What is the purpose of the side knob (circled in orange) on a hand or "eggbeater" drill? I can't remember ever using this handle for anything.

I'm considering cutting off the side knob so that the drill will fit better in my tool chest. Would this lead to any problems or loss of functionality?

Hand or "eggbeater" drill

  • 4
    it's another handle for convenience, if the top handle doesn't give you the stability you need. Note that for heavier drilling you'd have a top handle meant for leaning on with your chest. In this case, this looks like a medium/light model, so you'd use whatever handle was convenient for the work at hand. In this particular case you could still keep things square with the tripod of two hands and your chest, even if you couldn't fully bear down on it with your body.
    – user5572
    Apr 23, 2019 at 15:20
  • 2
    "loss of functionality?" I think so, but many others disagree and actively seek out drills without a side handle and if they have one they try to remove it if they can (because of the way they're fitted sometimes having a handle you don't use is preferable to having a rod of metal sticking out the side). If you do want to remove it in drills of this type the side handles tend to attach in one of 2 ways, either they're a push-fit on to a rod (no glue) or they're screwed on. So in either case fairly easy to remove without having to resort to sawing if you want to make the drill more compact.
    – Graphus
    Apr 23, 2019 at 19:41
  • If your drill does have a rod out the side and you want to remove that too, were you thinking of using a hacksaw to take it off? The body of these drills is steel and may be tool steel rather than mild, so it could be a bit of a workout! Easily tackled by a cutoff wheel in a suitable power tool though if you have something suitable.
    – Graphus
    Apr 23, 2019 at 19:43
  • Side handle unscrews on my Stanley drill ... no need to cut it off! Apr 23, 2019 at 21:36
  • convenience? No. leverage. Try drilling some metal and see how far you get w/o it.
    – Mazura
    Apr 24, 2019 at 3:07

2 Answers 2


"A" reason is that a drill may not spin its bit nicely and freely once in a material. If the bit "catches" (does not spin nicely and freely), thee entire apparatus will then be the focus of the torque.

Whichever of the two, the bit, or the entire-(not itself confronting the material's resistance like the bit does)-apparatus will tend to take the action of the torque and the not-the-bit components face only the resistance to movement that air provides, in addition to any resistance provided by any hold one has on the apparatus. In short:

If the bit stops, the entire rest of it wants to begin moving, and more so as one tries harder to make the bit move.

Unless one makes it harder for the apparatus to move, the bit will not begin moving and one is not really achieving the assumed goal.

One's hold on the operating handle is part of that and any resistance pressing against the "shoe" (shown in fred_dot_u's picture), is helpful. However, the only direct action resisting the apparatus spinning so far is resistance through the operating handle and the torque and force one places there stands a very good chance of breaking the operating mechanism, or at least wearing it much faster.

Hence the handle shown. Gripping it only risks snapping it off, not ruining the expensive part of the mechanism. Force applied holding it in place actively resists the tendency of the apparatus to spin itself and not the drill bit. This allows one to force the bit to be the place of least resistance to movement without lessening the pressure "into" the bit's action (for instance, the force applied to the shoe). That means the bit can be kept from simply spinning without accomplishing much.

There would always be an ability to do that by lessening "inward" force, but the range of such available would much less and therefore the success much iffier, than by using the asked about handle. Using it allows a much greater operating range leading to the ability to have much more finesse in those situations.

Of courrse, most drilling done with it would not reach these points and one would only need use the handle now and then. Perhaps even ever depending on needs.

(By the way, perhaps see if it might simply be removable by design, or if a more careful removal might allow you to re-attach it when needed. Or if not "this-or-not-this-there-is-no-other", you might hack it off and use a power drill for the few times you would have made use of it. Also if value to another might be of interest someday, "in-tact" tickles more money out of people than "at-tacked"...)

  • Thank you for the extremely thorough answer. I can see the use of the side handle in case of the bit catching in the material. May 1, 2019 at 14:50

In my younger days, I had only this type of drill with which to bore holes. It was often necessary to place the in-line grip on my chest or belt to apply pressure. A board or similar panel provided some dispersal of force against the human body. The side handle served to stabilize the drill and to prevent rotation in an undesirable manner.

Addendum: something popped into my alleged mind during the day. The drill I would have used might have had a shoe. This image shows this feature, making the determination that much easier. Image courtesy of Shutterstock:

hand crank drill with shoe

  • 1
    That's a breast drill.
    – Mazura
    Apr 24, 2019 at 3:08
  • Yeah, your comments in the first paragraph still somewhat apply but a breast drill is a completely different animal to a standard hand drill and the side handle on a breast drill is mandatory, not a take-it-or-leave-it feature.
    – Graphus
    Apr 24, 2019 at 10:22
  • I can definitely see the utility of a side handle on a breast-style drill; in fact it would pretty much be required. However, mine isn't made for that type of use. May 1, 2019 at 14:47

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