I have been collecting tools from my grandfather's old workshop. One of the items appears to be a hand drill. What is odd about this is that if you look up hand drill they either function similar to a manual egg beater or a brace-and-bit hand-drill. Closest I found was the icon for hand drills on eBay.

This would operate with one hand which is superior to the aforementioned hand drills but for pure drilling I would think the others perform more efficiently. What is this really for and could I use this in modern wood-working?



After reading some of the responses and comments I looked back at the tool with more information. I noticed the top unscrews and it contained 3 small "pins". The picture is enlarged. The objects are about 1 inch long.


The jaws are perfectly sized for for these pins. It appears I had guessed, wrong potentially, that this was a drill.

  • I've used a Yankee screwdriver before which looked similar to this; are you sure it's a drill? What type(s) of bits will fit into the end? 1/4" hex shank or something else?
    – rob
    Apr 29, 2015 at 6:46
  • @rob after unscrewing the top it appears to be something else. Will update my question. Drill was a guess. Having a question "What kind of tool is this" might prevent other question similar. It really looked like a drill
    – Matt
    Apr 29, 2015 at 11:17
  • @rob Updated the question with more information
    – Matt
    Apr 29, 2015 at 15:00

6 Answers 6


That's a push drill, sometimes referred to as a "Yankee drill". It has the advantage of working in some places where you can't fit a crank or brace-and-bit.


This is a push drill as @keshlam said. They're particularly useful for drilling small diameter holes quickly, easily and accurately.

It can be a bit tricky to drill a small hole steadily while you're holding a big heavy electric drill, or wobbling around with an "egg beater" style hand drill, which is where push drills come in. You can also use them one-handed which can be useful for when you need to hold something still while drilling (or for example hold multiple pieces in position for drilling through them all simultaneously).


Here is a link to some great 50's footage at the Fender guitar factory of one in use. It's only a few seconds but I think it shows its usefulness in a production situation. I suppose rechargeable battery powered drills have replaced it.Yankee drill at Fender factory late 50's

  • That's really neat to see one in user. Thanks. Wasnt sure if they were meant to been "hammered" like that.
    – Matt
    Apr 28, 2015 at 13:44

I own a Yankee drill and one of these. The handle of the Yankee drill is hollow metal to hold a half dozen different diameter drill bits.

My version of this tool came with a removable screwdriver blade. I imagine there are a variety of blades available. If you view the video @mike fleck referenced you will notice that the worker put small screws into the the neck of the guitar, then used this tool to tighten them by pressing up and down a couple of times.

So, my experience and the video of one in use tells me that this is a screwdriver.

  • hmmm a different use. Thanks for the input.
    – Matt
    Apr 28, 2015 at 15:31
  • 1
    Yes, I always heard this tool referred to as a yankee screwdriver.
    – TX Turner
    Apr 28, 2015 at 15:41
  • In Australia a "Yankee Screwdriver" is the common or garden variety hammer
    – user2080
    Apr 1, 2016 at 5:38
  • @Lois - that's pretty funn... hey, wait a minute, are you making fun of us??? :)
    – FreeMan
    Apr 1, 2016 at 18:23

They are great if you need to make small holes, such as pilot holes. Very quick. I have used mine when I have a bit checked in my cordless drill for driving screws, and need to make pilot holes. Rather than switching bits in the drill every time, I use the Yankee drill to make the pilot holes, then use the cordless drill to drive screws.

  • I usually have 3 drills around. Pilot, countersink and driver. If I can remove the clutter with this even some of the time it would be worth it. My first guess was pilot holes as the only use for this. Thanks.
    – Matt
    Apr 28, 2015 at 13:45

It's a push screwdriver, not a drill, on the Mike Fleck's answer there's a video. I've used it, it's handy for large quantity of medium size screws(smaller tend to jump out, larger are easier to screw by rotary movement)...

Of course if you don't have electric analogue by hand...

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