How To Make A Hand Drill Out Of A Pencil Sharpener

Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say. [Jason] was in such a situation where he needed to install some safety railing at his grandmother’s house. He didn’t have the necessary tools available, like a drill, so he fashioned one himself out of a pencil sharpener and some fittings and wire that he was able to find.

Although crude, and probably not what one would choose to use if an actual drill was available, this “drill-pencil-sharpener” actually does a pretty decent job of cutting through plywood as seen in the video after the break.


Certainly this is not the first hand-cranked drill, but it just may be the first one made out of a pencil sharpener (also probably the first one to inspire a pseudo-nursery rhyme). If you like this, check out this router mechanism that is probably a bit more refined.

27 thoughts on “How To Make A Hand Drill Out Of A Pencil Sharpener

  1. Walmart has “drills” for $20. If one truly wanted or had to make this, neat… but when other superior, cheap, faster, easier and arguably safer alternatives exist…. why bother?

  2. @Maave – Yeah, funny you should say that, I was thinking it’s kind of like the difference between a milling machine and a lathe. Glad I wasn’t the only one that had that kind of thought.

  3. I hack when I need to because other alternatives simply don’t exist or can’t be obtained at a reasonable cost. All else equal, yes it matters that you *can* improvise/hack. That is a huge skill that I am in no means trying to undermine. But I personally choose to hack only when I have exhausted all other viable alternatives or when a simple solution can’t be otherwise obtained. YMMV.

    In this case, yes, this *works* but in my opinion, the fastest/best option aside from having a drill in the first place (provided there was a store nearby and the author has transportation) would be to just drive and buy one.

    Of course that isn’t in the spirit of this site of course but it remains the best solution (using the right tool for the job) and can be obtained at minimal cost and time.

    But if this works with a minimum amount of fuss and hassle and time to throw together and is reasonably safe, great!

  4. A hacker sometimes finds themselves with a job that needs to get done right away. Occasionally, the hacker doesn’t have the right tools on hand and is forced to make due with what *is* at hand.

    Myself personally, I’ve performed numerous complex repairs on things using only a pocket knife, the occasional lousy assortment of rusty screwdrivers and, if I was lucky, a pair of pliers. I’ve modified tools and assorted “trash” items to meet the immediate need many times.

    I’ve been forced to drill holes with screwdrivers, pliers and other objects; I’ve used bare drill bits (wearing gloves of course). I *wish* I had a pencil sharpener to rig up as a hand drill at times like that.

    He only had a bare assortment of tools, but still got the job done – kudos to him!

  5. Or maybe Grandma’s house is two hours from his and he forgot his drill, or something? Sure you could give Wal-mart twenty bucks (actually these days more like forty) for a cheap piece of junk drill, and I guess leave it at Grandma’s in case you ever need it again. The way I see it, the drawbacks of that solution are no less than the drawbacks of this one.

    The way I see it, there are times when hacking isn’t the optimal solution to the problem — for example, when you’re building something somebody else is going to have to maintain, taking shortcuts tends to complicate that person’s life severely. But this looks to have been a one-off, improvised solution to a problem for which it seems about as good a solution as any other. Why waste energy caviling about it? Go do something nifty instead.

  6. And as far as safety goes, it seems a bit silly to worry too hard about it by proxy. He’s a grownup; he can do his own risk evaluation. If he screws it up, he’ll probably do better next time.

  7. Now this looks like something I’d do, been several times I have slapped/hacked together parts as temp tools. When I was a kid, metal gears out of toys and a small toy motor where my poor mans version of a dremel and cut-off wheel.

  8. The real question everybody should be asking is why does he (or his grandma) have a drill bit, but no drill?

    My cynical side says people come up with these stories to fit their ‘hack’ after the fact. My guess is he was bored, saw two items and thought, “hmm, I wonder…” and decided to try it. Yep, it did. Cool.

    No ill will, just sayin’

  9. “Look, grandma, I put up your safety railing using nothing but a…Grandma don’t lean on it, GRANDMAA!!”

    I hope it all worked out well, but one wonders…

  10. @Retroplayer

    I agree!! I thought the same thing, where did he find a drill bit at his grandmothers, but no drill? Not even an old hand drill from the 70’s? Maybe he had forgotten the drill at home, but not the case of drill bits.

    Or maybe like you said, he just threw this together out of curiosity and it worked, and the grandmother and missing power drill story, is simply that, a story. Why else is he testing this out on a random piece of plywood, instead of the actual railings he was apparently installing?

    While the hack and information is there, if THAT is actually what happened, and it was just more of a “hack story” put together after the fact, it’s almost a form of false information and it’s a form of corruption that happens around this planet from day to day.

  11. Probably one of the most clever hacks I’ve seen on here in awhile, IMHO. Great work! My grandma has a pencil sharpener in her garage, maybe I’ll destroy it someday :)

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