So, you’ve decided to go cordless - you got that fancy new Black and Decker drill that you’re just itching to use. For around-the-house repairs, the convenience of a cordless product is fantastic, and many of today’s drills can pack just as much punch as a corded electric model, but what’s the right way to operate it?
While it might not be too difficult to work out the basics yourself, some of the smaller bells and whistles on your new tool might take some time to understand. Using a cordless model improperly can lead to jagged, crooked holes that can be an annoying setback for your project.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to use a drill (also called a driver) the right way, what each part does, and walk you through the process of penetrating a simple hole step-by-step.
If you’re one of the many people who tossed out the little piece of paper that came with your tool explaining what each part is and how it works, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
The part of your cordless driver that looks like the trigger of a gun is, aptly named, the trigger. This is your drill’s gas pedal, so to speak – hold it down, the tool goes. Some triggers are touch-sensitive, meaning the harder you squeeze, the faster it spins.
In these machines without a touch-sensitive trigger, the gear selector is used to change the drill’s speed. You’ll often see it as a numbered dial or switch on top of your cordless model, with one being the slowest gear and each succeeding number making your driver faster. Only shift gears while the product is off.
Located on the handle of the machine is the forward/reverse selector, a small switch placed there to be used by your thumb while your index finger is on the trigger. Most of the time, you’ll have it set to forward for going through holes and tightening screws – switch to reverse mode when you need to remove or loosen something.
Bits are the long metal part of the machine that, well, drills. Pretty simple, but you should have a decent assortment of bits compatible with your machine on hand to tackle different jobs that involve different materials. If you’re wondering how to use a driver with various of pieces, the process is the same for each type.
The chuck is where you put your bits, which sounds a little weird out of context. It’s the metal part at the front tip of your drill that, when there’s no piece in place, is simply a hole. Each time you change the bit, it’s important to make sure you’ve set it in the chuck correctly so that it doesn’t end up crooked.
Place the bit into the chuck, and then hold it between your fingers and gently squeeze the trigger to make sure it’s in place – if it’s not straight, it will wobble. To remove a bit from the chuck, only loosen the chuck and pull it out while the product is off.
Note that this is the process for keyless models, which nearly all cordless drivers are. Keyed chucks are pretty outdated and more common in corded drills. While keyless chucks can be tightened quickly by hand, a keyed chuck needs a “key” (not like a house key: think more like a small wrench) to be tightened each time a new bit is inserted. Generally you're better off with a keyless chuck as it speeds things up.
The torque is located on the body of your driver (it looks a bit like a combination lock you used in school) with numbers ranging between 1 and 10 or 1 and 20. Not to be confused with speed, torque is the amount of force your drill produces, not how fast it turns, and is usually increased to tighten screws. To change the amount of torque, only line up the number you want with the arrow – it’s best to start low and work your way up until you reach a setting that feels right.
Unlike a corded model, your driver runs on power from a rechargeable battery. This makes it especially handy for quick, around the house jobs. When you’re finished using your cordless drill, put it back in its charging station so that it’s ready the next time you need it. If you’re working on a large project (building a shed, for example) the battery might not last long enough to get it done in one go, and in that situation, an electric model is probably best.
Especially when drilling through wood, it’s a good idea to wear a pair of safety goggles to keep any flying wood chips out of your eyes. Also, make sure the material you’re going through has scrap wood or nothing at all underneath so that you don’t accidentally penetrate into something you shouldn’t!
Choose the appropriate bit for the job and insert it into the chuck. Soft bits (steel, HSS) for more elastic materials like wood and plastic, and harder bits (carbine, cobalt) for metals. Twist bits are usually a safe bet for any material, while spade bits and auger bits are best used only for going through soft woods.
Always have your drill configured to spin forward (clockwise) by using the forward/reverse selector switch.
If you’re not sure what power settings to set your cordless drill to, start small at the lowest speed and the weakest torque and work your way up from there.
Line up your machine to where you want the hole, and apply pressure to the trigger. Don’t rely on the drill to do all the work for you – you’ll need to apply downward pressure as well.
And that’s it! Penetrating the hole is the easiest part – it’s setting up the machine correctly that takes a bit of work, but it’s nothing much at all once you get the hang of it and figure out what settings work best for different jobs.
Now that you know how to use a cordless drill, you’ll be able to take on any project like a pro. These machines are becoming more and more powerful, even replacing corded electric drills for a variety of jobs, so it’s important to know how to operate this household handyman staple.
With these plus a great product there is no stopping you now. All you need now is a model that fits your needs. You can check out our homepage for our review on top-rated cordless drills.