Using a drill: 10 expert tips

Electric drills, usually cordless, are the most used tool in any tool box. But using these powerful tools correctly isn't always obvious. Following these 10 expert tips will help you to drill safely and quickly.

  1. Choose the right kind of drill bit for your job. To make sure the bit is fitted in snugly, twist the knurled ring to open the drill chuck and fit your drill bit's end inside of it. Then tighten the locking ring. Once you feel the ring start to slip the drill bit is secure. If your drill has a chuck that needs to be tightened with a key, then put the key in one of the chuck's key holes and turn it until the chuck is tightly closed around the bit. Repeat for all of your chuck's holes.
  2. If you hold the drill so that the force you exert pushes the bit straight into the wall, you can make your holes straighter and avoid breaking your bits. To exert your force evenly, place your hand on your drill so that it's in line with the chuck. Then extend your index finger along your drill's body and use your second finger to pull the drill's trigger.
  3. To help you make a perfectly straight hole every time use a simple homemade drill guide. To make this guide, join one 4.5 centimetre-square (1.8 inch-square) block that's 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) thick to another block of the same size in its middle (making a flat "Z" shape). Fasten these blocks together with wood adhesive and  3.5 centimetre (1.5 inch) wood screws (countersunk so that they're heads are under the wood's surface). Now, to use your homemade guide, just run the drill bit down the "V" groove formed in its middle.
  4. To help make sure you're drilling only as deeply as you need to, wrap a strip of masking or duct tape around your drill bit at your desired depth. Or, you can mark your bit with a grease pencil.
  5. If your drill has a flat top that's parallel to your drill bit, then try taping a mini spirit level or line level to your drill's top. This way you can see when you're exactly straight and level while drilling into walls.
  6. Bent bits are likely to break and damage your work. To test your bits before you use them, use your finger tips to slowly roll each one on a flat surface. If a bit wobbles, it's bent. Or, if you have a straightedge, place your bit against it and check for gaps between the two surfaces.
  7. To avoid leaving a rough, splintery edge when drilling all the way through wood, stop drilling just as your bit pierces the back of your work. Then, pull out the bit, use the small hole it left as a centring guide, and finish drilling the hole from the back. You can use this method with spade, auger and brad-point bits.
  8. Use a masonry bit with a carbide tip when you need to drill into tough materials such as concrete and masonry.
  9. To start drilling into concrete, make a small hole first. Then enlarge it as needed.
  10. Rent or buy a hammer drill to use with your carbide-tip bits if you have to drill many holes in concrete or masonry. Because it bangs the spinning bit into the surface, a hammer drill will help make your work much easier.

Following these 10 tips for properly using an electric drill is your first step to drilling safely and efficiently.

Using a drill: 10 expert tips
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