Top 20 Drilling Tips and Mistakes to Avoid
At some point in life, you’ll likely find yourself with a drill in hand ready to start on a DIY home improvement project. Drills are a great tool that anyone can use, but if used wrong can result in some disastrous mistakes. For that reason, we’ve put together some of our top drilling tips, tricks, and techniques to help you avoid one of those terrible mistakes.
Drilling Tips and Techniques | Repair Made Simple
1 — Use the Right Bit
There are different types of bits designed for specific purposes. The same bits for woodworking are not the same when it comes to drilling in metal, concrete, or masonry. When you use the wrong bit for a task, not only will you not have a lot of success, but you’ll end up ruining your bits. If you need help figuring out which drill bit is best for your project, check out our best drill bits guide.
2 — Make a Dimple
When you are drilling, the machine is prone to wander off the mark. When such happens, it can damage the surface you’re working on, or make it messy. Thankfully there is an easy way to avoid this problem, simply make a dimple before drilling. Just mark where you want to drill, then use a center punch to create a small dimple.
3 — Protect Your Eyes
Before you grab your machine and start drilling, you need to protect your eyes from any flying particles. It is one of the most common mistakes people make when using a drilling tool, and can result in serious injury. All it takes for a traumatic eye injury is just a tiny metal fragment to hit your eye, so make sure to wear some safety glasses before drilling, better safe than sorry.
4 — Begin with a Small Hole
If you want to create a big hole, you need to start with a small hole first. Even though some bits are over 1 inch in diameter, you’ll get better results if you start with something like a 1/4 inch bit. While it may seem unnecessary, this will help ensure that the hole you’re drilling is smooth, clean, and the exact size you want.
5 — Drill slowly
When you drill too fast, the bit spins more than it’s supposed to and can quickly get too hot and dull quickly. Additionally, if you’re drilling too fast, it’s easy to make a mistake and get off course, resulting in a crooked hole.
This is one of our top drilling tips — even if you’re going to drill through metal, ensure you’re going at it very slow. For heavier metals, it requires you to go even slower. Don’t rush the process.
6 — Lubricate Your Bits
If you’re drilling through a hard surface like steel or brick, it is paramount to lubricate your bits, as it will eliminate every form of friction as you work. You can use cutting fluid or perhaps, a multipurpose oil that will make your bits feel incredibly smooth.
However, if you’re drilling through a softer surface like aluminum, lubricating your bits won’t be necessary. This is simply because the material isn’t hard to drill through and won’t put much strain on your bits.
7 — Drill Straight
It might sound ridiculous, but this is one of our top drilling tips, as many people don’t know how to drill at a straight angle. It is often because the user is focused on drilling the machine through the materials, thereby losing sight of their drill’s angle.
To avoid this, simply pay attention to your drill. Quit worrying about everything else, keep the drill straight and trust the tool to burrow its way through the material like it’s designed to.
8 — Tighten the Chunk
Before you start drilling, ensure that you tighten the chunk to prevent it from slipping or spinning during work. This drilling tip isn’t going to do you a lot of good if you’re not sure what a chunk is, so to clarify, it’s the part of the drill that you put the bit into. To insert the bit, you loosen the chunk, but before you begin drilling, you want to make sure it’s nice and tight!
Some drills come with a key that you can use to tighten the chunk. However, with most drills, you can tighten the chunk with your hand. A simple twist will do, you don’t need to overtighten it, just make sure that it’s nice and secure so the bit doesn’t fall out.
9 — Make A Clear Hole
Once you drill a hole, there is no going back. So, make sure you take your time and are using the proper drilling techniques. If at any point your drill starts to slip and your hole looks like it’s getting crooked, just stop. All you have to do is back your drill out, recenter it, and get back at it.
10 — Stud Finder
To avoid accidents like breaking your water pipe or cutting electric cables, you may want to consider using a stud finder. With this, you can ensure that you’re drilling into a stud and not an electrical wire. There is nothing worse than drilling into something, only to realize that you’ve hit a delicate pipe and have caused water damage — or worse, electrocuted yourself. So if you’re drilling through an unfamiliar surface, save yourself some time and use a stud finder.
11 — Use Clamps
If you’re using something like a drill press, you’re going to want to make sure you use clamps. It is very dangerous to hold your workpiece with one hand while you drill with the other. If you’re working on metal, there is even a chance that your drill might cause your workpiece to spin, which could be dangerous. Always use two clamps to hold your workpiece, then use both hands to drill. Your fingers will thank me later.
12 — Deburr The Hole
Another of our top drilling tips you need to know revolves around deburring the hole. After drilling, ensure that the hole is smooth by removing every sharp edge or burr that has been left behind. This drilling technique is an important step in finishing a project neat and clean. If you want to try to deburr a hole by hand, just give the drill a little bit of power and run the bit around the inside edges of the hole. If this doesn’t work, there are lots of deburring tools that you can buy.
13 — Avoid Baggy Clothing
When working with a power drill, you’ll want to avoid situations where the spinning action of a cordless drill entangles with your clothes or any loose objects, for obvious reasons. To avoid this drilling mistake, try to wear short sleeves, tighter fighting pants or shorts, and forgo jewelry.
14 — Appropriate Pressure
Another drilling technique that you shouldn’t joke with is the amount of force you apply. Your power drill should be able to do the work, so avoid using too much pressure. If you push too hard, the power drill might slip and could cause some serious damage. Further, you might even end up damaging your drill bits.
15 — Cool the Drill
When your drill starts getting hot and smell, you can quickly fix it by removing the drill from the hole. With the drill out, try and run it at full speed outside of the hole. This will back air into the drill and will cool down the motor so you can use it again. This drilling tip is especially important to remember if you’re trying to drill into brick or some other tough material.
16 — Avoid Jamming
When you’re working with a power drill, it’s easy to just keep chugging along and applying more and more pressure. However, it’s important that you don’t excessively jam your drill into the hole. This drilling tip will save you from additional costs in the long run and will save your drill from unnecessary damages. If the drill seems to be slowing down a bit, pull it out and clear out all the debris (and let the drill cool) and then go at it again.
17 — Be Square
When you’re using a drill, it’s important to keep it square to your target the whole time. This simply means that you’re drilling into the material straight on. If you don’t you’ll find it’s hard to drill and that your hole is crooked.
For example, if you’re trying to drill a screw into a stud, and you don’t have your drill level, odds are your screw will go out the side of your stud. While it may not sound like a big deal, it won’t provide as much support, it’ll look ugly, and it could hit a water line or electrical wire if it’s long enough!
18 — Hammer Action
Some drills come with the option to turn on hammer action, this feature is only necessary if you’re drilling through a hard surface like concrete, where you’ll need to “punch” it over and over again. If you’re working on wood, you don’t need the hammer action.
19 — Keep The Bits Sharp
While this seems like a simple drilling tip, it’s actually something a lot of people forget about. With the help of a bench grinder, you can easily keep your drill bits sharp and pointy. This will make drilling through any kind of material a whole lot easier. If you need more help, we have a super handy guide that will show you exactly how to sharpen your drill bits.
20 — Always Start Slow
Irrespective of the surface, you need to start slow when drilling, as it will ensure your power drill doesn’t spin off the spot. Further, it will also help you maintain control of your drill so that you don’t make a silly mistake.
There are numerous drilling tips and techniques that will help you avoid making simple mistakes. There is no doubt that drills are an essential tool, so it’s best to learn how to properly use one before you start on your project. If you’re already familiar with drilling, refreshing with some quick tips certainly won’t hurt! For the sake of safety and efficiency, follow the tips in this guide and you’ll be well on your way to a successful home repair project.