Different Types of Drills and Their Uses [Hand, Electric & Specialty]

Drills are some of the top tools everyone in the construction sector would have. It does not always have to be in the construction industry as also electricians might need one. The same goes for those who love to handle DIY projects.

The work of a drill is simply to make holes into several surfaces. The holes would then be used for inserting nails, screws, or studs for holding different things.

Whenever you are searching for the best drills, you are likely to come across several options in the market.

What is important is that you understand what each drill can do and how best to use it.

Below are the top options in the market divided into various categories for you to easily learn about them. Let us get into the list already.

Types of Hand Drills

When we say hand drill, it means that you will drive the drill mechanically since there is no power source involved.

They can be too manual for some cases, but at times they are the ones you need for some applications.

1. Egg-Beater Drill

This drill gets its name because of how it is operated. It might not be the most powerful based on modern standards, but it is definitely an accurate drill type.

It is why you will find it common among woodworkers and sometimes model workers.

In case you want to make precise and delicate holes in a soft material, the egg-beater drill is the one you use. It will be a great choice since it gives you a higher level of control.

It also allows you to work within tight margins.

Operating such a drill is simple. You simply turn the hand crank, which in turn rotates the drill bit via several gears.

Uses of Egg-Beater Drill

The egg beater drill is commonly used for furniture, cabinet, and wood projects. You could still use it for making models too.

2. Brace Drill

This is another drill type with an old design. You are likely to find it in your grandpa’s tools when visiting. You can describe it as having a U-shape design and it is mostly used to make countersink holes.

The drill is mostly used on softer materials. A good example is when working with materials such as wood or sheet metal.

Its operation is straightforward. You hold the top spindle and then rotate it using the U-shaped mid-section.

The work of the top spindle is to hold the drill in position for you to rotate it with ease.

Having an offset axis in the drill handle provides the user with better precision and torque.

Since it is easy to use, you are likely to find it among many woodworkers.

Uses of a Brace Drill

Because of its precision, it is mostly used for model making, furniture, cabinet, and woodworks.

3. Bow Drill

At first, you may not believe that it is a drill. You may think it is a crossbow. Well, it is designed to look like a crossbow and thus the name of the drill.

The drill is more of history now since not many people use it. It was mostly associated with the process of lighting a fire because of how it looks and operates.

It operates by having the bow moving up and down the drill shaft while at the same time turning its spindle. The weight at its base will act as a flywheel.

Even though it was originally designed to start fires, woodworkers had adapted it to suit their needs. You can also easily find dentists using it too.

Uses of a Bow Drill

Other than having uses in the woodworking sector, the drill is good for dentistry applications too.

4. Gimlet

A gimlet is often considered a small version of having a brace drill. It has a resemblance of a corkscrew to make it look unique from the other types of drills.

You will use it mostly for making holes in softwood.

The same is also useful for those who need to make pilot holes before using other types of drills. Some people use it for boring water pipes too.

Since it is hand-cranked, you can always have better control over it.

Uses of a Gimlet

It is simply a hand drill you would use on softwood to make holes for starting screws or even nails.

5. Push Drill

At first, when you see a push drill, you might even confuse it with a screwdriver. This is because it resembles one. However, that is where the similarities end.

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The push drill works by rotating its shaft when the handle is pushed down. You will find it mostly being used for jobs such as dentistry and making jewelry.

The reason such a drill is used for making jewelry is the amount of control you have. It always makes it possible for you to work on delicate jobs.

You would also find some woodworkers also using the same to work on precise jobs.

Uses of a Push Drill

A push drill can have many applications mostly including crafts, wood, jewelry making, and dentistry.

6. Pin Vise

A pin vise looks just like a push drill, but it is quite small. This type of drill is commonly used for holding small bits from zero up to 2.5mm.

It is, for this reason, you would use the drills for watchmaking and jewelry making too.

The overall design of a pin vise gives it a precise boring ability. It is why you can find it being used in the industries mentioned above.

Its design is simple, containing parts such as the collet jaws and ahead. Most models would have three collet jaws.

