How To Drill Pilot Holes Without a Bit - Fine Homebuilding
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Theres a Better Way

How To Drill Pilot Holes Without a Bit

comments (2) July 21st, 2010 in Blogs
grateful.ed Chuck Miller, editor at large

Video Length: 2:00
Produced by: John Ross

Predrilling without the drill

Gregg Roos, from San Francisco, California writes:

Impact drivers are so good at driving screws that the practice of pre-drilling a pilot hole seems to be on the wane. But if I can’t afford a snapped screw, or it’s critical that the screw pull tightly together two pieces, a pilot hole is important. Rather than get out another drill, I use this shortcut.

First, I drive the screw through the top piece, stopping at or near the back side. This forms a "pre-pre-drill" hole that guides and speeds step number two.

Next, I spin the screw back out, leaving about an 1/8 in. of the screw in the wood. This isn’t critical--just a little bit still in the wood to guide the screw for step three.

Now with the impact driver still in reverse, I push the screw downward, working the driver up to full RPMs, forcing the backwards-spinning screw through the workpiece. This process, which is accompanied by a small curl of smoke, only takes about 5 seconds--less time than it took to read this.

Now that I’ve effectively pre-drilled the top workpiece, I simply switch the driver to forward and drive the screw in as usual. The screw threads will now strip out in the top piece, even in hard or dried out wood, and the chance of a snap off are vastly reduced.


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posted in: Blogs, drills and drivers

Comments (2)

Lawrence Lawrence writes: When stuck for a drill bit a finish nail often works surprisingly well also. It is flexible enough to outlast many proper drill bits and has a sharp tapered edge as well.

Posted: 12:00 am on August 5th

MikeM810 MikeM810 writes: Hi Chuck,

Haven't seen you air this tip. When using a tube of caulk and you cut
the tip open to a hole larger then you want, you can still use the tube
by taking a pair of pliers and squeeze the end flat which will give you
a thin bead of caulk and you can still apply a wider bead of caulk by turning
the tip sideways on your work.

Thanks for all your tips.

Mike Moody
Posted: 11:58 am on July 26th

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