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Did you know that the first use of a form of pneumatic technology dates back thousands of years? In the first century a Greek Mathematician, called Hero of Alexandria, wrote about how he used wind to generate power and transport objects.
It was in the 1600s that German physicist Otto Von Guericke first invented a vacuum pump that utilized air pressure. Following his work, the 1800s had many inventors becoming aware of how compressed air could be utilized. Then, in 1871, the pneumatic drill was invented by Samuel Ingersoll. The pneumatic hammer was invented in 1890 by Charles Brady.
Today, not only are pneumatic drills indispensable tools for maintenance needs and industrial protection, they are fast and accurate at drilling plastic, aluminum, concrete, steel, and more. Unlike many other drills, they run on compressed air and use few parts, which makes them more lightweight and less likely to break.
Read on to learn more about pneumatic drills and the advantages of using pneumatic manual drilling. We’ll also cover the different types of pneumatic systems, how to buy and use air-powered drills, and what kinds of projects you can use a pneumatic drill for.
Pneumatic Drills Defined
Hand-held air drills are powered by compressed air. Because the drill is run only by compressed air, they are usually lightweight and have fewer parts, making them less prone to breaking down and reducing maintenance costs.
Also known as air-powered drills, jackhammers, hammer drills, or air drills, pneumatic drills are drills that run on compressed air. They stand in contrast to electric drills, which are powered by batteries or plugs.
A pneumatic drill consists of a hammer that is controlled by compressed air blasts and a compressor that supplies air to the drill. It may also include an electrical generator to provide power to electric tools and lights.
These drills are commonly used in the workshop, construction, and production-line industries for a wide range of tasks. They are typically used to drill holes in hard rock in construction and mining, but they can also be used to:
- Tap large or small holes
Advantages of Using Pneumatic Manual Drilling
Pneumatic manual drilling offers several advantages compared to other types of drills. These include:
More Accurate Drilling
Air drills offer accurate and strong drilling. Compared to electric drills, pneumatic drills can deliver an extraordinary amount of punch. They are also very flexible since you can adjust the strength by letting the air compressor deliver less or more power. As such, they’re popular picks for auto and machine shops.
Simple To Use
Pneumatic drills don’t have electric motors, making them easier and more economical to maintain than electric tools. They’re also easy to use because they have fewer moving parts, which means it’s less likely for you to lose or damage parts of the tool.
Pneumatic drills also offer convenience because they don’t have electric motors, so you can use them when there’s no electricity. For instance, you could use them if you’re in a rural area where access to electricity may not be reliable or readily available.
Easy To Maintain
In addition to being easy to use, pneumatic drills require very little maintenance because they have fewer parts to replace. Air drill parts are also highly interchangeable, so you can easily find replacements as needed. As long as you keep the drill clean and lubricated with pneumatic tool oil, it should perform effectively for a long time.
Types of Pneumatic Systems
There are various types of pneumatic systems that use compressed air to transmit power. Two commonly used systems you might be familiar with are handheld drills and angle drills.
A handheld or cordless drill is a pneumatic drill that uses batteries. Since they don’t require power sources, handheld drills can be used anywhere, even when you don’t have access to electricity.
Designed for durability, angle drills have heads set at 90-degree angles to the grip. The heads are typically shorter than in other models, and the grip is usually designed for use with one hand.
Angle drills offer high performance in manufacturing, production, and assembly environments. They can also be used for nearly any do-it-yourself (DIY) project that requires you to work in tight spaces, such as plumbing and cabinet projects. Pneumatic angle drills are ideal if you’re in a position that makes it difficult to drill holes straight-on or accurately.
Buying and Using Air-Powered Drills 101
Buying the right pneumatic system can be difficult if you’ve never done it before. Here’s what you should consider before getting an air-powered drill.
Look at your air-powered drill’s motor and the range of speeds it provides. Is it enough to fit your needs?
If you want to drill through tough materials like stainless steel and aluminum, you should get an air drill that lets you drill up to at least 4,000 RPM.
Most drills either come with a T-handle or a pistol grip. A T-handle is shaped like a T, while a pistol grip is a protruded handle under the main tool that orients your hand in a forward position. If you’re using your drill for basic household tasks, you can go with either handle style. However, one may work better over the other, depending on your project.
A T-handle is the best option if you need to work in tight spaces. T-handles let you fully utilize your strength in tight spaces and have more durability and torque than most pistol grip tools.
If you’re driving large screws, a pistol grip is the better option because it gives you maximum stability and control.
If you want to use your drill to drive screws, choose a model that comes with a clutch. A clutch will give you more control over the amount of torque you can apply to a screw. It will also help you prevent:
- Stripping the screw’s head
- Sinking in the screw too deep
- Breaking screw shafts
Air drills have a wide range of prices depending on their features, so you should consider how much you want to spend on a compressed air drill.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which features are a must-have for my projects? Think about what types of projects you want to work on and what kind of power, handles, and clutch you need to accomplish your goals.
- Which features can I do without? Are there any features that are nice but aren’t a must-have? For instance, you may not need a drill that comes with a clutch if you’re not planning to drive screws.
- Which features will I need in the near future? This is an important question if you’re seeking to do other types of projects in the near future.
What Improvement Project Could You Use a Pneumatic Drill For?
A pneumatic drill is commonly used for interior and exterior construction and home improvement projects, including:
- Automotive repair work
- Home improvement projects such as fixing your cabinet and building a shed
- Carpentry, particularly for creating or modifying furniture
- Gardening, since air drills can be used to build elevated planters and beds
- Landscaping, since pneumatic drills can be used to break up pavement and rock
Check out our coverage and offerings on pneumatic drills, as well as some best sellers below.
- The pneumatic drill has Quick-Change Keyless Chuck for easy change over between bits
- 2100 RPM (Free Speed @90PSI) helps DEWALT drill through durable materials
- Variable Speed Trigger allows user to apply needed amount of power for the reversible drill
- One Hand Operation-Forward/Reverse Switch for quick and easy switching
- Excellent for drilling, honing, reaming and hole sawing
- Flat back part for better pushing action while drilling and tapping
- Composite housing with thermoplastic rubber handle grip
- Large teasing trigger and progressive valve allowing more control to start holes
- Supplied with high quality industrial Jacobs chucks for longer use
- VERSATILE TOOL: The IR 7803 Reversible Air Drill is a traditional pistol shaped drill; with a feather trigger for variable speed options and a number of different configurations, this drill is as versatile as it is efficient
- APPLICATIONS: Use for drilling, sawing, valve guide reaming, cylinder honing, and wire brushing; it's powerful, efficient, and durable with smooth, quiet operation
- POWERFUL MOTOR: Features a powerful 0.50 hp motor and drill configurations include reversible, non-reversible, and keyless chucks
- VARIABLE SPEED: The variable speed throttle lets you adjust the tool's speed for any project you are working on, and its quick reverse lever offers greater efficiency
- HEAVY DUTY: Durable aluminum housing and ball and needle bearing ensure the tool’s long-lasting reliability; Planetary gear reduction balances the load
- Powerful and quiet design with speeds from 500 RPM
- Industrial grade 1/2 inch keyless chuck for easy bit change-out
- Ergonomic grip with a side handle for comfort and control
- Forward and reverse with variable speed control
- Diffused handle exhaust to keep the workspace clean