If you only own one household tool, it’s probably a cordless drill. They’re pretty essential for even the most basic home improvement projects. But it’s not just a matter of grabbing one and getting to work. Drills may seem straightforward, but there are actually a lot of ways to mess up. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for.
Always start with a pilot hole—a smaller opening that you can use as a guide for your nail or screw, or to gradually enlarge until you get the size hole you need. Starting small both prevents damage to the material you’re working with, and guards against making a hole too big. (It’s much easier to enlarge a hole that’s too small than to fill a hole that’s too big.) How do you know what size drill bit to use for your pilot hole? There’s a good rule of thumb; choose a bit the size of the inner diameter of the screw for your pilot hole.
If you’re like me and sometimes wake up and decide you just have to do a project today, right now, this very minute, you may be disappointed when you grab the drill only to find the battery is dead. Or even more frustrating, you get started and it dies with the first screw. Cordless drills can’t be beat for convenience, but you have to think ahead and charge that puppy. Better still, have a back up battery, and be sure you get in the habit of putting the dead one on to charger every time you switch out.
The most dreaded words in the history of household projects? The screw is stripped. I hate hearing this because it means we just hit a speed bump. It essentially means that the head of the screw loses its shape and the bit can no longer hold onto it. In short? You’re screwed. If you find yourself in that unfortunate situation, you have to take a pair of pliers, grip the head of the screw, and manually turn it to remove it.
There are an infinite number of bit types in the universe, and each kind serves a purpose. Use the wrong one for the job and you will potentially make things a lot harder on yourself. Using a wood bit instead of a masonry bit to drill into brick, for example, might break the bit and could even damage the drill’s motor.