History of the Drill: Everything You Need To Know

It is quite rare that you would go to any household or construction site and fail to find a drill as one of the tools in store. Previously, hand drills were the only drills around, but over time, they have been gradually replaced by cordless models.

Initially, the drills were only used for making holes in wood, stone or metal surfaces. However, their uses have expanded over the years and have become more versatile, although drilling remains their primary purpose.

Currently, there are many types of drills in existence, including hand drills, power drills, cordless drills, electric drills among others. This article aims to give an in-depth analysis of the drill to eliminate any mystery around it.

Read more about: How To Use a Dewalt Hammer Drill – Important Tips

Drill Machine History 

The Invention of The Drill

The idea of a drill can be traced back to the Homo Sapiens who discovered the importance of using rotary tools in their daily activities. When the need to bore a hole through another material ever arose, they would spin a sharp rock between the hands until they got the intended hole.

This eventually led to the hand drill, which involved attaching a smooth stick to a flint point which you would then rub between the palms.

The bow drills were the earliest drills, and we can trace them back to the ancient Egyptians and Harappans, and they later evolved into the drill press. Over the years, these drills have made use of various power sources, and they include windmills, human strength, and water wheels, majorly utilizing belts.

The Electric Drill 

We can explain the invention of the electric drill by the simple fact that human beings like their work being easier and an electric motor goes a long way in achieving this objective. The idea behind an electric drill was brought forth by two Australian men, namely Arthur James Arnot and William Blanch Brian.

They patented the idea in 1889, and it was a big difference from the manual drills people were used to. In 1895, Wilhelm and Carl Fein both from Germany introduced the first portable electric drill, which they designed to fit in the user's hands precisely.

Then in 1917, Alonzo Decker and Duncan Black joined hands to patent a trigger switch operated drill. This was a real game changer as it took close to four decades before further advancements of the electric drill were done.

In 1961, Black and Decker introduced the cordless drill, and this set the benchmark for the kind of drills in existence to date.

Current Drills

Thanks to all the drill innovations that started taking place over a century ago, we have a wide variety of issues to factor in before acquiring a drill. Besides the design, voltage is a critical factor to consider.

Some decades back, the highest voltage you could get on a drill was 4.8 volts, but presently, it is possible to get a drill which is powered by a 20-Volt Lithium-Ion Battery.

Drill Manufacturers

As the drills have continued advancing over the years, several companies and individuals have come up and are dedicated to even further advancement in this sector. It has improved features and is relatively more available as compared to previous years.

The major brand is the Black and Decker Company which is not only a veteran but is also a pacesetter in the industry. Another famous name is the Dewalt Power Tool Company, which was founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1923 by Raymond Dewalt. It has a reputation for releasing some of the most robust drills in the market.

There is also The Milwaukee Electric Tool Company also established in 1923 by A.F. Siebert and is a top seller of power drills. The Michael Electric Hand Saw Company joined the market in 1924 using the name Skil.


The Sears Craftsman Brand started in 1927, is worth mentioning. Although its fortunes have dwindled over the years, it is an essential player in the evolution of drills.

6 Types of Drills

We thought that apart from understanding the history of drills, you should also know the types available and their uses as well.

1. Hand Drill

This is a manual gear-driven tool with a driving wheel. Spinning the wheel makes the drill move with the chuck, and this causes the drill bit to rotate. It is an excellent alternative to power drills if you wish to avoid them for one reason or the other.

You will find it very useful in making small holes in softwood and metals.

2. Brace Drill

This is also a manual drill with a cranked U-shaped spindle to add more torque. It has another spindle at the top for gripping as well as help you place it in your preferred angle.

You will mainly use this drill for countersinking as well as piercing wood.

3. Bow Drill

Also called a Fire Drill, it features a bow, Spindle, Bearing Block and a Hearth. It starts a fire once friction is applied and this explains the name.

The friction generates heat which in turn produces ember in the sawdust. This ember forms a tinder bundle which starts the fire. The spindle will act to reduce friction on one end and maximize it at the other.

The Bearing Block will hold one end and help in base-boarding the other. The string aims to assist in maintaining tightness and prevent slipping.

4. Push Drill

Although this tool is hand-powered and lightweight, it is stronger and more powerful than many other drilling tools. It is small and slender and utilizes a spiral ratchet to rotate the bit.

Its lightweight nature makes it very useful in giving you precise results.

5. Corded Drill 

This drill needs a constant power supply from the socket to function. You can always extend the wire if the power supply is far away. You will find it comfortable to use due to its Piston Grip design.

They are sturdy with an amperage range of between 3 and 10 and a torque of 40-Inch pounds.

6. Cordless Drill

The main difference between this drill and the corded one is that it is lighter and does not need a power supply to operate since it has a battery. You will, however, have to recharge it regularly during or after use.

It has a voltage capacity of between 6-24 volts, and you can use it for drilling through plastic, metal sheets and fibreglass.

In Conclusion

Now that you understand a brief history of the drill, we hope that you appreciate this excellent tool more and you will have an edge if you intend to acquire one.

Whether there will be more advancements in the drilling sector is an interesting scenario that we wait to see if it will unfold.

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