Does anybody have any idea why the traditional metal drill indexes arranges with largest drills and the labels toward the outside?

enter image description here

The result is that you can't just flip up all the panels, search for the label you want, then pull out the drill. You can only do so for the first panel with the largest drills.

For all other panels you need to lay the panel down so you can see the labels, then flip the panel up and grab the drill. Then you have to double check the marking on the drill shank (which I suppose you should do anyways), because when you flip up the index to grab the drill you can't see the labels anymore and it's really easy to grab the wrong drill for the smaller sizes when there are a great many next to each other. For the smaller drills you can't even check because the shank is too small to even have a label.

The first time I used an index I did think it was kind of weird and inconvenient. But then I got used to it and never gave it much thought until I ran into one of the newer drill indexes that actually allows for this, which incidentally also pull up all the panels for you when you open the lid. Kinda nice. enter image description here enter image description here

EDIT: My god, I just found out the stopper plate in the plastic drill case is made to be removable and the case has little knobs to lock the plate at varying heights for drills of varying lengths. Whoever designed this is brilliant. Too bad it's plastic. The metal index doesn't have this. The only thing I don't like is these drill indexes don't have stamped labels, not even the metal version.

  • 1
    Comes down to difference in designs. Some designs work better/nicer than others. The Robertson/square head screwdriver/screws was designed when the regular slot/flat bladed screwdriver slipped and cut open Robertson's hand.
    – crip659
    Aug 15, 2022 at 18:27
  • 1
    I have my doubts that there's anything traditional/classic about the one you show first, other than "evidently you own one like that" - IIRC, none of mine are set up that way, and none of them are at all new. Most are old enough to drink and vote, some are old enough to collect old-age pensions. Different design choices, indeed.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 15, 2022 at 18:32
  • @Ecnerwal I say classic because all the older machine shop drill indexes I've seen are of this style (dating back to the 40s and 50s). In particular, not shown here, but the large 115 piece drill index is also arranged like this and I've never seen any other kind of 115 piece drill index.
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 15, 2022 at 18:39
  • @Ecnerwal You know what... I took a closer look at some photos and the panels on some of these "traditional" indexes have them flipped around so the labels are visible when it's upright.
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 15, 2022 at 18:42
  • 2
    @Ecnerwal I feel the same way when they say cable tv is traditional. Everybody knows cable tv is the new fangle kid on the block.
    – crip659
    Aug 16, 2022 at 0:22

1 Answer 1


IMHO, there's nothing "strange" at all about your "classic" drill index rack.

My drill index appears to be identical to the last one shown. It seems like it would make sense to have the label on the front where it's easy to read, however, the individual racks don't move apart so I am unable to read the marking on the rack behind it.

Any time I need a larger bit, I end up remove several "too small" bits up front so I can read the labels behind them. Being able to quickly flip the "too small" bit rack down and out of the way, then lean the "right size" rack forward, read the size, and grab the one I want would make my life much easier.

  • Hmmm, yes I suppose that could be yet another issue. I appreciate you bringing that up. I haven't handled the last one in person yet, only the plastic one. The plastic panels are rounded near the top so the labels are angled slightly upwards and combined with the panels splaying a little bit, it makes them readable if the index is below your eyeline. You can see the little rods between panels in the plastic version that drag the panels up together. It doesn't pull them up vertically but a little splayed, although the last index shown seems to also be splayed.
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 16, 2022 at 18:29
  • Though I suppose you could always do what you desired by cutting whatever is pulling the racks up together.
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 16, 2022 at 18:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.