So, whenever you tighten the drill head, these jaws will grip the chosen drill bit and hold it strongly.

Uses of a Pin Vise

A pin vise is quite good at accuracy and precision. It is then why you would use it for watchmaking and jewelry making too.

Types Of Electric (Power) Drills

These are the drills you will come across more often whether you work with wood or in the construction sector.

Traditional Drills (Drill Driver)

Walk into any hardware and ask for a drill, and this is what will be offered. It is the most common option you will get on the market.

A traditional drill will mostly be used for making holes, doing some home projects, and also the installation of wood fasteners.

Depending on the model, it can also have several modes to choose from, making them good in terms of versatility.

Uses of a Traditional Drill

You should consider using this type of drill for basic projects. Maybe you are working on a DIY project such as mounting your pictures, then this should be perfect.

In case you want to do heavy-duty drilling, consider an impact drill.

Impact Driver

If you have used a drill driver before, you will quickly notice the difference when using an impact driver. It is stubbier and smaller than the drill driver or even an impact wrench.

An impact driver will mostly have a 0.25-inch hex shank which can sometimes restrict the amount of versatility you get with the drill.

There was a time when impact drivers were mostly used by professionals. However, that has changed now that people are more interested in DIY projects.

Uses of an Impact Driver

An impact driver now has many applications. In most cases, you would use it for fastening things or driving screws into different materials.

Let us say you are setting up a wooden shed, then an impact driver will generally make the work easier.

Electric Screwdriver

When you look at most drill drivers, you can also find that they have a screwdriver mode. Yes, you can simply swap out the drilling bit and attach the screwdriver bit.

When using the screwdriver mode, ensure that you keep it at slower speeds. This is to ensure that you can drive the screws correctly.

Also, adjust the clutch to have it running at the correct torque meant for fastening the screws.

Hammer Drill

A hammer drill is seen as quite the versatile drill you will ever want. This is because it offers two options including the hammer action and the rotational force.

As a result, this would be the perfect tool for driving through tough materials such as rock, stone, and masonry.

You can quickly notice that hammer drills can be heavier than your conventional drill drivers. This is because the drill features more parts and handles to help in guiding the drill better.

The handles also help with providing more downward force.

Uses of A Hammer Drill

Due to its power, you should consider using it in construction, masonry, industrial, or stonework applications.

SDS/Rotary Hammer (Combination Hammer)

The SDS abbreviation stands for Slotted Drive System. This is a special type of drill with specialized SDS bits and enhanced hammer action.

When the drill is in action, it will provide both rotational and percussive force. This makes it great for various applications.

Talking of applications, you can use them for the toughest applications. This can include the breaking of the stubborn stones as well as other tough materials at a construction site.

Uses of an SDS Hammer

You can always rely on this type of drill when you are in the construction sector. It will be ideal for going through stonework and masonry applications.

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Core Drill

A core drill features a hollow and cylindrical design. Its job is to make holes through different types of surfaces.

The drill tips are mostly coated with carbide or diamond. The aim is to make the core drill strong enough even to drill 4 inch hole in concrete.

Other than concrete, the same is great for surfaces such as rocks, ice, and wood.

The core drill works by pushing through the cutting surface with the use of a twisting motion. That is how you end up with a hole.

You can always install different drill bits depending on the surface or needs to achieve the best performance.

Because of its versatility, you can use it to work on small projects at home or you can find bigger core drills at construction projects.

Benchtop Drill Press

This is a power tool used for drilling holes into metal, wood, and plastic. It works like a handheld drill with the difference that this one is mounted on a benchtop.

Since it is mounted, you should find it ideal for major works compared to using a handheld drill.

You could easily attach different bits depending on what you need to handle. That is how you can bore precise holes into surfaces, do counterbore and countersink holes, and so much more.

Specialty Drills

Sometimes the traditional drills just do not work well for some projects. In such a case, it is best to consider using the specialty drills.

Such drills are mostly designed to make your work easier and achieve the required precision. Let us see them below.

Breakers & Demolition Drill

Just as the name suggests, demolition drills are vital for chipping and breaking out concrete, masonry, and bricks.

