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Who Invented the Electric Drill? (Useful Insights)

In this guide, I’ll go over the basics of the electric drill – who invented it, when it was invented, and for what purpose.

Quick Summary: The electric drill was invented in 1889 by Arthur James Arnot. It was initially designed for coal mines but soon found other applications. The first cordless drill was developed in 1961 by Black & Decker. Today, drills are an essential tool for many contractors, professionals, and DIY enthusiasts.

Arthur James Arnot - the father of electric drill

I’ll cover more details below.

When Were Electric Drills Invented?

Although the electric drill may seem a 21st-century innovation, it is quite old. The first one was created in 1889 by Arthur Arnot and William Brian of Australia. They are given credit for inventing something that allowed an electric motor to be connected with the traditional drill shape, which they patented as a separate device category called “the drilling machine.”

The first electric drill prototype was so large and cumbersome that it could only be used for stationary work. Alternatively, it was restricted to being utilized at job sites with a surplus of power.

Only five years after the electric drill was first invented, Wilhelm Fein and Carl Fein improved the design to make it portable. This allowed contractors to take on more work than ever before and completely changed the construction industry.

the very first electric drill press

The era of electric drills began to flourish after the invention of the portable electric drill in 1894. Contractors rushed to embrace this new and innovative equipment. In addition, a new study was conducted in the field, which helped to further perfect and develop the design of the electric drill. Various firms debuted their versions of the new tool in 1917, but it wasn’t until then that a second revolutionary style emerged.

Suddenly, this year, Black and Decker invented the electric drill with a trigger switch and pistol handle – a design that quickly became popular among contractors and construction workers. Other companies soon began developing attachments for other purposes that could be used with the drill, making it more versatile. As these tools grew more advanced, so did the demand for them.


Types of Electric Drills

When it comes to electric drills, there are three main types: cordless, corded, and hammer. Each type of drill has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Cordless drills are the most convenient type because they’re portable and can be used anywhere. However, they’re also the most expensive, and their batteries need regular replacement.
  • Corded drills are less expensive than cordless drills, but they’re not as convenient because you have to be near an outlet to use them.
  • Hammer drills are the most powerful type of drill and are ideal for drilling through thick materials like concrete. However, they’re also the heaviest and most expensive type of drill.

drill bits in a different kind of drill press

If you only need to drill occasional holes in soft materials like wood, a cordless or corded drill will suffice. But if you plan on doing a lot of drilling or need to drill through tough materials like concrete, a hammer drill is the best option.


When Was the First Cordless Drill Invented?

The invention of the cordless drill transformed how work was completed. Contractors could now take their tools to the job site and access an electric motor, increasing their productivity and range of motion.

M18 RedLithium drill press

However, the invention of the first cordless drill is surrounded by debate. We consider Black and Decker as the inaugural developer in 1961, but these cordless drills were largely marketed to industrial and commercial enterprises. Because of this, some people believe that Makita was responsible for the initial cordless drill design in 1978. Many have settled this issue by assigning credit to Black & Decker for the original cordless drill concept while giving credit to Makita for making its device available to the general public.


When Were Drill Bits Invented?

The first human tool for drilling was the awl. The awl was simply a sharp stone attached to a stick, then pressed against the workpiece and rotated by hand. The first drill bit was produced well before the first drill. Drill bits have been traced back to prehistoric times, with homo sapiens using them as early as 35,000 BC to bore into various materials. They continued to evolve throughout the ages and got more intricate over time.

a man using a drill bit in 35,000 BC

However, it was not until the 13th century that metal drill bits began to appear rather than wooden ones. Metal drill bits resemble modern drill bits today more than their predecessors did. Drills have continued to develop into the devices we are familiar with since the 13th century.

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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