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What are your tips for drilling?

HSS bit.jpgMost power drills work well when paired with the right drill bit, but here are some things to remember that can help ensure your drilling project is a success:

  • Adjust your drilling speed. You can go fast on softer materials but slow down for harder ones. Plastics are an exception. Drill slowly to prevent your bit from overheating and melting the plastic.


  • Using a special cutting fluid can make drilling more efficient, especially when harder and thicker metals are involved. This lubricates the cutting surface and helps heat dissipate.


  • When drilling holes around eight millimetres or above in metal, work incrementally. For example, for a 10mm final hole, start with a hole of around three to four millimetres.


  • When using diamond core drills, start your cut by holding the drill bit at an angle to the surface and then slowly bring upright.


  • Never use an impact drill or a drill on hammer setting when drilling tiles or glass.


  • Always keep glass bits lubricated with water as you drill.


  • Never use excess force when drilling. Let the bit and the drill do the work. This is especially important when drilling tile or glass to avoid cracking.


  • Remove your bit from the hole frequently to clear waste material. This can clog the drill flutes and slow the drilling process.


  • Never blow into a drilled hole to clear debris. If you need to clear a hole, use a blower or puffer from a distance.


  • Always wear safety glasses and hearing protection when drilling. 


  • When drilling metals, it's important to ensure that they are clamped down and secured firmly.


  • After use, remove your bit from the drill chuck and store.


  • Before putting bits away, make sure they are clean and dry. Store them somewhere with good air circulation to reduce any surface corrosion. - Adam_W


Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Great article, @Adam_W, with some fantastic expert tips! 


I thought I'd add my thoughts regarding gloves, loose-fitting clothing and long hair around fast-spinning devices. If there's any chance that the gloves could become caught, then it's best not to wear them at all. Also, remember to tuck in loose clothing and tie-back hair.


Loose-fitting cotton gloves are extremely dangerous and become easily snagged, and leather gloves are not much better. If there is a circumstance where they're needed, then the gloves must be tight-fitting with no loose material. For high-powered devices like drill presses or lathes, gloves should never be worn, as any entanglement with the bit can cause severe injury.


I thought this was worth mentioning as I've experienced a pair of gloves getting caught and a loose shirt that's become entangled in a drill bit. I was lucky enough to escape with only minor injuries in both instances.




Workshop Legend

Yes, great points there @MitchellMc , thank you.
Personally I like leather 'rigger' type gloves. Buy them so they are nice & snug and there's no loose bits flapping around!

Kind of a Big Deal

I always wear tight-fitting gloves with no cuffs when using a drill press. Exquisitely sharp burrs, coiled cuttings, hot metal, cutting lubricant and even skinned knuckles with the chuck key slipping, can be protected against with gloves.







Cultivating a Following

Hi, hope this isn't a dumb question, but once I've drilled a hole of the desired depth (say in timber), do I withdraw the drill bit while the bit is still spinning, flip the drill into reverse then take it out of the hole (while still spinning), or just take it out when the bit has stopped spinning?

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @unawarek


That is actually an excellent question, I've always withdrawn the drill bit while it's spinning forward. The only time I ever engage reverse is when the drill bit binds to the timber I'm drilling into.


Let me tag @Adam_W for his recommendations.


If you have any other questions we can help with, please let us know.




Amassing an Audience

Another tip is to always adjust your drill torque I can tell you from personal experience it is never fun being punched in the jaw by a spinning drill after it grabs.


The other tip from drilling so many downlight holes into MDF when I was in the shop fitting game, after you initially start drilling and make a line a few mm in then swap over to a 5mm drill bit and drill 4 holes around the hole diagonal from each other all the way through then return to the holesaw this will allow the swarf to exit up out the holes and not clog up the holesaw.

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