When working with wood, you may occasionally need to drill a hole that’s deeper than the thickness of the board.
While there are many tools designed for drilling holes in wood, it’s not so simple to drill a deeper hole without breaking or splintering the surface of the board.
If you’re struggling with how to drill deep holes in wood as an amateur carpenter or hobbyist, you’re not alone. Drilling a hole that goes beyond the board’s thickness can be tricky and even dangerous if you don’t use the right tools and techniques.
So, here are the steps for drilling deep holes in wood!
Step One: Anchor the Wood
There are two types of drills you can use to drill deep holes in wood: corded and cordless.
If you’re drilling into a large piece of wood, use a corded drill to get started. A corded drill is easy to regulate, and its strong motor will easily cut through the wood.
Start by wearing gloves to protect your hands from splinters and rough edges on the wood.
Then, simply set the drill to low speed, so it doesn’t grab the wood and cause it to tear.
Drill the holes in a board with a corded drill. Then, switch to a cordless drill and use a spacer to create the correct hole size.
Once you’re done with the holes, you can switch back to a corded drill to fill the holes with wood putty for a smooth finish.
Anchoring Finished Wood
If you’re drilling holes in a finished piece of wood, use a piece of tape to cover the surface of the wood to prevent splintering. Then, use painter’s tape to line the board where you’ll be drilling the holes.
No matter what type of drill you use, always set the speed to low to prevent the wood from splintering.
Step Two: Use a Smaller Bit to Start the Hole
To avoid any mistakes while drilling, you need to start with a smaller hole than the one you desire.
This smaller hole will act as a guide when you start using the desired larger bit. It also gives you more chances to correct any drilling mistakes that may happen.
As the bit gets deeper into the wood, it’ll have less resistance, so you can increase the speed.
Keep in mind that switching between low and high speeds will help to extend the life of your drill.
While the bit is cutting, be sure to keep the drill in constant motion. Stopping and starting will increase the friction, which may cause the drill to overheat.
When you start drilling that first small hole, make sure you stay far enough away from the edges of your material. You don’t want the drill to grab the edge and kick back at you.
Step Three: Choose Your Drill Bit
When choosing between sizes, always go with the smaller size. if you’re not sure which one to pick, it’s better to have to drill another hole than to have the screw fall out.
Drill a hole, then use a smaller drill bit to spin in the opposite direction in each hole to seal them up. This will bring the edge of the hole closer to the surface of the wood.
For most projects, you’ll want to choose a drill bit that’s between 1/8” and 1/16” in size.
Larger bits tend to be clunky and hard to control. Smaller bits are also hard to control, but they’re great for detail work.
The best bet is to have a few sizes on hand, so you can match the bit to the job at hand.
Step Four: Adjust the Speed of Your Drill
When drilling holes, you want to make sure you’re doing it at the right speed.
If you drill too fast, you run the risk of breaking your drill bit. If you drill too slow, you may not get the hole deep enough.
One easy trick to drilling holes at the right speed is to count the number of seconds it takes you to drill one hole.
If it takes 10 seconds, you’re drilling too fast. If it takes 30 seconds, you’re drilling too slow.
Step Five: Clamp Workpiece
Before you start drilling, it's best to clamp your workpiece to a table or workbench to keep it secure. This will give your screws a place to sit and will help to stop the wood from cracking as the drill goes through.
Start by making sure that the clamps are around to keep your workpiece together as you’re working.
Some people may suggest using glue. However, working with clamps is much easier than using glue in case something happens to fall apart.
Step Six: Start Drilling!
Now that you’ve chosen the proper bit size and speed, it's time to start drilling!
Keep drilling until you reach the depth you need for the screws to go into the wood.
Make sure you have a firm grip on the drill and don’t push too hard or the wood may crack. Keep this in mind when drilling, or you’ll quickly discover that it’s easy to countersink holes.
Always remember that, generally, using a drill requires safety precautions, so make sure you follow them.
Once you’ve finished drilling, remove the clamps and your drilling job is done.
One piece of advice: if you’re staining or painting the wood, make sure to use drop cloths or another method to protect your work surface from stains or drips. You should also let your project dry before you put it to use.
It’s important to choose the right type of drill bit for the job. Make sure to also use a high-speed drill and start with a small bit. Then use progressively larger bits until you reach the desired size.
If you’re working with a small piece of wood, you can also use clamps to secure it to your hand to keep it from slipping. Make sure you have fresh drill bits; dull bits will only cause trouble.
By now, you know how to drill deep holes in wood, so unleash your creativity!