A couple of weeks ago I showed you some of my favourite things, some of my favourite and most used tools, all of which are older than I am and that I inherited when I first started my addiction to silversmithing. One of them, the one that people commented on, is my bowline (or bow) drill. One of the things that I love most about my craft is that I am using skills and techniques that have been used for, in many cases, thousand of years, and this type of drill has been around for thousands of years too. If you visit this page you will, along with a lot more detail about the history of drills that I am going to write about here, pictures of bow drills dating from the Romans. In that article the bow drill is referred to as a pump drill as to work it you pump the horizontal wooden handle up and down to spin the drill bit. Apart from the fact that my drill uses a drill bit rather than a sharpened stone the design has hardly changed at all!
So, I thought that this week I’d explain how one of these beautiful tools actually works! It can take a little bit of getting used to, but once you get the rhythm it really is like riding a bike – once you’ve got it you never forget! One of the reasons that I like this drill so much is that you only need one hand to work it, the other is free to hold your work still.
I tried to take some photo to go with the steps above, but although the drill only needs one hand to operate it I still couldn’t take the photos at the right angle, so I’ve found you a video instead – I hope it helps! It’s very short, and the jeweller spins the drill slightly differently at the start than I do, but you can see how smooth the rhythm is.
I’d love to know – what is the oldest tool that you have?