How to Drill a Vertical Hole in a Large Flat Piece of Wood

Written by tom price
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Normally, drilling a vertical hole in a piece of wood is not a problem. Just take it to the drill press, make sure that the drill press table is at 0-degrees, install a bit into the chuck of the drill press and drill the hole. This is not the case with a large flat piece of wood such as a 4-by-8 sheet of plywood. In that case, the use of a special tool ensures that the vertical hole is, in fact, vertical and not tilted to one side.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 3 pieces of scrap 2-by-4 lumber
  • Drill bit set
  • Drill guide
  • Small carpenter's triangle square
  • Ruler
  • Cordless drill

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  1. 1

    Set the large flat piece of wood on the floor. Insert a piece of scrap 2-by-4 lumber under the board on either side of the hole location to support the wood. Set the pieces far enough apart to support the wood so the wood does not bow. Position another piece of 2-by-4 lumber under the hole location to further support the wood and also to prevent blowout when the drill bit pushes through the underside of the large piece of wood.

  2. 2

    Insert a drill bit from a drill bit set into the chuck of a drill guide and tighten the chuck with the tool's chuck key. Ensure the drill bit is the correct size for the desired hole.

  3. 3

    Set the drill guide at 90-degrees to the base, loosening the thumbscrews on either side of the drill guide and either using the gauge on the tool or by aligning the frame with a small carpenter's triangle square. Tighten the thumbscrews.

  4. 4

    Loosen the thumbscrew on the depth stop on the drill guide and let the depth stop fall to the bottom of the tool. Slide the drill guide down so the drill bit touches a solid surface. Measure the thickness of the wood plus 1/4-inch with a ruler. Position the ruler with that measurement at the bottom of the drill guide cross member. Bring the depth stop up to that point and tighten the thumbscrew. This will set the depth of the hole for 1/4-inch deeper than required to drill through the large piece of wood. Setting this depth will allow the drill bit to pass through the large flat piece of wood and penetrate the 2-by-4 underneath by 1/4-inch, and not pass through the 2-by-4, damaging the floor.

  5. 5

    Engage the forward speed of a cordless drill and ensure that the drill is on the correct speed setting for drilling a hole. Insert the shank of the drill guide into the chuck of the cordless drill and tighten the chuck.

  6. 6

    Move the drill guide and cordless drill to the desired location of the hole on the large piece of wood. Ensure the drill bit is centred over the hole location by touching the tip of the drill bit to the spot marked on the large flat piece of wood.

  7. 7

    Start the cordless drill by pulling the trigger on the drill to drill the hole. Stop the drill and pull the bit back when the cross member of the drill guide hits the depth stop, completing the vertical hole in the large piece of wood.

Tips and warnings

  • Since different manufacturers make drill guides to their own specifications, refer to the owner's manual of the drill guide for specific instructions.
  • Refer to the cordless drill owner's manual for specific instructions concerning procedures for tightening its chuck, direction and speed settings.
  • Always wear safety glasses when using power tools.

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