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How to use a hand drill

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Other equipment you may need

A vice is a useful too for holding a workpiece freeing up your hands to operate a hand drill

Vice

Depending on the size and shape of your workpiece, you may want a vice to hold it in place whilst you drill your holes or drive your screws.

Clamps can be used to hold two or more parts of a workpiece together freeing your hands to operate a hand drill

Clamp

You may want to use some clamps to hold the workpiece in place, or two parts together, whilst you use the hand drill.

Work benches allow you to rest a workpiece at a comfortable height for using a hand drill

Work bench

Placing the workpiece on a work bench may make drilling or driving screws easier.

Socket bits and drill bits can be used with a hand drill for drilling holes or driving in or removing screws

Drill bit or socket bit

You will need an appropriate size drill bit for drilling holes, or socket bit/scredriver bit for driving screws.

Rulers and tape measures are needed to accurately mark where screws or holes need to be placed on the workpiece

Measuring device

A measuring device such as a tape measure or ruler will be required to measure the correct position of the holes you wish to drill.

Pencils or other marking tools are needed to mark where screws or holes should be placed

Pencil or other marking tool

A marking tool such as a pencil, scriber or marking knife should be used with your measuring device to accurately mark the position where screws or holes are to be placed.

Using a hand drill

Use the marking tool and measuring tape to mark the position of the holes or screws you wish to place in your workpiece

Step 1 – Mark out

Before you begin drilling or driving screws into a workpiece you should always mark out the position of where you want them to go.

Using a measuring device and marking tool, measure from the edges of your workpiece, placing a mark where the screws or holes are required.

Turning the shell case of the hand drill chuck anti-clockwise will move the jaws apart so you can place a drill bit between them

Step 2 – Secure bit

Turn the shell of the chuck anti-clockwise to separate the jaws.

You may have to place the ratchet into the ‘spindle lock’ position or hold the turning handle with your other hand whilst you do this, to prevent the chuck turning the drill. For more information on how to do this see our page: How to alter the ratchet settings of a hand drill or brace

The drill bit is secured in the chuck of the hand drill by turning the shell of the chuck in a clockwise direction Once the jaws have been separated just enough to accommodate the drill or socket/screwdriver bit, place the bit between them in the chuck.

Then turn the chuck shell clockwise to tightly grip the bit. Again, you may have to place the ratchet into the spindle lock position or hold the turning handle with your other hand whilst you do this, to prevent the chuck turning the drill.

Set the speed selector on the hand drill to high speed low torque for drilling small hole or driving short screws and low speed high torque for drilling larger holes or driving longer screws

Step 3 – Select drill setting

If your hand drill has speed settings and a ratchet, select which ones you wish to use.

Use the high speed setting for drilling very small holes or driving short screws, and the low speed high torque setting for drilling larger holes or driving longer screws.

Use the ratchet on a hand drill to set the turning action of the chuck to anti-clockwise only or clockwise only when you can not fully turn the turning handle If you are using the hand drill in a tight space and can’t make a complete turn of the turning handle, set the ratchet to turn the chuck and bit clockwise for drilling holes or driving in screws.

Alternatively, set the ratchet to turn the chuck and bit anti-clockwise to remove screws from a workpiece.

Place the hand drill at 90° to the workpiece

Step 4 – Position drill

Place the tip of the drill bit on the point of the workpiece you marked out earlier. Position the drill so that it is perpendicular (at a 90 degree right angle) to the surface of the workpiece.

Use a brast plate hand drill horizontally so you can apply more pressure through the drill with your chest and body weight Hand drills with a breast plate are best used horizontally, so that you can lean against them and apply pressure to the drill bit.
With the hand drill positioned vertically grasp the turning handle with your dominant hand and the main handle with your non-dominant hand as you would an umbrella

Step 5 – Hold drill

Hold the turning handle of the hand drill in your dominant hand. If your hand drill has a main handle instead of a breast plate, grip this with your non-dominant hand as you would the handle of a frying pan, if you are using the drill horizontally.

If you are using the hand drill vertically, grip the main handle with your non-dominant hand, as you would hold an umbrella.

Use a brast plate hand drill horizontally so you can apply more pressure through the drill with your chest and body weight If your hand drill has a breast plate, place that up against the centre of your chest so that you can lean into the workpiece and apply pressure to the drill bit.

Your non-dominant hand should grip the side handle opposite the turning handle as you would the handle bars of a bike.

Rotating the turning handle of a hand drill through complete turns gives a constant smooth drilling action

Step 6 – Turn drill

Rotate the turning handle of the drill. If you are able to make complete turns of the turning handle, you should do this as it will create quicker more accurate drilling by providing a constant, smooth drilling action.

If you are unable to make complete turns of the turning handle, rotate the handle as far as possible before moving it back to the starting position, and repeating the action.

Continue this back and forth movement and the ratchet will ensure the drill bit is only turned in the direction you have set it.

When using a hand drill shavings from the workpiece can clog the drill bit flutes creating heat which can caused the bit to jam in the hole

Step 7 – Clear out shavings

As you drill, shavings from the workpiece will be produced and raised up out of the hole by the flutes of the drill bit.

These shavings can clog up the flutes of the drill bit and create friction, which will make the drill bit heat up and expand. This can result in the drill bit becoming stuck in the hole, or even breaking if it is a small bit.

To prevent the drill bit of your hand drill over heating and jamming in the hole, move it in and out of the hole to clear the shavings. To help prevent this from happening, you should remove the drill from the hole every few millimetres, before placing it back in.

Keep the drill bit turning whilst you do this so that the shavings continue to be removed.