How to Evaluate Antique Hand Drills

Written by linda stamberger
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How to Evaluate Antique Hand Drills
Antique hand drill with wooden crank. (motorless hand drill image by Michael Cornelius from

Antique metal drills were used by hand, before the advent of electricity. The drills were sometimes adorned with precious metals or types of animal bones and ivory, which are now banned. Old drills made from metal were often painted red or left in their natural state. The metal is not shiny like stainless steel has an aged silver patina. Some antique hand drills have manufacturer marks and can be dated. Some antique hand drills are worth a lot of money because of their rarity or the materials used to adorn them.

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  1. 1

    Look at the handle to see if it resembles an egg beater wheel. Some old drills have wooden handles that are hollow for storing bits and turning crank mechanisms. Look to see if the handle is made of wood. Wood was primarily used for handles, along with metal for the drilling parts.

  2. 2

    Examine long tools for a brace with an auger bit. The handle itself will be small and wooden, while the drill part is elongated twisted metal, which was turned by the handle at the top.

  3. 3

    Check to see if the drill is made entirely of wood. Many antique drills were made exclusively from wood, with bits of bone used at the end as the drill part. See if the wood has a middle section that is indented. This would be the part of the wood that was held by hand, to turn manually.

  4. 4

    Look for precious metals on more expensive antique drills. Look for brass parts, bronze handles or ebony and ivory parts. Examine the drills for bevelled gears.

  5. 5

    Check for a metal drill with a wooden egg shape. These types of drills were made in the mid 19th century and had a wooden end that held drill bits, with the rounded egg shape wood part in the middle. The metal part is spiralled, and was patented in 1859.

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