While it can seem like a difficult task, drilling holes at an angle is simple with a bit of practice and technique. There are a few different tactics you can implement to make angled holes and get down an otherwise tricky task.
This article will take you through the steps you need to know to use a drill at an angle as well as give you a few tricks so you can master this task quickly and with ease.
How to Drill at an Angle Without a Jig
Most woodworkers will either use a jig or find a way to make their own jig using other tools or materials found around the shop. To start, let’s go through the steps on how to drill an angle without using a jig. There are multiple methods to achieve this, but here, we will go through the two most common.
Let’s take a look at the first method.
Step 1: Set Up a Speed Square to Determine The Angle
Speed squares are just triangle-shaped tools that have different angles featured along their diagonal side. Use these angles to guide the drill and get the angle you are looking for.
Put your speed square directly next to the hole that you’re about to drill and line up your drill so its top is next to the speed square’s flat side.
Step 2: Align the Speed Square’s Angle Markings
Align the speed square’s angle markings on its diagonal and make sure its centerline is running down the drill’s top. The drill will look like it is drilling towards the right angle of the triangle itself.
Step 3: Begin Drilling
After this, you can begin drilling at the angle you want. Be sure to keep your hands steady and that you do not try to readjust the angle after you begin drilling.
The second method you can follow if you don’t have a jig involves using scrap wood as a guide.
Step 1: Find Some Scrap Wood to Use as a Guide
You can use scrap wood to drill at an angle by cutting a guide into it so you can maintain the same angles for multiple holes. First, measure whatever angle that is needed on a piece of flat scrap wood that is around an inch thick.
Step 2: Cut the Scrap Wood at The Angle You Need
Use a miter saw or hand saw to cut the scrap wood at the angle you’re looking for. To do this, mark an angle along the side of the wood and cut it at that angle. Then, use the saw of your choosing to cut along the angle you chose.
With a miter saw, you can set the angle you want to cut at beforehand to make it a bit easier on yourself and take out some human error in the process.
Step 3: Begin Drilling
Put the now cut wood along wherever you need to begin drilling. Then, lay your drill along this angle and the wood will guide your drill while it is being pushed into the hole.
Be sure to grip the scrap wood that is guiding the drill tightly as it could fly away if it is not secured and cause some damage to your workshop or your hands.
How to Drill at an Angle Using a Jig
Finally, let’s take a look at the best way to go about the process of drilling an angled hole.
Step 1: Cut an Angle Into Your Material
Use whatever saw you need (most woodworkers will go for the miter saw) and set the angle you want to drill your hole. If you use a miter saw, you can simply set the saw to whatever angle you want and begin cutting.
Step 2: Create a Pilot Hole
Drill straight into the material’s angled portion, your drill should be perpendicular to whatever material you are drilling into. This will make the ideal angle so you can drill into other material as well and be sure to drill completely through your material to create a pilot hole.
Step 3: Clamp Together The Material to a Base Material Using Your Jig
Place the material that you want to drill on top of your workbench. Then, place your angled jig on top of that piece of material. You should be able to view your pilot hole that was already drilled into the material’s angled portion.
If your jig is not flat along your material’s top, you should saw or sand the edge’s top so it is perfectly flat and the two materials can be clamped together securely.
Step 4: Begin Drilling
You should drill through your jig into the material to make the correct holes in your workpiece. Place your drill bit into your pilot hole and begin drilling by using this hole as your guide. Push downwards into the material underneath and create your angled hole.
Finally, once you’ve figured out the depth you wish to go all the pilot holes you are making in your workpiece, insert a stop collar on your drill so you will not go deeper than you need to. Stop collars are a small metal ring you can attach to a drill that is widely available at home improvement stores.
If you need to drill more holes, you can move your jig to any other spots as necessary.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Having quality drill bits is important to drilling well at an angle, so you should use new and sharp ones. That will help with having the bits grab onto the material and make drilling a difficult angle much easier.
Also, If you are looking for some extra room to drill at lower angles, you can use a drill bit extender. This tool fastens onto your drill chuck and allows you some breathing room. These extenders are relatively cheap too and you should have no trouble finding them.
If you are drilling holes with bigger diameters, it is necessary to lower the amount of pressure on your drill when getting to the last bit of your hole. If you push too hard, the drill bit could bind or even snap off and you would have to buy a new replacement.
As mentioned earlier, if you do not plan on using a jig, hold on tightly to your pilot hole but watch out for your hands as well.
While the drill can certainly send your pilot hole flying if you are not gripping it tightly, you also don’t want your drill to heat up the material and burn your hand or have the drill slip off and nick your fingers.
You can always make a new pilot hole but there’s nothing that can take the wind out of a whole project then if you injure yourself by trying to force something that is not working.
Drilling a hole at an angle can certainly be a task all in itself but with the right tools or a little DIY intuition, you can make this process quick and painless.
Be sure to follow the steps to drill at an angle above as closely as possible for whichever method you go for and always buy the proper tools if you are planning to do one of the tool-assisted methods.
Finally, be sure to be as safe as possible when using power tools or saws, and keep in mind the tips and tricks that will help keep whatever project you are planning on doing go as smoothly as possible.