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What features should you look for
in a hand drill or brace?

Shop for Hand Drills and Braces

   

Hand drills and braces are available with many features There are many features that a hand drill or brace may have. By selecting a tool with the features you will need, you can make the job you are doing much easier and quicker, whilst eliminating features that are not needed can save you money on the purchase of the tool.

Ratchet

A 3 way reversible ratchet can be found on many hand drills and braces and will be sufficient for most peoples needs If you are working in a confined area where it may not be possible to fully turn the handle of the brace or hand drill, then a ratchet is an essential feature.

A 3 way or reversible ratchet is the most common and should be sufficient.

A 5 way ratchet may be a useful feature to have on a hand drill if you know you will be using it in a lot of awkward or confined spaces However, if you know that most of the time you will be using a hand drill where a ratchet mechanism is required, then a 5 way ratchet will be quicker due to the double ratchet feature.
A brace with an enclosed ratchet is less likely to get a clogged ratchet mechanism meaning it should last longer Braces with fully enclosed ratchet mechanisms are less likely to clog with dirt or wood shavings and will last longer.

Double pinion

Hand drills with double pinions operate smoother and so make drilling easier A double pinion is not an essential feature, but if you plan on using your hand drill a lot then having a double pinion will make it smoother to operate and drilling or driving in screws will be easier.

2 speeds

Having a 2 speed hand drill allows more torque for drilling larger holes or driving big screws and faster speed for smaller ones. Having 2 speeds on your hand drill is a useful feature if you will be using it for drilling holes or driving screws of many different sizes.

The high speed low torque setting will enable you to drill small holes or drive small screws quickly, saving time on the job, while the low speed high torque setting will make drilling larger holes or driving longer screws easier.

Turning ratio

The turning ration of a hand drill is how many times the chuck turns for each revolution of the drive wheel Hand drills are sometimes advertised with one or two turning ratios given. The turning ratio is the relationship between how many times the drill will spin the chuck for each complete turn of the drive wheel.
The turning ration of a hand drill is how many times the chuck turns for each revolution of the drive wheel So if a hand drill is advertised as having a turning ratio of 5 1/2:1 then the chuck will spin five and a half times for every one complete turn of the drive wheel.

The higher the turning ratio, the faster the drill bit will spin. High turning ratios create high speed and low torque, whereas low turning ratios give low speed but higher torque.

Some hand drills have a high speed low torque and low speed high torque adjustment Drills with 2 speeds will have two turning ratios, one for the high speed setting and one for the low speed setting.

Higher turning ratios and speeds are usually achieved by having either a larger drive wheel or smaller pinion gear on the hand drill.

4 jaw chuck

4 jaw chucks can hold both square and round shank drill bits If you will only be using one type of drill bit, then a 4 jaw chuck is not required.

If, on the other hand, you want to use auger bits with a square shank and also be able to use round shank drill bits with the same brace, you will need a brace with a 4 jaw chuck.

Ball bearing head

Braces with ball bearing mounted heads will turn smoother and be easier to operate Like the double pinion, having a ball bearing head on a brace is not an essential feature.

It does make for a smoother turning action of the brace, however, which will make drilling easier.

Ball bearings are made up of an outer and inner shell or race with a series of small metal balls trapped and separating them

How do ball bearings work?

A ball bearing consists of an outer and inner shell or race with a series of round balls trapped between them. The round balls allow either the outer or inner shell to rotate whilst leaving the other stationary.

The inner shell stays stationary whilst the outer shell rotates and the metal balls within the bearing spin Rolling objects produce less friction than sliding ones; think rolling a tyre across the ground instead of dragging it.

As one of the bearing shells rotates, it causes the balls within it to spin, thus reducing the friction that is transferred to the other shell of the bearing.

  By reducing the friction, a ball bearing gives a smoother turning motion and reduces the effort required to turn a brace.

Removable handle

There are two reasons why you may wish to purchase a hand drill which has a removable handle. Firstly, it may allow you to replace the handle with a breast plate, which will enable you to apply more pressure when drilling hard materials such as metal.
Hand drill with handle end cap removed and small drill bits that can be stored inside the handle Secondly, some removable handles are hollow, allowing you to store spare drill bits in them.

The advantage of this is that you always have spare bits with you and there is no need to carry an additional case or box for spare bits.

Unscrew-able hand drill handles where just the end unscrews can store more drill bits inside them Some handles only have a removable end cap to the handle. Whilst this means that the handle can’t be replaced with a breast plate, it allows the hollow hole inside the handle to be larger, and so accommodate more drill bits. Removable handles and removable handle end caps are removed by unscrewing them.

Oil holes

Braces with ball bearing mounted heads will often have an oil hole to keep the bearings lubricated. Oil holes are important if you intend to use your hand drill or brace frequently and would like it to stay in excellent working order for as long as possible.

Oil holes are used to lubricate ratchet and gear mechanisms, reducing wear within them and giving a smoother operation to the hand drill or brace.