Beginner’s Guide to Using a Power Drill

Learn how to use a power drill and how to change a drill bit! We’ll look at a drill chuck, a keyless chuck, corded and cordless drills, drill bits, drivers and more!

Learn how to use a power drill and how to change a drill bit! We'll look a drill chuck, a keyless chuck, corded and cordless drills, drill bits, drivers and more!

How to Use a Power Drill

Are you ready to learn how to use a power drill and how to change a drill bit? It’s so easy and I’ll show you step by step how to do it. We’ll look at the different types of drills like corded and cordless drills. We’ll see how to use a drill chuck. And we’ll learn about drill bits, drill drivers and more.

You may also enjoy 10 Tools Beginners Need for Woodworking

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Before we get into how to use a power drill and how to change a drill bit, be sure to click the subscribe button at the bottom of this page to sign up for my FREE weekly newsletter loaded with helpful pocket hole tricks, space-saving workshop ideas, clever DIY tips and more!


What is a Drill?

Wikipedia defines a drill as “a tool primarily used for making round holes or driving fasteners. It is fitted with a bit, either a drill or driver, depending on application, secured by a chuck.”

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Types of Drills

There are several types of drills like hand drills, electric powered drills, and battery powered drills. In this tutorial, we are going to focus on electric and battery powered drills.

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Corded Drill

A corded drill needs to be connected to an electrical outlet in order to work. An electrical cord connects the drill to the outlet.

This means a corded drill can essentially run forever as long as it’s connect to an outlet. But there is a drawback. That drawback is the length of the cord.

In other words, if the cord is six feet long we can only use the drill within six feet of the electrical outlet. Otherwise, we’ll need an extension cord to extend the reach of the drill.

A corded drill is my go-to drill for preventing tearout when drilling pocket holes with my Kreg Jig.

Related: How to Wire a Plug

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Cordless Drill

A cordless drill is different from a corded drill because it doesn’t have a cord or connect to an electrical outlet. Instead, a cordless drill is powered by a battery.

The battery needs to be charged in order for the drill to work. One of the best features of a cordless drill is that it can go just about anywhere because it’s not limited by the length of a cord.

Another difference between a corded drill and a cordless drill is the cordless drill can’t run forever. As the battery of a cordless drill begins to lose its charge the drill begins to slow down.

TIP: Always be sure to have a second battery charged or charging when using a cordless drill. There’s nothing worse than waiting for a battery to charge when you’re in the middle of building a project!

The constant supply of power to a corded drill will keep it running at a consistent speed no matter if we’re drilling one hole or one hundred holes.

A cordless drill will stop working when the battery totally loses its charge. Again, a corded drill can essentially run forever so it won’t stop working unless it’s disconnected from the electrical outlet.

I prefer the convenience of a cordless drill for nearly all of my projects because I’m not limited by the reach of a cord.

Related: How to Make a DIY Cordless Drill Storage Rack

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Drill Press

Wikipedia defines a drill press as “a style of drill that may be mounted on a stand or bolted to the floor or workbench.”

The business end of a drill press is mounted overhead and can be lowered into a workpiece. A drill press is great for drilling repetitive holes in workpieces.

I used a drill press to drill the holes to make these DIY Collage Picture Frames.

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How to Use a Power Drill

The main parts of the power drill are the motor, the grip, the trigger switch, the direction button, and the chuck.

The motor is what makes the drill spin. The grip is where we place our hand to hold the drill. Below we’ll look a little closer at the trigger switch, the direction button, and the chuck.

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Personal Protective Equipment

Before we turn on our drill we need to think about our personal safety. We need to protect your eyes with safety glasses. We need to protect our ears with hearing protection if we’re going to be drilling for an extended period of time. We need to protect our lungs with a quality respirator if our drilling project is going to create a lot of dust.

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Trigger Switch

A trigger switch turns a drill on and off. Squeezing our finger on the trigger switch causes the drill to spin. Releasing our finger from the trigger switch causes the drill to stop.

Most triggers are variable speed. This means the more we squeeze the trigger the faster the drill will spin.

Using the drill trigger switch is a part of learning how to change a drill bit

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Direction Button

A drill spins in both a forward direction and a reverse direction. A button is used to change the direction the drill spins. The forward/reverse button is usually located near the trigger switch.

The forward direction is used for drilling holes and driving screws. The reverse direction is used to remove drill bits from workpieces and to remove screws from workpieces.

