How Do You Drill Holes in Wood?

Knowing how to safely and effectively drill holes into wood is a valuable life skill and will make household projects much more manageable. Plus, drilling holes is fun to do! So, how exactly do you drill holes in wood?

You drill holes in wood by using a drill paired with a drill or spade bit. These tools will create a hole in the wood as you turn on the drill using its momentum. Regular drill bits will make smaller holes for things like screws, while a spade bit can carve out larger holes.

In the rest of this article, I’ll detail how to drill different-sized holes in wood, the best tools to use, how to stay safe when handling a drill, and a few other drill-related questions. So, if you want to learn more about drilling holes in wood, read on!

Tools That Are Best for Drilling Holes in Wood

Before drilling, it’s essential to use the right tools. You’ll undoubtedly want to acquire a drill, but several different bit attachments can make holes in wood. Ultimately, which bit you need will depend on the size and type of hole you’re looking to drill. So let’s go over a few of the most popular tool types for drilling holes in wood. 

The best attachments to use for drilling holes in wood include:

  • Twist drill bit. This tool is the most common one used when it comes to drilling small holes in wood. Due to the bit’s thin build and curved grooves, it does a fantastic job of drilling small holes so that things like screws can pass through the wood without damaging it. 
  • Brad-point drill bit. This bit is similar to the twist drill bit but has a sharper point and a slightly different groove pattern. Brad points are generally used to make clean holes through wood. 
  • Spade drill bit. A spade bit is an excellent tool if you want to make a larger hole in a piece of wood. Its design is similar to a spade (hence its name) with a sharp point on the end. This tool comes in many sizes and is often used to make holes for electrical and plumbing. 
  • Auger drill bit. This bit is perfect for long holes through larger pieces of wood. Auger bits can fit perfectly onto your old drill and make quick work of drilling through logs and other thicker pieces of wood. 
  • Countersink drill bit. This type of drill attachment works similarly to the twist drill bit. However, after drilling a hole it creates an indentation in the top of the wood. This makes the countersink drill bit ideal for drilling holes in wooden cabinetry. 
  • Hole saw. If you’re looking to core out large holes, a hole saw is perfect. These tools work well on wood and come in many different sizes.

These are the most popular bits used when drilling holes in wood. However, these are just a few of the many wood drilling tools. Ultimately, what tool you decide to use comes down to the project you’re working on and your tool preference. 

Can You Drill Directly Into Wood?

Next, it’s essential to understand how drills work with wood. Not every surface type you encounter can be drilled directly into. But what about wood? Can you drill straight into it? 

You can drill directly into wood. Since wood is relatively soft, the metal bit from your drill can easily pass through the organic material. When drilling directly into wood, it’s essential to keep the piece of wood from moving during the process. Otherwise, you’ll end up with crooked holes. 

As you can see, wood can easily be drilled straight into. It’s one of the easiest materials to do so. However, you should always be careful when drilling into wood as going too fast or using the wrong tool can result in it splintering. 

How Do You Start a Drill Hole in Wood?

Before beginning your wood drilling project, starting a drill hole is crucial. Drill holes are essential because they help keep your drilling straight and prevent the bit from gauging the wood. So how exactly do you start a drill hole? 

You start a drill hole by selecting the bit you wish to use, marking the spot where the hole should be, and making a slight indentation for your drill bit to follow. Once you have a general guide, you can drill straight through the wood. Never push on the drill too hard if you meet resistance. 

Starting a drill hole is quite simple and an excellent way to prevent damage to the piece of wood you’re drilling. Plus, a drill hole will act as a guide when starting to drill a hole. The premade drill hole provides a slight ideation for your bit to follow, resulting in a more seamless hole. 

How To Drill Different Sized Holes in Wood 

Next, I would like to discuss how to drill different-sized holes in wood. Each hole size will require a different tool to do the job effectively. Also, as previously stated, what type of hole will affect the tool you select.

For example, if the hole needs to be used to feed electrical cables inside a home’s wood frame, then you would want a bit that can quickly core out a large hole. However, if you’re trying to make inserting a screw easier, you would opt for a smaller bit. 

How To Drill Small-Sized Holes in Wood

Small-sized holes are probably the most common type of hole you’ll drill in wood. Most people drill these sorts of holes regularly throughout their lives. 

Here’s a step-by-step on how to drill a small hole in wood:

  1. Create a starting drill hole. 
  2. Select the bit you want to use (most likely the twist drill bit). 
  3. Line the drill bit up with the indentation you’ve made on the wood. 
  4. Turn the drill on slowly and work up to faster so long as the drill cuts through easily. 
  5. Stop when the bit emerges from the other side or has gone the desired depth. 

Smaller drill holes are often used to ensure screws enter the wood smoothly and don’t splinter or tear the wood upon entry. You might also need to drill small holes in many different types of woodworking projects. 

How To Drill Medium-Sized Holes in Wood

Drilling medium-sized holes in wood may be used for woodworking projects, making holes for studs, and creating holes in home framing for essential things like electrical or plumbing. 

Here’s a step-by-step on how to drill a medium-sized hole in wood:

  1. Create a drill hole.
  2. Select the bit you want to use (most likely a spade bit). 
  3. Line the spade bit up with the indent from the drill hole you made.
  4. Turn the drill on slowly and increase the power as the bit moves through the wood.
  5. Stop when the bit’s tip has broken through the wood’s back. 
  6. Flip the wood over. 
  7. Drill through the back of the wood until the spade bit has created a perfect hole. 

As you can see, creating a medium-sized hole isn’t too tricky, and spade bits are pretty easy to use. Not to mention they can easily be acquired in most drilling toolsets. 

How To Drill Large-Sized Holes in Wood

Finally, I’d like to walk you through the best way to make a large-sized hole in wood. This hole size is generally used when building a home or working on a sizable DIY woodworking project. 

Here’s a step-by-step on how to drill a large-sized hole in wood:

  1. Create a drill hole or outline for the tool to follow.
  2. Select the bit you want to use (most likely a hole saw). 
  3. Line the hole saw up with the drill outline on the wood. 
  4. Turn the drill on slowly and increase the power as the drill saws through the wood.
  5. Stop when the wood has been successfully cored. 

There are many types of wood drill attachments that come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re a visual learner, I recommend watching Do It All Dan’s YouTube video on how to drill clean holes in wood. He does a great job of visually walking you through the process: 

Tips To Stay Safe When Drilling Holes in Wood

Lastly, when handling power tools like a drill, it’s crucial to be safe. Any power tool can injure you if misused. 

How are several tips on how to stay safe when drilling holes in wood:

  • Ensure cords are clear from where you’re drilling. 
  • Wear safety glasses to prevent bits of wood from damaging your eyes. 
  • Unplug the drill when changing drill bits.
  • Wear gloves to better protect your hands.
  • Drill a starter hole before turning up the drill speed. 

However, it’s important to remember that the best way to stay safe when using a drill is to remain cautious and pay close attention to your actions. 


Drilling holes in wood is quite simple. The hardest part is selecting which type of bit will work best for your wood drilling needs. Once you’ve chosen a bit, creating a hole is easy so long as you create a drill hole starter and go slowly.

Damien Madeira

Damien has been doing woodworking for the last 5 years. He began as a hobbyist with hand tools and slowly worked his way up to own larger machines and mill rough wood into beautiful creations. While still considering himself a hobbyist, he has a passion for woodworking and enjoys working with epoxy as well.

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