Power drills are hand-held drills that use electricity or battery power to spin a drill bit. They are primarily used to make holes in materials or to turn screws.

Drills have been used for centuries to bore holes in wood, metal and stone. Primitive drills were nothing more than a stone attached to a handle and turned by hand until the hole was created. As technology advanced, drills took advantage of shafts and bearings to make turning easier, faster and more efficient.

Today we have electricity and battery power to turn a drill bit at speeds unable to be reached with hand cranks. Making holes in wood, metal, rubber, rock or any other material is now a quick and near effortless job.

What is a Power Drill?

A power drill is a tool that uses electrical power to turn a rotary motor. The motor has a replaceable drill bit inserted that will spin in either direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) to produce a hole.

The parts of a power drill are:

  • A handle, used for holding the power drill.
  • The trigger, use to supply power to the rotating motor.
  • The motor, which spins rapidly from inside the housing.
  • The bit, which drills a hole (drill bit) or turns a screw (screwdriver bit).
  • A chuck, which is a tightening device to hold the bit in place in the motor shaft.

Some power drills will have a chuck bit, which is a small tool used to loosen or tighten the chuck around the bit; a reverse switch which allows the motor to spin in one direction or the other; and a safety that must be released to allow the trigger to squeeze.

The “power” aspect of the drill is electrical instead of human power. The power is supplied by an electrical cord plugged into an outlet, or a rechargeable battery pack that will supply the power to the motor. The battery powered drills are referred to as cordless power drills.

What is a Power Drill Used For?

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The general use of a power drill is to make a hole. Using a drill bit the power drill will bore a hole in wood, plastic, metal, rubber or virtually any material. Special drill bits are used in varying sizes for specific uses.

Masonry bits, for example, are hardened steel bits that are specifically designed to bore a hole in brick, rock or stone. Concrete mason bits will drill holes in concrete and asphalt as well.

Paddle bits are used to bore holes in wood and plastic. They don’t have the same spiral grooves as a masonry bit, but instead have a flat paddle with sharp, tapered edges to whittle away the wood leaving a perfect circular hole behind.

The secondary use is to turn screws. Screwdriver bits can be inserted into the motor shaft to turn screws and bolts. This is used to quickly fasten pieces together, such as decking, framing or construction uses.

It provides a quick and effortless method to set screws without having to manually turn them by hand. Likewise, you can reverse the motor using the reverse switch and use a screwdriver bit to remove screws or bolts.

There is also a third use for a power drill: mixing. Painters and cement workers will use a power drill with a long dull paddle or whisk style bit to mix paint, concrete, or sand. Using the power drill for mixing removes the need to paint shakers and provides an even mix in seconds.

By attaching different types of bits to the drill, you can replicate many by-hand projects with less effort and in a faster time. Adding a sanding disc, for example will allow you to sand wood or metal burrs, without having to do it by hand. A power drill is much more than just a machine to make hole.

Types of Projects Power Drills are Great For

As previously mentioned, power drills have a large array of uses besides making holes. Some projects require the speed and precision a power drill offers, while others rely on power drills to complete a task that would be near improbable to accomplish by hand.


Construction work will find that power drills make easy workloads throughout the day, no matter the situation. Using hammer drills to bore holes through concrete and solid surfaces all the way to using pistol-grip hand-held cordless power drills to set screws in framing.

Every aspect of construction that used to be done manually can now be accomplished with the aid of a power drill.


Power drills come in handy when creating furniture with wood. Because of the varying densities of the different types of wood, setting screws or bolts can sometimes cause the wood to split.

Pre-drilling a hole with a power drill will enable the screw or bolt to secure the wood without splintering. In other forms of wood joining you will need to set the screws at a precise angle to hold the joints without exposing the screw head or tip. A power drill can be held at an angle for quick and precise setting.

Metal Work

Power drills make quick, perfect holes in all types of metals. For this reason, metal workers use power drills to create rivet holes, pivot points and decorative holes in all types of metals. Since there are drill bits designed for all types of materials, metal work can now be completed faster thanks to power drills.

What used to take a blacksmith or metal worker hours with a punch and hammer can now be accomplished in minutes with a power drill.

Types of Power Drills

Power drills have transformed into their own sub set of tools and can be found in many varieties, sizes and uses.

Table Drills

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Table mounted drills are used in machine shops and carpentry workshops. These drills, such as a drill press, are mounted on a table top and use fulcrum levers to bring the spinning drill bit down into the material.

Primarily used for large holes or in assembly plants where hundreds of items need precision holes drilled constantly. The table top drills don’t need to be moved, reset or changed and can be used over and over again with the same drill bit to create exact holes in every item that passes under it.

Hand Held Power Drills

Hand held power drills are used by most persons and can be found in many residential environments as well as workshops, garages and work bays. Hand held power drills are smaller and lighter and come in corded and cordless varieties.

You can purchase the best power drills in any home improvement shop. Brands like DeWalt, Kobalt, Craftsman, Ryobi, Black and Decker, and Stanley (to name a few) have power drill kits, accessories and drill bit options for just about any home or shop use that is not commercial grade (although commercial options are available).

Cordless Power Drills

Battery operated power drills are still hand-held drills, however they do not rely on constant power from an electrical outlet. They come with rechargeable battery packs that can provide up to 200 volts of power to the drill motor.

Cordless power drills are more versatile than corded power drills because they do not need to be tethered, freeing you up to move as far from a power source as you need. When cordless power drills first appeared on the market the battery power was found to be insufficient for most applications.

When the companies increased the battery power, the battery life decreased. However, today they have managed to offer long life batteries that provide just as much power (in some cases more) to the drill motor than a corded option.

The cordless power drill also spawned the used of battery power to other home owner tools and you can find the best power drills in kits with other tools such as circular saws and power trimmers that all run off of the same battery packs.


With the need for boring holes and setting screws becoming more and more popular, the power drill continues to evolve.

We now have drills that are used underwater, and NASA even uses cordless power drills in space. Although it is a myth that NASA invented the power drill, NASA has been using power drills in space since the Apollo missions.

Today, power drills are used in construction, woodworking, metal working and in tedious, routine tasks around the home. You can purchase corded or cordless power drills, their bits, extraneous parts and accessories all at your local hardware or home improvement stores.

Along with a hammer and adjustable wrench, a power drill is quickly becoming a must have item in every tool box.

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