The Rolson miniature hand drill

Rolson Miniature Hand Drill
Rolson Miniature Hand Drill
The Rolson Miniature Hand Drill.

If you work with PCBs, then the chances are good you’ll need to clear a blocked through hole or add a connection of your own. Billed as a drill for ‘precision’ work, the Rolson miniature hand drill is cheap but not so cheerful.

The first thing that strikes you about the Rolson drill is that it’s made of moulded plastic. That is, the entire thing with the sole exception of the brass adjustable chuck, which will accept any size bit up to around 0.9mm – although we managed to cram a 1mm bit in there without too much difficulty, until it was time to remove it again.

The moulding lines and scarf are plain to see. At no point has it occurred to Rolson to remove them during the manufacturing process, and that’s a problem: the rotation is uneven and juddery, increasing the chances that your ‘precision’ work is going to go wrong at some point.

Rolson Miniature Hand Drill - Rear
The build quality is extremely low.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t work: during testing, we were able to clear several holes blocked with broken-off component legs on multiple PCBs, and add a few new holes of our own. Each took only a minute or so of careful drilling, but it wasn’t a comfortable process.

The Rolson miniature drill isn’t without certain plus points: compared to other PCB drills it’s cheap, and a removable cap in the handle is a useful place to store spare bits if you don’t mind them rattling about.

It could have been so much better, however. With a little effort, a larger adjustable chuck – we’d like to see it accept bits of 1.5mm at least – and a more painstaking manufacturing process, the Rolson miniature hand drill could have been an essential toolbox companion. As it is, it’s more of a disposable one-shot when you can’t find anything better to use.

Pro: It mostly works.
Con: It probably won’t do so for long.
Supplier: Maplin, £5.29
Score: 3/9