A drill can be a useful tool in the shop, and is a necessity in most projects you undertake, but improper use and techniques can make your job harder and leave your product with imperfections.
Whether you are a novice handyman or a professional carpenter it is always a valuable to refresh your knowledge base on the basics and seek out some new tips and techniques to make your drill work easier for you. It is easy to get set in your ways, and even the professionals can sometimes get lazy with their tools, but if you revise some of the basics it will ensure that your skills will stay as sharp as your tools.
When you undertake any job it is always important to make sure you have the right quality tools for the job. Sure, its the skill of the person using the tool that matters in the end, but it is good to remember that it is your tools that are there to help you make the job easier not just for the convenience.
There are many different types of drills on the market, all with their own settings, so it is important to read the user-manual for the drill you are using so you can properly operate the torque and speed settings when you start your next job or project.
As with any job you undertake it is always good to do some research on the particular type of material you are drilling into to get the best out of your drilling techniques, but the following is a quick guide to some of the common materials you will be drilling into.
- WOOD – Wood is probably the least scary material to work with when it comes to drilling. Wood bits generally are spiral and come with pointy tips to help dig into the grain. Start off slow until the bit starts digging into the wood then you can increase the speed. Try not to go too fast or keep the drill in the same position for too long otherwise you risk burning the wood.
- METAL – When it comes to metal bits you have High Speed Steel(HSS) or Cobalt (Cheaper of the 2 but more brittle), both resistant to the high temperatures that the bit will reach when drilling into harder metals. If you are drilling into Hard metals like Stainless Steel and Iron it is recommended to use lower RPM and a firm pressure, stopping at times to let the bit cool. When using in a drill press on thicker metals it is always a good idea to keep the bit lubricated with a coolant like a Drill Oil. When working with softer metals like aluminium, a higher rpm and prolonged drilling can cause the heat to deform the metal- so take it slow.
- MASONRY (brick) – When you need to drill into stone or brick you need a masonry bit. These come with hardened tips and should be used with the hammer setting on your drill. When drilling apply firm pressure and keep removing the bit and blowing out the dust from the hole – this will stop the dust getting in the way and causing he bit to polish the stone instead of cutting into it.
THE DRILL BITS
Drill bits come in many styles and sizes depending on what job they are designed to do; Wood, Metal, Masonry and Forstner are just some of the main bits you will be using. The following simple tips are what I recommend when choosing and using your drill bits.
- Choose Quality Brands – A quality Drill Bit is essential when choosing bits for your next project. They may cost a bit more initially but you will save money in the long run when they outlast all your cheap bits and stay sharp longer. Remember, you don’t need every single size of drill bit so if price is an issue then slowly build your collection by buying the quality bit size separately as needed instead of a whole pack. Just don’t forget to get a suitable container to store them in (see tip 3)
- Keep your bits sharp – Blunt drill bits will make your job harder as they are more likely to polish and rub against the medium you are working with then cut and remove dust from the hole you are drilling. Take the time to learn how to hand sharpen your bits as most cheaper Electric Drill Bit sharpeners will not do a good job and are more likely to case damage bit than sharpen them.
- Store your bits in a suitable container – The last thing you want after you have your expensive sharp bits in your possession is to have them slowly blunt as they rub and grind against themselves when you just chuck them loosely into a box. Most quality drill packs will have a suitable container, but if you’re re buying each piece separately then there are many drill bit holders on the market that will keep the drill bits organised and held securely in place.
- Right bit for the job – Before picking up that drill it is worth while doing a bit of research on the material you’ll be drilling into; doing this will not only guarantee that you are using the correct drill bit for the job but could also help you find the right techniques and drill settings for that material.
- Pre-drilling holes – Before drilling a hole, or driving a screw into any material is an important step to pre-drill guide holes to avoid splitting of fragile materials or snapping of screws when dealing with hardwoods. When you need to drill a larger hole it is always good to start with a small pilot hole and gradually increase the size of the drill bit until you get to the desired size. This will not only make sure the hole you drill is clean, but will also make your job easier, faster and protect your drill bit from overheating from friction which can cause your bits to dull.
- Rubber Grommets – A simple but effective trick is to use a rubber grommet (if you cant find a grommet you can use the grommet off These Screws) to protect surfaces you are drilling into. Just slide the grommet over your drill shaft bit until its against the chuck head and you’re done. Next time you drill through something this will prevent the chuck rubbing against the material, especially the moments when you accidentally slip and slam the drill into the material you’re working with. A must if working with a lot of tiles. (Click here for Tile Drilling tips)
Now that you have the tools and the knowledge, go out and master your next project!