Hand Drills

Used for drilling holes in both metal and wood, the hand drill (also called a wheel brace) has been displaced in many woodworking shops by the cordless power drill. They still have many uses, and are available at good prices relative to power drills.

Hand drive and gearing ratios together allow for a wide range of speeds applicable to different types of work and materials. A main gear wheel, cranked by the drive handle, in turns drives a single or double pinion that transfers drive to the chuck.

The drive crank on some drills can be lengthened to give greater torque leverage. Most recent models feature gears which are completely encased in a cast steel or molded plastic body, which provides protection from dust and require less maintenance.

Changing Drill Bits

Many types of drill bits are available, from auger bits for deep holes, to countersink bits for recessing holes, to turn screw bits for driving screws. Fitting a new drill bit to the chuck is simple and quick.

Hand drill chucks typically are made up of three self-centering jaws held in a screw-type casing shell. Hold the large gear wheel steady with one hand, and turn the chuck shell counterclockwise with the other hand. Locate the drill bit end in the center of the jaws.

Tighten the jaws against the bit by turning the shell clockwise. Double check for accurate alignment of the bit; it should be in line with the axis of the chuck. Then make the final tightening of the chuck. Just reverse the process to remove a bit.

How to use a Hand Drill

Hand drills are used a lot of making pilot holes for screws and bigger holes. In softwoods and small holes, marking the center is not necessarily critical, but for hardwood, or larger more important holes, a bradawl should be used to start the hole.

For metal holes, use a center punch tool for marking the hole location and to avoid the drill bit wandering during drilling. You will also need to use some kind of lubricant when drilling in most metals.

Center the bit on the hole location and hold the gear crank handle between the thumb and forefinger of one hand while holding the drill’s end handle with the other.

Establish the hole by turning the wheel backward and forward a few times. Now, applying pressure to the end handle, operate the crank at the desired speed. If you are using a small bit, you should use a fast speed with light feed in order to avoid the bit catching and possibly breaking as it enters the work.

Breast Drills

A larger version of the hand drill, the breast drill has a curved plate, shaped like a saddle, at the end of it’s frame in place of a handle. This is designed to be leaned on for applying pressure while drilling.

They can be from 11 to 18 inches long; normal hand drills are available in lengths of 9 to 13 inches. Another feature of breast drills is their two speeds, elected through engaging the drive wheel in different positions.