Do Manual Hand Drills still have a place in today’s toolkit?

Do Manual Hand Drills Still Have A Place In Today's Toolkit?

When you look into your toolbox and think about the tools in there that might be obsolete one day, it’s hard to imagine that your trusty electric drill may be one of them.

However, that’s likely what people used to think about the hand drill, with this once favored manual drill being the only way we got the important jobs done.

Sadly, the manual hand drill seems to have gone the way of so many other once-beloved tools, and although there are some still uses for it, it’s been largely forgotten.

Diehard hand drill fans will never want to give up their favorite tool though and it does have its advantages and disadvantages to weigh up, depending on the job.

Is a manual hand drill still helpful, though?

There are certainly instances where a manual hand drill might be useful, but it depends entirely on the user and what they’re comfortable with.

Some people never let go of their hand drill and use it for everything from home repairs to woodworking whereas other people only rely on their electric drill and nothing else.

The manual hand drill is undoubtedly one of the greatest tools ever created and there’s still a lot to love about them.

Although they take a little longer to use and much more effort, they offer a precision that can’t be beaten with modern instruments. We’re going to explore the history of the manual hand drill and what place if any, they have in the modern toolkit.

The History of the Manual Hand Drill

The History Of The Manual Hand Drill

The manual hand drill was one of the most important inventions in the history of mankind and although the modern cordless drill of today barely resembles it, it wouldn’t exist without it.

The very first model of a hand drill was called an awl and it used a sharp stone, flint, and sharp piece of copper or bone to make the hole. Compared to the manual hand drill still used today, they require d a lot more effort to drill into anything sturdy.

Manual hand drills usually measured around 15 inches in length and worked best with wood and other light metals and materials.

They allowed the user to position themselves directly above the workpiece which gave greater control and they were able to create intricate holes without doing much damage to the drill points or surfaces they worked on. 

In 1889, two men from Australia came up with the idea of connecting this type of drill with an electric motor, which made the hand drill all but useless for many.

From there, further advancements were made like making it small enough to fit into one hand, making it a portable device, and giving it enough power and range to do other jobs rather than just drilling into an object.

How Does a Manual Hand Drill Work?

How Does A Manual Hand Drill Work?

A hand drill is a manually operating tool that uses a crank to turn the drill chuck.

The circular motion that’s made when the user turns the crank is then converted into energy by moving the drill chuck in a similar circular motion, thanks to the pinion gears located on the main shaft.

At the end of the shaft, there’s a drill chuck that holds onto the drill bit, and this can be changed according to the purpose you’re using it for and how large you need the hole to be.

You can find the size of the drill bit by looking at its shaft and reading the inscription, such as “3/8 inch”. At the other end of the shaft, there’s another handle that stays still when the chuck is turning and in motion.

How Can You Use a Hand Drill?

Using a hand drill is easy, even if it does require more effort than an electric one. To use one safely, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the chuck to attach the right drill bit and then tighten it back up. This can be done with a specialized tool that comes with the device.
  2. Mark where you want to make a hole and then place the tip of the drill bit there, making sure to line the angle up correctly.
  3. Hold it steadily with one hand but with light pressure only, and use the other to turn the crank with the handle so that it drills into the hole.

There are plenty of uses for a manual hand drill that would make them more effective than using a power drill. In instances where you want control over speed, a hand drill can offer preciseness that’s much needed.

Otherwise, working with thinner and more fragile materials like softwood can be made easier with a hand drill as it reduces the risk of cracks and damage.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Manual Drill

Most of us have our trusty cordless drill in our toolbox and only ever rely on that to get jobs done, but that doesn’t mean we should discount the hand drill altogether.

If you’ve still got one laying around or are thinking of purchasing an antique, consider the pros and cons of working with this type of tool.’

Advantages of a Hand Drill

  • Longevity

Most hand drills were made in a time where tools were built to last and it’s commonplace to find ones from many years ago still being used today without issues.

  • Low maintenance

The only maintenance that a manual hand drill requires is oiling and possibly replacing wooden handles after decades of use if they’ve become worn down.

  • No sound

Compared to other drills of today, the noise coming from a hand drill is virtually silent. You can work any time of day or night without bothering anyone or needing protection for your ears.

  • Precision

A manual drill allows for a much more precise hole to be made and gives you greater control. The speed of an electric drill means sometimes they’re harder to control and can do more damage than you’d like.

  • Portable

Just like a cordless drill, a hand drill can be used anywhere and doesn’t require electricity to work. Better yet, they don’t require batteries either, so there’s no risk of running out of power.

Disadvantages of a Hand Drill

  • Hard work

If you plan on using the hand drill for longer periods or taxing jobs, you’ll have to work very hard to see results.

  • Lacks speed

Since you’re responsible for turning the crank of a manual hand drill, it can only go as fast as you can, which pales in comparison to an electric drill.

  • Not as strong

A hand drill isn’t capable of making light work of certain materials like cement and stone, and it can take hours just to penetrate the surface. A handheld electric drill can get through just about any surface without a fuss.

Drilling Through Metal With a Hand Drill

Drilling through metal is possible with a hand drill but depending on the thickness of the metal, it’s not always advisable. When it comes to drilling, the faster the drill bit turns, the more heated the drill will become.

This is the advantage that using a hand drill has as you’re not able to turn it too fast so your drill bits won’t dull too quickly.

Whether or not to use a manual hand drill will depend entirely on the project at hand and how capable it is of getting through the material.

In most cases, an electric drill is best for its strength and efficiency, unless you have something more precise that requires greater control, and then your manual hand drill can be used.

Related Questions

Working with a manual hand drill presents its own set of advantages and disadvantages compared to the modern electric drill of today.

If you want to learn more about drilling and using different types of drills to get the job done, read on for our answers to some commonly asked questions.

Do You Need a Special Drill Bit for Metal?

Whether you’re using an electric drill or a manual hand drill, you should ensure that the drill bit attached is capable of cutting through steel.

A heavy-duty drill bit made of either cobalt or titanium would be ideal for cutting through metal as they can handle high speeds and tougher materials.

Where Can I Find a Manual Hand Drill?

If you’d rather work with a manual hand drill or like the versatility of having many types in your toolbox, they’re easy enough to find.

Most online and brick and mortar hardware stores have a range of handheld drills to choose from and they work more efficiently than the models from decades ago. Otherwise, you can find a secondhand one if you’d prefer the older style of manual drill.

Last updated on:

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *