Drill it!
homeowner helper lab

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Let’s talk about drills.

Three tips and tricks about drills, bits, and how to master them!

There are a few different kinds of drills you can use when you’re working on projects in your home, but the most common one you’ll come across is a regular corded or cordless drill. This one usually looks like the picture below.

Blue and black cordless Makita drill on shelf at hardware store
Cordless Drill

For this drill, you’ll stick in a bit of your choice to either make a hole, or drive in a screw. The tips I have for you today are all about this kind of drill.

Tip 1: Adjusting the torque

You’ve seen numbers on your drill and probably wondered why you’d ever use them or need them. Those numbers around the collar of the drill are to adjust the torque of the drill. If you’ve ever drilled in a screw and not gotten it more than halfway into the board you’re working on, you likely needed to adjust the settings of the drill to increase the torque. Increasing the torque means that the drill will deliver more force as it twists and can insert the screw further into the material with less energy. The higher the number on the dial, the more torque you have. You may need to play with it a bit to see exactly how it works, but it will help you when you’re driving screws into wood.

Tip 2: Choosing the right bit for the job

This tip is for when you’re using the drill bit with your driver, not the screwdriver attachments, but the rule is the same with those, too. Look at the material you’re drilling into. If it’s metal, concrete, stone, or wood, you’ll need a different bit. The ones you’re probably used to seeing are called twist bits, which are pictured below. To drill through metal, you’ll need something called high speed steel, which makes the job easier. When drilling through masonry, you generally use bits that are carbide tipped to bite through the stone.

The right size screwdriver attachment is critical, too, because if you choose one too big for your screw, it won’t fit, but if you choose one too small, it will strip the head of the screw, and then you won’t be able to get it into the material with which you’re working.

Tip 3: SAFETY FIRST

They seem innocuous, but drills can cause injury, if you’re not careful. If you have long hair, pull it back before you use them. Keep your hands clear from the bits when you’re drilling. I’ve had many occasions where a screwdriver bit has slipped off the end of a screw and gouged my knuckles. One thing you may not notice until you do more work with drills, they get very hot when you use them for a while, as do screws when you are pulling them out. Be careful touching the tool after making a hole or extracting a screw, you could really burn yourself!

For more information about drills, come to our Drills, Saws, and Sanders class! We teach you about impact drills, different kinds of bits (ooooh! SAW BITS!), and all the things you need to know to successfully complete your home improvement projects. Sign up today! Bring a friend so you can drill together. (HA!)

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