From The Ergoweb® Learning Center


Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH

cutters in general: countersinking, reaming

[in development]

Common issues

The primary concern is heavy force to drill through a hard object.  Working in an awkward position or using the drill for extensive periods worsens the strain

Common options for improvement

Drill press

DrillPress1 DrillPressVacuumBase
Standard drill press Vacuum cup base for removable drill

Probably most common technique to reduce force is the standard drill press, which incorporates several exertion-reducing mechanisms: levers, gearing, and a universal fixture (vise).

Most drill presses incorporate a built-in drill, but some models are designed for hand held drills that can be removed.



Working position

Maintenance – Sharp bits

Jack drill lever attachment

Power feeds

Power feed and drill plate



AndrewsDrill AndrewsAttachment
Andrews right angle drill (left) and attachment for manual drill (right) (

Drilling on edge of item

Drill presses

Gantry drill

Gantry drill

gantry is a bridge-like support mounted on rails that provide movement, most commonly used in conjunction with a crane. A gantry drill is simply a drill press mounted on a gantry. The drill is thus able to easily move along the rails as well as sideways, either on the gantry bridge or on a movable arm (as is the case in the photo above). Gantry drills are helpful for drilling multitudes of holes on a large piece.

Gantry drills can be quite large machines and totally automated. Others, such as those shown here, are smaller and usable in small shops. The drill press can be either manual or supplemented with a power assist.

Gantry2 Gantry3
Gantry drills created from standard components

The examples above show the gantry rail concept created from readily available components: (1) single rail on one side of platform, (2) standard arms, and (3) power assists for the drill press. In the context of this knowledgebase, these examples show a relatively low-cost approach to reducing repetitive forceful arm motions while working in awkward positions.

Conceivably, the rails could be mounted at angles or in other configurations to enable drilling on items other than single flat sheets.

Drill presses as workstations


To a large extent, drilling is different from other tasks that involve power tools because of the bits.

easy vs. difficult drilling is dependent on bits

consequently, procedures related to maintaining sharp

countersinking, reaming,