How easy is it to drill perfect holes into wood? With the right tools, such as a drill press, making precise, smooth vertical holes is not too challenging. There are other ways to make straight, perpendicular holes, too. In many projects that involve drilling into walls, joining pieces of wood, adding design elements or tapping, it is essential to have holes that are accurate and smooth.
When the angle of the drill is not straight, the bit can start to wander. This can damage your work and also wear out your drill bit. The way to prevent this from happening is to keep your power tool steady at the right angle, from start to finish. In this guide, we share some tips on how to drill vertical holes into wood.
Drilling Clean, Precise Vertical Holes
To prevent wandering and keep your hole straight, you will need to keep the drill bit still at 90 degrees to the material surface. Here are some of the ways that you can do this:
- Drill leveller. If your portable drill has a built-in level, you will have no trouble making straight holes as long as you keep your bit still as you work. Focus on the bubble to keep it in the marked circle. This tool can take a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it, it will be extremely useful.
- Metal square. Another method of getting precise vertical holes is to use a square metal block. Cut a piece from the block that is long along to fit your bit. Then clamp it to your workpiece so the top and sides of the workplace sit on the square as you drill.
- Drill block. This commercial drill guide is designed to help you drill straight holes. Most blocks are made of metal or plastic. They have several holes of various sizes that are used to place the bit. These holes are made to fit drill bits of different sizes, allowing you to easily centre and clamp the right size of the hole over your marked spot on your workpiece, then slip the bit through the hole. Toughened metal alloys are especially good as they will not wear out quickly. You can also make your own block using hardwood and metal tubes that match the size of the holes you make.
- Drill press. This tool is a game-changer. A drill press is extremely versatile, enabling you to use any size or type of drill bit at any angle between 15 and 90 degrees. The drill press features two vertical rods, a flattened metal base and a mounting part that holds the drill bit in place as it moves up and down on the metal rod.
- CD or DVD. A quick and easy alternative to tools is an old CD or DVD. To use this to centre your bit, turn it label-side down, with the reflective side facing upwards. You can then carefully place the bit over your marked spot and into the hole, then use the reflection of the disc to position the bit in a straight line.
- Right-angle jig. To use this method, get a few wood scraps and nail a few pieces together to create a right-angle. Each piece should be square to get an accurate angle. Place it sideways, making a flat-bottomed L shape where you want to make your hold. You can then clamp the jig to position the bit into the inside corner before you start drilling.
- Marked line. For holes near the edge of a workpiece, you can try marking the spot by drawing a very straight vertical line next to the surface. This acts as a guide, giving you focus on the alignment of the marked line and the bit. Adding a small dimple in the wood can prevent roaming.