May 2009: Toolbox

May 2009: Toolbox

The drill of it all

If you’re hanging a picture, changing out a switchplate, or attempting any sort of carpentry, it’s likely you’ll be reaching for a power drill. Since the drill itself is basically just a motor that makes things rotate, you can use it for lots of different tasks depending on what bit you load into it. It won’t wash dishes, but it does almost everything else.

Bit by bit, this is your (almost) all-purpose tool.

First of all, of course, it drills holes—into wood, brick, concrete or tile—and there are many types and sizes of drill bits for different jobs. If you’re just putting a pilot hole into a 2×4, a basic “twist bit” will do; if you want to drill into your basement’s concrete wall, you’ll need a masonry bit. More complex projects might require specialized bits like forstners or dowel bits.

You can also put driver bits into your power drill, turning it into a screwdriver for any type of screw (Phillips, flathead, etc.). And don’t miss the fun of using a hole saw to create large round openings in wood or plastic.

For most folks, a battery drill will be just fine; a more powerful plug-in drill might be worthwhile for really big projects. To change bits, some models use a “chuck key” with which you loosen the tool’s grip on the bit, and others are keyless and can be changed by hand. Check the manual, or hit up a handy neighbor for help.—Erika Howsare