How To Drill A Hole In Wood Without Splintering?

how to drill a hole in wood without splintering

A drilling hole is a basic woodworking technique that is used for almost all woodworking projects. Drilling a hole isn’t difficult when you’re using the right techniques. But unfortunately, sometimes your woodwork splintered in half while drilling a hole in wood. so, let’s figure out, How to drill a hole in wood without splintering?

Here’s what I know:

You can drill a hole in wood without splintering by using drill bits. Use point drill bits to drill small holes that are perfect for making pilot holes. Use auger drill bits or flat/spade drill bits to drill medium holes. To make larger holes, use a set of hole saws. Well sharpened drill bits and drilling at higher speeds to avoid splintering.

But that’s just a quick snapshot of the question and there’s a lot more to know about drilling holes.

So, in this article, we’re diving deep into the hot topic of how to drill a hole in wood without splintering and discuss the best methods to drill small holes, medium holes, and large holes in detail.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions regarding the problems of drilling a hole in wood as well.

So, let’s get going!

How To Keep Wood from Splintering When Drilling?

Even if you’re drilling a small size hole, medium, or large hole there’re some common techniques that you should follow to keep wood from splintering when drilling.

Here’re the things you should do to keep wood from splintering when drilling,

  • Take the right type of drill bit
  • Take quality wood that holds drill bits or nails well
  • Mark the drilling spot with a pencil or marker
  • Drill pilot holes that are slightly smaller in diameter than the nails to avoid wood splintering
  • Drill pilot holes that are slightly larger in diameter than the nails to avoid top board cracking
  • Use well-sharpened drill bits
  • Start at a low drilling speed and slowly increase the drilling speed
  • Use well-maintained drill bits
  • Avoid applying pressure too much on the drill
  • Mark and drill from both sides to keep wood from splintering

The above steps are common when drilling any kind of hole in wood.

So, let’s find out how to drill small, medium, and large holes in wood without splintering in detail.

How To Drill Small Hole in Wood Without Splintering?

Drilling small holes in wood is critical because of having less drilling area and drilling bits need to be well sharpened to make a clean hole without splintering the wood.

There’re main two main methods you can use to make a small hole in wood without splintering. They are,

  • Drilling with point drill bits
  • Drilling with twist drill bits

So, let’s discuss tips and techniques you need to follow to make small holes in wood using the above tools.

Making small Holes in Wood with Point Drill Bits

  • To drill a small hole in wood you need point drill bits. They are designed to make small holes and are perfect for drilling pilot holes for screws and other types of small holes without splintering the wood.
  • Point drill bits are available in sizes up to 10mm (0.39”). The endpoint of point drill bits helps to start the cut and keep the bit in right place with high precision without slipping while you’re drilling the hole.
  • After marking the position using a drill bit, place it against the wood and start to drill with a medium amount of pressure, and the drilling speed needs to be fast. Let the point drill find its way through the wood without forcing too much. Because excess force can break the wood.
  • Moving the drill bit back and forth while drilling helps to eliminate the waste wood out of the hole.
  • A depth stop is useful to identify the correct depth of the hole. But if you don’t have a depth stop, better to use sticky tape to cover up the area of the drill bit that you need to stop drilling.
  • If both ends of wood need drilling like making a hole for door handles, better to drill from both sides to avoid wood splintering and make a clean straight cut to each end.

In summary here’re the properties of point drill bits to drill small holes in wood.

  • Equipped with sharp spurs and enter tip
  • Able to make clean cuts
  • Easy to make holes in precise locations
  • Cannot use to make larger holes

Making small Holes in Wood with Twist Drill Bits

  • Standard twist drill bits are also used to make small clean holes like pilot point drill bits. Standard drill bits have twisted shapes that make fine holes up to ½”. But they don’t have larger bits like point drill bits.
  • If you use a punch to make a notch for these bits, they work fine for the sizes over 3/16”. But above that size, bits may wander the wood grain.
  • Twisted drill bits have limited maximum size and are not appropriate to make large holes because of the lack of pilot points.

In summary here’re the properties of twist drill bits to drill small holes in wood.

