Can I use hand drill machine, which runs manually not by electricity, to drill in plastic pipes, bottles, and cement walls?

The purpose of purchasing it is to get hands-on experience with some DIY projects. I don't want to buy expensive tools until I find myself satisfactory in such activities.

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    The least expensive hand drill I see on Amazon is just four dollars less than the least expensive cordless drill I see on Amazon. – Matthew Jan 14 '13 at 18:38

A hand powered drill will be satisfactory for drilling small holes in plastic pipe or even in wood. It will not be so good for drilling holes in concrete, glass bottles or metal items. The problem with the latter is that you will spend so much time drilling the holes that you are likely to get discouraged and never arrive at the point that you can determine if you have a satisfactory ability with DIY type projects. You really should look at some AC powered electric drill models. You can find some entry level models with very reasonable prices.

  • thanks Michael. I was looking for a drill which can drill in PVC pipes and plastic bottle's cap. – Amit Kumar Gupta Jan 14 '13 at 9:00

Buying a hand drill as your first drill is not a very good idea. First, it's rather slow - so slow you will find drilling hard metal, glass and soft concrete problematic. Second, it's not very easy to hold it and rotate the handle so that it doesn't bend the drill bit and once you bend a drill bit smaller that about 4 millimeters in diameter the bit breaks.

A mains powered drill will be much more convenient - faster, more powerful and easier to hold. You may find a "low power" (something like 350 watts) drill very convenient - compact (therefore very convenient to hold) and powerful enough to drill almost any hole you might want, except in hard concrete and bricks, where you'd need a more powerful hammer drill or better yet a pneumatic hammer (totally worth the money).

The only reason I'd consider using a hand-powered drill is when I can't use neither a mains-powered nor a cordless drill for whatever reason. Those reasons may be:

  1. explosive atmosphere (sparks in the engine will ignite flamable gases)
  2. high humidity, intensive rain or working in flooded areas
  3. very strict noise requirements
  4. absolutely necessary to have the lowest weight possible
  5. amount of work is so large it's impractical to have enough batteries with me (like I go to the South Pole or some mountain)
  6. working in very low temperatures (batteries have rather poor performance in cold conditions)
  7. working in very high temperatures or very intense sunlight (batteries usually won't withstand temperatures higher that 50 degrees Celsius).
  8. some formal restrictions like a rule prohibiting carrying a battery-operated drill with me on a plane (not sure if that exists anywhere, but still)
  • Can I use Drill bits of hand driller in mains powered driller? – Amit Kumar Gupta Jan 14 '13 at 9:38
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    @articlestack: To be completely sure you'll have to check what chuck the hand drill has. Usually it will have the chuck similar to that of a power drill and then you can use the same bits in both. I'd just say "yes", but there's a chance that there's some hand drill out there with a specialty chuck. – sharptooth Jan 14 '13 at 9:47
  • Are there any strength limitations to worry about similar to how inexpensive sockets aren't recommended for use with powertools? – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Jan 14 '13 at 13:47
  • @Dan Neely: This is mostly important for driving bits (those that resemble screwdrivers) - softer ones will get stripped quite fast. This isn't that important for drilling bits, worse quality bits will just dull faster. – sharptooth Jan 14 '13 at 13:57

There's two major things the other answers don't address so far:

A manual drill is much harder to use than electric drills.

A manual drill requires two hands to operate, which means you need a way to hold whatever you're drilling into steady. It's also hard to keep it straight since you're drilling for so long, so especially with smaller bits you're more likely to snap them.

I'd also echo what Michael Karas said: the experience of a manual drill is so different from using an electric drill that it's not going to give you a good feeling if you like doing that kind of work or not. In fact, I'd suggest that you'll decide you hate drilling because it makes your arm sore and takes several minutes per hole, and not like DIY as a result. For me, I like DIY because I like building things -- I don't dislike drilling holes, but it's not about that.

Drilling plastics and concrete are two different requirements

You can purchase basically any electric drill and be able to drill plastics. Cordless is quite convenient and definitely can do the job. If you go cordless, personally I'd recommend sticking to 18V+ tools (although some of the big name brands make decent 12V tools). Keep an eye out and you're likely to find a starter drill/driver for under $50, and it's one of the basic tools that's useful. That said, don't expect a cheap drill to last several years, especially if you end up using it a lot.

Drilling concrete is a different story. You can get by with a normal drill -- if you don't mind spending several minutes per hole (and if cordless, using up batteries VERY quickly). However, the most effective way to drill holes in concrete is with a mains-powered hammer drill, and you can also get cordless hammer drills.

In my experience, I have a decent cordless hammer drill, but I only ever use it for small (concrete) jobs, as the battery wears down fairly quickly when going through concrete. The upside is it's a great all-round drill/driver, and can tackle basically any type of job. My corded hammer drill is probably 3 times faster and can keep going all day, but is not very easy to keep at low speed, and is harder to use for precision work since it's relatively big and heavy compared to a cordless drill.

So, TL;DR:

  • If you want to drill plastics only, look for a sale on a corded or cordless drill (and in fact, I'd recommend cordless in most cases)
  • If you want to do small concrete jobs AND plastics, you could get away with a (more expensive) cordless hammer drill or maybe a corded drill with very good variable speed controls
  • If you want to do medium/large concrete jobs AND plastics, buy two drills: one cordless (for plastic), and one corded hammer drill
  • 2 drills? Can a single drill, with different bits or by moving on different voltage level, drill in plastic and concrete effectively. – Amit Kumar Gupta Jan 15 '13 at 1:35
  • Yes.. I answered that I thought. A single hammer drill will work, but of course hammer drills are more expensive. And cheap ones tend to have not-very-variable speed control, so will be more difficult to control in plastics or if you only want a hole of a limited depth. – gregmac Jan 15 '13 at 2:00
  • Do efficient cordless impact drills (non-pneumatic) even exist? All claims I've heard so far is that they drain the battery in no time. – sharptooth Jan 15 '13 at 9:47

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