Learning, Drilling,

How to Drill a Hole in Wood without a Drill (6 Methods)

Perhaps you don’t have a drill, or the drill’s battery dies out halfway through, don’t panic; there are alternative ways you drill into wood — without a drill.

Whether you are a professional craftsman or a beginner, drilling holes in wood is an unavoidable situation. Most drills are expensive and sometimes inefficient because they use electricity that may be inaccessible. As a handyman who sometimes doesn’t have a drill, I have put together this article to help you find the best method you’re comfortable with and can access.

In General, there are several ways you can use to drill a hole in wood without a drill:

  • Use a hand Bit-Brace Drill. Drill a pilot hole, grab the Bit-Brace Drill and drive a hole into the wood.
  • You can use an Egg-Beater drill to make a hole into the wood.
  • Use a simple Hand Drill with a chuck to drive holes into a block of wood without a drill.
  • Hammer a semi-circular chisel into the pilot hole on the wood to make a hole.
  • For fresh wood, use a red-hot piping rod to drill a hole.
  • You can also rotate a wooden stick into the wood to make a hole — The Fire Drill method.

We will have an in-depth discussion below. Let’s get right into it.

Method 1: Making Holes in a Wood with a Hand Bit-Brace

A hand Bit Brace is a popular and historic tool with precise output. Expert craftsmen use it to make wooden furniture by hand. The detailed steps below will teach you how to use the tool.

Step 1: Make Pilot Spots

Use a pencil or a nail to label or scratch the region where you want to drive holes in.

Step 2: Bring the Right-hand Bit-brace Drill for the Task

I recommend Auger Drill Bits. The package comes with a snail lead screw on the tip. It helps to mark pilot holes and guides the bit linearly. Also, the drill bit comes in various sizes which makes the whole experience interesting.

Step 3: Get in a Strategic Position

Fix the drill bit inside the chuck and place the drill bit on the pilot hole or holes.

How to Hold the Hand Bit Brace Drill:

  • Technique 1: Grab the hand handle with a hand and then hold the circular head with the other hand. Then, rotate the drill clockwise to make holes. You may use the drill’s bi-directional ratcheting feature for optimization if the space is too tight making a full rotation impossible.

  • Technique 2: Alternatively, you may use your belly to push the circular head of the Bit-Brace. And then you can, simultaneously, rotate the handle with one hand. This technique is quite traditional, and you happen to have a free hand to do other potential tasks.

Benefits of Using a Hand Bit Brace to Drill Holes

  • With a hand Bit Brace Drill, you can achieve great depth control of a hole.
  • It is ideal for larger-size drills.
  • It’s a lot of fun working with the tool, and you make it your hobby.
  • It’s been time-tested by Professional Artisans and hence reliable.

Method 2: Using a Hand Egg-Beater Drill to Drill a Hole in Wood

drilling a hole in wood
Video | wortheffort

Hand Egg-Beater Drills have been in use for many years, and are virtually perfect. It’s a famous tool amongst artisans.

Using Egg-Beater Drill to make holes is like a regular drill with a Chuck, Side Handle, Turning Handle, and Main Handle.

There are no major differences between using the Bit-Brace and Egg-Beater Drill. You will notice the differences in the steps section.

It is easy to use Egg-Beater Drills, follow the steps below:

Step 1:  Make Pilot Holes

Use a proper tool like a pencil to mark the parts you want to drill.

Step 2: Use the Correct Drill Bit

Again, Auger Drill Bits are well-suited for the task judging by the variety of bit sizes and meticulously constructed bit tips. You may also consider using standard wood drilling bits. In practice, it is wise to test various Drill Bits at your disposal to know which is the best.

Step 3: Right Posture While Drilling Holes

Correct posture or position is necessary for good drilling experience. Once the drill bit is in the chuck, position the bit in the labeled position (Step 1).

There are several ways you can use to make holes with Egg-Beater Drill bits:

  • Technique 1: With one hand, hold the turning handle, and then put the other hand on the main handle. It’s also a nice trick to rest your forehead on the hand holding the main handle. That way, you will have an easy time balancing the drill perpendicularly.

right posture while drilling holes
Video | wortheffort

  • Technique 2: Just like in using the Hand Bit Brace, you can press your belly against the Egg-Beater hand Drill. In so doing, you have a free hand to rotate the drill.

