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What Is a Hand Drill and How Does It Compare to Power Drills?

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Written By John Gibbs




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A hand drill is an essential DIY tool for any home improvement project or basic repair job. A hand drill is a simple device that uses a rotating motion to drill holes into a variety of materials. It is lightweight, easy to use, and can be adjusted to drill multiple hole sizes. With a few basic tips and tricks, you can quickly become a hand drill expert and make any project easier. In this guide, we will explain what a hand drill is, how to use it properly, and the different types of hand drills available.

What is a Hand Drill?

What Is A Hand Drill?

A hand drill is a power tool that is used to bore holes and drive screws into materials such as wood, metal, and plastic. It consists of a motor and a chuck that holds drill bits of varying sizes and shapes.

Hand drills are ideal for DIY projects as they are small and light enough to be easily carried around and are not as expensive as other power tools. They are also simple to use, making them accessible to even novice DIYers.

How do Hand Drills Work?

Hand drills are powered by electricity, which is supplied to the motor via a cord. The motor then turns the chuck, which in turn rotates the drill bit, creating the hole or driving the screw into the material.

The drill bit is held in place by the chuck, which is tightened with a key that is inserted into a hole in the side of the tool. Once the bit is in place, the user simply needs to press the trigger, which will turn on the motor and move the bit, creating the hole or driving the screw.

Types of Hand Drills

There are two main types of hand drills: corded and cordless. Corded hand drills are powered by an electrical outlet and are ideal for larger projects that require a lot of drilling. Cordless hand drills are powered by rechargeable batteries, making them more portable and better suited for smaller projects.

Type of Hand Drill Power Ideal For
Corded Electrical Outlet Larger Projects
Cordless Rechargeable Batteries Smaller Projects

Hand drills are a versatile tool and are the go-to choice for many DIYers. They are easy to use, cost-effective, and can be used for a variety of projects.

How Hand Drills Work

How Hand Drills Work

  • Drill Bit: A hand drill features a twistable drill bit that is made of hardened steel. It is designed to bore through wood, metal, masonry, and plastic.
  • Chuck: The drill bit is held in place by a chuck, which is a device that tightens and releases the bit. It is usually tightened by hand, but some hand drills have a keyed chuck for more security.
  • Speed: The speed of a hand drill is determined by the number of revolutions per minute (RPM). Most hand drills have two speed settings, one for drilling and one for screwdriving.
  • Power Source: Hand drills are either powered by electricity or by a rechargeable battery. Electric drills are typically more powerful and faster than battery-powered drills.
  • Grip: Hand drills typically feature a pistol grip that allows the user to get a firm hold. Some drills also have a handle to provide extra leverage.
  • Safety: Hand drills should always be used with safety glasses. If a drill bit becomes stuck in the material, it should be held securely and the drill should be unplugged before the bit is removed.
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Types of Hand Drills

Types Of Hand Drills

Manual Hand Drills

Manual hand drills are the simplest and most basic type of hand drills. They are operated by a crank handle that is turned by hand. Manual hand drills are great for small and light-duty drilling jobs. They are usually the most affordable type of hand drill and are ideal for those who do not do a lot of drilling.

Electric Hand Drills

Electric hand drills are powered by electric motors and are more powerful than manual hand drills. They are great for medium to heavy-duty drilling jobs and are perfect for those who do a lot of drilling. Electric hand drills can be plugged into wall outlets or powered by batteries.

Cordless Hand Drills

Cordless hand drills are powered by rechargeable batteries and are the most powerful type of hand drill. They are great for heavy-duty drilling jobs and are perfect for those who do a lot of drilling away from an electrical outlet. Cordless hand drills offer the most portability and convenience of any type of hand drill.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hand Drills

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Hand Drills

  • Advantages
    • Hand drills are more accurate and precise than power drills, as the user has more control over the depth and direction of the drilling.
    • They are relatively inexpensive and portable, and they require no power source.
    • Hand drills are quiet and can be used in tight spaces, making them ideal for repairing furniture or working in cramped spaces.
    • They can also be used to drill in delicate materials, such as glass and ceramic.
    • Hand drills are low maintenance tools, as they have no moving parts, and require little to no upkeep.
  • Disadvantages
    • Hand drills are not suitable for drilling large holes or for drilling into hard materials.
    • They are slow and require more effort than power drills.
    • Hand drills can be difficult to control, especially in tight spaces or with delicate materials.
    • They require more time to change the drill bit, as the chuck needs to be manually tightened and loosened.

Other Considerations when Buying a Hand Drill

Other Considerations When Buying A Hand Drill

  • Power – The power of a hand drill is usually measured in volts. Choose a drill with enough power to get the job done. Most drills come with a range of speeds, so you can adjust the power to suit the task.
  • Cordless or Corded – Cordless drills are convenient but can be expensive. Corded drills are often more powerful and cheaper, but you’ll need to be close to a power source.
  • Weight – If you’re going to be using the drill for extended periods, choose one that’s lightweight and easy to handle.
  • Accessories – Some drills come with a range of accessories, such as drill bits, screwdriver heads and even sanding attachments.
  • Warranty – Look for a drill with a good warranty. Most manufacturers offer a minimum one-year warranty on their products.
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Accessories for Hand Drills

Accessories For Hand Drills

Hand drills come with a variety of accessories that can make your projects easier, such as drill bits, hole saws, and countersinks. Drill bits are the most common accessory, and they come in a variety of sizes and materials. Drill bits are typically made from metal, wood, or masonry and are used to bore holes in a variety of materials. Hole saws are used to cut larger holes, and countersinks are used to create a recess around the hole. Other drill accessories include drill chucks, which are used to hold drill bits securely in place, and drill stops, which help to prevent over-drilling. The right accessories can make any hand drill more versatile and make your projects easier to complete.

