Power Hand Drill

This is a hand drill. It is used for two main reasons: to drill holes and to tighten screws. To drill a hole, a drill bit is put into the drill, then the drill is turned on and the drill bit is spun extremely quickly and inserted into a material to cut it away. The part of the drill that holds the drill bit is called the chuck. The chuck is opened to insert and closed to clamp down tightly on the drill bit and hold it in place during drilling. Different size drill bits are available, and they are measured by diameter in fractions of an inch. There are also drill bits for wood and metal, but on the robotics team we use drill bits that can be used for either material. Hand drills can also be used as screwdrivers. A screwdriver bit can be inserted into the drill, and then that bit can be spun quickly and used to tighten a screw with great efficiency and ease. Changing the bit of a drill can be tricky at first, but it gets easier with practice.

Drill Press A drill press is more powerful than a hand drill and is used to drill precise holes; it is one of the most commonly used tools. The press consists of a table on which you place your work piece (the thing you will be drilling into), a motor and a spindle connected by a belt, and a chuck that holds the drill bit. You use a chuck key to open and close the chuck that holds the bit. You should clamp your work piece tightly to the table so the drill bit is precisely over the spot to be drilled and then use the feed handle to lower the spinning drill bit exactly to where you want to drill. Unlike a hand drill, the press won't slip when the bit hits the surface.

Whenever possible you should use a table vise to hold your workpiece steady (never use your hands). If your bit can hit the table, make sure to have a piece of scrap wood underneath your workpiece to prevent accidental damage to the bit or the table. If your drill-press has a depth stop (to control how far down the bit will go), make use of it. Watch this video to learn more about the drill press and how to use it safely. For more detailed information, see here

Exercise: Drill a hole in a piece of scrap wood (without drilling into the drill press table!)

Exercise: Identify the proper chuck key:

Band Saw

This is a vertical band saw. It is called a band saw because the saw blade is actually one long circular band that is spun extremely quickly in order to cut materials. There are wood band saws and metal band saws, and it is very important to use the correct type of band saw. There are also horizontal band saws, which have the blade spinning in a perpendicular direction. You will learn more about band saws in safety training.

Scroll Saw A scroll saw is used for making finely controlled curved cuts. Watch this video to learn how to use a scroll saw.


This is a lathe. A lathe holds a piece of material in place and spins it very quickly, then a blade is moved across it to cut material away. It is mostly used for making cylindrical objects; last year, we had to make a 3.5 inch diameter cylinder out of a 4x4 piece of wood. It is pretty rare to use the lathe, but new students will be taught as the need arises.


This is a mill. A mill is used to make specialty parts by using subtractive manufacturing, meaning that material is cut away. Generally, a block of material, such as aluminum, is placed in the mill and then a special mill drill bit is spun very quickly and maneuvered around the material to cut material away very precisely. Milling can be used to make very complicated specialty parts. On the robotics team, we have a Grizzly mill, and although not everyone gets complete training on it, everyone who wants to learn how to use it has the opportunity to do so.

For detailed information about how to use milling machines see here


This is a brake, or sheet metal bender. It is used, as one might imagine, to bend metal. There is one in the shop that is rather intuitive to operate, but it is rarely used. If a student needs to use it, they will be trained. This is not the bender you're looking for

Last modified 4 years ago Last modified on Sep 20, 2017, 3:18:56 PM