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The Archimedes drill predates the Yankee screwdriver by a few hundred years, but it works much the same way. When you drive the handle down in a linear motion, the small chuck at the right end of the threads spins the drill.

I found the picture above on an antique site — this particular Archimedes drill was designed for jewelers, to drill tiny holes in soft metal. I’m sure the torque is nothing to speak of, and the RPM is somewhere just above a plain old screwdriver, but this actually makes it perfect for a few applications.

The drill below, sold by Garrett Wade, accepts bits smaller than 1/16″. Though tiny bits are easy to break, with a drill like this you’ve got way more control and will probably see the flex in the bit before you break it.


The fact that you can buy this tool new makes the antique even cooler — because somebody is still using these.

Antique Jeweler’s Drill [Go Antiques]
Archimedes Screw Drills [Garrett Wade]


4 Responses to Archimedes’ Drill

  1. Dave says:

    It looks like you’d get four complete revolutions per downstroke/upstroke cycle, so even at a leisurely pace we’re still talking about 240 rpms. Not bad, and certainly more than a plain ol’ screwdriver.

  2. ChrisW says:

    You can still buy these. I use mine to drill tiny holes in printed circuit boards. I suppose I could use a Dremel tool, but this is a lot quieter, and doesn’t make as much dust.

  3. Carla says:

    These drills are very commonly used by we jewellers here in Merrie Olde England. They are so common I am bemused that you find them new or interesting. It’s just an Archimedes drill!

  4. Davies says:

    Looking for the engineering drawings of such a screwdriver as we require to use the concept in a future design.

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