You can expect that such a drill would have quite the torque to easily go through concrete.

These demolition drills can also have a carrying box full of different bits. This allows you to tailor the demolition drill to the work you have at hand.

Ground Auger Drill

This is another top choice by the construction workers. This is because the drill is mostly used for making holes in the ground. This would make your job easier when you need to make several holes within a short time.

The drill will have a rotating vertical pipe or rod containing several blades attached at the bottom end. The work of these blades is to cut and scrape the soil from the hole.

There are several options in terms of blade arrangement. So, look for the one that would work great depending on your needs.

As for the source of power, they can be powered through an electric motor or sometimes an internal-combustion engine.

You could also attach some to a tractor too depending on which one you choose.

Right Angle Drill

A right-angle drill might have a unique look, but it mostly has the same functionality as a traditional drill.

Having the right-angle design makes it good for some specific jobs you may want to accomplish. You would say it is the combination of a mini-hand drill and a screwdriver.

Like conventional drills, the right-angle drill is also available as a corded or cordless right-angle drill. You can also get an air right-angle drill that uses compressed air to work.

Some people might be wondering, where best can you use right-angle drills? Here are the most common applications.

  • When working in tight spaces
  • Small projects that do not need huge drills
  • When you need a convenient tool. Since most have flashlights now, you can work on areas that are not well-lit.

Straight Air Drill

In case you want to work in tight spaces, you will need a straight air drill. Since it is straight and has a cylindrical design, you should find that it fits in most spaces with ease.

You should however keep in mind that it needs compressed air as the power source. So, it might not be the best to use if you do not have access to compressed air.

Two-Headed Drill

This is a drill mostly meant for DIYers. This is because the tool can easily be flipped and you continue with your job without necessarily changing the bits.

It is designed to have a rotating head where you can add two different bits at any time.

One common example is having a drill bit on one end and a screwdriver bit on the other end. So, when you are done drilling, simply turn the head to the screwdriver side and fasten the screw.

Drywall Screwdriver (Drywall Screw gun)

As the name suggests, this is a screwdriver designed for installing the drywall or sometimes when working gypsum boards.

This type of drill uses special bits that will not rupture the drywall leaving you with cleanly installed drywall.

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As much as you can use a regular drill for the job, the speed might be an issue. You always have to regulate it right.

Also, the normal drill bits might drive the screws too deep. Thus, it is best to stick to the drywall screwdriver.

Magnetic Drill

A magnetic drill is a portable specialized tool used for drilling holes into metals such as steel or other types. You can use such a drill on a job site or even in a shop, depending on your needs.

If you have experienced a tough time moving a large steel piece into position to drill using a benchtop drill press, this is the solution for you.

The magnetic drill being portable means you can take it to where the workpiece is and start drilling.

Of course, having the option of turning on magnetism means you can hold the workpiece in position and keep it from moving.

Such a drill is commonly used in places such as;

  • Fabricating steel
  • Welding shops
  • Machinery rigging
  • Maintenance facilities
  • Ship building
  • Mining etc.

Power Source

It is still possible to classify the drills based on how they are powered. Below are the major classifications you will come across when looking for a drill based on a power source.

Electricity (Corded Drills)

You are likely to come across different debates on corded vs cordless drills. You should know that each one of them would have its own applications.

A corded or electric drill will only work if it is connected to a mains power supply. Because of this continuous feeding of power, these drills are most powerful.

They can also be quite versatile for you to consider using them.

The amount of power that these drills put out make them good for drilling even the tough surfaces. You can easily drill metal, wood, or even fiberglass.

The most common downside is that you cannot operate it without power. Also, you will need an extension cable to get the drill working as you want.

Battery (Cordless Drills)

For a long time, the cordless drills have always been considered the weaker version of corded drills. This is because they are always lower in terms of torque and power.

However, things have changed recently where you can get newer models having more power too as their corded cousins.

The biggest advantage is that you can use the drill anywhere without worrying much about the source of power. This is because the cordless drills run on battery power.

Some people would have a backup battery that they can use when the current one runs flat.

