Start a discussion

The Bunnings Workshop community can help with your home improvement projects.

How to drill into hardwood to create garage shelves?

Junior Contributor

How to drill into hardwood to create garage shelves?

Good Evening Everyone


I am wanting to put some shelves up in our lined garage. However underneath the lovely modern appearance of our garage, underneath is a 60+ years frame.

Of course this means hardwood which to date my drill does not like.

Whenever I have attempted to nail or screw anything into a stud my drill just runs out of puff and keeps whirring and jumping out of the screw.

I would like some advice as to how to overcome this problem so that I can add some shelves above the bench. I am using a Black & Decker drill which seems ok for very easy jobs. How do I overcome the hardwood studs 😊


Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: Garage Shelves

Hello @Missskybird


Thanks for sharing that question about mounting your garage shelves. If you are drilling through hardwood, I suggest going at low speed and using cobalt drill bits they are tougher than your ordinary drill bits and are designed to go through the toughest metals. They are more heat tolerant and have excellent wear resistance.


One of the reasons your drill stops drilling is sometimes your drill bit has hit a very dense part of the wood. It could also be that the tip of your drill bit has deformed due to heat and is no longer catching on the timber. It's important to take a break when you've been drilling and are not making progress.


One technique in drilling through hardwood is to start with a small bit to create a pilot hole for the bigger drill bit to cut into.


Let me call on our experienced members @TedBear and @Adam_W for their recommendations.


If you need further assistance, please let us know.




See something interesting? Give it the thumbs up!
Valued Contributor

Re: How to drill into hardwood to create garage shelves?

Hi @Missskybird , been there done that with old framing! Amazing how hard old hardwood can be...

Couple of tricks here...

- Pre-drill for every screw hole. This means drilling a pilot hole slightly smaller than the screw to insert the screw into. Here's some information which may be handy, you'll find the 'G' size on the screw packet. Check the screw pack for pilot hole information but as a rough guide;
- 4G = 1.5mm pilot.
- 5 and 6G = 2.2mm pilot.
- 7 and 8G = 3mm pilot.
- 10G = 3.5mm pilot.
- 12G = 4mm pilot.
- 14G = 4.5mm pilot.

- If your drill has a speed setting run it on the lower speed as this is higher torque, meaning more driving power. Most often '1' is slow, '2' is fast.
- As you drill pull the the drill back out (in a straight line) every 10mm or so as the bit can become clogged and will start spinning, not cutting. Remove any material stuck in the bit with something like the tip of a screw, not your finger as it will be hot!
- When driving the screws into the pilot holes, again, use that lower speed.
- And check your drill is set to 'drill' for the pre-drilling. When driving the screws try it on 'screw' setting but old hardwood can be very grabby so you may need to use 'drill' setting (if your drill has these settings). Just watch for kickback if you use 'drill' setting for driving in screws.
- Also, try using screws that are 'climacote' or similar, not galvanised as galvanised screws tend to stick way more.

That help?

Valued Contributor

Re: How to drill into hardwood to create garage shelves?

Hi @Missskybird in addition to the good advice from @EricL and @Adam_W , I find that when putting screws into hardwood the trick is to scrape the thread of the screw through wax first. You could use slightly dampened soap, but it can cause some types of screws to rust. Bees wax gives right amount of softness and sticking I found, which you can buy as sticks, blocks or in a tin. You won't need much.

Junior Contributor

Re: How to drill into hardwood to create garage shelves?

Thank you very much 😊 That’s great advice.

Trusted Contributor

Re: How to drill into hardwood to create garage shelves?

As above.

From Reader's Digest 1994. Note the bottom advice...


Days before Lithium.Days before Lithium.

Why join the Bunnings Workshop community?

Workshop is a friendly place to learn, get ideas and find inspiration for your home improvement projects