When we buy a new power tool it can be easy to take them granted and expect it to work perfectly without performing any basic maintenance checks. In a sense this is something of a compliment to the manufacturers who generally produce tools that are long lasting and effective at performing the tasks they have been made for.

However, a drill will only ever remain effective if the owner takes the time and care to keep it in good condition. By following a few simple tasks, you can ensure the drill continues to produce fantastic results which will prevent you from having to spend more money on a replacement when it could’ve been avoided.

Our guide to cleaning and maintaining a drill tells you everything you need to know, from oiling the chuck to finding the right storage environment.


Cleaning your drill

The dust and shavings that are generated from using your machine to drill into various surfaces and materials will eventually build-up over time. There is no way to avoid the mess created from boring into wood or metal and at some point you will have to take the time to clean the drill to keep it in good working order.

This is particularly important for the vents of the machine as they will need to be kept clear to provide ventilation so the engine stays at a relatively low temperature and doesn’t burn out. The easiest and most cost effective method is to simply blow on the vents to clear away any dust particles that may be clogged. If this isn’t enough to sufficiently remove them an air compressor, or compressed air canister, should provide enough force to do the job.


How to oil your drill

It is easy to assume that the motor inside the machine will keep itself in good working order forever. Unfortunately that is rarely the case and the various metal components will require oiling from time-to-time to ensure it remains in a workable condition.

A key area to focus on is the chuck, which is responsible for holding the changeable bits used for drilling. In many cases a modern day drill will feature a keyless chuck but some specialist products, such as hammer drills, may feature keyed chucks as this provides a more secure grip for use over a longer period of time. Here are three things to take into consideration when oiling your drill:

  • A standard metal lubricant can be used to spread the oil inside the chuck in the space where the drill bits slot into. Before doing this open up the chuck teeth to allow for easier access so you can see the oil is reaching the right areas. Open and close the chuck a few times to allow the oil to evenly lubricate each part.
  • Avoid applying the oil directly to the chuck exterior and instead use a rag or cloth to spread it across both the chuck and hand grip.
  • For keyed chucks the first two steps can be followed before lubricating teeth situated on the outside of the chuck. This will help to protect the teeth and chuck from easily wearing away over time.


Find the right storage temperature

Where the drill is stored will also have an effect on how long it will maintain its performance levels. In particular, the battery can be sensitive to the temperature of the space around it so you will want to find a place that is not too hot or cold, as each one can have a detrimental effect. Ice can form on the engine if the temperature drops significantly, while higher levels of humidity could potentially reduce battery life.

It is advised that both the drill and batteries are stored at room temperature, which is approximately 20°C/ 68°F. Don’t be too concerned if the storage area isn’t precisely at this mark as you have quite a wide berth of around 10°C either way. You won’t need a thermometer to gauge the temperature as the room should feel comfortable for you to be in – if the temperatures rises or drops you will soon be able to tell.


Keeping your machine dry

While you want to store your drill in a space that plays hosts to an even temperature, equally as important is ensuring it remains dry. This doesn’t just mean keeping it away from fluids and liquids as humidity can just as easily create problems in the mechanical parts of the drill.

Excessive heat leads to the creation of moisture in the air and sometimes visibly in the environment around us, such as condensation or damp. If this gets into the drill motor or any of the other smaller components it can create rust which will limit the effectiveness of the tool. Moisture can also impact negatively on the battery with the metal contacts corroding to prevent it from remaining operational.


Drill bit maintenance

Depending on how much you use the drill and the varying types of surfaces you apply it to, you will need to keep a close eye on the sharpness of the bits. A drill only remains effective when the bits are sharp and in good enough condition to penetrate the surface you are trying to bore into. While dull bits can still perform the task you need, it will mean the engine will have to work harder and place more strain onto the drill motor.

Another issue that can arise from dull bits is related to safety. If they are not sharp enough to penetrate the material effectively they may become stuck in the surface you are working on and with the fast rotation still occurring, it can lead to hand or wrist injury. In the worst-case scenario, you could also lose control of the drill, so it hits the floor and damages the tool, or if you are up a ladder it may even hit somebody below or cause you to lose your balance.

The best practice to follow is to simply check the sharpness of the bits before the drill is used rather than rushing straight into the job at hand. Also make sure the right type of bit is in place for the material it is going to be drilled into.


General checklist

Other areas of maintenance to look out for include:

  • Over time the two small brushes that are used to generate electricity for the spinning armature in the motor will wear away and need replacing. If you notice a constant number of sparks inside the motor is likely they will need replacing and if ignored the drill will eventually stop working.
  • It is perfectly normal that the power cord is moved and bent while the drill is in use. Keep an eye out for exposed wires and replace the cord once this starts to occur.
  • Before putting the drill to use, make sure all the features are in good working order.
  • Chuck keys will need to be replaced as they will eventually wear away. If an old chuck key slips while in use it can easily cause damage to hands or fingers.
  • Drills with front handles will need to be tightened as the constant vibration will cause them to gradually loosen over time.