Need-A-Tool 101: How Does a Drill Work?
They’ve been used in some way or form since around 35,000 BC, and we’ll probably still be using them for many years to come. Drills are arguably the most important tools for maintenance workers, and every private home should have at least one locked away for when shelves need knocking up. This article takes a look at a few types of drills, the parts of a drill, how this firearm-shaped tool operates, and how to operate it safely at home…
Types of Drills:
Humans have found ways to work holes into things since the dawn of our existence – starting with sharp rocks rubbed between the hands. We’ve come a long way since those days, but the underlying principal remains unchanged over the millenia: rotate something sharp while pressing it against a surface. Here’s how we’ve been doing just that…
Used by our distant ancestors, the bow-drill is made up of three parts: a sharp straight stick, a flat stone, and a bow. The stick was placed upright with the sharp end facing down and the stone rested atop. The bow was twisted over the stick to create a mechanism where the ‘sawing’ of the bow back and forth twisted the stick – causing it to drill into a surface.
- Hand Drill
The gimlet was a metal rod flayed on one end and with a twisted sharp pattern cut onto the other. The user would hold the drilling rod in position and, while applying pressure, twist the drill like they were shutting a vintage bath faucet. Another popular hand drill was the eggbeater drill, which was one of the first drills to utilise a gear mechanism to rotate the drill bit.
- Corded Drill
This is the drill most of us know and have seen in action before. The rotating gear-driven mechanism of the eggbeater drill was perfected and electrified over the years, culminating in a drill that can be plugged into any wall socket and make holes much faster than any hand drill. Unfortunately, you won’t be drilling anything when the power’s out.
- Cordless Drill
To solve that problem, the next logical step towards better drill mobility was to strap a battery pack to the corded drill – making it a cordless drill. While this is great for drilling in hard-to-reach spots and without having to drag an extension cable around, the cordless drills lose power as their batteries start to run out of charge – which is usually after 30 minutes or so of drilling.
- Rotary Hammer Drill
Used extensively in the construction industries to shatter through concrete and similar rock-hard surfaces, rotary hammer drills use both rotation and hammer-action to get the job done. Two separate motors rotate and shift the drill bit back and forth while drilling – making much more noise, but plowing through materials like brick and stone like nobody’s business!
Parts of an Electric Drill:
Most of a drill’s moving parts are on the inside, but we’re mainly interested in the parts that we can see. These include the drill bit, the chuck, the forward/reverse switch and the air vents. Here’s what they’re responsible for…
- Drill Bit
This is the removable point of the drill. The part that rotates and physically removes material from the drilling surface to create a hole.
This is the part that the drill bit is fastened into. The chuck is retractable, so as to accommodate for various drill bit sizes, and is fastened and loostened using a chuck key.
- Forward/Reverse Switch
This switch sets the drill to either rotate clockwise, or in reverse (anti-clockwise). This can be used to release a stuck drill bit, or to fasten and loosen screws using screwdriver drill bits.
- On/Off Trigger
This is the button pressed to activate the motor and start the drilling process. Some drills have pressure-sensitive triggers so as to better control the speed of rotation.
- Torque Selection Ring
This is a numbered ring that sets the ‘power’ of the drill motor. If you’re drilling into softer surfaces, you can set the torque down to a lower number. For harder surfaces, choose higher torque.
- Air Vents
These are located randomly upon the casing of your drill, but are by no means unimportant. This is where the fresh air gets in to cool down your drill’s motor.
How Does a Drill Work (step-by-step)
Step 1: Insert the Drill Bit
The chuck is loostened using the chuck key, and the drill bit is inserted with the sharp end facing outwards.
Step 2: Tighten the Chuck
The chuck is then fastened using the chuck key, keeping the drill bit straight as it is tightened into place. The chuck key is then removed.
Step 3: Set the Direction
The forward/reverse switch is set to either clockwise (for drilling a hole) or anti-clockwise (for removing a screw).
Step 4: Plug in the Drill
Once the drill bit is fastened and the direction has been set, the drill can be plugged into a wall socket and switched on. Hold the drill safely and give the trigger a quick press to ensure it’s operational.
Step 5: Position the Drill Bit
With your finger off of the trigger, position the drill bit on the point you’ll be drilling, keeping in mind the degree of your drill path (use a spirit level to help with this).
Step 6: Execute (slowly)
Tighten up your muscles, hold the drill steady, and slowly squeeze the drill’s trigger. Once the motor kicks in, keep the drill as motionless as possible and apply pressure from behind. Don’t drill for longer than 15 – 20 seconds continuously.
Drill Operating Guidelines
*Always wear goggles of some kind when operating a drill (glasses aren’t great as they can shatter)
*Ensure you’ve tightened your chuck properly before starting to drill
*Use the right drill bits for the right drilling surfaces (some are for wood, others for metal, others for brick, etc)
*Never get your drill wet – so no drilling in the rain (or even the drizzle)
*Blow air into your drill’s air vents every now and then to remove dust from the motor
*Consider covering or packing your drill in a sealed container when not in use
*Remember to release the chuck after drilling and remove the drill bit
Hire Drills & Drilling Equipment in KZN
Need-A-Tool has a range of drills for rent, and a catalogue of drilling equipment for hire too. We stock only the best brands in the business, which include Makita, Bosch, Hilti and DeWalt. Contact us today to secure a drill rental for your next project!