Parts of a Drill and How To Use It

From hanging curtain rods to assembling furniture, your drill is the handiest tool in your arsenal. Understanding the parts of your favorite drill can help you troubleshoot problems parts and maintain your tool for years to come. Although drill models, size and power vary, the basic parts remain consistent across brands and designs.

Worker drilling a hole into the wall with an electric drill.
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Parts of a Drill and How To Use It

Power Source

Cordless drills are battery powered and the go-to tool for most do-it-yourself drilling needs. Voltage can range from 4 to 18 volts, sufficient for light picture hanging to heavy-duty drilling. Cordless drills will have to be recharged, so keep an eye on your battery charge level when working. If you do not have a backup battery, your project may be interrupted for a recharge.

Corded drills offer more power than a battery-operated drill, with no need for a recharge. The amperage, known as an amp rating, gauges the power level. More power equals more torque flowing to your drill bit. The downside here is that you can only drill where a cord can reach.

Drill Chuck and Chuck Keys

The chuck refers to the adjustable mechanism that allows you to attach and tighten the drill bit. This allows you to switch drill bits out depending on the project. Drills used to have a key chuck that tightened the grip. Newer drills are keyless, with the drill or screwdriver bit inserted directly into the spindle and secured by hand.

Chuck keys are still found on drills and used to unlock the grip around the bit. Key chucks are not attached to the drill and have the potential to be lost or misplaced. Without the key, the bit cannot be changed.

Trigger Switch and Forward/Reverse

Drills can look like a toy gun to play with, and the fact that the operating switch is located in the same place as a trigger helps support the look. The trigger switch is the on-and-off mechanism on a drill. Some models will have only one speed and one simple switch. Others will have speed settings that can be operated in accord with the trigger switch, allowing the drill shaft to spin at a faster rate. A variable speed trigger switch will allow you to control the speed by pressing harder.

The forward/reverse switch allows screws to be removed or replaced once they are secured. Forward is for drilling in and reverse is for pulling out. When it comes time to move, take the screws out of the walls with the reverse setting.

Drill Shaft and Drill Bits

The drill shaft is the pointed part of the drill that holds the motor and the chuck. It is also where the rotation clutch is located. Like most electrical motors, the drill operates with a clutch to control power. The clutch can be adjustable and offer multiple settings for more drilling power.

Drill bits are the fun part – these multiple pieces can be changed according to the project at hand. Different bits are needed for different materials and uses. For example, a twist bit allows you to drill into plastic and wood, while a masonry bit is used for heartier concrete and brick. Bits are available for boring, etching and hole sawing and come in a variety of materials including steel, cobalt and titanium. Screwdriver bits are popular as well and faster than using a flathead or Philips screwdriver by hand.