“After The Drill Is Gone”

Masonry Drills in France

After the Drill is Gone

You will have seen on an earlier post the harrowing story of my falling over in our street in France.

I reaffirm that no strong drink was involved as to cause this mishap. Maybe the pain would have been less if strong drink had been taken. Anyway, also on that day, so we discovered (11 days later when we got back to the UK), that Glenn Frey of The Eagles passed away.

Having seen The Eagles  a few years back, in what was possibly the best concert we have been to together, and listened to their music & solo material for more years than I have fingers, I include here as my tribute to Mr Frey a Useful Guest Post featuring  a selection of straight/twisted song titles that he has been associated with.


This tale today tells the story of the sad demise of many drills and drill bits during our adventures in renovation.
In the UK, domestic use only, we tend to buy from B&Q, Wickes etc drills/hammer drills to drill into brickwork, perhaps concrete, wood, and mostly the drills will cope with this usage.

The first time I came across anything that proved that there is a big difference between domestic and professional bits of kit was when I tried to drill out for a new electric socket in our big house in Stourbridge. I used the drill I had used for many a day without problem. It wouldn’t scratch the surface of this wall, even with a brand new masonery bit. Professional person who is fitting our new kitchen says “Let me try”. His drill goes through like a knife through melted butter. MORAL-Do not assume that the kit you have will always work when you Take it to the Limit.
In the Hovel, as you will know from earlier postings, we do not have mundane things like bricks. We have river pebbles, terra cotta blocks, unshaped lumps of stone as well as the usual wood, concrete. First time trying to drill this stuff with my trusty UK sourced hammer drill, lots of smoke, ragged drill bit, failure. Tried another UK sourced drill, much the same, motor burnout.

Desperado! That’s two drills down already. Also tried a battery power drill to drive screws into hard wood; worked fine when boarding out the loft in the UK house.

I Can’t Tell You Why but the wood we buy in France seems harder than the wood in the UK, but it kills your wrist if you try to drive screws by hand and it’s killed the battery drill.
So, that’s 3 drills Already Gone.
Get Over It!

What to do next.
Pebbles, by their very nature are not only ovoid, mainly, but are also rock hard. This makes drilling into them the source of some Heartache Tonight.They also tend to have a shiny smooth surface which makes getting a purchase with your drill bit difficult because All It Wants to do is Glance.
This in itself is not a problem when you can actually see the pebble you are trying to drill into. If you take a hammer and a spike chisel, position the spike where the drill bit needs to cut, you can chip off the shiny bits and get purchase for your drill.
If you can’t see the pebble because it’s hiding in a wall behind some nice lime plaster that you want to preserve, not bash up further, the problem is when you hit the pebble the drill bit will begin to slide up/down/sideways dependent upon where it’s hit.

Chances of trying a couple of spots and finding the weaker grout joint is virtually nil. A lot of holes and a lot of Wasted Time!

There are now two options. 1-try the hammer and chisel idea if you can get the chisel in the just drilled hole or 2- note which way the original drill bit skewed, fit the smallest masonery drill bit you have in the chuck and then angling the small bit in from the way the original skewed to start drilling very slowly and, assuming you get purchase, slowly drill a small hole and then angle the bit to match the original bit angle.Because it’s a small bit this slight squiffyness should be obliterated by the larger original bit which should now be able to get a grip.
The other killer I mentioned is the old Terracotta block. They may not look much but they kill drill bits. Drill slowly, and before you start make sure the drill rotation is the right way because these blocks will rip the edge of your bits.
I now have two drills, both bought in France at Mr Bricolage. 1- an Edelson mains hammer drill (above left) which I use for drilling into ordinary materials and for driving screws, and, 2- an SDS+ beast that I use to drill into our pebble strewn walls, but also can be used as a power chisel etc.

I have had this now for 7 years and it is still going strong, it’s only 850 watts but it produces a lot of torque and weighs a ton. We call it the Jugga Jugga drill. There was a photo of me nursing this beast whilst rocking the macho topless Russian leader look. For some reason Gill has never posted this gem.

In The Long Run you need the kit to get the job done. The Jugga Jugga beast is made by FARTOOLS (Marteau perforateur 850W multi-fonctions), and cost me 28 euros. Bargain. available still, at a bit more, here:-


I am still looking for a battery drill that will allow me the freedom to drive screws without having to drag power extensions and leads around. If anyone can recommend a candidate please feel free to do so.

And finally, RIP Glenn.

Feels like we are losing all our musical heros.



About coteetcampagne

Artist, period home maker, renovator, restorer, Francophile. My mission is to save the old stuff, one beautiful piece at a time
This entry was posted in Renovation and restoration diary- France, What we did, how we did it and what we used and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to “After The Drill Is Gone”

  1. Lynda says:

    I know this pain. Impact driver to the rescue!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. poshbirdy says:

    Great fun. We picked up a decent battery drill but we haven’t had it long enough to recommend. They do seem to go downhill quite quickly, even in the UK.
    Seriously, FARTOOLS?


    • Yes, we laughed, but Seriously they are Far Better than some others we have worn out.
      Depends what you are drilling into- the three beams that hold one side of our house up are as hard as iron once you get an inch in- centuries of curing I guess.
      Also, I doubt your house was part biult from the river pebbles lying around a few yards away so that should be another problem that you DON’T have.


  3. zipfslaw1 says:

    You get extra points today for using “ovoid” in the normal flow of conversation!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Osyth says:

    Lovely way of paying tribute to another of the wonderful talents lost last month. I do love the Eagles but never had the pleasure of seeing them. I will fight anyone, though who claims there is any better music for a long journey with the roof down 🙂 Your drill – we do have a really good one in France bought in M. Bricolage a couple of years ago. Sadly I can’t remember what it is – black case, black drill and mighty powerful. I’ll see if the Husband can remember. x

    Liked by 1 person

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