Power Tools – Drills, Planes, Routers

Safety Basics
Make sure that electric tools are properly grounded or
Never remove or tamper with safety devices.
Study the manufacturer's instructions before operating
any new or unfamiliar electric tool.
Regulations require that ground fault circuit
interrupters (GFCIs) be used with any portable
electric tool operated outdoors or in wet locations.
Before making adjustments or changing attachments,
always disconnect the tool from the power source.
When operating electric tools, always wear eye
When operating tools in confined spaces or for
prolonged periods, wear hearing protection.
Make sure that the tool is held firmly and the material
properly secured before turning on the tool.
Air Vents
With suitable
attachments, the drill
Trigger Switch
can be used for disk
sanding, sawing
holes, driving
Reverse Switch
screws, and grinding.
However, when such
Figure 1 — Light Duty Drill
applications are
repeatedly or continuously required, tools specifically
designed for the work should be used.
Trim carpenters will generally select a 1/4 or 3/8 inch
trigger-controlled variable speed drill (Figure 1). Simply by
increasing pressure on the trigger, the operator can
change drill speed from 0 to 2,000 rpm.
Carpenters working in heavy structural construction such as
bridges, trusses, and waterfront piers will usually select the
slower but more powerful one- or two-speed reversible 1/2
or 3/4 inch drill (Figure 2).
Size of the drill is determined by the maximum opening of
the chuck. For instance, a 3/8 inch drill will take only bits or
attachments with a shank up to 3/8 inch wide.
Adjustable Bit Stop
Keep vents clear
and clean.
Switch Lock
or Shank
Figure 5
Right-Angle Drive Attachment
or Shank
Disk Sander/Buffer
Figure 4 — Drill Attachments
Cutting and drilling attachments
must be kept sharp to avoid
overloading the motor.
Operators should not crowd or
push the tool beyond capacity.
Such handling can burn out the
motor, ruin the material, and
injure the operator in the event
of a kickback.
Some attachments, such as
Mandril or
hole saws, spade bits, and
Hole Saw
screwdrivers (Figure 6),
(For Use with Heavy-Duty Spade
require considerable control
Drills Only)
by the operator. If the
operator does not feed the
attachment slowly and
carefully into the material,
the drill can suddenly stop
and severely twist or break
Figure 6 — Drill Attachments
the operator's arm. Stock
should be clamped or
otherwise secured to prevent it from moving. This will also
enable the operator to control the tool with both hands
and absorb sudden twists or stops caused by obstructions
such as knots or hidden nails.
Operators must restrain the drill just before the bit or
cutting attachment emerges through the material,
especially when oversized spade bits are used. Sides of
the bit often become hooked on the ragged edge of the
nearly completed hole and make the drill come to a
sudden stop that can wrench the operator's arm.
At the first sign of the bit breaking through the material,
the operator should withdraw the drill and complete the
work from the other side. This will produce a cleaner job
and prevent the material from cracking or splintering.
The same result can be obtained by clamping a back-up
piece to the material and drilling into that.
Select the bit or attachment suitable to the size of the drill
and the work to be done. To operate safely and efficiently,
the shanks of bits and attachments must turn true.
Auxiliary Handle
Air Vents
Attachments such as speedreducing screwdrivers, disk
sanders, and buffers (Figure 4)
can help prevent fatigue and
undue muscle strain. A rightangle drive attachment (Figure
5) is very useful in tight
corners and other hard-toreach places.
Screwdriver Bit
Make sure that the bit or attachment is properly seated
and tightened in the
Engagement Ring chuck.
Set for either continuous
Figure 3
Drywall Screw Gun
For drywall screws, a
Figure 2
drywall screw gun
Heavy-Duty Drill
(Figure 3) should be
used. The driving bit should be replaced when worn. Select
a gun that can hang from your tool belt so it does not have
to be continuously hand-held.
Some operations
require the use of an
impact or hammer
drill. For instance,
drilling large holes in
concrete or rock with
or hammer drilling.
Bit Stop
Carboloy or
Masonry Bit
Figure 7 — Impact or Hammer Drill
37 – 1
a carboloy bit should be done with an impact drill (Figure 7).
Figure 9
Follow manufacturer's instructions when selecting and
using a bit or attachment, especially with drills or work
unfamiliar to you. If possible, choose a drill with a builtin
anti-vibration feature or wear vibration-dampening gloves.
This will help you avoid white finger disease.
Locate wiring before drilling.
Align drill at
right angles
to hole.
Working with Small Pieces
Drilling into small pieces of material may look harmless,
but if the pieces are not clamped down and supported,
they can spin with the bit before the hole is completed.
If a small piece starts to twist or spin with the drill, the
operator can be injured. Small work pieces should be
properly secured and supported. Never try to drill with one
hand and hold a small
piece of material with
the other (Figure 9).
Drilling from Ladders
Standing on a ladder to
drill holes in walls and
ceilings (Figure 8) can
be hazardous. The top
and bottom of the
ladder must be secured
to prevent the ladder
from slipping or sliding
when the operator puts
pressure on the drill.
