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Cordless Drill Shootout!


The other day I came across this old hand drill while rearranging stuff in the shop. It occurred to me that I had a few other hand drills and it might be fun to make a short video about them.

But, If I'm going to make a video anyway... I thought it would be more fun to make it a "Cordless Drill Shootout" video!

So I gathered up my cordless drills, and then I gathered up my "cordless drills", as well as a piece wood, some drillbits and screws, and a clipboard to make it official.

1: The Eggbeater Drill

This is known as an eggbeater drill -- named after a kitchen implement, I believe. If you're above a certain age you might even have had an actual hand cranked eggbeater in your kitchen growing up.

Some of these will have a hollow handle that you can pop open to store drill bits. Mine doesn't. I picked this up 15-25 years ago at a flea market or yardsale, probably for $10-$20. I really don't remember.

These are great drills for getting small kids started in the shop, because they're quite safe. It'd be hard to hurt yourself with one of these. They're light, cheap, and of course the "battery" never runs out. Even for adults, these can be usefull for small and delicate projects, since you can drill very slowly and lightly.

I never use it, it's always sitting in a drawer.

For the shootout I used my compact 12v drill, a 1/8" drillbit, and a piece of 3x3 softwood. (If it looks familiar, I "abused" this same piece of wood in my torx -vs- robertson article.)

The drill sank the bit in less than 2 seconds.

I really struggled with the eggbeater. I think it works better if you are NOT in a hurry and pushing hard on it. Drilling this hole took 23 seconds.

No I did NOT do dozens of tests and average the results.

I trust you can figure out why.

2: The Breast Drill

The breast drill is a big and rugged drill, meant for rougher work. it has a curved plate at the top that you can press against your chest (hence the name), so that you can really lean on the drill and force it into the workpiece. I picked mine up at a flea market over fifteen years ago for about $15.

I last used this drill about 10 months ago during my Umbrella Rack Project. I pulled it out at that time because I needed to drill a hole in tight quarters and the chuck on the breast drill is skinnier than that of my power drill.

Like the other one, (except for 10 months ago)
I never use it, it's always just hanging on the wall.
One interesting feature of this drill is that, like my power drills, this is a two speed drill. There is a push button (marked on the photo, and maybe a bit easier to see in the next photos) that you can use to release the big crank. There are two mounting holes on the drill, and depending on which one you use, the big crank will engage with one of two different gears. (again, marked on the photo, the lower arrow.) One will give you a faster speed, and the other will give a lower speed, which gives more torque.
For this shootout, since this is a bigger hand drill, I pulled out my 20v cordless drill. (Introduced/reviewed on this project) I used a thicker 11/64 drill bit for this test also, but the drill still sank it in the wood in less than two seconds.

Surprisingly, the breast drill did a really good job, completing the hole in six seconds. Leaning on the drill really helped speed it up.

3: The Brace

(I've heard this called: A Brace, A Brace and Bit, A Bit Brace, and probably something else long forgotten.)

Unfortunately I don't have any auger bits for this drill. Like with the others, I bought this around twenty years ago at a yard sale, for around ten bucks, if I recall.

If you're detecting a theme with all these hand drills being bought 15-20 years ago, you're right. When I started out in woodworking I was trying to do my best to get into the hobby without spending a ton of money, so I went with slow and cheap methods where possible. I also was exploring the handtool side of things for a while, mostly for cost reasons.

While I did not have any auger bits, I did buy this small hex-bit adaptor from Lee Valley. This allowed me to insert a screwdriver bit and use the Brace to drive screws. Way back then I was rebuilding a deck on the back of my first house. I did not have a hammer drill, or an impact driver, or a nail gun, or anything like that. I just had a cheap second-hand 12v cordless drill, and it did NOT have the strength or stamina to drill a whole bunch of three inch screws into my deck.

In contrast, this brace actually has a ton of torque, and can drive in screws pretty fast. In fact I even snapped the head off of one or two screws, as I recal, it had that much torque. And of course it has no battery so it only runs down when you do.

For this test, I picked my "weakest" compact 12v drill/driver to drive in a two-inchs screw. I was trying to recreate the situation of my deck rebuild, at least a bit. It still sank the screw in less than five seconds.

In contrast, the brace sank the screw in a pretty respectable 12 seconds.

You know what comes next:
I never use it, it's always just hanging on the wall.

4: Conclusions?

On the one hand, we have the power drills:
Fast. Heavy. Expensive.

Did I mention Fast?


On the other hand, we have my "cordless" hand drills:
Cheap. Light. Versatile in certain situations. Safe for kids. They last all day withouth charging. In fact, they use no batteries, ever. Cheaper to run. Good exercise. Unique.

But slower.

( ... never use them... )


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See Also:

X-Wing Birdhouse

Hello Internet Nail and Gear Plaque

Torx VS Robertson