Safety Precautions when Using a Hand Drill

Safety Precautions Explanation
Secure Workpieces Secure the workpiece to a stable surface prior to drilling. This will ensure that the workpiece is held securely in place and reduces the likelihood of injury or damage to the workpiece.
Wear Safety Gear Always wear safety gear such as eye protection, gloves and a dust mask when using a hand drill.
Use the Right Drill Bits Always use the correct drill bit for the material you are drilling. Using the wrong drill bit can cause damage to the workpiece and the drill itself.
Cover Surrounding Areas Cover any surrounding areas with a cloth or dust sheet to prevent dust from spreading and to protect other objects from damage.
Check the Cord Always check the cord for any signs of damage before using the drill. If the cord is damaged, do not use the drill and have it repaired by a professional.
Unplug the Drill Always unplug the drill when changing drill bits or when not in use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Advantages of Using a Hand Drill Over a Power Drill?

  • Less Expensive: Hand drills are much more cost effective than power drills, making them a great option for those on a budget.
  • Portable: Hand drills can easily be carried and stored in a toolbox or bag, allowing you to bring them with you wherever you go.
  • Quieter: Hand drills are much quieter than power drills, making them ideal for use in areas where noise pollution is a concern.
  • Less Maintenance: Hand drills require less maintenance than power drills, saving you time and money.
  • Higher Precision: Hand drills offer more control, allowing for more precise drilling than power drills.

What Types of Materials Can a Hand Drill be Used On?

A hand drill is a versatile tool that can be used to drill through a variety of materials including wood, metal, plastic, tiles, and even concrete. The type of bit used will determine the type of material the hand drill can penetrate. For example, a masonry bit is used for drilling into concrete and a wood bit is used for drilling into wood. It’s important to choose the correct bit for the material you’re drilling or you may damage the material or the drill.

What Safety Precautions Should Be Taken When Using a Hand Drill?

Always wear safety glasses or goggles. It’s important to protect your eyes from flying particles, chips, dust, and sparks.

Secure the workpiece. Make sure that the workpiece is secured in a vice or clamp before drilling to prevent it from slipping, spinning, or being damaged.

Choose the right drill bit. Make sure that the drill bit you are using is the right size for the material you are drilling and that it is sharp.

Unplug the drill when changing bits. Always unplug the drill before changing the drill bit to prevent the drill from accidentally starting.

Keep your hands away from the drill bit. Always keep your hands away from the drill bit while it is in use to prevent injury.

Use the correct speed. Different drill bits require different speeds. Be sure to use the correct speed for the material and drill bit you are using.

Be aware of the kickback. Hand drills can generate a lot of kickback, so be prepared and use the proper technique.

Keep your hands and fingers away from the chuck. The chuck is the metal part of the drill that holds the drill bit. Make sure that your hands and fingers are away from the chuck when the drill is in use.

Check the drill for wear and tear. Make sure that all the parts of the drill are in good condition. Pay special attention to the power cord and handle.

Secure loose clothing and jewelry. Always make sure that loose clothing and jewelry are secured away from the drill bit to prevent them from getting caught in the drill.

What accessories are available for a hand drill?

  • Drill Bits: These come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are used to make holes in various materials. They can be used for drilling wood, metal, concrete, and other materials.
  • Countersink Bits: These bits are used for making countersink holes. This is a type of hole with a conical shape that allows for screws to fit flush with the material.
  • Hole Saws: These are used for making circular holes in various materials. They come in various sizes and are ideal for making large diameter holes.
  • Sanding Discs: These are used for sanding down materials such as wood and metal. They come in various grits, depending on the application.
  • Router Bits: These are used for making decorative edges and shapes on wood, metal, and other materials. They come in various shapes and sizes.
  • Chisels: These are used for making precise cuts and shapes in materials such as wood and metal. They come in various shapes and sizes.

How do I maintain my hand drill to keep it in good condition?

To keep your hand drill in optimal condition, you should regularly clean the metal parts with a dry cloth and lubricate them with a light oil. Additionally, you should check for any loose screws or parts and make sure that the drill bit is tightened securely before use. To ensure the drill bit is sharp and in good condition, replace it regularly. Finally, store the drill in a dry place away from extreme temperatures.


A hand drill is a versatile and reliable tool for any DIY enthusiast. It is easy to use and can be used for a variety of applications, from drilling holes to sanding and polishing surfaces. Its versatility makes it a great addition to any DIY arsenal. While more expensive cordless drills offer greater power and convenience, the hand drill remains an essential and reliable tool for any DIY job.



About John Gibbs

Hello everyone! My name is John Gibbs. I am 60 years old and have been in the family construction business all my adult life. Construction is not only my profession but also my passion. I know everything about building and repair materials, tools, advanced methods, techniques, and approaches. I will share the same knowledge with you in my articles.

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