Right and Wrong Ways
of Drilling Small Pieces
When drilling deep holes, especially with a twist bit,
withdraw the drill several times with the motor running to
clear the cuttings.
Never support material on your knee while drilling.
Material should be firmly supported on a bench or other
work surface for drilling.
Unplug the drill and remove the bit as soon as you have
finished that phase of your work.
When drilling into floors, ceilings, and walls, beware of
plumbing and especially of wiring.
Figure 8 — Drilling and Ladder Hazards
When drilling from a ladder, never reach out to either side.
Overreaching can cause the ladder to slide or tip.
Never stand on the top step or paint shelf of a stepladder.
Stand at least two steps down from the top. When
working from an extension ladder, stand no higher than
the fourth rung from the top.
When drilling from a ladder, never support yourself by
holding onto a pipe or any other grounded object. Electric
current can travel from the hand holding the drill through
your heart to the hand holding the pipe.
A minor shock can make you lose your balance. A major
shock can badly burn or even kill you.
Always plug in the drill with the switch OFF.
Before starting to drill, turn on the tool for a moment to
make sure that the shank of the bit or attachment is
centred and running true.
Large rotary and hammer drills can generate extreme
torque and must be handled with caution.
Remember that the longer you work, the heavier the drill
feels, particularly when
working overhead. Take a
Thread angle determines how fast the
breather now and then to
bit will feed through the material.
relax your arms and
Fast Screw
Slow Screw
Drilling Timbers
When drilling timbers with
a self-feeding auger bit
(Figure 10), do not
underestimate the physical
Figure 10
pressure required to
Self-Feeding Auger Bits
maintain control of the
tool. Such work calls for a
heavy-duty, low-rpm drill, 1/2 or 3/4 inch in size.
Never attempt to drill heavy timbers by yourself,
especially when working on a scaffold or other work
platform. If the self-feeding auger bit digs into a hidden
knot or other obstruction, the sudden torque can twist or
wrench your arm and throw you off balance.
Punch a layout hole or drill a pilot hole in the material so
that the bit won't slip or slide when you start drilling. A
pilot hole is particularly important for drilling into hard
material such as concrete or metal.
Other Materials
With the drill OFF, put the point of the bit in the pilot hole
or punched layout hole.
Hold the drill firmly in one hand or, if necessary, in both
hands at the correct drilling angle (Figure 9).
The main hazard in drilling materials other than wood is
leaning too heavily on the tool. This can not only overload
and burn out the motor but also cause injury if you are
thrown off balance by the drill suddenly twisting or stopping.
Turn on the switch and feed the drill into the material with
the pressure and control required by the size of the drill
and the type of material.
Always use a drill powerful enough for the job and a bit or
attachment suited to the size of the drill and the nature of
the work. As at other times, punching a layout hole or
drilling a pilot hole can make the job safer and more
Don't try to enlarge a hole by reaming it out with the sides
of the bit. Switch to a larger bit.
37 – 2
A drill press stand is ideal for drilling holes in metal
accurately and safely. Small pieces can be clamped in a
vise and bolted to the table. This prevents the workpiece
from spinning when the drill penetrates the metal.
Maintaining Blades
A drill press can also be used for cutting large holes in
wood with a hole saw or spade bit. The stability of the
press and the operator's control over cutting speed
eliminate sudden torque.
Available in various types and sizes, electric planes are
generally operated in similar ways. Adjustments between
models may differ, however, depending on specific features.
Planes may be equipped with
outfeed tables (back shoes) that are either fixed or
infeed tables (front shoes) that move straight up and
down or move up and down on an angle to keep the
gap between the cutter head and table as small as
cutter heads with two or more straight blades (also
called knives or cutter blades)
cutter heads with two curved blades.
Removing Blades
1) Disconnect the plane from the power source.
2) Turn the plane upside down and secure it in a fixed
3) Hold the cylinder head stationary by tapping a
softwood wedge between the cutter head and the
bearing (some tools are equipped with a locking
device for this).
4) Loosen all the screws and lift out one blade and
throat piece.
5) Turn the cutter head and repeat this procedure with
other blades.
6) If necessary, clean parts thoroughly with
recommended solvent.
Belt Guard
Trigger Switch
Installing Blades
Cutter Blade
Cutter Retainer
Figure 11 – Standard Power Plane
Standard Plane
Hold with both hands to avoid contact with cutter blades.
Always keep both hands on the plane until motor stops.
Use the edge guide to direct the plane along the
desired cut. Never try to guide the plane with your
fingers. If the plane runs into an obstruction or starts
to vibrate, your fingers can slide into the unprotected
cutter head.
Block Plane (Electric)
Designed for use on small surfaces, the block plane is
necessarily operated with only one hand. Though
convenient and useful, it is more dangerous than the
larger, standard plane.
Operators tend to support the work with one hand while
operating the block plane with the other. Any unexpected
twist or movement can force the plane or the material to
kick back and injure the operator. Keep your free hand
well out of the way, in case the plane slips accidentally.
Raising or replacing cutter blades takes time and
patience. Blades must be the same weight and seated at
the same height to prevent the cutter head from vibrating.
Any deviation can cause the head to run off balance.
