Historical information

The Archimedes drill, also known as a fretwork drill, is an old type of drill which works on the Archimedian principle; the drill rotates quickly as the barrel on the stem is worked up and down.
This tool provides a quick and easy way to bore holes through ordinary fret wood and other substances, smaller versions are used in jewellery making where precision drilling is required. There were numerous different sized Archimedes drills made from various materials, usually a combination of wood and steel, some being all steel and some including brass parts. The fancier versions of these drills included parts made from Rosewood, Ebony, Ivory and decorative brass parts.
Some of the later Archimedes drills had technological improvements such as a ratchet device and the inclusion of fly-weights. The ratchet device allows the drill to revolve continuously in the cutting direction. The fly-weights give momentum to maintain the speed of the drill during the upward stroke of the hand. Most old examples such as the subject item have no makers names.


A vintage drilling tool that gives a snapshot into how holes were drilled by hand into small or delicate objects during the Victorian era. Tools from this time are today regarded as collectable items eagerly sought by collectors of antique tools.

Physical description

Archimedean drill with Rosewood hand, brass bearings, steel twist and wooden grip.

Inscriptions & markings