  • Available in 3/64” (1mm) up to ½” (13mm) sizes
  • Drilling is so much easy because of the twisted body
  • Tend to wander when drilling at angles that make rough holes

Now you have a clear idea about making small holes in wood without splintering. Let’s have a look at making a medium-size hole with less issues.

How To Drill Medium Hole in Wood Without Splintering?

Medium size holes mean holes with a diameter of 10mm to 25mm (0.39” to 0.98”). To drill medium size holes, you should drill at a slower speed than drilling small holes to make fine cuts.

There’re main two types of drill bits you can use to make a medium hole in wood without splintering. They are,

  • Drilling with auger drill bits
  • Drilling with flat/spade drill bits

So, let’s discuss how to make a medium hole in wood without splintering with the help of the above tools.

Making Medium Holes in Wood with Auger Drill Bits

  • Auger drill bits are popular for making straight medium holes in wood because of the length of the bits. This is why they’re popular in morticing wood.
  • Drill at a slower speed to make precise holes.
  • Auger drill bits are equipped with cutting edge and guiding and pulling thread.
  • Auger drill bits sizes are available from 10mm to 25mm. to make deep holes you can get auger drill bits up to 400mm as well.
  • Clamping the wood while drilling with auger drill bits helps to avoid wood splintering.

In summary here’re the properties of auger drill bits to drill medium holes in wood.

  • Available in sizes from 10mm to 25mm (0.39” to 0.98”)
  • A sharp edge on the tip helps to make precise cuts when drilling
  • Able to use for garden woodworking and decking because of deep drilling depths up to 600mm.
  • Able to make quality smooth holes
  • Does not need to apply much pressure on the drill o guide screw through the wood because of the thread shape.

Making Medium Holes in Wood with Flat/Spade Drill Bits

  • Flat/spade drill bits are able to make clean holes when drilling without splintering the wood. But if you’re drilling too deep with flat/spade drill bits, it may wander the wood. This prevents drilling straight.
  • Flat/spade drill bits are equipped with cutting edge and guide points to make precise holes.
  • It is available in sizes from 10mm to 25mm (0.39” to 0.98”)
  • Flat drill bits are mostly used for power drills and screwdrivers.
  • It has a transverse hole. When the hole is drilled, the wire can be fed through it when the drill bit is retracted.
  • Flat/spade drill bits are mostly used by electricians and plumbers to make holes in wood studs and walls to run pipes and wires.

In summary here’re the properties of flat/spade drill bits to drill medium holes in wood.

  • Cheaper than other drill bits
  • Available in lengths from 152 mm to 400 mm
  • The drilling hole is not clean but splinter-free
  • Spade drill bits able to use at high drilling speeds
  • Spade drill bits bore holes quicker than a hole saw

Now you know how to make medium size drill holes in wood without splintering. So, let’s step into the final step of making a large hole using the correct drill bit to make a fine perfect straight hole with ease.

How To Drill Large Hole in Wood Without Splintering?

Holes with a diameter above 20mm can be considered large holes. Mostly large holes are dilled by plumbers to make pipe openings.

The average diameter of large holes varies from 19mm to 57mm.

To make even straight cuts to make a large hole in wood you’ll need a set of hole saws. Use the correct size of the drill bit according to the hole you’re going to make.

 A hole saw is made from an arbor which is able to hold a round tube and pilot bit with sharp cutting edges. The pilot bit has a flat shank in place with a grub screw in the arbor.

So, let’s figure out how to make a large hole in wood using hole saws.

