The electric drill is about as versatile as a tool can get. It drills holes of many kinds, of course, but it can sand and grind, too, as well as drive screws. And it can stir paint or plaster. Not too many years ago, drills with specialty attachments were commonly used as routers and even saws, but other purpose-made tools have now, for the most part, taken the place of such attachments.
What is an electric drill?
An electric drill is an electrical motor that rotates a replaceable drill bit to make a hole in wood, plastic, or metal. Alternately, you are free to utilize a screwdriver to turn screws. The parts of an electric drill include the handle, an on/off trigger with safety latch, a reversing switch for changing the rotation direction of the drill bit, a torque adjustment, and the chuck that holds the drill bit in place. Corded drills are powered by a 110-volt electrical cord inserted into an electrical receptacle; cordless drills are powered by a battery in the drill’s handle.
How an electric drill works?
The workings of a drill are pretty simple – at its centre, is a high-speed electric motor that drives a spindle through a set of gears designed to increase or reduce the speed at which the spindle turns. Screwed to the front end of the spindle is a chuck with a number of fingers that can be tightened to hold drill bits and other attachments.
The motor and gearbox are housed in a gun-shaped casing, normally made of high-impact plastic, which has a fat handle grip under or behind it. Mounted halfway down the handle, is a trigger that switches the motor on and off, and controls the speed at which the drill turns.
Things to consider when choosing an electric drill
An important item to check when buying any drill is its chuck size. This gives a rough guide to the largest hole that can be made.
Most electric drills are fitted with either a 10mm or 13mm chuck. Tightened fully, this will hold a 1,5mm bit allowing you to cope with very fine work. The largest bit you can use varies according to the type of material you are drilling – in mild steel roughly the same size as the chuck; in hard masonry around one and a half times its size; and in soft materials about twice the chuck size.
All electric drills have a key that is used to adjust the chuck. This has a serrated end, which meshes with the teeth on the chuck, allowing it to be opened and closed. When deciding which drill to buy, check that the key engages smoothly with the teeth on the chuck and that it is comfortable to hold and use. This prevents long-term damage to the chuck, which is expensive to replace. Special rubber straps are available to hold the key on the drill lead and prevent it being lost.
The speed of a basic electric drill is controlled by the amount of pressure on the trigger mechanism. It is up to you to adjust the speed of the motor by increasing or lessening your hold on the trigger according to the type of material being drilled.
Power and efficiency
The power of any drill is all-important and should be one of the first things you check. This determines whether the drill can be expected to tackle tough materials and also how efficiently and quickly it can do the job.
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