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How to Use a Power Drill

Published on NewsOK Published: December 23, 2012

Good Driving Habits

Driving screws properly with a drill takes experience and focus. Expert operators seldom strip screws, while rookies do it all the time. Why? Experts follow three basic rules: 1. keep the drill straight, 2. apply a lot of pressure, and 3. know when to let off the trigger. The first two rules are self-explanatory; the third comes with experience. But if you follow the first two rules, often the screw (and the material) will let you know it's time to stop driving. If you're still stripping or breaking screws, you're stopping too late and/or you need pilot holes (or bigger pilot holes).

Many cordless drills have a clutch feature that stops the chuck from spinning at a preset torque level to help prevent overdriving or stripping screws. I think that "smart" hands work better than a clutch. Allowing for restrained wrist movement provides some give to prevent over-torquing the screw, and a quick trigger finger stops the power altogether. Pulsing the trigger after the screw is driven home gives it a final tightening, but this requires extra care, as inertia increases the chance of screw breakage. Above all else, if you focus on what you're doing and consider the forces at play, you'll strip a lot fewer screws.

Buying a New Drill

Every tool hound knows that choosing the "best" tool is a highly personal process. This goes double for drills. Not only does a drill have to feel just right in your hand, it also must have the response and performance you want. I recently had to replace a beloved DeWalt corded drill and have a cautionary tale to share. While sizing up the models on offer at the store, I succumbed to the usual male urges and opted for the most powerful tool on the rack. This was a mistake. The drill I got is certainly well made, but it's a bit too heavy, too fast and too powerful for the kind of finessing I was used to with my old drill. It feels like a muscle car instead of a nicely engineered sedan. The extra power may come in handy for driving concrete screws or mixing grout, but I don't do those things very often. In retrospect, I wish I could have tested the drills for bit changes, drilling and driving before making the purchase.

Philip Schmidt writes for

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