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How to Drill Into Wood Without Splitting: The Power Drill Method

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Written By John Gibbs




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Are you looking for tips and techniques on how to drill into wood without splitting it? Whether you are a professional carpenter or a DIY enthusiast, understanding the correct way to drill into wood is essential. The following guide provides expert advice on how to drill into wood without splitting it, plus some useful techniques and tips to help you get the job done right.

Preparing to Drill

Preparing To Drill

Choosing the Right Drill Bit

Selecting the correct drill bit is essential for avoiding splitting the wood. For best results, use a brad point drill bit as it will help keep the drill centered. This type of bit is designed with a point and two wings at the tip that keep the bit from slipping and wandering.

Preparing the Wood Surface

Before drilling, mark the wood where you intend to drill the hole. This is especially important if you are drilling a small hole. If you don’t have a marking tool, use a pencil to make a small indentation that you can use as a guide.

Additionally, make sure to use a drill bit the same size, or slightly larger, than the screw you are using. If the screw is too big, it will splinter the wood as it is being driven in.

Following these tips and techniques will help you learn how to drill a hole without splintering wood. With the right tools and preparation, you can easily drill into wood without splitting it.

Drilling Without Splintering Wood

Drilling Without Splintering Wood

Drilling into wood without splintering it can be a tricky task, and requires patience and the right technique. It is important to understand the types of drill bits, the angle of the drill, and the speed and pressure of the drill to ensure that the wood is properly drilled.

Maintaining Speed and Pressure

When drilling, it is important to maintain a consistent speed and pressure. Too little pressure will cause the drill bit to slip and too much pressure can cause the wood to splinter. It is best to start with a slow speed and gradually increase the speed as the drill bit becomes more embedded in the wood.

Creating Pilot Holes

Creating a pilot hole before drilling can help to reduce the risk of the wood splitting. A pilot hole is a small hole drilled into the wood before the larger hole is drilled. This allows the larger drill bit to be guided into the wood without the risk of splintering it.

Using a Backing Board

Using a backing board is a great way to avoid splintering the wood. By placing a piece of scrap wood behind the wood being drilled, the drill bit will be supported and there is less chance that the wood will split.

Sanding the Holes

Sanding the hole after drilling can also help to avoid splintering. A vibrating sander is the best tool for this job as it can quickly and effectively smooth the edges of the hole.

Using a Countersink Bit

Using a countersink bit is another way to prevent wood from splintering when drilling. This type of bit is designed to drill a shallow hole and then taper the edges of the hole for a smooth finish. This helps to reduce the risk of the wood splitting when the drill bit is inserted.

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Drilling Plywood

Pre-Drilling from the Backside

When drilling into plywood, pre-drilling is key to prevent splitting. Place the drill bit directly on the mark on the backside of the plywood. Drill through until the bit emerges from the top side of the plywood.

Using a Drill Stop

Using a drill stop can be helpful for controlling the depth of the hole and preventing the drill bit from going too deep into the plywood. The drill stop is attached to the drill bit and is adjustable.

Drilling Smaller Holes

Drilling smaller holes helps prevent splitting. Use an 1/8” or 1/16” drill bit for small holes and a 1/4” bit for larger holes.

Using a Forstner Bit

Forstner bits are designed to drill without splitting wood. This is due to the flat-bottomed tip and the angled cutting edges which remove the wood fibers cleanly instead of splitting them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Drill Bit Should I Use for Drilling Into Wood?

For drilling into wood, a spade bit or auger bit is recommended. Spade bits are designed with a wide blade and a sharp point, and are best used for drilling large holes into softwood, such as pine or plywood. Auger bits feature a screw tip and a wide flute, and are best used for drilling through hardwood, such as oak or maple. Both types of bit are available in a variety of sizes and can be used with either a cordless or corded drill.

What can I do to minimize wood splitting when drilling?

