How to Use a Power Drill

One thing that I’ve always preached here on The DIY Playbook is that you can figure out how to do just about anything with some practice and determination. Eight years ago, back before I had this blog, I didn’t own a power drill or even really know how one worked. But now, I’m here to emphasize how important this tool is for every.single.person. Basic tools 101

If you remember this blog post about the essential tools for homeowners, a power drill is at the very top of my list. But I want to take it one step further…I think a power drill is essential for everyone, homeowner or not. Even if you’re in a rental, a power drill will come in handy to swap out hardware, hang a mirror, or put furniture together. Use two drills when installing kitchen cabinets

Today, I wanted to break down the ins and outs of this essential tool. We’ll go over each button, the accessories, and just about everything you could want to know about the power drill. If you’re a seasoned DIY’er, this might just be a nice refresher. But if you’re new to tools and do-it-yourself projects, I hope that this post will be a great resource to give you the confidence to whip out your drill more often.

Let’s Break Down the Power DrillHow to use a power drill

What does it do? A drill is a tool, fitted with a drill bit, which can bore holes into various materials or fasten materials together. A cordless power drill is operated by a rechargeable battery. Using a power drill to make built-ins

What projects would I use this for? Ummmm…pretty much anything and everything! A drill can come in handy if you’re putting a piece of furniture together and you need to fasten parts together with screws. It also comes in handy if you want to hang something on a wall and need to create holes for anchors. Or it works well if you need to hang window treatments. Or it’s great for more advanced projects, like our DIY built-ins, when we used two drills at a time constantly! It is one of the most convenient tools and it will help make any DIY project go that much faster.Cordless power drill

How much does it cost? The price varies, depending on the model, the power, and if you buy it with extra accessories. I usually recommend opting for an 18-20 volt model (mine is 20-volt), just because that will work for just about every project. But if you don’t want to spend as much, a 12-volt model can work for lots of home projects. My 20-volt drill comes with a drill, storage case, charger, and a battery for $99. But here’s another model for around $50. Or you can buy a drill that comes with all of the bits and accessories for between $150-$200.  How to store your power drill

How do I store it? Mine came with a nice little zippered bag to hold all of the accessories, because there is a lot that comes with a drill! This little bag holds the drill, the drill charger, and all of my drill bits. It’s like a handy dandy little purse full of DIY goodness.  It’s nice because I can just grab this bag and I know I’ve got everything I need inside. How to charge your drill
How often do I have to charge it? Because we’re not using our drill all day, every day, I feel like we don’t really need to charge it that often. I can install some shelves, put a piece of furniture together, and hang a gallery wall and my drill will still be alive and kicking! But it does give you more power and “juice” if it is fully charged. So after a big project, remember to charge that baby up. You’ll thank yourself when you go to start that next project and it’s all ready for some DIY action.How to charge a power drill
Tool Tip: When investing in new tools, consider buying the same brand. We own lots of Dewalt tools, specifically because they use interchangeable batteries. We now have lots of Dewalt batteries, so all of our tools are always powered up and ready to go.

Let’s Talk About Drill BitsDrill bits for your cordless power drill

What’s with all of the bits? Yeah, this can be confusing! In the beginning, I thought once you had a drill you simply put one attachment on it and you were ready to go. Nope…not the case. You’ll need to buy extra accessories for your drill, depending on the project you’re tackling. Let’s break them all down…How to swap out your screwdriver bits

Screwdriver Bits: Some bits are inserted directly into the chuck, but most need to be put into the “bit holder.” The long metal piece above is the bit holder and it is magnetic at the end.

How to figure out which bits to use with your drillI have a large case of various bits (like the 3 small ones in the above picture) and these are inserted into the holder. The screwdriver bits are used just like a screwdriver. There are flat heads and Phillips heads and various sizes you can use depending on your project. Metal drill bit accessories

How to use various pilot bitsPilot Bits:  These are used to drill holes into different types of materials. I mainly use them when drilling into walls. I’ll create a deep hole with a drill bit, and then insert an anchor if I’m trying to hang a heavy item. (More about using wall anchors in this blog post.) I have a wide variety of metal drill bits with varying widths in this little kit.  How to use a countersink bit
Countersink Bits: A countersink bit is used when you want a screw to sit flush. You’ll notice in the picture of the bit above that the metal gets bigger and bigger the deeper you go. This allows a screw to sink down, so it doesn’t stick out. I used this bit when making my DIY bath tray, so the screws from the hardware wouldn’t pop out on the bottom.  Paddle bits for your power drill

Paddle Bits: Out of all of the bits, I probably use paddle bits the least, simply because I don’t do many projects that require them. A paddle bit (or spade bit) is used to bore large, wide holes. They come in various sizes and will create a hole based on the size of the paddle bit. You simply put the tip on the center of your hole, and then use force to drill all the way through until you have a large circle. We used a paddle bit to create a hole in our office cabinets to then pull cords and wires through to the other side.

How to use a power drill

Changing Out Bits: To change out bits, you will loosen and tighten the chuck by hand. You’ll want your bits to be really snug, so make sure you tighten the chuck so it fully grabs the bit with its teeth.

How to Actually Use A Power DrillHow to use a power drill

How do I use the drill? A drill is operated by a trigger located on the handle of the base. You simply press this and the chuck will rotate. The forward and reverse button the power drillYou can change the direction of the rotation by flipping the forward/reverse switch on the side of the drill. For example, if you’re trying to take a screw out of a piece of furniture, then you would want the drill to go in reverse/counter-clockwise.How to change the speed

How do I change the speed? On my drill, I have a “1” and a “2” on the top. These indicate the speed. You’ll want to use a lower setting for driving screws and a higher setting for drilling holes. You can easily move back and forth between the two options by flipping the switch. The numbers on the clutch

What do all of the numbers on the clutch mean? These numbers refer to the “torque”. Torque is the force the drill produces to turn an object, not how fast it will turn. You’ll see a list of numbers from 1 and sometimes up to 20. The higher the number, the higher the torque. I usually recommend starting low and turning it up if needed.

Go Forth & Use Your Power Drill

How to use a power drill

Using a new tool can be intimidating at first, but there is no reason to be scared of this one. The likelihood that you’ll hurt yourself or damage your home is slim to none. Just go slow, practice, and enjoy it! Power tools are meant to assist your project, and a power drill will do just that. Once you start using one, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it. Grab that drill of yours (fully charged of course!) and get to work. I promise you’ll do great, and maybe even get a little arm workout in, using your very own power drill.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.