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Way before electricity and power tools, woodworkers were drilling holes with hand-powered tools like the breast drill. Skipping over the obvious 7th-grade jokes, old-timers once reached for this drill to get a good start and a clean hole.

This breast drill can handle a bit with a shank up to 5/16″.  You operate the drill with both hands, resting the pillow-end — and we use that term loosely since it more closely resembles a gun stock — against your chest. This allows you to apply a lot of power and provides great starting control.

Traditionalists love this kind of thing — but those with a bad back might want to think twice about it. This’ll have you literally slumped over your work every time you break it out. Then again, woodcrafters are a hardy bunch, and some slight hunching comes with the territory.

Garrett Wade sells this breast drill for $100.

Traditional Breast Drill [Garrett Wade]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


4 Responses to The Traditional Breast Drill

  1. fred says:

    This (probably ABM product made in either China or India) seems a bit overpriced (GW – usually sells tools at top dollar) compared to nice vintage Millers-Falls etc. tools.

  2. Coach James says:

    Sears also sells this breast drill for a lot less.


    I have three Millers Falls breast drill. All are two speed and are a joy to use.

  3. tmib_seattle says:

    I see old ones at garage sales and swap meets fairly often. I picked this one up for $5 I think:

    The construcion on these old style drills are basic enough that they seem to last pretty much forever.

  4. Bill says:

    A drill’s a drill but I always associated drilling metal with a breast drill.

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