  • Drill pilot holes – A pilot hole is a small hole drilled into the wood before drilling the main hole. This helps to reduce the stress on the wood and prevents splitting.
  • Use a sharp drill bit – A dull drill bit can cause increased friction, which can lead to splitting. Make sure to use a sharp drill bit and regularly clean it to keep it in good condition.
  • Start with a low speed – When starting to drill, begin with a low speed. This will help to prevent the drill bit from getting too hot and damaging the wood.
  • Go slow and steady – Take your time when drilling, going too fast can cause the wood to split. Go slow and steady, and make sure to stop occasionally to let the drill bit cool down.
  • Lubricate the drill bit – Lubricating the drill bit with a light oil or wax can help reduce friction and decrease the chance of splitting.
  • Reduce the torque – Turn down the drill’s torque setting to reduce the force of the drill. This will help to reduce the chance of splitting.

How can I ensure my drill bit is properly aligned when drilling into wood?

  • Check the drill bit: Before starting to drill, check the drill bit for any signs of wear and tear. Make sure that it is sharp and in good condition.
  • Mark the spot: Before drilling, mark the spot on the wood where the drill bit needs to go. This will help you to stay aligned when drilling.
  • Use a clamp: Using a clamp to hold the wood in place while drilling will help keep the drill bit aligned and ensure accuracy.
  • Drill slowly: Drill slowly and steadily to ensure that the drill bit remains aligned. This will also help to prevent the wood from splitting.
  • Check the alignment: Check the alignment of the drill bit regularly while drilling to ensure that it is in the correct position.
  • Stop if needed: If the drill bit is not aligned, stop drilling and adjust it before continuing.

What safety precautions should I take when drilling into wood?

  • Wear Safety Gear: Always wear safety glasses, a dust mask, and hearing protection when drilling into wood. This will protect your eyes and lungs from any dust particles, as well as protect your ears from the loud noise of the drill.
  • Secure Your Workpiece: Secure the workpiece with clamps or a vise before drilling into it. This will prevent the wood from shifting and help you to drill a clean hole.
  • Use the Right Bit: Make sure you are using the right drill bit for the job. If you are drilling a large hole, use a drill bit designed for that purpose. Smaller holes require a smaller bit.
  • Start Slowly: Start drilling slowly and gradually increase the speed as you go. This will help you to drill a smoother hole and prevent the wood from splitting.
  • Take Breaks: Take regular breaks while drilling. This will help to keep your hands and arms from getting tired and will help you to stay alert and focused on the task at hand.
  • Clean the Bit: Make sure to clean the drill bit after each use. This will prevent any residue from building up and will help to ensure that your drill bit lasts longer.

What are some tips for drilling more efficiently into wood?

  • Choose the Right Drill Bit: Selecting the right drill bit is key to avoiding splitting the wood. Use a bit that is the same diameter as the screw shank or slightly larger.
  • Mark and Pre-Drill the Hole: Mark the spot you want to drill using a pencil and then pre-drill a hole. This will make it easier to insert the screw.
  • Use a Pilot Hole: Use a pilot hole to prevent splitting. A pilot hole is a small hole drilled into the wood prior to drilling the main hole. The pilot hole should be slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw.
  • Drill at Low Speed: When drilling, make sure to use a low speed in order to avoid overheating the bit and causing the wood to split.
  • Use Pressure: When drilling, apply pressure to the drill bit as this will ensure the bit is centered in the hole and prevents it from wandering.
  • Use the Right Drill Angle: Hold the drill at an angle of about 45 degrees when drilling through the wood. This helps to prevent the wood from splitting.


Drilling into wood without splitting can be achieved by taking the right precautions. Use the right tools and drill bit, and ensure that the wood is supported and clamped securely. When possible, pre-drill a shallow hole and use a slower drill speed. Finally, use a sharpened bit and plenty of lubricant to reduce friction and heat build-up, and to help keep the bit from wandering. With these tips and techniques, you can drill into wood without splitting or damaging it.

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About John Gibbs

Hello everyone! My name is John Gibbs. I am 60 years old and have been in the family construction business all my adult life. Construction is not only my profession but also my passion. I know everything about building and repair materials, tools, advanced methods, techniques, and approaches. I will share the same knowledge with you in my articles.

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