Easy to use and convenient, it is easy to see why a drill is one of, if not the most popular power tool amongst both DIYers and professionals.
While they are straight forward to use, advancements in technology have given us more to think about. Understanding the parts of a drill is the key to unlocking its full potential. It’ll also help with your decision-making process when looking for your next drill.
There are two drill options, corded (AC) and cordless (DC). The power of corded drills is measured in amps, while cordless drills use batteries rated in volts. A higher amp or volt rating directly correlates to more power aka rotational force or torque.
A corded drill is the most powerful option. They also maintain a consistent level of power output due to being connected to mains electricity and never need to be recharged. Without the need for an onboard battery, they are much lighter and smaller in design. They are, however, limited by the length of their cord, although an extension cable can be used for more range. The cord is a potential trip hazard so be sure to take care while using a corded drill.
Cordless drills are by far the more convenient of the two due to the lack of cord. This allows for complete freedom during use, ideal for a variety of jobs indoors and out. Despite the convenience, they are slightly heavier and larger because of the battery. The battery will also drain during use, leading to a gradual drop in power. Having a few batteries to switch between can negate this issue but still requires you to stop working to switch out batteries and put the used one on charge. These batteries are likely to be compatible with many other cordless tools such as a circular saw or impact driver, making them a worthy investment.
The handle is self-explanatory. Today’s models have ergonomically designed handles to make the user experience as fatigue limiting and comfortable as possible.
The trigger is used to power the drill. An entry-level drill may come with a single-speed trigger while more expensive models have variable-speed triggers. Variable speed triggers allow you to control the bit rotation speed by how much pressure you apply to the trigger, great for taking on a range of jobs. They also tend to come with speed setting switch with 2-4 settings, typically ranging from 200 – 2,000 RPM.
Reverse Mode Switch
Alongside a trigger, drills have a reverse mode switch usually located just above the trigger for easy access. This switch determines whether the bit spins in forward or reverse and is used to extract material while removing the drill bit from the hole easily.
Torque Adjustment Collar
Clutch settings on a drill are adjusted by turning the torque adjustment collar. The collar will have a range of numbers, typically 20 or more, that relate to the torque setting with 1 being the lowest. If there is too much resistance, the clutch disengages the motor. Simply adjust the collar to a higher setting until enough force is delivered by the motor to drive to your desired depth.
When using a new drill it may take some time to learn which torque setting you need to use to avoid damaging different materials while fastening screws and avoid over-tightening them. Over time you will learn which settings are appropriate for different materials.
The chuck is a mechanism by which the drill or screwdriver bit is fastened. Drills originally came with keyed metal chucks which required a special tool to secure the bit into place. Nowadays, they have switched over to a keyless metal chuck design which allows the user to tighten bits by hand as opposed to using a tool. Chucks come in 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″.
Although drill bits are not part of a drill, without them they are essentially useless. Bits come in a range of shapes and sizes of various diameter, each designed for different materials and job types. The drill bit you should use depends on the type of drilling you plan on doing. For an in-depth look at two of the most popular bits, check out our cobalt vs titanium drill bits article.
The end of the drill bit secured by the chuck is known as the shank. Different shank and chuck combinations affect performance parameters such as centering accuracy and torque. The most common shank types are hexagon and round in shape. Hex shanks are best for drilling hard material as they better secured by the chuck and thus less likely to slip.
On the surface, a drill may be one of the easiest tools to use but if you’re to learn how to use a drill to its upmost potential you must understand all of the parts.
There is more to using this tool than simpling squeezing the trigger to drill holes and fasten screws. Everything from the bit and shank combination, chuck size and clutch setting must be taken into account. Knowing all parts of this machine is vital if you are to get the most out of it.