Benefits of Using Hand Egg-Beater Drill

  • Egg-Beater Drills are also time-tested by Artisans like Bit-Brace Drills. However, the Bit-Brace torque output is higher due to their large moment arm that makes it possible to drill a hole in wood without a drill.
  • Hand Egg-Beater Drills go straight into the wood without wobbling. That is not the case for Electric Drills. So a Hand Bit-Beater Drill enables incredible control over the depth angle.
  • Just as with the Hand Bit-Brace Drills, Egg-Beater drills also offer depth control of the hole.
  • They are somewhat faster than the bit & brace drills but less effective in larger bit sizes.

Method 3: Use a Simple Hand Drill with a Chuck to Drill Holes in Wood

Hand Drills are strikingly similar to Egg-Beater hand Drills and Hand Bit Brace Drills. You can use the same techniques to drill a hole into a piece of wood.

However, you can use Hand Drills with bare hands with zero resistance. So consider Hand Drills to be more like a screwdriver with a drilling bit on the tip. You can drill the holes by manually rotating the drills with your hand(s).

The downside of using a Hand Drill to make holes is that it’s time-consuming.

They are usually utilized for fragile work where speed or power doesn’t matter, like working electronics and jewelry. You still use it to drill holes into the woods.

Method 4: Drilling a Hole in a Wood with a Semi-Circular Chisel

This is the most basic way to make holes in a piece of wood in a short time. The chisel package comes with various cutting tips, which are semi-circular. And you can use it to make circular shape holes in a block of wood. Additionally, the chisels come in various sizes, and you can choose the one depending on the holes you want to drill.

The whole process is a fine art and requires a certain level of professionalism and effort to drill a perfect hole in wood.  Extreme patience and adequate experience are mandatory requisites for one to use a semi-circular chisel to drill holes.

The following is how you need to proceed with chisels to make holes in a wood:

Step 1: Get a Correct Diameter Chisel

The first thing to do is to select a semi-circular chisel with the appropriate diameter.

Step 2: Make Pilot Holes

First, use a pencil to mark the location you want to make holes. Then, define a circle with a divider caliper wing around the spot you just labeled that flushes the hole’s diameter —the hole’s exact diameter.

Step 3: Make a Hole

Align the chisel exactly perpendicularly to the circular label. Then, hammer the chisel with a wooden sled. Change the chisel position and hammer.

Step 4: Repeat the Process

After completing one circle, repeat the hammering multiple times until you reach the desired depth. It is crucial to understand the process gets difficult as you progress deeper. Take your time and continuously remove the wood shreds to have an easy time.

Method 5: Making a Hole In Wood by Burning

Burning a hole out in wood is a traditional yet feasible technique of making holes in wood.

However, more effective ways of drilling out holes in wood exist, and this method is not often used. Nevertheless, it can be a handy technique in some situations. So, let’s see how you can do it in the procedure below:


burning wood
Video | Creative BABU

The process is straightforward, heat a piping rod intensively and place its red-hot tip on the wood — where you want to drill a hole. The wood will immediately burn out creating the hole.

Next, rotate the rod in either direction multiple times to do deeper. You can then reheat the piping rod and repeat the whole process. Do it until you attain the desired depth.

Note the Following when Using This Technique:

  1. This method is efficient for planks of fresh wood. Dry wood may catch fire. (1, 2)
  2. To make a hole with a larger depth, the hole will become wider at the tip due to excess heating from the piping rod while going deeper for every shot.
  3. This method is widely utilized with bamboo trees because they are hollow on the inside.

Method 6: Using Fire Drill Method to Make Holes in Wood

This technique is used to start a fire with a wooden stick that is rotated inside a hole with a hand or a string connected to both ends of a bow.

The process is not complicated and self-explanatory as demonstrated in the image below:

You just need to replace the wooden stick with a drill bit.

Note: This method doesn’t produce the best results, but it’s quite a technique if you don’t have a proper tool; you are not expecting a well-crafted hole diameter and angle.


The major hurdle in this technique is maintaining the position of the drill bit. Momentarily, you will need to use your hands to hold the bit’s head while drilling.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) wood – https://www.dummies.com/article/home-auto-hobbies/crafts/woodworking/types-of-wood-for-woodworking-173714/
(2) catch fire – https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/the-thought-experiment-how-fast-would-i-have-to-run-to-catch-fire/

Video References

Wood By Wright


Sikana English

Creative BABU

Primitive Technology

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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