How to Make a Hole in Wood Without a Drill (6 Methods)

By the end of this article, you’ll learn six easy methods to make a hole in wood without using an electric drill.

Nowadays, most depend on tools like electric drills, power saws, and grinders. But what happens when you don’t have an electric drill with you? Well, I have been on a few contract jobs where I have had this happen and have found a few methods to be great when you’re in a bind.

In general, to make a hole in wood without an electric drill, follow these six methods.

  1. Use a Bit & Brace Hand Drill
  2. Use an Egg-Beater Hand Drill
  3. Use a Simple Manual Hand Drill W/ Chuck
  4. Use Semi-Circular Chisel
  5. Make a Hole in Wood by Burning Through
  6. Fire Drill Method

I’ll give you more details in the below article.

6 Proven Methods to Make a Hole in Wood without an Electric Drill

Here, I’ll discuss six different methods that use six different tools. With that in mind, here’s how to make a hole in wood without a drill.

Method 1 – Use a Bit Brace Hand Drill

This is one of the best methods to make a hole in wood without using an electric drill. This tool was first introduced in the 1400s. And still, it is more reliable than most tools.

Here is a simple guide on how to make a hole in the wood using a bit & brace hand drill.

Step 1 – Mark the Drill Spot

First, mark the drilling location on the wooden piece.

Step 2 – Connect the Drill Bit

You can use plenty of drill bits with a bit & brace hand drill.

For this demonstration, choose the Auger drill bit. These drill bits have a snail lead screw that helps guide the drill bit to run in a straight line. Choose the right size Auger drill bit and connect it to the chuck.

Step 3 – Make the Hole

Place the drill bit on the marked location.

Then, hold the circular head with one hand and use the other hand to hold the rotating handle. If you are right-handed, the right hand should be on the head, and the left should be on the handle.

Then, rotate the handle in a clockwise direction and continue drilling. Hold the hand drill straight during this process.

Benefits of Using a Bit & Brace

  • Compared to other manual tools, it is easy to use.
  • You can control the depth of the hole according to your need.
  • It can create good momentum due to the large rotating handle.

Method 2 – Use an Egg Beater Hand Drill

connecting drill bit
Video | wortheffort

The egg-beater drill and bit & brace hand drill use similar mechanisms. The only difference is the rotation.

In the bit & brace drill, you rotate the handle on a horizontal axis. But in an egg-beater drill, the handle rotates on a vertical axis.

These egg-beater drills are old as the bit brace hand drill and have three different handles.

  • Main handle
  • Side handle
  • Turning handle

Here are a few simple steps to make a hole in wood using an egg-beater hand drill.

Step 1 – Mark the Drilling Spot

Grab the piece of wood and mark the drilling location on it.

Step 2 – Connect the Drill Bit

choose a suitable drill bit
Video | wortheffort

Choose a suitable drill bit and connect it to the drill chuck. Use the chuck key for this.

Step 3 – Drill the Hole

connecting the drill bit to the chuck
Video | wortheffort

After connecting the drill bit to the chuck:

  1. Place the drill bit in the previously marked location.
  2. Then, hold the main handle with one hand and use the other hand to operate the turning handle.
  3. Next, start drilling holes in the wood.

Benefits of Using an Egg Beater Hand Drill

  • Like a bit & brace, this is also a time-tested tool.
  • This tool works remarkably well with small bits.
  • There is no wobble, so you’ll get much more control over your drilling.
  • It works faster than the bit & brace.

Method 3 – Use a Simple Manual Hand Drill w/ Chuck

If you are looking for a simple tool, this hand drill is the perfect solution.

Unlike in the previous two, you won’t find any rotating handle in this one. Instead, you’ll have to use your bare hands. So, it is all about craftsmanship. The quality of the work entirely depends on your skill level.

You can change the drill bits according to your task. To do that, loosen the drill chuck and insert the drill bit. Then, tighten the drill chuck. That’s it. Now your hand drill is ready for use.

For those who are not familiar with the simple hand drill, here’s a simple guide.

Step 1 – Choose a Location For Drilling

First, mark the drilling location on the wood.

Step 2 – Find the Correct Drill Bit

Then, choose a suitable drill bit and connect it to the drill chuck.

Step 3 – Make the Hole

Now hold the hand drill in one hand and use the other hand to rotate the hand drill.

Quick Tip: Compared to a bit & brace drill and egg-beater hand drill, the simple hand drill isn’t the best option. It might take a long time when using a simple hand drill.

Benefits of Using a Simple Hand Drill

  • You don’t need much working space for this hand drill.
  • Easy to use for any situation.
  • This is one of the cheapest tools you can use to make holes in wood.

Method 4 – Use a Semi-Circular Hand Chisel

Like the above three tools, the semi-circular hand chisel is a timeless great tool.

These tools are similar to ordinary chisels. But the blade is circular. Because of that, we called it a semi-circular hand chisel. This simple tool can craft amazing things with some skills and proper training. Making a hole in wood won’t be difficult. But it will take some time and effort.

Here are some simple steps to make a hole in wood using a semi-circular chisel.

Step 1 – Select a Chisel

First, select a chisel with a suitable diameter.

Step 2 – Mark the Drilling Location

Then, mark the drilling location on the wooden piece. Use a divider caliper wing to draw the circle on the wood.

