I’m starting with the drill because it is hands down the one tool I could not live without. I use my drill numerous times a week for something or another. I even stopped keeping it in the basement because I was going down there all. the. time. to get it for a project.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you are going to purchase a drill, and a few to remember when using a drill as well. We’ll start with what you want to look for when buying:
1. Cordless vs. corded
I only use a cordless drill that you charge for power. Depending on the power of the drill, a cordless drill is usually lightweight, you can use it anywhere (no worries about extension cords) and I just find them easier to use:
Usually the corded versions have more power, and they take a little more skill to operate. (Like, it will jump out of your hands if you’re not careful, “skill.”)
As you can see, mine is a 9.6 volt and it’s perfectly adequate for most things you’ll need to do. I’m a DIYer and I don’t need more power.
The only downside to the cordless version is inevitably there will be a day when you’ll go to use it and it will turn like molasses = dead. I hear there is a fast charger that will charge that baby in less than 15 minutes, so I see that doodad in my future. Otherwise, I just charge mine every couple weeks or so. The 9. 6 version holds a charge surprisingly well.
2. Hand turned chuck vs. keyed chuck
Huh? What the what? Chuck the who? OK, the chuck is the part of the drill that holds the bits. (We’ll go into the bits later.) You want a chuck you can turn and tighten with your hand – not one that is tightened with a key:
The "key” is just a little device you insert into the chuck to tighten it. It works fine – but you will lose it. Like, a lot. (Even though there is usually a handy dandy holder on the drill.) You will yell and
cry get frustrated when you can’t find it. So save yourself the drama and a trip to the hardware store for another and just get the hand-turned chuck version. (Huh?)
One day only six short years ago, I sat down in our old apartment, drill in hand, ready to install new, beautiful hardware on a dresser. I was so excited to finally use a drill. I took the old hardware off, then went to put on the new ones, and was perplexed…
The two holes for the new hardware did not match up to the old holes. I had no idea what to do. I had the drill! I had the screwdriver bit! What the heck?
There are two functions of a drill – one is to screw things. One is to drill holes. I did not realize the screwdriver bit didn’t make holes. (I know. But I am quite sure I’m not the only one, hence the story time.) You need a drill bit to do that. My first DIY project was over fast because of this little oversight.
See how far I’ve come? ;)
These are the bits you’ll want to have for most projects:
The bit on the left is what you use to make holes in the wall, wood, metal, etc. You want the right bit for the right medium. Don’t try to drill through masonry with a wood bit. Not good. And a masonry bit usually doesn’t drill well through wood.
The next bit is usually in a set of different sizes – 1/2 inch and higher. I love these for drilling through things to hide cords – mostly the top and bottom of our kitchen cabinets.
The next is your standard screwdriver bit that is the most basic – it also comes in variety of sizes, and most have two ends – the Phillips end and the flat head end.
The last tool is my favorite and what I think is a must have – the bit extender:
I cannot live without this guy -- it’s a lifesaver! It extends the bit away from the drill so you can get in tight spots easier. I could not hang drapery hardware without this thing. They come in various sizes – they get pretty long! And the best part – some are magnetic:
Now that you have your drill, how do you use it? It’s pretty easy. Here is an overview of my lovely:
I’ve talked about most of it, but the directional switch is important as well. It goes left to right to change the direction of the drilling – basically in or out:
My drill also has a variety of power, or torque settings. Those are the numbers above the chuck. I usually keep it mid-range. It’s not a big deal – I find it doesn’t really matter where you have it set, as long as it’s in the middle somewhere.
When you drill a screw into a fresh surface, one that has no hole – you’ll want to hold the screw and start out with short “bursts” on the drill, so it gets it into the surface slowly, a little bit at a time. Once you get it in enough, you can let go of the screw and put your body weight behind it to get it the rest of the way in.
I use the weight of my body often – if you don’t you’ll get this sound more often than not (I apologize for the earthquake filming technique):
That’s not a good sound. Often, if you get level with the screw, put both hands on the drill, and then put your weight behind it -- it will help the bit hold onto the screw and get it in there.
If this happens to you and doing the above doesn’t help, then your bit is probably worn down, like mine:
Or the screw is starting to strip. (Wow, interesting set of words in this post!) Sometimes all you need to get it in is a good old fashioned, hand held screwdriver. Or you will need to take it out and start fresh with a new bit or screw.
You do want to hear the chuck grinding – or catching. That usually means the screw is in and secure.
The other sound you want to hear – squeaking. Hearing the squeak of a screw is like birds singing to a DIYer – it’s a very good thing. So if you are drilling into a stud in the wall, the squeak is good. Not bad. Don’t be afraid of the squeak!
Finally, the long drill bit I pictured above is what you use to put holes in the wall. I mentioned there are different bits for wood, concrete, etc. But there are a variety of sizes too.
You’ll want do use a bit for hanging anything substantial on the wall – in order to put in an anchor. Although I have been hooked on these for years:
They don’t require a bit or a predrilled hole – just use your screwdriver bit to screw them right into the wall. Then your screw goes inside. SO easy – no finding the right sized bit for the right sized anchor. Lurve.
Sometimes, especially when you are trying to screw something into drywall or wood, you’ll want to create a starter hole for the screw – otherwise the drill tends to skip and you may or may not end up with little dents all around the intended hole. Ask me how I know. (The method of short bursts I mentioned helps this as well.)
So starting the hole with a drill bit will save you a lot of time. And hole fixing.
Well, I think I covered most if it. Anything I forgot? You now know why “chuck” and “squeak” are so important when using a drill, so I will consider you schooled. Huurahhh!
Get to the hardware store this weekend and pick up a shiny new drill – it will be the beginning of your DIY days! And have a wonderful Easter!!
P.S. Hope you’ll link up to April’s Before and After party on Monday!