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Thread: Shop-made extra long side handle makes powerful hand-drill safer

  1. #1
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    Shop-made extra long side handle makes powerful hand-drill safer

    Two years ago, I was drilling a 4 inch hole with a high torque drill. All was going well until the big 4 inch hole saw jammed and twisted both my wrists as the drill body rotated on the jammed bit. One part of my brain was saying: "let go of the trigger", while another part of my brain was saying: "something bad is happening so hang on tight". Anyway, sprained both wrists and it has taken over a year to get back to more or less normal.

    I googled the topic of injury from drills jamming to see if there was any special treatmet for sprained wrists from drills, as compared to the typical sprains from falling. Found some frightening stories that would be funny if not so serious: one poor guy was standing on a ladder drilling a hole in the ceiling; the bit jammed and he started spinning around; the ladder fell out of the way; he kept spinning with the cord wrapping around until it yanked itself out of the wall.

    I have not touched that drill since my experience, but finally had a need to drill a 4-3/8 hole in the floor to feed a 4 inch flexible dust duct through. To make the drill safer I made a long wooden side handle to replace the normal size side handle. The long handle can be braced against my body or in the case of the hole I drilled, braced against the wall. The handle is made of ash and has a 5/16 threaded rod running through it, that threads inot the drill where a normal handle could go. A copper ferrule made from plumbing pipe keeps the wood from splitting and provides a hard surface to mate agains the metal housing of the drill.

    Drill Safety.jpg

    Drill Safety (2).jpg


  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Nice job. I imagine most of us have had the 'twisties' (sic).

    I took the easy way out and keep the longest bolt I could find that fits the thread on my drill, along with a piece of metal conduit in the drill drawer.

    Your way obviously has advantages of stability, as well as craft. Left handed?
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  3. #3
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    Good solution!

    Many of the battery powered D/Ds have some incredible torgue that will "take your hand off" during some kinds of operations, for me that's particularly when using sockets for bolts and when I use my old DeWalt 14.4 for my little scissor jack. I've often thought about coming up with a way to put a handle like this on them...it's a little more complicated because they do not have inherent design for a side handle.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    Feb 2009
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    lumberton nc
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    Have that same drill it will hurt you nice job on handle

  5. #5
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    Sep 2016
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    My Dads old cast aluminum 1/2 drill had a 1/2 NPT hole for a longer handle. Simple and worked well. Hard to do with plastic bodies.
    Bill D

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by cliff smith View Post
    Have that same drill it will hurt you nice job on handle

    I have both that drill, in both straight and right angle. It's a wimp when compared to my "Hole Hawg," which will spin a 8" hole saw all day without complaining. Ironically the biggest use of my right angle is using a drywall mud paddle to mix hush puppie mix for BBQ dinners. Ten minutes, and I can have five gallon bucket full ready to go into the cooker.

  7. #7
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    I was drilling a 3" hole in a beam for plumbing with a Milwaukee right angle drill, my uncle's old Milwaukee that didn't have V/S, and when the bit caught I quickly let go of the trigger, but the coast down revolutions lifted my steadying arm up, picking me up off the ladder and pinning my arm against the ceiling. I had to reverse the drill to get free and back down on the ladder. A side handle would not help in my close quarters, but one was available. I was supporting the drill with my right hand and running the trigger with my left hand in this situation.

    Charley
    Last edited by Charles Lent; 09-13-2021 at 11:26 AM.

  8. #8
    Problem you will run into with the long arm handle is you will likely either snap the chuck shaft off eventually or you will strip the gears out of the gearbox. Ive had two milwaukee right angle drills in this predicament because guys were in a spot where they could let the d-handle of the drill foul against a wall/stud whatever and just stood there with a finger on the trigger and shoving the drill and when it caught on snapped the chuck shaft clean off the right angle and the other roached the drive gear in the drill motor.

    The issue with large hole saws like that is hopefully variable speed and then a cautious pulsing of the trigger and watching the perimeter of the hole saw to make sure your not feeding in off the drill axis (drilling an angled hole). The pulsing the trigger and pulling the saw out (peck drilling) does a lot of good for clearing the kerf and keeping your head around feeding the saw in square to the work.

