There are many ways to bore a hole in a piece of wood. Braces, Eggbeaters, Gimlets, Awls of all sorts, Electric guns, etc., etc... I have used them all. Some are better than others, some faster, some easier, and some that just should never be used again. But, for the most part as a furniture maker I really only need to drill two types of holes. Big holes, which can be done easy enough with a brace and bit. And small holes for screws, nails, and installing hardware.
Up until recently I have been using my electric drill for smaller holes, and occasionally a small bradawl. I went the route of the electric drill after using an eggbeater (Millers Falls No.2) for the past few years. Eggbeater drills are fun to use, sometimes, but they have a few drawbacks. My biggest issue with them is you have to use both hands to operate them, and that can be a pain in the butt sometimes. When drilling small holes I think both the electric and eggbeater are overkill. You don't need anything that complex, just something simple. Basically, nothing more than a bradawl. But what if.......
What if you could drill a hole with just ONE hand???
What if you could do it quickly????
What if you could have easy depth control???
What if you didn't have to charge it all the time???
What if you could get one for cheap????
Guess What!! You can. For a while now I have been using my new (old) Stanley 41Y push drill and completely loving it. I got it for around $25, with all 8 bits included. In my book that is a good deal. Luckily there are tons of these old Yankee push drills on the market (just go look on eBay). And if you don't mind spending a little bit more money, or you just like new stuff, you can buy a new one from Garrett Wade. They also sell new bits, which is a plus. And while you are there watch the YouTube video they have about the drill, it reminds me of the Old Spice commercials.
So what makes the push drill so great?
Using the push drill is dead simple. Install a bit in the end and push. When you push down the bit digs in, when your hand comes up, the bit spins in reverse and helps clear chips(or dust). They work very well and faster than you think, but with excellent control. One of my favorite parts is that you can drill a hole anywhere that a screwdriver can go, which means you can install hardware close to the inside of casework without juggling a power drill. I mostly use the push drill for pre-drilling screw and nail holes, for which it is very well suited. Its not really designed to drill 3/8" holes, just small holes. Think of it like a more powerful bradawl.
This may be the best part. There is about nothing you need to do to keep these things running. Inside the handle area is an oil port for lubrication. Because the mechanical parts are completely sealed inside the drill, you should have to do nothing else but put in a couple drops of oil from time to time.
All in all I love the push drill. I don't know why more people don't talk about them.
I hope you try one out. They are definitely worth the time and the money.