A drill guide is exactly what it sounds like-a guide for drilling. They are very basically a metal shaft with a wide base that you put your drill bit through to keep it straight. How often have you drilled a hole, only to find that you didn’t do it straight? It is not easy to keep your drill at a perfect 90 degrees while you are drilling. A very simple solution for you is to purchase a drill guide set with several drill bit guides.
A basic set will include a holder with a wide base and several inserts (also called bushings or collars). The holder and sleeve together are called a drill bit guide. The inserts will be made of metal, and all have the same outside diameter, although the inside diameter of each insert will be different so you can match it to the size drill bit you are using. You simply place the drill bit guide on the project with the appropriate insert, slide your drill bit (attached to your hand-held drill, of course) into the insert and begin drilling. The guide will help you keep a 90 degree angle.
Precision Drill Guide
A precision drill guide is made up of two rods attached to a plate that is placed against the surface to be drilled. The plate can be attached to the surface with clamps for added rigidity. There is a cross bar between the two rods that slides up and down the rods. Attached to this cross bar is a drill chuck that can hold various sizes of drill bits, and has a rod on the back side that you attach any handheld drill to. When you attach the drill and insert a drill bit into the chuck, the drill bit will move very steadily up and down the shafts with no variation in angle, and no wobble. Often, the plate can be tilted and locked at any angle up to 45 degrees so that you can drill precise angles accurately and consistently. That is why you will also find this type of guide referred to as an Angle Drill Guide. .
Some major brands of drill guides are Craftsman, Wolfcraft, General Tools Mfg. and Promax. The highest rated, most popular brand is General Tools Mfg. They have more models and variations of drill guides manufactured by this reliable, quality company.
While drill guides are very basic, there are a lot of different models of precision drill guides (or angle drill guides) out there. They vary in price greatly. So, why is one $26.54, while another one is $69.99? To start with, the actual construction of the product varies. Some of the cross beams are made from aluminum, while some are made from steel. The actual drill chucks mounted on these tools vary in quality, as well. The craftsmanship, especially the bearings, vary in quality. Some of the cross beams are held away from the plate by springs, some are not. There are models that have a fixed bottom plate, where others are adjustable to any angle. There are some models that have a built in protractor, while another feature is a built in depth stop. The more features a drill guide has, the greater the cost. The better the craftsmanship, the longer it will last, and the more it will cost. If you are looking for a tool for a single project, a cheap version will probably get you through, but if you are looking for a tool that you only buy once in a lifetime, you may want to consider spending a little more and getting all the features, as well.
You can find several different drill guides on Amazon.com. Let me tell you about the top three choices….
The first set of drill guides that you will find when searching on Amazon.com is a set by Rockler. The base is made of plastic, and has a groove specifically for placement on round surfaces or corners. These are very hard holes to start, but with this set, you will find it much easier. The set includes inserts for 3/16”, ¼”, 5/16”, 3/8”, 7/16” and ½” bits. While the customers who reviewed this product felt that it is no substitute for a drill press or precision drill guide, they felt that it was an excellent, inexpensive way to drill accurate, consistent 90 degree holes. They agree that it is a good value for the money, and were happy with their purchase. This set is rated at 4 ½ stars at only $16.59 on Amazon.
The first precision drill guide you will see in your search is a product created by Wolfcraft. This inexpensive precision drill guide sells for only $26.54. This guide will fit all ¼ or 3/8” drills, which means it will work well for small drills, but cannot hold the larger bits. The guide bars have springs for easy return for repetitive drilling. It is adjustable to angles up to 45 degrees. The plate has rubber pads to help yold it in place on your project while in use. This model also boasts spring loaded depth stops. The customer reviews on this product reflect a general concept that this is a good inexpensive way of drilling straight holes. They agree that the price is fair.
The next drill guide is made by Promax. This guide is designed to be either portable, or able to mount to a table as a mini drill press guide. The chuck is 3/8” again, so it will not drill with the large bits. It has dual locking knobs for holding it in place during angled drilling. This model also has the depth control lock for stopping the drill at a specific height. One customer who left a review for this product used it to drill ¾” holes at a 45 degree angle in a railing banister, and felt that the drill guide “proved to be invaluable”. At only $49.99 this drill guide has proved to be a bargain.
Drill guides are an essential tool to anyone wanting to drill accurately and consistently. They are definitely an inexpensive alternative, although not a substitute, for a drill press for small projects. They are certainly more portable for when you need to bring the drill to the project and cannot bring the project to the drill. While drill guides fit easily into any toolbox, a precision drill guide will give you the option of angles and hold more firmly. Just remember to check the chuck size to be sure you are able to use the bits you need, and watch for the best value in features.