    If you want a real ride chuck up a 3 1/2" Milwaukee Self-feed in a hole hawg. A pistol drill will beat you up, a right angle drill (depending on if you have the right angle in low or high torque) will hurt you... a hole hawg will pick you plumb off a ladder.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    My 3/4" drill takes a 3/4" piece of pipe for a handle. We have used a 6' pipe, borrowed from a pipe clamp, and a helper that goes by Big Mike to hold it. Here's the chuck key for it. Glove size Large hand.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Woodward View Post
    [...To make the drill safer I made a long wooden side handle to replace the normal size side handle. The long handle can be braced against my body or in the case of the hole I drilled, braced against the wall. The handle is made of ash and has a 5/16 threaded rod running through it, that threads inot the drill where a normal handle could go. A copper ferrule made from plumbing pipe keeps the wood from splitting and provides a hard surface to mate agains the metal housing of the drill.
    My high-torque hand drill came with right-angle handles but adding one is a great idea.

    If there is any concern about the wood breaking where narrows it wouldn't be too hard to make it from steel. A friend with welding/machining equipment could make one quickly.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    My 3/4" drill takes a 3/4" piece of pipe for a handle. We have used a 6' pipe, borrowed from a pipe clamp, and a helper that goes by Big Mike to hold it. Here's the chuck key for it. Glove size Large hand.
    In my world the size of the chuck key when your at or above a 1/2" capacity chuck is meaningless because you'll likely always be running a shank with flats. There is not a chuck key on the cord or in the box for two right angle drills and a hole hawg. You can chuck and unchuck even the largest tool by hand forward and reversing and grabbing the shell of the chuck. Some of the big holes, I dont care if your chuck key was a 4' pipe wrench you'd never hold them without flats.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  12. #12
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    All of my large twist drills don't have flats, but some do have shanks reduced to 3/4". We bent a 27/32's one day with that big drill, and long handle -needed to upsize, and tap a hole in a tractor block, that held on the front end loader. The bit grabbed, and bent, but no worries to wrists. That was when I bought a magnetic based drill press.

    I'm still using a set of Milwaukee self-feed bits that I bought in the 1970's. I may have replaced one, but don't remember. My 1/2" right angle drills handle a 3-5/8's okay, but I don't allow anyone to handle one on a ladder. When I was building new houses, we drilled any needed plumbing holes when we were building the wall, before it was set up. I had more than one inspector ask me "how we got that pipe in there?"

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    All of my large twist drills don't have flats, but some do have shanks reduced to 3/4". We bent a 27/32's one day with that big drill, and long handle-needed to upsize, and tap a hole in a tractor block, that held on the front end loader. That was when I bought a magnetic based drill press.

    I'm still using a set of Milwaukee self-feed bits that I bought in the 1970's. I may have replaced one, but don't remember. My 1/2" right angle drills handle a 3-5/8's okay, but I don't allow anyone to handle one on a ladder. When I was building new houses, we drilled any needed plumbing holes when we were building the wall, before it was set up. I had more than one inspector ask me "how we got that pipe in there?"
    Anything in the shop above 1/2" is flatted and several below 1/2" are. Same here. Been drilling big holes for a long time. Have self-feeds and carbide hole saws from when I apprenticed in the trade in my teens (pre 85' so not that long ago). Point is if your in a high torque situation drilling hand held you need to either adjust your technique or abandon hand held. Other than some crude hole your not going to drill anything respectable hand held in large sizes. We all do what we have to do. But to the OP's condition, Ive routinely (and painfully) punched 7" diameter holes through deep material drilling to the hole saws depth, chiseling out, and repeat. The point is, it CAN be done by hand and safely with good practice. As with everything... operator error is where the issue lies.

    In 35 years one thing Ive learned is when "get a bigger hammer" or "get a longer pipe" or "lets weld this onto that" is floated... your in doomsday land.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  14. #14
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    Jan 2008
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    Western Nebraska
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    We've got a big Makita in the shop that I don't let anyone else use because it's just too prone to catching. If you want to get rid of the problem, use a big right angle with the anti-kickback sensing magic. We use the Dewalts, but I think the newer hole hawgs have it too. Sure makes the drills a little less terrifying when swinging a big hole saw.

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