The forward reverse button changes the direction a drills spins and is part of learning how to use a drill

Drill bits or drill drivers are installed or chucked into the drill chuck. The drill chuck is basically a clamp that holds bits and drivers in the drill.

Drill bits are used to make round holes in workpieces. Drivers are used for driving fasteners like screws into workpieces.

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Drill Chuck

A drill chuck is basically a clamp. The chuck has jaws that hold or clamp drill bits and drivers in the drill.

There are two types of chucks we’ll often see. One uses a chuck key to lock the chuck and the second is a keyless chuck.

TIP: “Chuck a drill bit” or “chuck a drill driver” means to insert a drill bit or driver into a chuck.

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Drill Chuck Key

The chuck key is used to tighten and loosen the chuck. To use this style drill chuck a drill bit or driver is chucked into the drill. It’s important to be sure that the bit is centered in the jaws of the chuck. Then the key is turned clockwise to tighten the chuck and hold the bit or driver in place.

To remove a drill bit or driver the key is turned counterclockwise to loosen the chuck.

TIP: Chuck keys are easy to lose. If your corded drill has a chuck key attach it to the cord so you won’t lose it.
A chuck key is used to tighten and loose a drill chuck

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Keyless Chuck

A keyless chuck doesn’t need a key to tighten or loosen the chuck. Instead, we can simply turn the chuck clockwise to tighten and counterclockwise to loosen. The great thing about a keyless chuck is we don’t have to worry about losing a chuck key.

My corded drill uses a two-part keyless chuck. The lower portion holds the chuck in place. The upper portion can be turned to tighten or loosen the chuck.

To use this style keyless chuck a drill bit or driver is chucked into the drill. It’s important to be sure that the bit is centered in the jaws of the chuck. Then hold the lower portion of the chuck and turn the upper portion clockwise to tighten.

To remove a drill bit or driver hold the lower portion of the chuck and turn the upper portion counterclockwise to loosen.

Learning how to change a drill bit with a two part keyless chuck

My cordless drill uses a one part keyless chuck. All I have to do is turn to tighten or loosen the chuck. I love this feature. It makes it so easy to change bits!

To use this style keyless chuck a drill bit or driver is chucked into the drill. It’s important to be sure that the bit is centered in the jaws of the chuck. Then hold the drill and turn the chuck clockwise to tighten.

To remove a drill bit or driver hold the drill and turn the chuck counterclockwise to loosen.

Learning how to change a drill bit with a one part keyless chuck

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Clutch

A drill clutch prevents the drill from driving a screw any further into a workpiece when the drill meets a certain amount of resistance. Using a clutch prevents over tightening which can damage the face of a workpiece. It also prevents over tightening which can strip the hole in a workpiece.

I always set the clutch on my drill when driving pocket screws. Pocket screws only need to be driven until they’re just snug to create a strong joint. Basically, we want to stop driving the pocket screw when we start feeling some resistance.

Overtightening a pocket screw can strip the pocket hole which can create a loose joint. Overtightening could even drive the screw through the other workpiece. I set the clutch on my drill to avoid overtightening pocket screws.

For driving pocket screws into softwoods like pine my DEWALT drill works well when I set the clutch to 3.

Related: 9 Pocket Hole Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Learning about the clutch is part of learning how to use a drill

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How to Change a Drill Bit: Quick Steps

  • Unplug the drill or remove the battery from the drill.
  • Use a chuck key or the keyless chuck to open the jaws of the chuck by turning counterclockwise.
  • Chuck the drill bit or driver into the drill.
  • Use a chuck key or the keyless chuck to tighten the chuck by turning clockwise.
  • Connect the drill to an electrical outlet or install the battery in the drill.
  • Drill holes or drive screws as needed.
  • Reverse these step to remove the drill bit. Please use caution. Drill bits get hot with use.

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What is a Drill Bit?

Simply put a drill bit makes round holes. The spiral shank of the drill bit removes material as it drives through the workpiece. Drill bits are specifically designed to drill holes in different materials like wood, metal, concrete, etc.

Countersink Drill Bit

A countersink drill bit has two functions. First, it drills a pilot hole into the workpiece. A pilot hole is a small hole drilled into a workpiece that creates a space for a fastener like a screw. Drilling a pilot hole helps to prevent cracking or splitting the workpiece.

