What are the Different Types of Hand Drills?

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  • Written By: Nychole Price
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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Hand drills make tedious projects faster and easier. They are used for drilling holes and driving screws, as well as accommodating various attachments for paint mixing, sanding, grinding and several others. Hand drills fall into two basic categories: manual and electric.

In the past, when people spoke of hand drills, they were originally referring to the old fashioned eggbeater drills, first manufactured by the North Brothers in 1910. This hand-operated drill uses a crank handle that rotates an interlocking gear, which then turns the drill bit. The eggbeater drill can hold drill bits up to a quarter inch (6 mm) in size. This style of hand drill is still found in use in most woodworking shops, as it is strong, easy to use, and allows the ultimate control over precision work.

Another manual hand drill is the push drill. It operates using a fine, straight fluted drill bit, also known as a drill point. This drill works by using a repetitive pushing motion to rotate the drill points and drive them into place.


The electric hand drill was first invented by Wilhelm Fein in 1895. It didn't become popular until the 1980s, when electronic systems for controlling its speed were first developed. There are a lot of safety requirements that electric hand drills must meet. For example, they are required to be lightweight, shaped so they are able to be handled safely, and offer steady performance even when used roughly. Since the invention of the electric handle drill, several different versions have been manufactured, to include the rotary drill, hammer drill and close-quarters drill.

Rotary drills are used for basic jobs that include drilling holes and screw driving. They can be either corded or battery powered, usually using a 12 or 14 volt battery unit, which keeps them light weight. Many versions of the rotary drill have an adjustable clutch, which regulates the drive depth of the screws. Another version of the rotary drill, called the electric driver, has a greater torque and will drive and remove screws at a much faster rate.

The hammer drill is another variety of hand drill which is available wired or cordless. Hammer drills are used for drilling large holes into concrete and masonry. Many models come equipped with varying speeds, reversible action, and the ability to work as a rotary drill.

Close-quarter drills are used when attempting to drill in spaces where an average power drill won't fit. This type of drill has a 55 degree angled chuck to bend and slip into awkward spots. Another version of this electric hand drill is the right-angle drill. This chuck of this power tool bends at a 90 degree angle to drill in close quarters. Like the other models, it is available wired and cordless.


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