What Is An Archimedes Drill? What Is An Archimedes Drill Used For?

archimedes drills
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The Archimedes drill, also known as a fretwork drill, is an old type of drill which works on the Archimedian principle; the drill rotates quickly as the barrel on the stem is worked up and down.

This tool provides a quick and easy way to bore holes through ordinary fretwood.

There were numerous different sized Archimedes drills made from various materials, usually a combination of wood and steel, some being all steel and some including brass parts.

The fancier versions of these drills included parts made from Rosewood, Ebony, Ivory and decorative brass parts.

Some of the later Archimedes drills had technological improvements such as a ratchet device and the inclusion of fly-weights.

The ratchet device allows the drill to revolve continuously in the cutting direction. The fly-weights give momentum to maintain the speed of the drill during the upward stoke of the hand.

Archimedes Drill Also Known As:


  • Fretwork Drill
  • Archimedian Drill

Archimedes Drill Parts

A typical Archimedes drill consists of the following parts:

archimedes drill parts

  • A - Button Head
  • B - Barrel
  • C - Stem
  • D - Clamping Mechanism
  • E - Drill Bit


Typical archimedes drill uses include:


  • Fretwork

What to look for when buying a secondhand archimedes drill?


  • Check the drill clamping mechanism works and the jaws clamp together smoothly this is needed to hold the drill bit in place
  • Check the barrel is in place and runs smoothly up and down check it runs from the top to the bottom and back up again.
  • Check the button head is fairly rigid - sometimes the button head becomes very wobbly.

There have been many Archimedes drills produced in the past, below are a list of a few well known Archimedes drill makers:

Old Archimedes Drill Makers:


  • Hobbies
  • Most old examples have no makers names

New Archimedes Drill Makers:


  • None?



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