Second, a countersink drill bit creates a “V” or countersink in the face of a workpiece. This “V” or recessed area allows a screw with a countersunk head to be driven flush with the face of the workpiece.

I often use countersink bits because they give my projects a neat, professional look.

Forstner Bit

A Forstner bit drills holes with smooth, clean sides and flat bottoms. I often use countersink bits because they also give my projects a neat, professional look.

Hole Saw

A hole saw is used for making large round holes. Like drilling holes for a doorknob.

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What is a Driver?

A drill driver fits into the head of a fastener like a screw. It’s what we’ll use to either drive a screw into a workpiece or remove it from a workpiece.

Common drill drivers we may see are flat head drivers, phillips head drivers, square drivers, and star drivers.

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How to Put a Drill Bit in a Keyed Chuck

Supplies

  • Drill Bit or Driver

Tools

  • Drill with Keyed Chuck
  • Chuck Key

Step 1. Disconnect the Power

Unplug the drill from the outlet or disconnect the battery from the drill.

Step 2. Open the Jaws of the Chuck

Open the jaws of the chuck by turning the chuck key counterclockwise.

Step 3. Insert the Bit

Insert the bit or driver into the chuck. Close the jaws of the chuck by turning the chuck key clockwise. Be sure to keep the bit centered in the jaws.

How to put a drill bit in a drill with a keyed chuck

Step 4. Connect the Power

Connect the drill to an electrical outlet or install the battery in the drill. Drill holes or drive screws as needed.

Step 5. Remove the Bit

Reverse these steps to remove the drill bit or driver. Please use caution. Drill bits get hot with use.

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How to Put a Drill Bit in a Two-Part Keyless Chuck

Supplies

  • Drill Bit or Driver

Tools

  • Drill with Two-Part Keyless Chuck

Step 1. Disconnect the Power

Unplug the drill from the outlet or disconnect the battery from the drill.

Step 2. Open the Jaws of the Chuck

Open the jaws of the chuck by holding the bottom part of the chuck and turning the upper part of the chuck counterclockwise.

The first step to put a drill bit in a drill is to open the jaws of the chuck

Step 3. Insert the Bit

Insert the bit or driver into the chuck.

Putting a drill bit in a drill with a two part keyless chuck

Close the jaws of the chuck by holding the bottom part of the chuck and turning the upper part of the chuck clockwise. Be sure to keep the bit centered in the jaws.

Learning how to change a drill bit with a two part keyless chuck

Step 4. Connect the Power

Connect the drill to an electrical outlet or install the battery in the drill. Drill holes or drive screws as needed.

Step 5. Remove the Bit

Reverse these steps to remove the drill bit or driver. Please use caution. Drill bits get hot with use.

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How to Put a Drill Bit in a One-Part Keyless Chuck

Supplies

  • Drill Bit or Driver

Tools

  • Drill with One-Part Keyless Chuck

Step 1. Disconnect the Power

Unplug the drill from the outlet or disconnect the battery from the drill.

Step 2. Open the Jaws of the Chuck

Open the jaws of the chuck by holding the drill and turning the chuck counterclockwise.

How to put a drill bit in a drill: hold the drill and open the jaws of the chuck

Step 3. Insert the Bit

Insert the bit or driver into the chuck.

How to put a drill bit in a drill: placing the driver in the middle of the jaws

Close the jaws of the chuck by holding the drill and turning the chuck clockwise. Be sure to keep the bit centered in the jaws.

Learning how to change a drill bit with a one part keyless chuck

Step 4. Connect the Power

Connect the drill to an electrical outlet or install the battery in the drill. Drill holes or drive screws as needed.

Step 5. Remove the Bit

Reverse these steps to remove the drill bit or driver. Please use caution. Drill bits get hot with use.

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VIDEO: How to Put a Drill Bit in a Drill

Watch this quick video to see how to change a drill bit in a drill with a keyed chuck, two-part keyless chuck and a one-part keyless chuck.

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Final Thoughts

Now you know how to use a drill and how to change a drill bit. We’ve looked at corded and cordless drills. We’ve seen how to use a drill chuck. And we learned about drill bits, drill drivers and more!

Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for those clear instructions. I’ve seen people insert a bit, then pull the trigger to tighten the chuck. Guess that would be using the one-part keyless chuck.

    1. Hi Eileen – Thank you for stopping by. Yes, you can tighten a one-part keyless chuck by holding the chuck and pulling the trigger.

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