Numbers on a Drill

What do the Numbers on a Drill Mean?

Drills are the ideal tool for people who like to do DIY projects all the time. You can use them on any material to drill holes in various sizes. You also have quite a few drills to choose from, so you can easily find one that fits your needs and budget.

Modern drills come with many added features to make the drilling process easier for people. If you have never used modern drills, you might be taken aback by all the settings and numbers written on the drills. You may wonder what the numbers on a drill are and what they tell you!

If that is something you have thought about but have not found the answer to yet, you have come to the right place. In today's guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about the numbers on a drill, how they affect the drill's torque, and how to adjust them to fit your drilling material, pressure, position, etc. With that being said, let's get right into the guide!

What Do the Numbers on a Drill Mean?

What Do the Numbers on a Drill Mean

So, what are the numbers on a drill? Glad you asked! In short, the numbers on the drill tell you the torque settings of the drill. They inform you what the lowest or highest torque setting is, what other settings you could explore, etc.

Torque is quite essential when it comes to dealing with drills. Whether you have a corded or cordless drill, a battery, or an electric drill, you must use it at the correct torque setting if you do not want to damage the screws, bolts, or material. But what is torque exactly?

So, torque is a measurement that can help you tell how much force is used to rotate an object. The drill's torque tells you the rotational force to turn the drill bit. Depending on your specific drill, you might have 10 to 15 or even more torque settings, with the highest number showing the maximum torque available. Here is a bit more on the torque numbers you can find on a drill:

  • "1" is a number that stands for the lowest torque setting that the drill offers.
  • The highest torque setting will usually be around 10/15/20, depending on the manufacturer.
  • A 1/2 switch is a switch you can use for drilling speed. "1" usually stands for low speed, whereas "2" can stand for high-speed drilling.

The drill might have other measurements or icons that are not numbers. There is the drill icon for full torque at the highest speed, the hammer icon for hammer drilling, a drive-in and drive-out icon for rotation direction, etc.

Let's get back to the ideal torque setting now.

Too little torque will keep you drilling longer, which is not ideal. A torque that is around 300-inch pounds is considered too little for most materials, except soft materials. Too much torque, on the other hand, can damage the material or screw, so you have to be careful not to use the max torque settings.

The ideal torque setting is about 700-inch pounds. Your torque settings determine the speed of the drill bit and the amount of force you need to use when drilling. I recommend always trying out several torque settings on scraps to find the ideal one and use it on the actual material. More on how to choose the perfect drill setting in the next section!

How to Choose the Right Drill Setting?

Choose the Right Drill

When you need to operate a drill, you must think about more than just how much torque is needed to drill through the material. For example, you must also apply the right amount of pressure, select the perfect drill bit, and remember to keep the drill in the proper position.

Try drilling without knowing the proper settings. You might find yourself in quite a predicament and damage the material before you even get started. So, let's discuss the must-know of drill settings:


To determine the proper torque, you must think about the material you need to use. You will come across various hard and soft materials in your lifetime. But they all require different drilling modes, speed settings, torque, and size drill bits.

The tougher the material, the more force or torque you need to drill through it. If you go in with low torque, you must drill for hours and hours. Your hands will tire out, or you may cause damage to the drill bit or even cause the drill to overheat from all the work. So, low torque is a no-no for tough materials.

You can use low to medium torque if you drill through some soft material. Anything around 700-inch pounds will suffice. But you will also have to consider the drill bits you should use. More on that in the next section!

Drill Bit

The drill bit makes a huge difference when drilling into materials. There are various size drill bits, which can also be made from multiple materials. Which one you choose depends on the situation - so you have to research and know precisely what drill bit to use before entering drill mode!

The tougher your material, the sturdier the drill bit needs to be. This ensures that the bit will be strong enough to go through the material and help you reach the desired depth. The bit diameter can be determined based on how large a hole you want to drill.

I recommend using a cobalt bit for hard materials as they are quite sturdy. You can use a standard HSS or a cobalt drill bit for aluminum, stainless steel, or other metals. For bricks and similar materials, you can go with masonry bits.


When drilling into most materials, keeping the pressure firm but limited is recommended. That means not using too much or too little pressure while allowing the drill bit to go into the material as deep as needed.

Firm pressure is not recommended only when you have a hammer drill. Then, the hammer action is more like punching forward, so you do not need to apply much pressure. Instead, you need to keep the drill in the correct position and gently move it forward as the drill bit makes its way through the material.

Drill Position

Finally, let's discuss the proper drill position. I have mentioned it a few times thus far but have not explained what the correct position is.

So, when operating any drill, you must keep it at a 90-degree angle with the material. This position will give you enough control while keeping you from damaging the material or the screw you are trying to get into the material.

How to Find the Ideal Torque Setting?


Choosing the best drill settings can be difficult when you try to do it for the first time. After all, talking about the settings in theory and applying the knowledge in practice is quite different. So, you might not know the perfect drilling mode for your situation.

If that is the case, I recommend that you follow several helpful steps to determine the best drilling mode. Here are those steps in more detail:

  1. First off, never test anything on the material you need. Find some scrap material and try the setting there. When you find the perfect speed and torque setting, move on to the needed material.
  2. Next, I recommend that you start by setting the drill to medium torque and speed. See what kind of results that gives you. You might need to lower the torque if the bit punches through the material. You must set it to high torque if the bit does not go through the material quickly enough.
  3. Finally, try different bits to find the one that works best for your material.

If you follow these steps, you will easily find the perfect settings for any material or drill you have.


Thank you for reading this detailed guide on the best drill torque setting for every drilling situation. Remember that the most visible numbers on the drill will represent the torque settings, with 1 being the lowest setting and the highest setting going up to 15, 20, or even more.

Whenever you want to drill something, test out the torque setting on scrap material and adjust the clutch settings to get the desired torque. Also, remember to keep the drill at a 90-degree angle with the material and to apply firm, controlled pressure while drilling. Trust me - these steps will make it much easier for you to drill without problems!

Finally, please play around with the clutch settings and determine what works best. If you have already done that, please share your experience in the comments section below. I cannot wait to read how it all went!

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