The downside of having this type of battery system is that it will be limited to a certain amount of time.

Depending on the model of cordless drill you pick, some can drill through plastics, wood, material, and even MDF boards.

In case you need to drill through harder materials such as masonry and concrete, consider a corded drill.

Air (Pneumatic Drills)

In case you have access to compressed air, you should consider using the pneumatic drills too. The compressed air should be able to provide you with the force and power to achieve whatever you need to handle.

You would mostly find them in commercial settings. This includes repair shops, production lines, and factories too.

Some see them as specialized tools generally. So, they are not easy to come by in the home setting. You can find people mostly using electric drills for their projects at home.

Also, being expensive can sometimes make people shy away from buying them in the first place.

Motor Type

When looking for a drill driver, you will come across different models having either brushed motors or brushless motors. Whichever you pick, it will have possible pros and cons.

So, understanding the difference between the two should help you pick the right drill for you.

Brushed Motor vs Brushless Motor

Brushed Motor vs Brushless Motor: Which is better?

 The biggest difference between these two motors is the construction. 

The brushed motors are constructed with brushes. The work of the brush is to help ensure there is optimal power transmission to the drill rotor.

They also help with the switching mechanism without necessarily having a spark.

Since the brushes work in pairs, these components are subject to wear over time due to friction. They can be made of carbon or sometimes graphite.

They will also come in different sizes and designs depending on how best they can deliver on performance.

In a brushless motor, it will not have the brushes mentioned above. Its switching is rather electronic.

This is achieved through the use of many control algorithms such as trapezoidal commutation, vector control, sinusoidal commutation and more.

Whichever algorithm is used, the brushless motor would mostly outperform the brushed motor in various aspects.  

Benefits of the brushless motor

Whenever you switch over to a brushless drill driver, you can notice several benefits. The biggest one should be lower maintenance costs.

Since there are fewer moving parts, you do not have to worry about maintenance all the time.

Also, your motor can work for longer without overheating. That is why you would use the drill for hours without it overheating.

The electronic commutations used in the brushless motors also help with precise positioning and better speed performance.

It is why such motors can even reach 5000 RPM since the rotors are quite well-balanced.

Below is a quick table to help you learn more about the two motor types.

What Are the Basic Parts of a Cordless Drill Driver?

It does not matter much who is the manufacturer of a cordless drill driver when it comes to basic parts. Most models would have the same basic parts. Here is a list of the parts.

  • The battery

Since it is a cordless drill, it is powered using a battery. The battery would mostly be rechargeable, so the drill driver will have a charger.

Most models allow you to detach the battery so that you can charge it using the charge station.

Common types of batteries found in a cordless driver include lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and nickel-metal hydride.

  • The grip

This is where you hold the cordless drill driver when working on a project. The grip or handle would mostly be made of textured rubber.

It can also have contours to help provide more grip, thus keeping the drill from slipping easily.

  • Speed control trigger

The trigger is what turns on the drill to start turning. It is also important for controlling the speed of the drill.

Whenever you pull it further, the more the drill will turn. When you let it go, the drill comes to a stop.

  • LED lighting

This might not be common on all cordless drill drivers. However, if it is available, you would use it for working in locations that have low light or that might even be dark.

The LED light can be located mostly under the chuck so that you can clearly see where you are drilling.

  • The reverse and forward button

The button is important to allow the user to switch the direction in which the driver is turning. The forward direction is for drilling and driving screws.

The reverse direction is for when you need to remove the screws or back out the drill bit.

  • The chuck

A chuck on any drill driver is what holds the drill and screwdriver bits. It is mostly a 3-jaw chuck so that it can hold the bits firmly.

Based on the type, you simply have to turn its cover in one direction to tighten and the other to loosen it.

  • Torque control / Clutch

Some models would have a torque control option. This is vital for you to regulate the turning force depending on the application.

Let us say you want to work on a harder material, then you would increase the overall torque.

  • Motor

This is found inside the body of a cordless drill driver. The motor is responsible for converting the electrical energy from the battery into the mechanical energy you see rotating the chuck.

What Does the AH Mean on Cordless Tool Batteries?

