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10 Incredible Drill Hacks You Need to Know

Innovations like extended-life batteries, variable speeds controls, and keyless chucks have made the humble drill one of the most useful items in the your toolbox. From practical to fun, here are 10 tips to take your run-of-the-mill drill to the next level!

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CANFamily Handyman

Electric Can Opener

This hack takes a simple kitchen can opener and converts it into a high-powered electric device. Remove the handle from a manual can opener (they usually pop off with a twist or the removal of a cotter pin) to reveal the handle axle. Insert that axle into the chuck of your drill, and presto— electric can opener.

While you’re in the kitchen, you may consider pouring yourself a glass of wine, only to find that you’ve misplaced the opener. Conveniently, there’s no shortage of ways to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew.

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Family Handyman

Power Clean

Speed up cleaning tasks by adding a brush to your drill’s attachment collection. This hack lets you deep-clean hard-to-reach parts of your home, and the variable speed of your drill means that you won’t damage any fine materials along the way. Here’s a more extensive break-down of the steps to make this incredibly useful DIY power cleaner.

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HH Nail drill bit

Quick and Easy Pilot Holes

From time to time you may find yourself working with temperamental material that is prone to splitting when you hammer into it. The best solution is to drill a pilot hole, but what do you do if you don’t have the proper size bit on hand? Sure, you could make a run to the hardware store, but why not use a nail to get your pilot hole started?

Simply lop of the head of the nail, insert the nail body into your drill chuck, and you’re ready to roll! This how-to breaks down all the steps needed to start implementing this great hack.

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MagneticKarel Pesorna/Shutterstock

Instant Magnetic Screw Holder

If you’ve ever struggled to retrieve fasteners or drill bits, fumbling to pull them out of a pocket while half-way through a project, then this is the hack for you! Use a little dab of superglue (or even hot glue) on the frame of your drill and attach a strong magnet in the perfect spot to keep screws and loose materials easily accessible while you work. For more tips about efficient fastener techniques, here are 15 Revolutionary Techniques for Driving Screws.

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Family Handyman

Give Yourself a Little Give

When drilling a smooth surface, it can be difficult to get a hole started without “walking” the bit. Some materials are soft enough that you can use a nail set or punch to create a dimple to seat the bit. But other materials, such as glass, are a little more challenging.

For this simple hack, keep some painter’s tape and dense cardboard in your tool bag. Tape the cardboard over the area you want to drill, then use a carbide-tipped bit at low-speed to create a divot in the material. The cardboard will steady the bit, and once you have a starter hole you can discard the cardboard and proceed as usual.

For more detailed instructions, a great starting point is this Family Handyman article: How to Drill Into Glass.

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drill depth starterFamily Handyman

A Simpler Depth Stop

Chances are you’ve seen the trick of using electrical tape to mark a drill bit when you want to stop a hole at a specific target depth. That’s a great tip, but if you’re drilling multiple holes that tape can get ragged pretty quick, and once that happens, it’s no longer an accurate depth stop. Instead, use a permanent marker to indicate the target depth and you’ll get much more use out of it before it wears down. Once you’ve finished your project, simply wipe the drill bit with some paint remover or Goo Gone, and the marker ink should come right off.

To make this hack more effective, you’ll want to choose a marker color that stands out against the drill bit. Ideally, you’d have a few markers in your tool bag, depending on what kind of twist drill bit you prefer to use.

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bit extender

Super-Long Bit Extender

Sometimes you need just a little extra reach on your drill bit. You can run down to the local hardware store to buy an extender, but those prepackaged solutions carry a hefty price tag. If you only need the extender for a one-shot or short term project, why not make your own? This how-to from Family Handyman reader Jonthan Spicker shows how to get the same reach on a shoe-string budget.

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cup Lisy/Shutterstock

Dixie Cup Dust Collection

Drilling directly overhead is a pain. Not only can it wear on your arms and shoulders, but the “chaff” or waste material from the hole will fall downward, almost inevitably landing on you. This is especially annoying when drilling into drywall.

Luckily, all that mess is avoided with an easy hack! Take a Dixie cup or similar small paper cup and poke a hole in the bottom. Slide it down over your drill bit (mouth up) and then as you drill, the waste will fall into the cup! If you want more techniques for drilling holes and driving screws the smart way, this Family Handyman article is a great place to start.

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Family Handyman

Vegetable and Fruit Peeler

This is probably the most fun hack on this list! Start by using a pre-washed screw set in the drill’s chuck to bite into the fruit or veggie’s core. Hold your peeler against the fruit or vegetable’s skin, and let the drill rip! The peeler will make short work of the skin, and all you have to do is back out the screw and you’re ready for the next item.

This hack works best on things like apples, where the core is tougher and won’t be eaten, but can be adapted to deal with pretty much anything. For example, you may opt to swap out the screw for a threaded plastic drywall anchor, which will give more bite into a softer core.

Of course, not every drill hack has to be quite so culinary. If your tastes run to more conventional drill attachments, here’s five of our favorites.

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Family Handyman

Cheap Buffer/Grinder

Swap out your drill bit for a cloth buffer and you can polish and clean everything from shoes to diamond rings. But if you want to take things to the next level, turn the drill on its side and attach it to your workbench with a metal strap. Once it’s secured, you’ve got yourself a down-and-dirty grinder, buffer, or disc sander, depending on your attachment choice. For more ways to hack an ordinary workbench and transform it into a utility device, hop over to the DIY Workbench Upgrades slideshow!

Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.

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