How to Operate a Power Drill for Beginners

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As one of the most convenient professional and DIY machines out there for construction work and home improvement, the drill is a must-have power tool for any workshop or contractor firm. It's the go-to tool for around-the-house projects for sure, which means many an inexperienced homeowner has gotten their hands on this device.

With that in mind, how do you handle the drill safely? What must you do in order to use the drill to its fullest potential exactly? Luckily, you've come across the right article. Keep on reading to find out the secrets to safely and correctly handling a drill!

What You Will Need

There are some tools and materials you need to properly practice handling a drill as a beginner.

The Drill Itself: Can't practice drilling without a drill! Theory and reading up on instructions is one thing. Actually doing it correctly with your drill through trial and error is a separate thing altogether.

Fit Clothes and No Jewelry: Leave the jewelry at home or your jewelry chest. Also, avoid wearing loose clothes that can get caught in the drill. Opt for more fit working clothes instead, like those worn by construction workers.

Goggles: When getting goggles for your work, make sure they're the ones that also protect the sides of your eyes instead of looking like normal sunglasses or prescription glasses.

Ear Muffs: Regular drills can reach noises up to 90 decibels. Hammer drills can go all the way to 100 decibels. Prolonged exposure to these noises can damage your eardrum so protect your hearing with ear muffs.

Dust Mask: Dust and debris will be flying everywhere as you use your drill, so keep yourself safe with a face mask on. This will prevent scratches on your mouth and nose as well as dust inhalation.

Respirator: If you're drilling every day, for a long time, or known hazardous materials that could damage your lungs, have a respirator available to assist you.

Drill Bit: Choose the right one for the specific application you wish to use the drill on. There are different bits for different construction materials.

Chuck Key: The key that unlocks the chuck that clamps the drill bit into the drill power tool.


Here are the things that newbies need to keep in mind when using a drill risk-free and properly.

Wear Eye and Ear Safety Gear: As you prepare your drill, you should also prepare yourself in turn. Wear safe clothing or work clothes for woodworking. Also wear safety goggles that protect the sides of your eyes as well as the front. Don't wear dangling jewelry or baggy clothing when working with a drill, they could get caught on something and ruin the tool or injure you.

Stay protected from flying debris by wearing the right cloths or even a face mask to cover your nose and mouth from inhaling dust. It's also important to wear ear protection because an electric drill can reach up to 90 decibels of noise, which is enough to cause hearing damaged when exposed to it for too long. Many cordless drills are quiet enough to not necessitate ear production while hammer drills are the loudest of the bunch, producing 100 decibels.

Wear Nose and Mouth Safety Gear and Choose Drill Bits: Protect your lungs with a dust mask. It will serve as your breathing protection. However, this can only help you out on the short term. A respirator might be required if you use your drill for long periods of time or even on a daily basis. You also need it if the material you're drilling is a respiratory hazard. Pick respirators based on your project or the type of hazard you face.

Choose the right drill bit as well. The wrong bit material can end up breaking the drill bit or the material you're boring holes into. It should be the right composition of metal to make sure the holes being drilled are clean and without cracks. A masonry bit works best on concrete, brick or stone. Most woods can be bored through with a standard general purpose bit.

More Info When It Comes to Choosing Drill Bits: Metals require an HSS (High Speed Steel) bit. Diamond-tipped or carbide bits work on the hardest materials around as well as brittle surfaces such as glazed tiles, glass, and porcelain (the bit can drill through glass without it breaking). Bits also available with specialized designs so consult a bit manufacturer or drill manual if you're unsure of what bit to use.

A right-sized bit is also needed when drilling a hole for a screw. However, how big should the bit be? There's an easy way to find out. Just hold the screw in question up directly behind the bit. If the bit is the right size it should hide the shaft of the screw from view but the screw threads should still be visible on both sides. Any discrepancy from these guidelines means the bit is not the right size.

Fitting the Drill Bit into the Drill Chuck: The drill bit should fit firmly into the chuck, otherwise known as the clamp within the drill's "jaws" that connects the drill body to the bit, holding it in place as it spins. When switching or replacing drill bits, make sure the drill is off (and unplugged if it's a corded drill). From there, loosen the chuck by rotating it counterclockwise by hand or by chuck key.

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Depending on your drill, you may be able to twist it off by hand or you might require the aid of a chuck key that's typically found in a compartment on the handle or top of the drill. After loosening, just insert the bit into the chuck, tighten the chuck again, and you're all done. Make sure the bit is secure and straight before removing the chuck key or manually hand-tightening the chuck.

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Drill a Test or Pilot hole: Usually, you get better results by making a pilot hole or initial test hole that's smaller than the final hole size. Drill a shallow and smaller pilot hole with a temp drill bit that's smaller than your intended final drill bit. Switch to a larger bit once you decide to finalize the hole and finish the job altogether. Having a test hole is advantageous because it prevents splinters and other wooden damage.

In contrast, if all the holes you drill are the final holes, then it's hard to undo the work you've done if you make a mistake. You might end up making a holey mess out of your plywood or 4x4, which makes it easier to break. The pilot hole is handy when it comes to keeping the drill bit from slipping and punching a hole away from your mark.

Drill with Steady Pressure: The drill should be held steadily when pushing it unto the material you're drilling, especially when you're dealing with brittle material like glass and ceramic. If it takes more force to drill the hole you're attempting to make, then chances are you've ended up using the wrong drill bit altogether. The right bit will bore through the material with no need for an extra push on your part at all.

Glass and ceramic are brittle materials that require care and attention when being drilled. Make a small x-mark with masking tape where you want to place the hole so that chipping and slippage can be avoided. Double-check if you have the right drill bit too. Instead of drilling a pilot hole, place the drill bit over the masking-tape x then tap it with a hammer to make a small dent on the glass.

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Adjust the Clutch and Avoid Overheating: Your drill has a twistable collar that adjusts the torque and has a series of numbers marked on it. This is called the clutch. The higher the number the higher the rotational force the drill will put out. If you have issues in material penetration, increasing the torque can do the trick. If you're overdriving screws, lower the torque.

The drill bit shouldn't overheat to the point of glowing orange. This will warp it. This is a high-friction job though, so sometimes you may encounter the bit ending up nearing its melting point as it drills at high speeds through hard materials. That's because the immense friction is making its temperature rise up. You can also end up burning the material if you're not careful. Start at low drill speeds and only increase it if the drill isn't moving smoothly.


Knowing the proper way to drill will prevent you from injuring yourself or ruining countless work pieces, whether they're made of glass, wood, metal, or plastic. You don't want to fall into the common novice or greenhorn pitfalls when dealing with a drill for the first time ever. Read this article carefully in order to know what to expect and avoid any potential dangers. After all, you don't need to be bitten by a snake in order to know that's something you should avoid.

At any rate, if you enjoyed reading this article, feel free to comment on it below. Let your thoughts be heard or share some of your experiences when it comes to handling drills! We want to hear from you.


  • October 31, 2017
  • DIY