HSS bits are the way to go.
COBALT HIGH-SPEED STEEL BITS
These bits are far stronger than regular high-speed bits and can withstand greater amounts of stress. They are also more resistant to heat and wear. And just like HSS bits, they are easy to resharpen.
CARBIDE DRILL BITS
These are the most expensive and wear-resistant classes of bits around. They are used for extra-heavyweight operations involving deeper holes and materials that are harder than usual. Most carbide drill bits come hollow, with holes bored through them to allow the passage of coolant fluids that flush out the chips and reduce the effects of friction.
Carbide drills can cost as much as ten times more than cobalt drill bits and fifteen times more than regular high-speed drills but are used in industrial applications.
Geometry And Size
Another important aspect to consider when choosing drill bits is geometry and size. The shape of your drill bit plays an equally important role as any other in the performance of your drill and how easy work goes for you. Probably the most important aspect of a drill’s geometry is the length. Drills come in two main length classifications, which are
1) Stub-length drill bits
2) Jobber-length drill bits
Stub length drills are the most commonly used kinds because they are more rigid and are less prone to breaking off. It’s more sensible to go for bits with the shortest length, as these give a greater assurance of rigidity.
HOW TO USE THE DRILL
Are you paying attention?
I hope you’re because I’m about to walk you through an easy, step-by-step guide on how to secure a piece of wood with a screw. Assuming you’ve never used a drill and are new to all of this, of course.
Step 1: CHARGING THE BATTERY
This is the most obvious, isn’t it? A cordless drill, as well as any other electrical appliance without its power source, is pretty much as useful as a fork in a soup bowl. The first and probably the most important part of using a cordless drill is removing, charging, and putting its battery right back. And an important tip you should take note of is to own at least one spare battery. That way, you can use one for as long as the battery allows, while the other charges. And then you can rinse and repeat as many times as your job requires.
Cordless drill batteries live at the base of the device and function as a stand-in case you need to lay down your arms for a minute. And these drills typically come with chargers you can plug into wall outlets. You simply push the red/yellow/green square button on the battery. This releases a latch and allows you to slide it right out. Put your battery into the charger, allow it to charge until full, and viola! Infinite power! Until when it dies again, at least.
Re-attaching the battery to the drill is just as straightforward, and the battery should slide right back into place the same way you took it off.
Step 2: CHOOSING THE PERFECT DRILL BIT
Loosen up the chuck the way I showed you to accommodate the drill bit. Some cordless drills, unlike others, come with their own set of bits. These bits typically come in a small plastic box.
In this case, we’re focused on screwdriver bits. Determine the suitable kind of screwdriver bit by comparing it to the screw head, if you have to. And once you’ve made your selection, you can move on to the next.
Most sets of screwdriver bits usually come with a ‘standard chuck’. I know you’re wondering, ‘Chuck? Isn’t there a chuck on the drill already?’ Well, there is. But remember that a chuck’s main function is to hold things in place. So while the drill itself has a chuck to hold accessories in place, the screwdriver bits themselves also have a chuck. Drill chuck, universal chuck.
Don’t get confused. The ‘universal chuck’ is only a fancy name for ‘bit holder. The universal chuck is designed to hold any kind of screwdriver bit. It is a hollow metal cylinder with a hexagonal tip that you can easily put screwdriver bits in when you need them or pull out when you need to work on another kind of screw head. The screwdriver bits slide in and are kept from falling out by a magnet inside the cylinder. This universal chuck fits into the drill and can be ‘chucked’ firmly in place. It’s one chuck holding another and being its brother’s keeper.
Step 3: SETTING THE TORQUE
Now, it is important to note that screwing things in or out is a lightweight operation, unlike drilling and boring, and the torque setting plays a vital role.
Remember that the machine’s rotating power is the product of speed and torque.
- Speed is how fast your machine goes, while torque is how much power your machine puts into its rotation.
- The faster your machine goes, the less torque it can deliver.
- The more torque your machine delivers, the less speed it rotates with.
Easy to remember, eh?
Too much torque is too much power. When you work with delicate materials or tiny screws, too much torque tends to break or strip the screws. And then you have to figure out how to pull the broken screw out of the material before having to start all over again. So for extra-lightweight operations, a lower torque setting is the way to go.
The harder the material is being screwed (or bored) into, the more torque you need. A torque setting of 15 is perfect for using a two-inch screw on a 2X4.
Step 4: USING THE DRILL
Now you’re all set. Your battery is fully charged, your screwdriver (or drill) bit is secured firmly in place, and you have chosen the perfect torque setting. You’re finally ready to screw something in with your machine.
By now, you should’ve chosen your screws and the perfect bit to go with them. Up next is putting your screw in place and placing the drill over it. Now, it’s important to make sure that the screws are straight and upright when you screw them in. They should be at a 90-degree angle to the surface to be screwed down. This is because screws tend to bend in favour of your hand’s direction.
Apply a little pressure onto the drill, and pull the switch. The machine should start up, turning the screw nice and easy, until it ends up buried fully in the wood or aluminium panel. Or until you release the switch.
Say you make a mistake at some point and have to take out the screw you just put in, or you need to change its general direction because the screw was starting to bend.
The way to do this is to use the reverse button. This button engages a gear inside the drill that reverses the direction of the drill’s rotation and undoes your mistake.
FINAL TIPS AND TRICKS
Now, remember. Safety is paramount when working with any kind of tool, particularly power tools like cordless drills.
TIP #1: DRILLING WITHOUT BITS
So assume, for some reason, that you have no access to your set of drill bits, but the material you’re looking to drill into is a soft piece of wood.
What if I told you that with a pair of cutters and an appropriately sized nail, you could create a small hollow (or a hole) in your workpiece. Simply snip off the head of the nail, and end up with a nice, makeshift drill-bit you can use to create small holes that screws can comfortably sit in before you drill them in.
TIP #2: DRILLING HOLES WITH PERFECT DEPTHS
Say you need two holes. One of them is 2cm deep with a 50mm diameter, and the other 3cm deep with a 70mm diameter.
All you need is to fetch two drill bits with the appropriate diameters, a measuring tape, and a marker. Simply measure the drill bit from tip to end with the tape and mark out the required depth on the bit.
Start drilling, and stop when the mark you made aligns perfectly with the surface of your workpiece, and repeat with the second hole.
TIP #3: DRILL/SCREW THINGS IN EASIER THAN EVER
Here’s a trick you’ve probably never considered. To drive screws in or drill into things in easier, simply get a bit of wax or grease and coat the screw or drill bit.
Try drilling it in as you normally would. Notice how easy that was?
TIP #4: MAKESHIFT SCREW/BIT HOLDER
You can create a makeshift screw or bit holder by fetching a permanent magnet and securing it to the side of the drill with a bit of hot glue. Now the magnet functions as a holder for your screws, eliminating the need to hold them between your lips or teeth while you work.
TIP #5: CONSERVE ENERGY BY SWITCHING GEARS
This is one of the most obvious tricks, and that’s why I saved it for last.
Say you have no spare batteries and have to make do with just the one you only managed to charge for less than one hour.
Switching to a lower gear can help conserve power and make your machine last a lot longer than normal.
TIP #6: PAIR CORDLESS DRILLS WITH OTHER TOOLS FOR MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY
And there you have it. You’re now the 007 of cordless drills, with a ‘license to drill’. Remember that drills are power tools. And with great power (hehe) comes great responsibility.
Stay safe, and stay awesome.