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What Is a Right-Angle Drill?

By Joshua Nuttall
Updated May 17, 2024
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A right-angle drill is a power tool that features a chuck that is oriented at a 90-degree angle compared to the rest of the tool. In tool terminology, a “chuck” refers to the clamp that holds the bit or other tool on the drill. This type of drill is most commonly used by plumbers and electricians because of its ability to work in tight wall spaces, though many trades can and do benefit from this sort of chuck design. Hobbyists and home project enthusiasts are among the most common users outside of the professional construction industry, for instance. There are a number of models to choose from in most places. Some manufacturers have designed their angled drills with multiple speed settings that enable the tools to bore through many types of material quickly and efficiently, and the materials and strength capabilities can vary, too. People interested in purchasing this sort of tool are usually wise to start with a bit of market research.

Basic Concept

The main idea of any drill is to lend power to what would otherwise be the manual force of boring a hole into some substance. Manual drilling is possible in many instances, but often requires a lot of strength and is normally slow going. Powered drills, whether they derive their strength from electricity or batteries, normally provide a fast and efficient way to drill holes of uniform size.

Drills normally come in a couple of different sizes and styles. A specifically right-angle drill is, as its name might suggest, a drill that forms what is known in geometry as a right angle: that is, an angle with two perfectly perpendicular sides that measure 90°. This sort of angled bit isn’t always ideal for every situation, but can be helpful in a variety of different drilling scenarios since it allows users to reach into corners and into other small spaces that the tool itself might not be able to penetrate.

Core Uses

Construction is usually the most popular setting for this sort of tool. During residential and commercial construction, plumbers and electricians have to drill hundreds of holes through wall studs, floor joists, flooring, and even roofing materials in order to do their jobs. These areas are often in tight spaces, and it was for this purpose that the angled drill was invented. The hole sizes required by these tradesmen and women can be quite large in order to accommodate large-diameter drain and conduit pipes, so these drills must produce enough power to bore through a lot of material in one single pass. Corded and cordless models are also available for convenience purposes.

Benefits to Do-it-Yourselfers and Hobbyists

Many other trades can also benefit from this specialized drill. Wood workers, cabinet builders and installers, hobbyists, mechanics, and any other person — professional or otherwise — who requires a tool that will provide access to tight spaces may find this tool useful. In most cases any type of drill accessory can be used in a right-angle drill with the same results as in straight line drill, which only adds versatility.

Do-it-yourselfers generally do not want or need a tool designed for one specific purpose, since they usually need their tools only infrequently or on a per-project basis. Straight-line drills are most appropriate for most small to medium-sized do-it-yourself projects. Having a right angle capability only when it is needed is convenient, however, and angled drill attachments are often available for this reason. All of the capabilities and power are transferred form one drill chuck to the right-angle drill chuck at a more affordable price point.

Researching the Options and Making a Choice

When the need for an angled drill arises, a consumer should research the different brands available to find the best fit for the project at hand. A drill designed for a professional carpenter may be too big and too powerful for do-it-yourself use. It is often a good idea to try a few drill models out at local hardware stores before making a purchase.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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