How to Drill Screws Into Wood – Everything You Need to Know

Ordinarily, screws are drilled into two pieces of wood or into wood and metal to hold the two pieces together. When screwing wood you want the screw joints to be sturdy, and durable. You also want to prevent the wood from splitting. Here are tips that can help you be more effective when drilling screws into wood.

How to Drill Screws Into Wood

Evaluate the Project First

Drilling correctly will prevent the timber from splitting or getting damaged. Evaluating the project beforehand will help you know what tools you require and other materials too.

First find out what kind of wood you will be drilling. Drilling hardwood is different from drilling softwood or plywood. Also, determine if you are drilling two pieces of wood together or there is a metal part involved.

If you are drilling hardwood, then you need to be prepared with other additional resources.

Usually, the density of hardwood is hard, and therefore the screws require to be lubricated with soap or beeswax before being screwed. The process prevents the screws from breaking by lubricating the screws because the wax melts under pressure.

You also need to know what hole sizes you will be drilling, whether the sizes are large, medium or small holes and also their depth. Their depth depends on the combined thickness of the two pieces of wood you will be drilling.

Knowing the hole sizes will enable you to get the right type of drill bit and also the right type of wood screws.

When drilling holes, you also need depth stoppers. They help to know how deep one should drill, but if you don’t have one, then you can use a masking tape which works as a visual guide.

Safety is Important

A drill is a powered tool and needs to be handled well for your safety. It is advisable to read the user manual and follow the manufacturer’s safety procedures. In addition, handle the powering of the drill well by keeping the cord away from pathways. If you are drilling in a wet or muddy area, avoid corded drills and opt for cordless drills. Also, wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from sawdust.

Also Read: Meet the Different Types of Woodworking Clamps

Using Drill Bits

It is always safe to plan to get a drilling machine and also obtain the correct size of drill bits if you are not so sure about whether the wood can split when drilling holes into it or not. A pilot hole prevents wood splitting.

Screwing without first making pilot holes is a big risk you are taking. It is because when there is a pilot hole, the screw threads end up cutting into the walls of the hole rather than the wood fibers.

When screw threads cut into wood fibers it leads to wood splitting. Also, a pilot hole makes the job easier because when you start screwing because the screw gets in without being forced. For the pilot hole, you require a drill bit smaller in diameter than the wood screw to be inserted.

There are many types of drill bits, and they are specific for either metal, plastic or wood. Therefore get a drill bit for drilling holes into wood. Worth noting is that the wrong type of bit can cause the wood to split.

Brad point drill bits are recommended when drilling small holes into wood. On the other hand, when drilling medium pilot holes, you can use auger drill bits. Also flat or spade wood drill bits can work effectively for drilling medium sized holes.

Because of the pressure you are applying on the wood, use a clamp to prevent the wood from splitting.For large holes, use hole saws. You can use several of them to be more efficient.

Buy the Right Type of Screws

First, you need to buy wood screws which are strong enough and long enough.

Wood screws are specifically made to work in wood and have a better fit than ordinary screws. Also, don't buy machine screws with the misconception that they are better than wood screws just because they are designed for joining two pieces of metal.

Wood screws are tapered which helps to draw the wood together when the screw is being inserted. And if you are joining metal to wood, you should use a sheet metal screw. Sheet metal screws are threaded from the head to the point and their threads are sharper than wood screws.

Then get the right wood screw sizes. Combine the two pieces of wood being screwed. Then get the total of the thickness. The wood screws you will use should be shorter than the thickness of the two planks of wood to avoid the screws penetrating from the other side.

Therefore, get wood screws that are less than 1/8 inches shorter than the thickness of the two pieces of wood being joined together.

Additionally, when buying wood screws, check their diameter. Buy the appropriate diameter for the job that you are doing. Usually, diameters are indicated by the gauge of the wood screws.

Drill Pilot Holes

Pilot holes work by helping the screws to go straight into the wood by creating a channel for the main screw to pass. A pilot hole should be smaller than the size required for the main screw.

Use Wood Drill Bits and a drilling machine to make pilot holes.Mark the area where you will be drilling holes with a cross or any clear mark and drill the pilot holes.

Prevent Loose Screws

After a while, the screws can get loose due to frictions caused by moving the furniture from place to place. You should stop this by slightly bending the threads down using a hammer. Just place the screws on a flat piece of metal and hit the threads with the hammer before screwing them into the wood.


Drilling screws into wood is an easy project that you can do easily without technical knowledge or experience. However, if it is your first time to drill screws into wood, it will help if you can first practice with two model pieces of wood before embarking on your project.

Take the model woods (two pieces) and drill wood screws into them by following the procedures listed above. After that, you can work on your project.

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