Whether you’re tackling a simple home repair or a large commercial project, a drill is an invaluable tool.
The type of drill you choose is important – but so is how you use it. Successfully drilling a hole depends just as much on technique as tool quality.
Improper technique will lead to splintered wood, scratched metal and other damaged material. But poor-quality construction isn’t just an aesthetic issue. Improperly drilled material can easily fall apart and cause injury.
Here are five drilling tips to help you complete your next project easier, safer and quicker:
1. Use a Sacrifice Board to Prevent Blow Outs
A blow out is a common problem when using a drill. It’s when the drill basically bursts through a piece of wood, creating a splintered hole on one side.
These blow outs can wreck the piece of wood you’re attempting to drill. They create splinters, chips and just generally ruin the look of the wood.
Plus, blow outs affect construction. If a side of the wood has blown out, you can’t then place that wood flush against a surface.
Finally, blow outs can be dangerous. When the drill bit shoots through the wood, the entire drill can shake and wobble, causing you to lose control!
Preventing blow out is actually fairly simple. First, you need a piece of wood called a sacrifice board.
The look of the sacrifice board doesn’t matter at all because, as the name implies, you’re purposefully “sacrificing” this board.
The sacrifice board is placed underneath the board you want to drill. Now the drill bit will go into the sacrifice board, which effectively blocks a blow out from happening. The hole on the back of the main board will be clean and free from splinters.
A sacrifice board is almost always a good idea no matter what type of drill you’re using (hand or press).
A sacrifice board underneath a piece of wood helps prevent dangerous and unsightly blow outs.
2. Start with a Small Bit and Work Up
Generally, the larger the drill bit, the less clean the hole will be. In order to get a clean circle, you want to use the smallest drill bit possible.
Start with a small bit. Then increase the bit size gradually until you find the appropriate diameter.
Switching drill bits can be time-consuming, especially with wood. But the end result is a hole which isn’t splintered or jagged.
This same technique can be used when drilling into metal. Starting with a small bit and then increasing the size is actually the fastest way to drill through metal. Be sure and only use a bit specifically made for metal drilling.
When drilling through metal, always use a slow drilling speed. This helps avoid accidental loss of control, which is dangerous and can result in damage to the metal or yourself.
Also, use plenty of oil when drilling. The oil lubricates the drill while also regulating the temperature of both the bit and the metal.
Special cutting oils exist for drilling metals. But pretty much any household oil will work in a pinch. Just make sure the oil has a decent viscosity.
Start with a small drill bit and increase the size gradually. This helps you drill the cleanest hole possible.
3. Use Tape to Control Drill Depth
You don’t always want to drill clean through a piece of wood or metal. Sometimes you only want to make a partial hole in a piece of material. Here’s how to accurately and easily measure the depth.
First, you need to measure the intended depth. Usually, an effective way to do this is to simply place the drill bit next to the piece of material.
Next, you need to mark the depth. All you need here is a simple piece of tape. Simply wrap the tape around your drill bit right at the point where you want to stop drilling.
Any non-clear piece of tape will work just fine. Many professionals prefer colorful gaff tape for increased visibility.
When drilling, simply stop when the edge of the tape is flush with the material. This low-tech method is surprisingly accurate!
Wrap a piece of colorful tape around your drill bit to mark the depth you want to drill into a piece of material.
4. Maintain Your Drill Bit Properly
If any type of problem occurs while drilling, chances are good it’ll involve the drill bit. So, you want to make sure all of your drill bits are properly maintained.
A drill sharpener is often worth the cost, because keeping bits sharp will dramatically extend their lifespan. Never use a dull drill bit, even to drill a small hole. A dull bit can damage the material and also cause the drill to slip out of your control.
Also watch the bit carefully when drilling. Only use a bit designed for the material you’re drilling through.
If the bit ever starts to smoke while drilling, stop immediately. The hardness and tempering of the bit can become dulled when it gets too hot. Let the bit cool down before continuing to use it.
Proper care of each drill bit extends their life and improves their function.
5. Allow the Drill to do the Work
You don’t need to use much force to operate a drill. Avoid pushing or pressing the drill into the material.
Instead, allow the drill to do the work. This allows the bit to operate at maximum efficiency.
If you put too much force on the drill while it’s running, the bit has an increased risk of breaking. Plus, you’re also more likely to cause a blow out (another reason to always use a sacrifice board).
Stop drilling if the drill stalls or makes a high-pitched noise. Make sure you’re not trying to drill through a harder substance, such as concrete behind a wall.
If you find that the drill isn’t going through material as you were expecting, make sure you’re using the right type of bit. Generally, brad-points are best for wood while twist points are best for metal.
Don’t force the drill too hard or damage can occur. Instead, allow the drill to move at its own pace.
Drilling is an important part of completing tons of projects big and small. Just a few simple techniques can increase the speed and effectiveness of drilling through wood, metal or any other material.
A few common accessories like a sacrifice board and colorful tape increase drilling safety by giving you precise control over the bit placement.
Speaking of bits, be sure and only use drill bits designed for the type of material you’re drilling through. Also make sure each drill bit is kept sharp.
The drilling tips listed above make drilling faster, easier and safer.