Step 3 – Complete a Single Circle

Place the chisel on the marked circle and hammer it to craft the circle. You might have to change the chisel location a few times.

Step 4 – Make the Hole

Finally, carve out the hole using the chisel.

Quick Tip: The deeper you go, the more difficult it will get to use the chisel.

Method 5 – Make a Hole in the Wood by Burning

hot rod

The above four methods require tools. But this method doesn’t need any tools. However, you’ll need a hot rod.

This is a method that our ancestors used to perfection. Even though the process is difficult, the results are always satisfying. So, use this method only if you cannot find any tools or the other methods cant be used.

First, take the piping hot rod and place it over the wood. The tip of the rod should touch the wood. Because of the heat, the wood will burn out a circular-shaped spot. Then, rotate the rod until you reach the bottom of the wood.

Quick Tip: This technique is best for fresh wood or flanks. However, dry wood might catch fire.

Method 6 – Fire Drill Method

fire a drill method

This is one of the oldest methods used to start a fire. Here, I’ll use the same practice to make a hole in wood. But first, you should learn how to start a fire with a wooden hole and stick.

Rotating the stick around the hole will start a fire. But it will take some time to master this technique. So, before jumping into the fire drill method, I highly recommend you master creating fire with a stick. Once you are satisfied with your skills, you are ready to start the fire drill method.

rotate the bow drill bit around the hole
Video | Shahbaz Saifi

However, you should make one change. Instead of a stick, use a drill bit. Rotate the bow drill bit around the hole. After some time, you’ll get good results.

Things You Should Lookout for While Using the Fire Drill Method

Even though this is an excellent method when you don’t have any tools, the technique is a little hard to follow.

So, here are some roadblocks you might encounter during this process.

  • Keeping the drill bit focused on the marked location won’t be easy. It will become easier after you reach a substantial amount of depth.
  • The drill bit will heat up with the process. So, you might have to wear quality rubber gloves.
  • This process might take some time. It all depends on your skill level. But this is not an impossible task by any means. After all, our ancestors didn’t have matchboxes or lighters. (1)

A Few Other Methods You Can Try Out

The above six methods are the best for making holes in wood without an electric drill.

Most of the time, you’ll be able to get the job done with a simple tool such as a hand drill or semi-circular chisel. However, these aren’t the only options. In this section, I’ll discuss the others briefly.

Handheld Screwdriver

handheld screwdriver
Video | Fet View Room

Almost every carpenter or woodworker carries a screwdriver in their pocket. You can use these screwdrivers to make a hole in the wood.

First, create a pilot hole using a nail and hammer. Then, place the screwdriver on the pilot hole.

Next, turn the screwdriver clockwise as hard as you can, slowly making a hole through the wood as you put more and more pressure on the hole.

Try an Awl

An awl is a tool that has a sharp stick with a flat end. You’ll get a better idea from the above image.

When combined with a hammer, the awl can be useful. Follow these steps to make small holes in the wood using an awl.

  1. Mark the hole’s location.
  2. Create a pilot hole using a hammer and a nail.
  3. Place the awl on the pilot hole.
  4. Take the hammer and push the awl inside the wood.

Quick Tip: The awl doesn’t make big holes, but it is the perfect tool for creating small holes for screws.

Self-Driving Screws

This is another method you can use to make holes in wood cheaply and easily. After all, you don’t have to create a pilot hole when you use these screws.

Follow these steps.

  1. Place the screw on the wall.
  2. Screw it using the screwdriver.
  3. If needed, use the awl to complete the method.

Don’t Forget: Use a handheld screwdriver for this method.

FAQs

Can I Drill Plastic Without Using an Electrical Drill?

Yes, you can use hand drills such as the egg-beater and bit & brace. However, you’ll have to use spur-point bits for drilling plastic.

Place the chosen tool on the plastic and rotate the turning handle using your hand. Also, you can use a simple hand drill for drilling plastic.

Can I Drill Metal Without Using an Electrical Drill?

Drilling metal is entirely a different story than drilling wood or plastic. Even if you use an electric drill, you’ll need a cobalt drill bit to drill holes in metal objects. (2)

If you do plan to drill holes in metal using a hand drill, use an egg-beater hand drill or bit & brace hand drill. But remember to use a hardened drill bit.


Can I Drill Ice Without Using an Electrical Drill?

Use a bit & brace hand drill for drilling ice. Remember to use the Ice Auger drill bit for this operation. Since they are specially made for drilling ice, you won’t have any trouble during this process. (3)

Take a look at some of our related articles below.




References
(1) ancestors – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-human-familys-earliest-ancestors-7372974/
(2) wood or plastic – https://environment.yale.edu/news/article/turning-wood-into-plastic
(3) ice – https://www.britannica.com/science/ice

Video References

Sid’s woodworks

Wood By Wright How 2

Wood By Wright

wortheffort

Mistry MakeTool

Blacksmith SPR

Fet View Room

Torbjörn Åhman

Cruzdelasadas technical

About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gI realized early on carpentry was a huge passion for me and I’ve stayed in the industry for over 20 years now. This gives me a unique ability to really be able to tell you what the best tools and recommendations are. I’m not only a carpenter but I also like machinery and anything to do with electrics. One of my career paths starting off was as an apprentice electrician so I also have a lot of experience with electrical products and anything related.