Making Large Holes in Wood with Hole saws

  • The saw teeth of the hole saw protrude outwards and therefore help to ensure that the saw stays in the way instead of wandering through the wood surface in the middle.
  • Make sure to set speed and apply low gear settings when using hole saws. Because when you set the speed to maximum, the sawing biting can be damaged and spin hole saw drill instead of the bit
  • The drilling depth is also will be limited to the hole saw body if you set the speed too fast.
  • To make a deep large hole, you need to drill as much as possible.
  • Once you’re done with sawing, remove it and chisel out the dust and waste. By using a flat wood bit or auger bit you’ll be able to remove waste quicker.
  • After achieving the required depth use hole saw again and keep drilling the wood to get a fine straight wood hole.
  • Drill from both ends, if possible, to avoid wood tearing. Start drilling at average speed and reduce it once the drill reaches the other end. Then start drilling from the other side at the same spot to make a clean cut.
  • By using carpenter tape on both sides, the wood fibers intact from splintering and you’ll be able to get a clean straight hole. When the job is done, easily pull off the tape.
  • Never apply much pressure because it can bend the drill bit and you won’t get a straight hole in the end.
  • Unscrew the saw body from the arbor and insert a screwdriver through the hole to remove off cut from the body of the saw by pushing the off cut.  

In a summary here’re, the properties of a hole saw to drill large holes in wood.

  • Hole saw drill bits are available in 2-inch, 4 inch, and 6-inch sizes
  • Use a powerful drill machine to avoid the machine getting stuck
  • 13 pcs saw blade is excellent to make a large hole in softwoods
  • Drilling at a slow speed never gives the cleaner cut you want. Drill at average speed to make large holes in wood without splintering.

Read: 5 Best Methods To Keep Wood From Splitting!

How To Fix Splintered Wood Holes?

You can fix the splintered wood hole by removing the damaged fibers carefully at the hole edge. Apply wood glue and let it set to stabilize the wood fiber. Then use a sharp cutter to clean the hole. Then apply wood putty to fill the splintered wood hole.

But generally fixing splintered wood holes is a difficult task because wood holes damage the internal structure of the wood and reduce the wood’s strength. Therefore, always make sure to drill wood holes with one single attempt by following the correct procedure to avoid such mistakes.

How To Drill Holes in Plywood Without Splintering?

Drilling plywood needs lots of practice because plywood is generally not strong as raw wood. but by following the correct procedure you’ll get surprising results with plywood.

Here’re the steps you need to follow to drill holes in plywood without splintering.

  1. Drill a small pilot hole first before making the final hole. This is important to mark the exact location that is visible on both sides.
  2. Then make the final wood hole through the existing pilot hole.
  3. Drill from both sides to make a clean hole

Tips:

  • Apply carpenter’s tape on both sides to avoid splintering.
  • By putting wood pieces under the board, you’ll be able to make clean straight cuts.
  • Clamping the board before drilling will give you added advantage to keeping the plywood steady during the drilling process.

Woods That Are Prone to Wood Splintering

Here’re the woods that are prone to splintering when drilling wood holes. They are,

  • Mahogany
  • Hickory
  • Aspen
  • Redwood
  • Red cedar

But by following the correct procedure of wood drilling you can make a perfect cut even though the wood is prone to splintering. Basically, any type of wood can be used to drill a hole without splintering.

Best Drill Bit for Clean Holes in Wood

Here’re the best drill bits available in hardware stores for cleaning holes in wood without splintering.

  • Brad point drill bit
  • Twist drill bit
  • Auger drill bit
  • Hole saw
  • Self-feeding bit
  • Spade drill bit

Follow the below table to select the best drill bit for your project according to the size of the wood hole.

Wood Hole SizeDrill Bit Type
Small HoleTwist drill bits, Point drill bits
Medium HoleAuger drill bits, Spade drill bits
Large HoleHole saw drill bits

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: How to Drill a Hole In Wood Without Splintering?

In this article, we have deeply discussed how to drill a hole in wood without splintering. Plus, we have talked about making small holes, medium holes, and large holes using different types of drill bits with their properties.

Even though drilling hole is a basic task in woodworking, most the people aren’t good at it. Therefore, learning the right technique to drill a hole in wood is essential to continuing your woodworking journey. Make sure to select the drill type according to the purpose.

Furthermore, I have answered some frequently asked questions by drilling a hole in wood.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about how to drill a hole in wood without splintering. Make sure to apply the techniques you have learned in this article for your next woodworking project. Have fun in woodworking!


About Walter Parker

Walter Parker is a father and woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking!

Leave a Comment