This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
The gimlet is an offspring of the awl, and of more recent origin. The gimlet of the Greeks had the cross-head or handle of the style now prevalent. It also had possibly a hollow pod, as the earliest specimens found are of that type, but no screw-point, and it demanded a large expenditure of muscle, especially in boring hard woods, where it was not very effective. Later, a gimlet of square section, having sharp corners and tapering to a sharp point, was introduced, and gave the hint for a form of auger now in use. In course of time, the screw point was added, and the hollow-pod gimlet, with a point of this kind, was the only sort in use for many centuries. In England, this was called a " wimble." This form is still in use to some extent, and is effective where very shallow holes only are to be bored, but as it has to be removed whenever the pod becomes full of chips from boring, it causes a waste of time when deeper holes are desired. The twisted or spiral form of gimlet, which is self-discharging, is an American invention, and only of very recent date. It has, however, superseded all other forms, and is now in common use.
The field of the gimlet is becoming greatly narrowed, giving ground to the more rapid and convenient brace and bit. (Industrial World.) Some gimlets are made with twisted shanks, which allow the dust and little chips to escape more easily, find some have only a gouge-shaped channel with a pointed screw below. These tools cut away the material as they go, the screw point only serving to give a hold at first, and gradually to draw the tool deeper into the work. The shell or gouge-shaped are generally preferred by carpenters, as being stronger and more suited for rough work in various woods; but they are more likely to split the work, especially if the latter be at all thin or slight. In such case, it is best to use very little pressure, and to give a quick movement to the handle. Fig. 375 shows the commonest form of gimlet, termed a "spike." tig. 376 is a "treble twist"; Fig. 377, an auger gimlet; Fig. 378, a patent twist; and Fig. 379, a brewers' twist. The prices of awls and gimlets range from Id. to 6d. each, according to size.
An assortment is needed.