When buying a cordless drill, one thing you will have to keep in mind is the Ampere Hour (Ah). Understanding this specification can help you choose the right battery for the job.

In simple terms, Ampere Hour or Ah means the total amount of charge the battery will deliver in an hour.

A good example is when a cordless drill requires drawing 2 amperes of current at any given time, then a 4Ah battery will last for two hours.

It is also not an exact science as the battery life can vary based on the wiring of the drill. Also, it depends on the workpiece and other specifications as we will see below.

What Does the Ah (Amp hour) Mean on Cordless Tool Batteries? Here is a video to help you learn more about Ah.

YouTube video

How to Use a Power Drill

As much as there might be several drill driver types in the market, they often have the same operating principle. Below are the steps you will take when you need to use a power drill.

  • Choose the drill bit

You will often be supplied with a case containing all the important drill bits when you buy a drill driver. So, depending on what you would be working on, there is the need to pick the correct bit.

If you want to drive screws, then the bit will have a similar shape as a screwdriver. If you need to drill holes, then choose any from the remaining bits based on the size of hole you want to make.

  • Set up the bit in the chuck
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What follows is to set up the bit in the chuck of the drill driver. Most models now have a keyless chuck design.

All you have to do is loosen it by turning the bit in an anti-clockwise direction and then tighten once the bit is put incorrectly.

In case the power drill has a key-chuck design, use the T-shaped tool that comes with the drill to tighten the chuck. You still need the same to open the chuck if you have to change the bit.

  • Choose the right mode and torque

You cannot use the same model for drilling and driving screws. So, make sure that you pick the right mode meant for each application.

The mode for the screwdriver is mostly slower than that of drilling.

Also, select the torque depending on the material that you want to drill. A tougher material requires more torque, so make sure you adjust it correctly.

Finally, choose the direction too. If you want to drill, pick forward, but if you want to remove the screws or back out the drill bit, choose reverse.

  • Start drilling or driving the screws

Point to where you want to drill and press the trigger. Keep in mind that the trigger is also what controls the speed.

The more you press the faster the bit turns. At this point, you should be good with either process and finish it with ease.

In case you want more tips on using a power drill, the video below should help you a lot.

YouTube video

Cordless vs Corded Drills

When you are in the market for a power drill, the options will revolve around whether the drill driver is cordless or corded.

The cordless drill will run off a battery. When the battery is flat, it can still be recharged and used again in the drill.

As for the corded drill, it requires it to be connected to an electrical outlet to work. If there is no power, you cannot use it, thus it is expected to have some limitations.

Features of Cordless Drills

  • They can be set to run at different speeds
  • Allows for fitting of various accessories
  • They tend to have work lights installed
  • They have a battery as their power source
  • Most feature an ergonomic handle
  • They can be used to drill into plastic, wood, metal, and concrete
  • Offer mobility and convenience as you do not need an extension to power them
  • They are storage-friendly

As much as cordless drills can have many benefits, they also experience some cons. They will tend to have less power than the corded drills.

Also, you need to charge the batteries frequently if you have to use the drill more often.

The cordless drills can be more expensive too than their corded counterparts.

Features of Corded Drills

  • They have enough power and speed to drill through the tough surfaces
  • You have the option of choosing between single and variable-speed models
  • Several types available depending on your needs
  • Can use more accessories to enhance their performance
  • Requires an outlet to work
  • They tend to be cheaper than the cordless drills

Just like the cordless drills, these ones also have possible cons. The biggest one is that you always need an electric outlet to run them.

Because of the many wires, these drills are not known for being storage-friendly.

Relax for a Moment

With all the reading above, you may want to relax a bit and just have fun learning about drills. Below is a video showing you more than 30 drill hacks every man should know. Enjoy.

YouTube video


By now you should have an idea of what makes a certain drill better than the other for certain applications.

This is vital so that you can always pick the correct drill for the job. That last thing you want is a drill that cannot work as you want.

We have also looked at how to operate a power drill. Always make sure that you put safety in mind when working with such power tools.

Well, go ahead and get yourself a drill driver and start working on some projects!

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