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When I was a boy, my grandfather was the handyman in the family. Every time he visited, he’d prompt my folks to busy his restless hands with a list of projects, from rough to refined, minute to major. If not given a list, he’d just clip on his toolbelt and go hunt for things to do. I followed him around with fierce devotion, and helped him build, fix, and finish things. Not only did this teach me how things fit together (and how to fit those things together) but it inspired me to treat my folks’ house with greater respect—a certain pride of ownership born, perhaps, from making positive improvements there.

Back then my folks didn’t have the luxury of a power drill, much less the cordless drivers we nowadays take for granted. Grandpa taught me to do everything by hand. Much as every screw, raked first over the Ivory soap bar, was driven with a plain old manual screwdriver, so every new hole (after measuring twice and marking once, of course) was carefully drilled by hand. We had two manual drills to choose from: a drill brace, which had a crankshaft-like handle topped by a pommel in-line with the chuck; and a hand drill (like the Schröder), which Grandpa called “the eggbeater.”

Usually, the brace was reserved for heavy jobs and for Grandpa’s big hands; the eggbeater was for smaller work and was a better fit for my young grasp. Both required the operator’s constant attention to balance the cranking hand’s torque with the stabilizing force of the positioning hand. It took me a lot of practice doing rough work before Grandpa would let me try finish work. We were in no hurry, and we liked it.

That was a very long time ago. Since Grandpa’s passing, I had not touched a hand drill until beginning this review. But when I first picked up the Schröder, it felt like shaking hands with a long-lost old friend. If I’d been blindfolded, I might have sworn the Schröder was Grandpa’s well-maintained vintage tool. It looks shiny and new, but the solid construction and tight engineering hark back to the days when tools weren’t considered disposable.

I picked up a pair of these German-made drills from Garrett Wade: the 9″ Mini Hand Drill ($25.50) and the 12″ Larger Hand Drill ($46.50), which has an additional wood knob opposite the crank handle. Since the Mini reminds me more of the old eggbeater, I’m using that.

This drill is a simple, solid tool I could see having for a very long time. The chuck’s three jaws close snugly around up to 1/4″ bit (or 3/8″ for the Larger model) with a firm but easy twist. Turning the crank handle spins a geared wheel against the bevel gear on the chuck’s rotary shaft, and the bit whirs with a smooth and satisfying action and no noticeable play.

I had trouble at first remembering how to keep it plumb as I drill. I’m right-handed, but it didn’t feel wrong held either way. I found I preferred holding its top handle in my left hand and turning the crank with my right. It took a few tries to sink a hole I was proud of, but a long dormant sense memory stepped up and soon I was drilling away with some of my old confidence. A little while longer at it and I’m sure I’d have made the old man proud.


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Comments

  1. cateanevski says:

    Thanks for sharing this review! I have an old Fiskars hand drill that my folks gave me when I moved into my first apartment, and I swear by it. I love the control you get from hand-powered tools, and I use it on all those jobs that require a delicate touch.

  2. kendrick says:

    Drills like this come in very handy when I helped my Uncle replace the roofing on his old (off-grid) cabin. We used it more like a screwdriver then drill, and it worked beautifully.

  3. FlorinC says:

    Believe it or not, I still use one to this day.

  4. KC8RWR says:

    If you are in to RF projects at all those little eggbeater hand drills are great for making trifiliar wire for transformers. (Winding multiple pieces of wire together very tightly) Clamp one end of your wires in a vice. Put a bent nail in the drill in place of the bit. wrap the other end a few times around the nail. Now start turning the ‘egg beater’ and you can control your windings very easily. Used that way I suppose it could be good for jewelry too.

    I picked one up at a flea market to use for this. It’s probably more likely to be your grandfather’s than to be the one you just reviewed but it works great!

  5. ka1axy says:

    There are a lot of cheap import versions of this tool available at big box stores. Do yourself a favor and spend more than you think you should on a good one. The same goes for all tools — the cheap ones are OK, but if you’re doing serious work, you want to spend the money on a good one.

    I have some tools I inherited from my grandfather and from my wife’s grandfather and they are far and away better than anything you could buy today.

  6. John F. Bramfeld says:

    Soap on a screw. I haven’t heard that in awhile. 25 years ago I was putting up a fence and my cheap corded drill wouldn’t put 4″ screws through the fence section into the post. A little soap and it went in like butter. Grease doesn’t work, paraffin doesn’t work. Only soap.

  7. Steve Peake says:

    Hand drills are great when you can’t afford to go through the material into something delicate/expensive behind it. I use mine for drilling motorcycle mudguards in situ – one slip with a power drill and it would be time for a new £100+ tyre.

  8. Kent Durvin says:

    I use a Yankee drill, named after the Yankee Tool Company. For small holes in pine, it works well. It is the type where you push in and it spins. There is a switch to control the direction, or lock it. It also has screwdriver bits, and because you are pushing while it turns, it works well.

  9. When I was a youngster a friend of mine had two drills: a powerful, corded drill and a cordless drill with a dead battery that was forever tethered to its charging cable. I was just beginning to fill out my personal tool box and selected a Stanley egg-beater drill as my weapon of choice. It cost less than half of all the other “cordless” drills at the local Builder’s Emporium, and it never needed charging. He laughed at my purchasing a “hand tool” to fill the position of a “power tool”.
    That was twenty-five years ago. In the intervening time he’s gone through many drills, corded and cordless, but the batteries on the Stanley still haven’t faded and it has drilled more holes than any of those.
    When I have to carry a drill into the attic to hang a ceiling fan, it’s light as a feather and works like a charm. When I have to drill a pin-hole aperture in a sheet of soft brass for my camera it has just the right touch. When I bring it to the office to hang white-boards it’s so quiet no one is ever disturbed.
    If I was given the choice of only one drill for life (what kind of horrible universe would that be?), I would be upset to see my bench-top press go, but it would be an easy decision to keep ol’ Stanley.

  10. [...] the piece Tool Review: Schröder 9″ Hand Drill, KC8RWR says: If you are in to RF projects at all those little eggbeater hand drills are great for [...]

  11. Neumann says:

    I how old the depicted drill is that the orange color already started to came off.

    1. Neumann says:

      ..I *wonder* how old the depicted drill is, that the orange color already started to *come* off.

  12. [...] Schröder 9″ Hand Drill [...]