Toolsday: Gimlets

One of the more esoteric tools in my shop is this set of gimlets.


Gimlets

A gimlet is like a drill bit with a handle. The pointed part at the end is shaped like a screw, and pulls the tool deeper into the wood as you turn the handle. The fluted sides auger out the hole and pull material back from the tip. They work best if you're drilling a hole through something, since once you're through you can use the auger part to clean out the hole. They are OK for drilling a hole down into something without going all the way through, but you'll eventually have to back out the screw part.

Gimlets were once a staple of every woodworker's shop and carpenter's tool box, but they've been completely obsoleted by modern drills and bits. Nothing beats them if you're in a strange situation and need to drill a starter hole for a screw though. They also give you that satisfaction of having done the whole job "by hand", even when that means twisting away at one of these things.

Good luck finding a set, though. I searched every hardware store in the Pittsburgh area, and even the venerable Rolliers betrayed me. I wound up having to mail order them. They shouldn't cost much if you do find them. I think I only paid $9 for this set, though the price where I got them seems to be $14, now.

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2010.10.19 at 12:00am EDT