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A Handyman's Guide to Types of Drills and Their Uses

Types of Drills and their Uses
An extremely versatile tool, the drill is an indispensable part of any tool kit. From simply household repairs that require drilling to DIY projects and heavy-duty work on concrete, the drill can do it all.
Rohini Mohan
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Did You Know?
The 'primitive awl' is believed to be the first drill invented by man.
A drill is one of the most essential tools to have in your garage. This versatile tool has come a long way in terms of design and utility. Although not as popular as electric drills, manual hand drills are still in use today. The drills manufactured today are equipped with many features such as multifunction power and use of various kinds of drilling and driver bits. The battery-operated cordless drills used to be a lot heavier, but the use of lithium batteries has helped make these drills a lot more lighter, powerful, and easy to use.

This handy tool not only allows you to drill holes into tough material, such as wood, metal, and concrete, it also lets you sand, buff, polish, and drive long screws in a matter of seconds. All in all, a drill should be your tool of choice to help you complete DIY and repair jobs in a matter of seconds. This HomeQuicks article provides information on its various types and uses.
Types of Manual Drills
Hand Drill
Hand Drill
Also known as the eggbeater drill, the hand drill is a manual tool that is gear-driven. This type of drill has a drive wheel that is spun using the turning handle. The motion of the wheel makes the pinion of the drill move along with the chuck, which in turn, causes the attached bit/shank to rotate.
Uses: Equipped with a main handle, this geared manual hand drill is used for drilling small holes in soft wood, soft metal, and plastic.
Brace Drill
Brace Drill
The brace drill is also a manual hand drilling tool which was invented around the 1420s in the ancient county of Flanders. Its distinct U-shaped spindle has a grip on it which is cranked in order to lend more torque. The brace drill also has a top spindle that is used for gripping and fixing the drill in a desired position. While one hand holds the top spindle, the other hand rotates the second spindle in a clockwise motion, so as to make the bit drill a precise hole through wood.
Uses: The brace drill is used for countersinking and piercing holes in wood, thus, being a preferred woodworking tool.
Types of Electric Drills
Corded Drill
Corded Drill
Compact corded drills require a constant supply of power from a fixed socket in order to perform optimally. The most common type of design available in corded drills is the pistol-grip design that makes it easier to use the drill. Nonetheless, areas away from the power outlet can be reached by using an extension wire. However, as compared to cordless battery-operated drills, corded drills are more powerful and provide greater torque. Depending on the intensity of your use, choose a drill based on its amperage. Therefore, a more high-performing drill will have a greater Amp number. Drills usually have an amperage ranging between 3-10 and must have at least 40-inch pounds of torque.
Uses: Such drills have various types of bits and are meant for drilling through wood, fiberglass, metal, and plastic. If the bit is changed, this drill can be used for fixing and removing screws (reversibility feature), and for sanding and polishing wood.
Features to Look For in Corded and Cordless Drills
  • Variable speeds - 1,300 RPM
  • Counterclockwise torque
  • Adjustable clutch
  • Large chuck size - ⅜", ½", and ¼"
  • Chuck capacity - 0.25", 0.375", 0.5", and 0.675"
  • Chuck key - For locking, tightening, and loosening the chuck
  • Right-angle drills (for working in tight spaces)
  • Voltage - 6-24V (only for cordless drills)
Hammer Drill
Hammer Drill
Hammer drills can have either or both rotary as well as hammer actions. Functioning much like a jackhammer, a hammer drill uses rapid and short motions to pound through concrete, stone, and thick blocks of metal. Sold as both corded and cordless variants, the hammer drill also utilizes an extra stand or side handle that provides greater support during hammering or drilling. For greater hammering action, go in for a drill that has more blows per minute (BPM) or impacts per minute (IPM) and is extremely heat-resistant. For example, the Bosch 1191VSRK has features such as 7.0 Amps, 0-3,000 RPM, and 0-16,000/0-41,600 BPM.
Uses: Although a rotary hammer drill can also be used like a standard drill, its ability to pound through thick concrete with its pounding action makes this drill extremely unique.
Cordless Drill
Cordless Drill
Cordless drills are shaped exactly like corded drills. The only difference being that these drills function on batteries and are much more lighter. The power of a cordless drill is measured according to the voltage it can sustain. Therefore, higher the voltage, the more powerful the drill will be. These drills usually have a voltage capacity that ranges between 6-24 volts. The voltage mentioned on the drill also determines its weight, wherein the lower the voltage, the lighter shall be the drill, and vice versa.

The biggest advantage of cordless drills is the mobility it offers to its user. These drills can be carried in the tool kit and used in remote areas that have no power outlets. Secondly, being much lighter than corded drills, cordless variants are easier to use, carry, and are less likely to cause pain and discomfort to the hand and arms after intensive use. These drills need to be kept recharged or may stop functioning while in-between a task. The two types of batteries used in cordless drills are the cheaper and heavier nickel-cadmium, and expensive and lighter lithium-ion batteries.
Uses: Unless it's a cordless hammer drill, drills that work on batteries are usually not suitable for heavy drilling work such as drilling through hard concrete, masonry, or working with thick sheets of metal. However, it would work on wood, thin metal sheets, fiberglass, and plastic.
Drill Press
Drill Press
A drill press is a fixed/stationary drill. Such a drill is equipped with a motor and stationary bits that are able to make rapid and multiple holes. Being the most powerful drill, the press drill is able to make precision holes with predetermined depth and width. The angle at which the hole must be made can also be adjusted. Stand alone with ½ to 1 hp (horsepower) and benchtop with ⅓ to ¼ hp are the two types of stationary drill presses.
Uses: Such a drill can work through the toughest of materials and be equally delicate while piercing softer materials.