Blades can fly out, inuring the operator or fellow workers.
Replacing cutter blades involves two steps: removing and
Never operate an electric plane while wearing a scarf,
open jacket, or other loose clothing. Always wear eye
protection and practice good housekeeping.
Cutter Head
Avoid striking staples, nails, sand, or other foreign
objects. The first step in operation is to make sure the
work is free of obstructions.
• Keep blades in good condition and sharp. A sharp
blade is safer to use than a dull blade that has to be
held down and forced. A dull blade tends to float over
the work and can bounce off, injuring the operator.
• Restore blades to original sharpness on a fine grit
oilstone. Unless nicked or cracked, blades can be
resharpened several times.
Changing Blades
1) Replace one throat piece and blade.
2) Tighten the two end screws lightly.
3) Take a hardwood straight edge and use the outfeed
table (back shoe) as a gauge. Raise or lower the
blade until both ends are level with the outfeed table
at the blade's highest point of revolution.
4) Tighten up the remaining screws.
5) Set the rest of the blades in the same way.
6) Turn the cylinder head and make sure that all blades
are the same height.
7) Tighten up all the screws.
8) Double-check the height of all blades. Tightening can
sometimes shift the set.
9) Double-check all the screws.
10) Turn the tool right side up and plug it in.
11) Hold the tool in both hands with the cutter blades
facing away from you and switch it on.
37 – 3
Always disconnect the plane from the power source
before adjusting or changing blades or the cutter
Make sure that blades at their highest point of
revolution are exactly flush with the outfeed table for
safe, efficient operation (Figure 12).
Outfeed Table
Blades Too Low
Router Bit
Adjustment Ring
Router Base
When cutter blades are installed lower than the level of the outfeed table, the plane hobbles
over the material and the cut is uneven.
Outfeed Table
Locking Screw
Blades Too High
of Motor
Apply control and force
in this direction.
Figure 14
Router Parts and Operation
When cutter blades are installed higher than the level of the outfeed table, the plane
gouges the material.
Figure 12
When starting a router with a trigger switch in the handle,
keep both hands on the tool to absorb the
counterclockwise starting torque.
When starting a router with a toggle switch on top of the
motor, hold the router firmly with one hand and switch on
power with the other, then put both hands on the tool for
control and accuracy.
Always wear eye protection. You may also need hearing
Figure 13 — Door Jack
Support work securely for safety and accuracy.
When planing doors and large pieces of plywood, use
a jack (Figure 13) to secure material and keep edges
clear of dirt and grit.
When using an electric block plane, clamp or fasten
the workpiece whenever possible. Keep your free
hand well away from plane and material.
When using the standard power plane, adjust the
edge guide to provide desired guidance.
Adjust depth of cut to suit the type and width of wood
to be planed.
To start a cut, rest the infeed table (front shoe) firmly
on the material with cutter head slightly behind the
edge of the material. After finishing a cut, hold both
hands on the plane until motor stops.
With special guides and bits, the portable electric router can
be used to cut dadoes, grooves, mortises, dovetail joints,
moldings, and internal or external curves. Carpenters find
routers especially useful for mortising stair stringers and
recessing hinges and lockplates on doors.
The router motor operates at very high speed (up to
25,000 rpm) and turns in a clockwise direction. Components
are shown in Figure 14.
WARNING The speed and power of the router require
that it be operated with both hands.
37 – 4
Always support and secure the work in a fixed
position by mechanical means such as a vise or
clamps. Never try to hold the work down with your
hand or knee. Never rely on a second person to hold
the material.
Human grip is
no match for
the torque and
kickback that a
For work
router can
along edges
such as
Make sure that
bevelling, the
the bit is
cutting edge
of the bit
must contact
mounted in the
the material
chuck and the
to the left of
base is tight.
the cutting
Set the base
on the work,
template, or
guide and
Figure 15
make sure that
the bit can
rotate freely before switching on the motor.
For work along edges such as bevels and moldings,
make sure that the cutting edge of the router bit
contacts the material to the left of the cutting direction
(Figure 15). Otherwise the router will kick back or fly
away from you.
When routing outside edges, guide the router around
the work in a counterclockwise direction (Figure 16).
Splinters left at corners by routing across the grain
will be removed by the next pass with the grain.
Feed the router bit into the material at a firm but
controllable speed. There is no rule on how fast to cut.
When working with softwood, the router can
Figure 16
sometimes be moved as fast as it can go. Cutting may
be very slow, however, with hardwood, knotty or
twisted wood, and larger bits.
Listen to the motor. When the router is fed into the
material too slowly, the motor makes a high-pitched
whine. Push too hard and the motor makes a low
growling noise. Forcing the tool can cause burnout or
kickback. Cutting through knots may cause slowdown
or kickback.
When the type of wood or size of bit requires going
slow, make two or more passes to prevent the router
from burning out or kicking back.
If you're not sure about depth of cut or how many
passes to make, test the router on a piece of scrap
similar to the work.
When the cut is complete, switch off power and keep
both hands on the router until the motor stops. When
lifting the tool from the work, avoid contact with the bit.
37 – 5
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