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Makita cordless drill being used with a socket to level a washing machine

Everything You Need to Know About Cordless Drills

You just bought your first cordless drill. Now what? A whole new world awaits you! The cordless drill is one of the most versatile power tools around. It can drill holes, drive screws, sand, stir paint, and on and on and on. What’s more, it’s a cinch to use if you have a good understanding of the basics.

What Do You Need To Know?

Let’s start with the typical settings and features:

  • The drill has a forward and reverse switch. (Forward spins the chuck clockwise.)
  • There’s a variable speed trigger. The harder you squeeze the trigger, the faster the chuck spins.
  • A switch on the top of the drill lets you set the drill for high or low speeds. High speed is for lighter tasks, like drilling small holes. Low speed is used when more power and torque is needed, like driving screws.
  • Besides the high/low speed switch, there’s usually an adjustable clutch that also controls torque, and can keep you from overdriving. The clutch is adjusted by turning a ring that has numbers on it. The higher the number, the higher the torque.
  • A chuck is the part of the drill that holds the bits. You don’t need a key to tighten the chuck. Simply insert the bit and turn the chuck until it grips the bit securely. Most chucks can handle both round and hex-shaped bits 3/8” in diameter or smaller.
  • Your cordless drill came with at least one battery and a charger. Since your drill is brand new, the battery is probably made of lithium-ion. This type of battery provides long-lasting power and allows you to keep the battery on the charger all the time until it’s needed. (Other type batteries should only be on the charger until they are fully charged.)

Know The Basic Operating Procedures

To safely get the best performance from your drill:

  • The golden rule: always wear eye protection when using a drill.
  • Make sure the workpiece is secure before drilling into it. Otherwise, it can move or start spinning. Clamp down smaller pieces.
  • Back up the workpiece with a scrap piece of wood. Then, if you drill all the way through, the bit will go into the scrap piece (instead of your workbench, etc.) The backer board will also help prevent tear-out on the underside of the hole.
  • When drilling larger diameter holes, start with a smaller pilot hole for better control and accuracy.
  • To keep from putting stress on the bit and possibly breaking it, always hold the drill so that the bit is perpendicular to the workpiece.
  • When drilling, don’t exert a lot of downward pressure. The drill should do the work…not you!
  • Also, as you drill into wood, back the bit out slightly after each ¼” of drilling depth. This will clear away the shavings and make your bit work more efficiently.
  • If you are having a tough time driving a screw, try spreading paste wax or soap over the threads to reduce friction.

Just A Bit About Bits:

Versatile twist bits are inexpensive and designed to drill through wood, metal, and plastics.

When drilling into wood, other types of bits are best for larger holes. For holes up to 12 “, a brad-point bit is a good choice, as its center point prevents wandering on the wood’s surface before entry. And, when you need to drill holes bigger than 12 “, opt for a Forstner bit to produce a whistle-clean hole. (When using a Forstner bit, slow the feed rate, and clamp down the wood.)

Screwdriving Sets, Etc., Etc.,

You’ll also want to pick up a screwdriving set that contains commonly used bits such as phillips, slotted, hex, and square. Treat yourself to rapid-load or quick-change screwdriver bits, you’ll be glad you did!

You’ll be amazed at the number and type of other accessories for the cordless drill that allow you to do some incredible things. You can file wood, stir paint, and drill around corners, just to name a few!

You Know the Drill…

Now, go have fun!

Learn More About Drills Here

What You Must Know Before Buying A Cordless Drill/Driver

Cordless Drill Buying Guide

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