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How to Use a Power Drill

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Alan enjoys woodworking and has a special interest in rustic home decor. He has been involved in woodworking for over twenty years.

Basic parts of a power drill.

Basic parts of a power drill.

Power Drill Basics

A cordless drill, often referred to as a power drill or battery drill, is the pride and joy of any tool kit. It seems easy enough to pull the trigger and let it rip, but use caution. Proper use of this powerful tool is important to avoid mishaps and damage to projects. A power drill can accomplish many tasks with ease, and learning the basics requires minimal effort.

The Parts of a Power Drill

A power drill really only has a few important parts when it comes to basic operation. Refer to the photo to get a good idea of how these parts are laid out. Starting at the tip of the drill, where the driver and drill bits are inserted, is the chuck. Just behind the chuck is the clutch or torque adjustment wheel.

On the top of the drill is a gear selector switch. The trigger is located near the center of the tool. The forward or reverse selector switch is located just above and to the rear of the trigger. The handle is just below the trigger and the battery is located at the bottom of the handle. There are vents that cool the motor near the back of the drill, and these should stay uncovered so the power drill does not overheat.

Front view of a standard drill chuck.

Front view of a standard drill chuck.

Inserting a Drill Bit

Before use, the drill must be set up for the task at hand. First, a drill bit or driver bit must be inserted into the chuck. For drilling holes, a drill bit is used. For driving screws and bolts, a driver bit is used.

The chuck has a couple of different working parts. A three-prong metal bit holder is at the tip of the chuck. A hand hold just behind the bit holder is used to loosen and tighten the chuck. Spinning the hand hold to the right or left will adjust the bit holder. One direction should tighten the metal bit holder on the tip of the chuck, and the other direction should loosen the bit holder.

Loosen the chuck in the proper direction until the base of the driver or drill bit will fit into the metal bit holder. Hold the bit in place while tightening the chuck until it is held firmly in place. Make sure that the base of the bit is seated properly in the bit holder, otherwise it may not spin correctly.

Numbered settings mark the torque adjustment wheel.

Numbered settings mark the torque adjustment wheel.

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Adjusting Drill Torque

Adjusting drill torque is important to prevent damage to both the tool itself and the project in question. The higher the torque setting, the more force the drill will apply before the clutch stops the chuck from turning. Normally the highest torque setting would be used for drilling holes, and the lowest setting might be used for driving small screws into wood.

First, choose a gear setting using the gear selector switch on the top of the drill. When it comes to the gears, the lowest gear will be slower with more torque. The highest gear will be faster, but offers less torque.

Next, set the torque clutch using the numbered wheel just behind the chuck. Align the number setting with the arrow on top of the drill, just behind the torque clutch adjustment wheel.

The torque settings usually start at one and go up to ten or more. The highest setting is often represented by a small drill bit symbol. Once the number is set, the clutch will only allow the chuck to apply a certain amount of force. When that amount of force is reached, the clutch will engage and regulate the amount of force. This can be helpful in preventing a screw from sinking too deep into soft wood, or breaking the head off of a small screw.

The clutch makes a loud clicking sound when it is engaged, but this is normal. If a lower torque setting is preventing the drill from completing the desired task, try a higher setting.

Drill and driver bits.

Drill and driver bits.

Basic Drill Operation

Now that the drill is ready to use, hold it in your primary working hand using the handle just above the battery. Set the forward or reverse selector to the correct position. Gently pull the trigger back and the chuck on the power drill should start to spin. Be sure and keep work secured and batteries charged for improved power drill performance.

Troubleshooting a Power Drill

ProblemPossible Solution

Trigger not working

Adjust forward/reverse switch

Drill has low power or will not spin

Install a freshly charged battery

Drill/driver bit is not spinning straight

Remove bit from chuck and reinstall

Torque clutch is preventing drill from completing task

Adjust torque to a higher setting

Drill is spinning too fast/slow for task

Adjust gear selector switch

Drill is pushing screws too deep into wood

Adjust torque to a lower setting

Power Drill 101

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Devika Primic on August 08, 2020:

I think this is a well-informed hub. I learned a lot on how to use a battery drill. Informative and well-written. You explained in detail and created a unique on an interesting topic that is useful to most people. I look forward to another well written hub from you

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