Should a Drill Bit Be the Same Size as the Screw?

If this is your first time using a drill, then you’re likely baffled by the number of different drill bits available for you to use. So does drill bit size matter? Does it need to match the screw’s size?

Without accounting for the thread, the shaft of a screw should be the same size as the drill bit. You can compare the sizes by lining up the drill bit side by side with the screw. Alternatively, look for the measurements which should be labeled on the drill bit and screw.

This article is going to show you:

  • How to choose the right drill bit size
  • How to drill professional pilot holes
  • Tips and advice for staying safe

How to choose the right drill bit size

Sometimes drill bit sizes can be daunting even for the best of us, let alone if you’re a complete novice at DIY, but luckily there are several ways that you can make sure that you always choose the correct size for the job you’re doing.

1. First of all, you need to get a screw and then choose a drill bit that you think might be the right size for it. Next, you need to place them end to end to see if the drill bit looks as though it is the same size as the screw without taking into account the screw’s thread.

It’s important that the drill bit is the same size as the screw without its thread or you’ll probably just end up with a hole that is far too big, but if it looks the same size without the thread then it is the right size.

2. Another method is to look at the label on your packet of screws or your box of drill bits – they all have their sizes written on them. You can check the information on the packet to see which size drill bit to use with your screws, or look up a research graph that has the information. However, for example, you would need a 1/16 drill bit for a size 2 screw, or a 9/64 drill bit for a size 9.

3. Sometimes, if you’re using washers or something similar then you need to have a loose screw. In this case, you need to make sure that the drill bit is the same size as the screw with its thread when you line them up end to end. This will give a slightly bigger hole than the first method, and stop the screw from fastening too tight against the wood, which will enable you to use a washer with it.

How to make professional pilot holes

The next thing to do, once you’ve selected the appropriate size drill bit, is to make a pilot hole. A pilot hole is useful as it helps you to keep the screw straight while you insert it, and also prevents the wood from splintering or breaking. You can make a pilot hole by doing the following:

1. Mark the spot where you are going to insert your screw. It’s important to do this so that you get the pilot hole in exactly the right place – there’s nothing worse than making the hole and then finding that you’re half an inch out from where it needed to be!

2. Use a vice or some clamps to hold the wood in place so that it doesn’t move while you’re drilling. Don’t fasten it too tightly though as you could cause the wood to break, or if it is metal then you could cause it to bend. Obviously, if you’re drilling into a wall or something else that is sturdy then you don’t need to bother with this step.

3. Insert your drill bit into your drill and then place it on the spot that you’ve marked. It’s important to make sure that you have the drill lined up vertically so that your hole will be straight. A brad point drill bit is useful for making a neat and accurate hole.

4. If you are drilling completely through something like a piece of wood or metal then stop drilling as soon as your drill bit is through the material to the other side. However, if you do not need to drill all the way through, or you’re drilling into a wall, then it’s a good idea to mark your drill bit with some tape so that you know when you’ve reached the required depth.

5. Once you’ve reached the required depth, pull your drill bit out of the hole slowly while the drill is still moving so that all of the dust and chippings come out of the hole. Doing this will also smooth the surface of the hole so that there are no sharp pieces or divots in it.

6. Clean the area around the hole to remove the rest of the dust. It’s important to do this as the dust and chippings can stick to the screw and prevent it from screwing in firmly.

7. Now you can insert your screw!

So long as you have the right tools for the job then it’s really simple to do and easy to make a good pilot hole.

Sometimes, you might need to make a pilot hole for a nail and that’s just as easy as making one for a screw – all you need to do is choose a drill bit that is the same width as your nail then follow the above instructions.

Safety tips and advice

Although it’s pretty easy to make a pilot hole, it’s important to make sure that you stay safe while doing it, especially when you’re using power tools such as a drill. Therefore, there are a few things you can do to make sure you stay as safe as possible.

1. Always make sure that you wear the correct safety equipment or clothes. This could include goggles, gloves, a mask, and a long-sleeved shirt. These will keep you safe from any flying debris and also from the risk of injury caused by the screws and drill bits.

2. Always try to avoid using wood that is old, chipped, or has been wet as isn’t very good for inserting screws into as they don’t get a very good grip in it. This could cause them to come loose over time and then your project might end up falling apart.

3. No matter how attractive the price is, don’t be tempted to cut corners by buying cheap screws or tools as they could rust and probably won’t last as long, especially if they break. In the long run, it’s far better to spend a bit more in the first place because then you know you’ve used quality equipment that will last longer.

4. Don’t try to rush it. It’s not a race and it’s far better to take your time and do a good job than to try and go fast and end up with something breaking – or injuring yourself in the process.

Joshua Milton

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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