hands drilling a pilot hole
Photo: Renna Bammi
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Drilling a Pilot Hole

Q: When I drill a pilot hole for a screw, how deep should the hole be, and how will I know if the bit has gone deep enough?
—Steve Bartoletti, Grafton, WI

A: You should always drill a little deeper than the length of the screw. If you don't, the screw will bottom out before it is fully driven in and the last few turns will be tough, particularly in hardwood. And when you apply more pressure, there's a greater chance that you'll mangle the screwhead or scratch your workpiece. These tricks ensure you'll get the right depth every time.
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