If you’re a dedicated handyperson or a home improvement enthusiast you might find yourself pondering the question: Can an electric screwdriver drill holes?

In our deep dive into the realm of electric screwdrivers, we’ll aim to provide an answer. We’re going to delve into the mechanics of how these tools work, their potential to operate as a drilling tool, the safety measures you need to be aware of, and when it would be wiser to stick to a traditional drill.

In this comprehensive article, we’re covering:

  • Unveiling the mechanics of electric screwdrivers
  • The potential and limitations of electric screwdrivers for drilling holes
  • The factors that affect the drilling capacity of an electric screwdriver
  • A step-by-step guide on how to use an electric screwdriver for drilling
  • The potential risks involved and how to mitigate them
  • The circumstances under which a traditional drill is a better choice
Can An Electric Screwdriver Drill Holes

Understanding The Basics Of Electric Screwdrivers

Before we dive into the primary question at hand, it’s important to start from square one. Understanding the basic functioning of cordless screwdrivers will allow us to better comprehend their potential and limitations.

By getting acquainted with their design, operation, power source, and output, we can create foundational knowledge that will help us in our quest for the answer.

How Do Electric Screwdrivers Work?

Let’s first get to know your electric screwdriver better. You know it’s a nifty tool to have around, but what’s going on beneath the surface? What allows it to deliver that power and rotation that make your life so much easier when driving screws?

The Mechanism Behind Electric Screwdrivers

An electric screwdriver is more than meets the eye. Within its compact body lies a complex mechanism. It’s powered by a motor that turns electrical energy into mechanical energy.

The resulting rotational force is transmitted down a shaft to a gearbox that controls the speed and direction of the screwdriver bit. That bit is the business end of the tool that interacts with screws, enabling you to fasten or remove them with a minimum of fuss. Visit this article to learn more.

Power Source and Output

Powering this mechanism is typically a rechargeable battery. This battery voltage can range from 3.6V to 12V, with the higher voltage meaning more power.

However, even the most powerful electric screwdrivers don’t match the power and torque of a full-fledged electric drill. But is power and torque all that’s needed for drilling holes?

Can An Electric Screwdriver Drill Holes?

Using an electric screwdriver as a drill

The heart of the matter: Can your beloved electric screwdriver fill in for a drill when required? Is it versatile enough to perform another role? This essentially raises the question of “screwdriver vs drill”.

Direct Answer To The Question

In a nutshell, Yes, your electric screwdriver can drill holes, but only under certain circumstances and within particular constraints.

Circumstances Under Which They Can

Electric screwdrivers can indeed drill holes when the stars align. By this, we mean relatively soft materials like drywall or softwood.

Add to that a sharp, high-quality drill bit, and you have the perfect conditions for your electric screwdriver to step into the role of a drill. But is this the case with most cordless drills?

Limitations and Constraints

But beware, this is not a superhero story. Your electric screwdriver has its kryptonite. Harder materials or attempts to drill larger holes may pose a challenge too great.

Additionally, continuous use as a drill can lead to premature wear and tear, shortening the tool’s lifespan. This is true even if you have a power screwdriver.

Factors Influencing The Drilling Capability Of An Electric Screwdriver

The effectiveness of an electric screwdriver in a drilling role depends on several key factors.

Power and Torque

Power and torque are fundamental. High-powered screwdrivers with substantial torque can naturally handle a broader range of tasks.

For example, a 12V model will generally have a higher drilling capacity than a 3.6V one.

Screwdriver Bit Quality and Design

The bit plays a major role. High-quality, sharp drill bits designed for the specific material you’re drilling into will yield better results.

Material to be Drilled

The nature of the material is crucial too. The softer the material, the easier it will be for an electric screwdriver to drill into it. Conversely, harder materials like concrete or metal pose a significant challenge.

How To Use An Electric Screwdriver As A Drill?

Decided to give it a go and use your electric screwdriver for drilling? Here’s what you need to know.

Necessary Precautions

Safety first! Taking precautions ensures you and your screwdriver come out unscathed.

