When to Drill with Gears and When Not To?

When riding on different types of terrain, you need to switch the gears on your bicycle. Switching between gears allows you to adjust the speed and force of your ride. The same principle applies to drilling with gears.


Having multiple gears on your drill enables you to change its speed and torque settings. Some drills have just one gear setting, but there are other gears that contain two or more gears. This article compares single-gear with multiple-gear drills, as well as their various torque settings.

Do You Need to Drill with Gears?

To find out whether you need a single-gear drill or one that has multiple gears, you need to know about each type first.


Single-Gear Drills

Some drills have just one gear setting. You can adjust how fast they work by using a speed control trigger. As the term suggests, these drills only have a single speed range.

Single-gear drills have a range of about 0-600 rotations per minute or RPM. Take note that one rotation is equal to a complete turn of your drill chuck. You cannot go higher than the maximum speed of 600 RPM.


When you squeeze the control trigger, you increase the speed but you decrease the torque or force of your drill. The opposite happens when you release the control trigger. In this case, your speed decreases but your torque increases.


Multiple-Gear Drills

Today, there are drills that feature multiple gear settings. With these, you can choose from different ranges of speed. In other words, you can perform a wider variety of tasks using a drill that has multiple gears.

Let’s say, for example, that you have a drill that contains two gears. Just like with a single-gear drill, you can adjust the speed by squeezing or releasing a control trigger.

When you are using the first gear, you can change your speed anywhere from zero to 350 RPM. But when you switch to the second gear, the speed range becomes higher. This time, you can change your speed anywhere from zero up to 1200 RPM.


The principle behind drill gears is similar to when you ride a bike or drive a car. Using a lower gear, your speed decreases but your torque increases.

Meanwhile, when using a higher gear, yours speed increases but your torques decreases. Choosing the right gear and torque depends on the kind of drilling task you intend to do.

If you plan to drill using small screws or soft materials, you need a high gear with less torque. But if you plan to drill using large screws or hard materials, you need a lower gear with greater torque.

Switching between Drill Gears

How do you switch gears on your drill? It takes four steps, as follows:

  • First, release or let go of the speed control trigger. Wait for your drill to stop completely before moving on to the next step.
  • Second, find the gear selector switch. You can find this on the top of the drill driver.
  • Third, change the gear by sliding the gear selector switch. Slide until you see the specific number of the gear that you need.
  • Fourth, squeeze the speed control trigger once you are ready to start drilling.

When switching between gears, make sure that you understand and follow each step before proceeding to the next one.

Learning More about Torque

To drill gears better, you need to learn not just about speed, but also about torque. When you know about the different torque levels, you can have greater control over your drilling tasks. You can change the torque level by adjusting the torque control ring on your drill.

The torque control ring often contains numbers that correspond to the different levels of force you need. If your drill has a lot of torque levels, this does not always mean that it has a greater amount of torque. It only means that its torque is divided into a lot of levels.

  • First, release or let go of the speed control trigger. Wait for your drill to stop moving completely.
  • Second, look for the arrow at the top of the drill. Rotate this arrow until it reaches the number of the torque level that you need. If the arrow doesn’t turn easily, switch it to a higher torque level then try adjusting again.

When you choose a higher torque level, the drill can deliver a greater turning force. It can also withstand greater resistance before you stop drilling.

If you are not sure about which torque level you should use, begin with the lowest level. This way, you can take your time with the drilling task. Once you are ready to move to a higher level, you can increase the torque and work with greater confidence.

Learning More about Torque

There are many advantages to using a multiple-gear drill. For one thing, it helps to prevent using too much speed or torque all at once. This is made possible by the different speed ranges and torque settings of the gears.

Second, a multiple-gear drill enables you to do a greater variety of drilling tasks. This is because you can adjust the speed and torque based on the job you need to do. It also allows you to work with different screw sizes as well as various materials.


Third, using a multiple-gear drill reduces the risk of damage to the workpiece, surface, as well as on the tool itself.

The only downside to using a drill that has multiple gears is that it may cost more than its single-gear counterpart. But the wide variety of tasks that you can do with a multiple-gear drill makes it worth the price.

Final Words

A multiple-gear drill allows you to fine-tune its speed and torque, making it possible to do a greater range of drilling tasks.

It may cost you more but you can do more with it, too! But if you think that you will be working with just soft materials and small screws, then a single-gear drill should be enough.

When changing the speed and torque settings on a multiple-gear drill, make sure that your tool is at a complete stop. Otherwise, you might damage the gear settings. The multiple-gear is a powerful tool, so you need to handle it with care and safety.

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