The Basics of At-Home Drilling
Expert tips for no-fail holes.
Updated Nov 2, 2019 11:03 AM
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If you’re anything like us, when the cold weather hits, you just want to cozy up indoors with a cup of tea (or perhaps a glass of wine). And with nesting comes home improvements. From hanging pictures and art, to mounting mirrors and wine racks, a drill is an essential part of a toolkit. “I do a lot of quick and easy DIYs around the house and use my drill for almost everything,” says Laurel Stavros, the crafty blogger behind A Bubbly Life.
Need a crash course in drilling 101? Ahead, everything you need to know to bore holes like a pro.
We can’t overstate the importance of quality tools. For at-home projects, your best bet is an 18-volt or 20-volt, lithium ion-powered cordless drill. Also, look for a model with a depth gauge, so you can measure how far you drive the bit. If this is your first time shopping for a drill, go to your local hardware store and compare the weight and grip of different options. That way you can select the right one for you. While you’re there, pick up a pair of goggles—and always wear them when using power tools. Safety first!
Not all surfaces are the same. A solid wall is made from brick, concrete, or stone. Whereas a hollow wall is constructed with a frame (or stud) sitting behind drywall panels. Not sure what you have? Lowe’s experts suggest this trick: “Push a pin into the wall. If it goes in, it’s drywall. If not, it’s masonry.”
The type of bit you need will depend on the material you’re drilling. A twist bit—the most common for around-the-house use—works for wood, plastic and metal. Solid walls require masonry bits. It’s a good idea to buy a basic bit kit (just be sure it’s compatible with the tool you’re using). This will allow you to switch out the bit depending upon the screw and what you are drilling. “For unique projects, you may need to buy an individual bit, but a standard set will get you far,” notes Stavros.
When working with wood, a pilot hole (a small, shallow hole drilled before driving a screw or nail) helps prevent wood from splitting. A pilot hole can also improve accuracy and ease installation for masonry and stud walls.
Before your start the process of hanging pictures, artwork, etc., you’ll want to get a hanging assortment pack. This will have everything you need. The specific hardware required will depend on the weight of the object as well as the type of surface you’re drilling. If you have a stud wall, for anything heavy—whether it’s art, shelves, or mirrors—you’ll need to drill into a stud to secure the hangers. “I like to use a stud finder—or you can do some knocks on the wall but I find the former to be more reliable,” says Stavros. (Need help locating studs? Take a look at this helpful how-to.)