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How to Drill a Pilot Hole

How to Drill a Pilot Hole

Pilot holes are small holes drilled into the workpiece prior to drilling any larger hole. It helps to avoid the mistakes made during the DIY drilling work on the wooden workpiece. 

The pilot hole allows widening the hole afterward as per the requirements. The process of creating the pilot holes reduces the chances of splitting wood into parts while drilling. 

When To Drill a Pilot Hole?

The pilot holes are beneficial to avoid any failures in wood while drilling for woodworking DIY or professional projects. The materials like laminate, MDF, and hardwood need drilling of pilot holes to avoid cracking or splitting. It makes it easier for fasteners to enter the wood in a shorter time. For softwood, the pilot holes are not necessary. 

When drilling a pilot hole consider the following factors:

Drilling on Edge

The pilot hole plays a vital role when screwing near the end of the workpiece or on the edge. Drilling a pilot hole makes it easy for screw threads to penetrate the hole easily. And ultimately reduces the cracking or splitting of the edge or end of the material. 

Need Precise location
The screws used to drill do not always enter the material in the operating direction. To drill in precise locations using a drill bit is easier than the tip of a screw. Creating the pilot hole will help to get an accurate location to drill with the screw. 

Drill on Dense Materials

A lot of force is required to insert screws into wooden or any other dense materials. It requires drilling a pilot hole to reduce the pressure to drill in these materials. Dense materials include materials like hardwood, MDF, maple, etc. For softwoods, pilot holes drilling is not needed.

In the next steps, you will learn the professional and easy way to drill a pilot hole for your projects. 

Mark the spot to Drill

Take your time and take the measurements correctly. Before drilling the holes with the drill bit, mark the pilot hole with a pencil. For marking the location of the screw accurately, you can draw ‘X’ on it. Use the masking tape to add extra safety to the wood against splitting or cracking. By creating the pilot hole you give extra time for the project. Although it eliminates the problems which can slow down the pace of the project.

Choose Suitable Drill Bit

Choose a suitable Drill Bit to work on the desired material or fasteners. Use a drill bit that is smaller than the diameter of the threads of the screw. 

Most of the time we don’t know about the diameter of the screws. According to the visible measurement you can choose a drill bit with a smaller diameter than the screws.

Drill the Hole

Now you are ready with everything. You need to fix the drill bit into the drill. Get your drill and align it as per the marked spot to make the hole. Ensure the drill is set for clockwise operation, before starting drilling. Find the button on the drill to set it.

Once it is done, start pressing the drill against the workpiece or wood with moderate force. The speed of the drill increases as you put more pressure on the switch. Push the button lightly in starting and then gradually speed up the drill. 

It takes a few seconds to complete the process of drilling in wood. The time required for drilling the hole depends on the operation of the drill machine speed. It’s time to speed up the drill once you start drilling the hole correctly. 

Don’t stop until the hole is drilled to the required depth of the hole. Sometimes you don’t need to drill through the wood and stop at the needed depth during the operation. 

Drive The Screw

You got the desired pilot hole. It’s time to replace the drill bit with another drill bit used to drive the screws in the hole.

Take the screw and hold it at 90 degrees(Perpendicular) to the hole and gradually press it down with the drill into the wood. The screw will get fastened by the little pressure applied by you.


Drilling the pilot holes is useful and much necessary in some of the projects to achieve accuracy. It is a smart strategy to drill pilot holes and complete the woodworking tasks perfectly. There are various factors that increase the need for pilot holes before fastening the screws in the wood. The benefit of the pilot hole is that it makes the driving of screws in the wood easy.

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