  • Safety Measures: Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris. Using gloves helps maintain a firm, safe grip on your tool, whether it’s a manual screwdriver or its electric counterpart.
  • Avoiding Damage to the Screwdriver: Avoid overburdening your electric screwdriver. If it’s struggling to drill, stop. Overheating and excessive force can damage the motor.

Step-By-Step Guide To Drilling With An Electric Screwdriver

Drilling With An Electric Screwdriver

Here are the steps to follow to drill with an electric screwdriver:

  • Choosing the Right Bit: Pick a bit that’s suitable for the material you’re drilling into and matches the size of the hole you want.
  • Preparing the Material: If possible, secure the material in place to prevent it from moving as you drill.
  • Drilling Process: Start with a small indentation at the drilling point to guide the drill bit. Apply steady, gentle pressure and let the screwdriver do the work.
  • Post-drilling Measures: After drilling, clean the hole to remove any debris. If the screwdriver has become hot, let it rest before using it again.

The Potential Risks of Using an Electric Screwdriver As A Drill

Even with precautions, there are potential risks associated with using an electric screwdriver as a drill.

Risks To The User

As much as we’re focused on the capabilities of the tools themselves, the safety of you, the user, is our utmost priority. Using any tool, including an electric screwdriver, outside its designed function could lead to unforeseen risks. Let’s address these concerns, keeping your well-being in mind.

  • Personal Injuries: Misuse of tools can lead to injuries, like debris striking your eyes or burns from overheated equipment.
  • Risk Mitigation: Always use protective gear and avoid forcing your tool to perform tasks beyond its capacity, especially when dealing with cordless drills.

Risks To The Screwdriver And Material

Aside from personal safety, we also need to consider the possible detrimental effects on your tools and the materials you’re working on.

Misusing your electric screwdriver could not only damage it but also the material you’re trying to work with. It’s crucial to understand these risks so we can make an informed decision about whether to proceed or not.

  • Wear and Tear: Continual use of your electric screwdriver as a drill can lead to excessive wear and tear, impacting its lifespan. This is even true for cordless screwdrivers.
  • Damage to Material: If your screwdriver lacks the power to drill effectively, it could potentially damage the material you’re working on.
  • How to Limit the Damage: Restrict the use of your screwdriver as a drill to light tasks within its capacity, and always use the correct bit.

When To Choose A Drill Over An Electric Screwdriver?

Can power screwdriver drill holes

There are times when the limitations of an electric screwdriver come into play, and a traditional drill is the better choice.

Understanding The Limitations Of An Electric Screwdriver As A Drill

As we continue to assess the feasibility of using your electric screwdriver as a drill, we also need to realistically acknowledge the inherent limitations.

Though this tool is highly versatile, it may not always be the best fit for every task. By understanding its limitations, you’ll be better equipped to judge when it’s the right tool for the job and when you might be better off reaching for a traditional drill, such as a cordless drill or a hammer drill.

  • Limitations in Power and Size of the Hole: Electric screwdrivers can’t compete with electric drills in terms of power and the size of the holes they can make.
  • Inadequate for Certain Materials: Electric screwdrivers are not up to the task when it comes to drilling into hard materials like metal, concrete, or thick hardwood. This is where power screwdrivers may also fall short.

Scenarios Where A Drill Is Necessary

Certain situations simply call for a drill.

  • Professional Construction and Woodworking: For professional tasks involving a wide range of drilling requirements, a proper drill is indispensable.
  • Drilling into Metal, Concrete, or Thick Hardwood: For these tough materials, you need the power and speed that only a real drill can offer.

Further Reading: Electric Screwdriver Vs Drill: What’s The Difference?


So, can an electric screwdriver drill holes? It’s a bit of a “yes, but…” answer. In certain situations, and with certain materials, you might just get by with an electric screwdriver. But for serious drilling tasks, particularly in harder materials, there’s simply no substitute for a proper drill.

Always be aware of the limitations and potential risks of using your tools in ways they weren’t intended for, and never push them beyond their capabilities.