An Easy Beginner's Guide on How to Use a Drill

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Power tools can be intimidating for beginners.

You question where to even start, you worry about using the tool correctly, and you especially want to be safe!

I understand all of these feelings because I was once a beginner too. I very much remember what it was like picking up a tool and wanting to give it up before even trying it out. You can read more about how I got started wood-working in a post HERE .

But I promise when you learn the basics and follow a simple introductory guide, you’ll find it’s much easier than you first thought.  

Here’s a simple how-to guide all about power drills: what they’re used for, how they work, which one you need, and more!

The power drill was the first tool I ever owned. Matt bought it for me for Christmas and I remember feeling so excited that it was all mine. I had been wanting a few basic tools for simple, around-the-house projects and I was sick of borrowing his. His tools were always dirty and covered in grease and I would have to search all around his shop to find where he had placed them last. So I wanted my own toolbox… girls only… just for me.

And I remember the pride that came from using that drill for the first time. I promise you it’s SO easy to use that I feel almost silly explaining it to you. But I certainly didn’t realize how easy it was until after I learned! You don’t know until you know right? Simple things like being able to hang a sign or photo on the wall become big deals when you can do it yourself without waiting on someone else to help!

You can read this post HERE to find out why I’m so passionate about DIY projects.

So enjoy this simple beginner guide about my first, easiest, and most used tool… the power drill.

What is a power drill used for?

A drill is used for drilling and driving.  

  1. You can drill into a material (wood, stone, metal, etc.) by using your drill and a drill bit. Together they make a hole into what you’re drilling into.   
  2. You can also drive a fastener (a screw) into a material by using your drill and a driver bit that fits the particular screw you’re using. It’s basically a power screwdriver! 

*You can also use an impact driver to drill and drive; especially if you’re like Tim the Tool Man Taylor and want more power (argh! argh! argh!) because simply put, it’s a more powerful driver. When you need to drive larger screws into thicker material, you’ll need an impact driver. I’ll explain more about impact drivers in a later post but I wanted to mention them because they look similar to drills and I can see how a beginner would get the two confused. Always double check when you’re buying your first drill that it’s not an impact driver.

Parts of a Drill

How do you use a power drill?

So let’s first breakdown the parts of the drill.   

  1. You have your power source at the bottom of the drill. It will either have a cord or a battery that you can take on and off to charge. I highly recommend a cordless drill because it’s much more convenient to use and the battery can also be used with other tools within that brand. I’m actually all about cordless everything really… who likes cords?? 
  2. Most drills have a bit holder where you can keep your bit while switching back and forth from drilling to driving. 
  3. Every drill has a trigger that you squeeze to operate the drill. A variable speed trigger means it will drill faster the tighter you squeeze the trigger (and most drills are that way). 
  4. The forward or reverse button controls the directions of the drill. When the drill is moving clockwise it would be driving a screw into the wood; when it is moving counterclockwise it would be pulling a screw out from the wood. 
  5. The clutch has a range of numbers that affect how much torque is used when driving a screw. I know, this part is confusing. Just know this… the higher the number is, the more the drill will drive the screw into the wood. I explain more about this in my video above if you’d like to understand it more. 
  6. Last but not least, the chuck. The chuck holds the bit in place. I demonstrate how to insert the bit into the chuck in my video above. 
Types of Drills

What power drill do I need?

Ok, let’s talk about volts… meaning power. You’ll see drills that have a range of volts but I’m going to recommend you buy one that’s 18V because that will serve most of your needs for household projects. 4-8 volts is too light in power and 20-24 is pretty powerful… 12-18 volts will be just right. 

And like I mentioned earlier, buy a cordless one. It’s much more versatile.  

TIP: you might want to ask your husband what cordless tools he has before purchasing your own because if you buy the same brand, you both can share batteries :)

Ryobi Drill

Where to buy a power drill?

Now that I have you so excited to buy your own tool, where should you buy your drill? The answer is any local hardware store you want or online.   

Keep in mind that different hardware stores carry different brands! So if you’re looking for a certain brand make sure your store carries it before driving an hour to buy it (speaking to my fellow friends living in the country). 

Click HERE if you’d like to check out the drill I use. It’s on amazon and you can easily add it to your cart along with your niece’s birthday present and paper towels :) 

Since the link above is for drill without a battery you may want to click HERE to purchase that if needed. 

And if you’re interested in a complete kit with a drill, an impact driver, two batteries, and a carrying case then click HERE . It’s by far the best value when just getting started from scratch. 

Using a Drill

So I know that explaining in text form about how to use a drill isn’t exactly the most thrilling thing to read. In fact, if you read all of this post then bless you, friend… you are probably going to be an incredible wood-worker with impeccable attention to detail! 

But if you found this hard to follow but still want to learn how to use a drill, then please watch the video at the top of the page! Then let me know in the comments after the video what drill you use or plan to use! 

And if you’re ready to start an easy beginner project with your drill be sure to check out THIS POST where I show you how to make a hanging rack for coats, towels, backpacks, whatever you may need with a salvaged door panel!


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