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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Let’s Talk About Drill Bits
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…
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.
I 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.
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.
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 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. You 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 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.
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
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.
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.