While working with endless drills and drivers, it just hit my mind that how on earth people use to screw or drill before these tools, so out of curiosity, I spent an entire day searching and experimenting with ways people used to screw or drill a hole in wood without these tools we take for granted.
How to screw or drill a hole in wood without a drill? The fastest way is to use Hand Drills like a Bit Brace or Eggbeater drill. These have been used for centuries before we had electric drills. Burning the wood is also a traditional way to make holes in wood. You can also use a hand chisel to make holes in wood.
There is one fascinating thing which I came to know when I was researching about drilling with hand tools. The methods I will share to drill a hole in a block of wood are still in use, not because someone doesn’t have an electric drill on hand, but because of the real essence of craftsmanship. A hole with these tools is exact, accurate, and at a perfect angle. The craft of making a hole in the wood with hand tools is a joyful process.
Let’s discuss these methods in detail as these are time tested and efficient than using a hand screwdriver to screw or a chisel to make holes in wood.
Methods to Screw or Drill in Wood Without a Drill
So now lets discuss a few methods you can use to screw or drill in work without an electrical drill. These methods are definitely going to take a lot of effort and time. I am going to discuss them with respect to ease of use.
1. Using a Hand Bit Brace to drill a hole in wood without a drill
Using a hand drill is the best way to make a hole in wood if you don’t have an electric drill. The history of Bit Brace goes back to the 1400s when they first appear in Europe. Bit Brace is a tool with a precise output and is still being used by expert craftsmen to make wooden furniture by hand.
Using a Brace & Bit Hand Drill is easy. Let’s discuss how to drill with it step by step.
Step 1 – Mark the drilling Spot: The first step is to mark the spot where you want to drill.
Step 2 – Get hold of the correct Drill Bit: For hand drilling into the wood with a Brace & Bit Hand Drill, the best drill bits you can use are Auger Drill Bits. They do come with a snail lead screw on the tip. This helps to make the pilot hole and guides the bit in a straight line. These bits come in different sizes and work great for drilling a hole in wood due to their unique tip construction. Learn more about drill bits used for wood here.
Step 3 – Get in the right position: Once you have the right drill bit inside the chuck, place the bit on the spot you need to drill. There are different methods you can use a Bit Brace Hand Drill. You can hold the hand handle with one hand and the circular head with the other. Rotate the drill clockwise to drill. If the space is tight and you cannot make a full rotation, you can use the drill’s bi-directional ratcheting feature.
Another method to use is pushing the head with your belly and rotating the handle with one hand. This a more traditional method and gives you a free hand.
Just like a Drill Bit, you can stuck a Screw Driving Bit and it switches to a driver mode. Simple as that.
Benefits of Using a Bit & Brace:
- Time Tested by Expert Artisans
- It is a lot of fun to work with a bit & brace if you are doing it as a hobby.
- You will have great depth control of the hole.
- Perfect for larger size drills.
2. Using a Hand Egg-Beater Drill for Drilling into Wood.
Like a Bit-Brace Drill, Egg Beater Drills are hundreds of years old, made to perfection, and still used by artisans. Using an Egg-Beater Drill is more like a regular drill with a Chuck, Main Handle, Side Handle, and Turning Handle.
Using an Egg-Beater is quite simple and let me tell you it step by step.
Step 1 – Mark the drilling Spot: The first step is to mark the spot you want to drill.
Step 2 – Get hold of the correct Drill Bit: For hand drilling into the wood with an Egg Beater Hand Drill, the best drill bits you can use are Auger Drill Bits. They come in different sizes and work great for drilling a hole in wood due to their unique tip construction. You can also use standard wood drilling bits. I recommend testing out a few to see what works best for you.
Step 3 – Get in the right position: Once you have the right drill bit inside the chuck, place the bit on the spot you need to drill. There are different methods you can use to Egg Beater Hand Drill.
You can hold the turning handle with one hand and put your other hand on the main handle. You can also put your forehead on top of the hand you are using to grab the main handle. This will help you balance the drill perpendicularly.
Just like a Bit-Brace drill, you can also use the Egg Beater hand Drill by placing it against your belly. This way, you can use one handle to rotate the drill and the other one to grab the side handle.
Benefits of Using an Egg Beater Hand Drill:
- Again, it is also time Tested by Expert Artisans. However, the Bit-Brace torque output is higher due to a larger moment arm, making it easy to drill a hole in wood without a drill.
- Egg Beater Drills are recommended to be used with small bits, although you can find drills that support larger drill bits.
- Unlike an Electric Drill, this can go straight into the wood without any wobble. You will have great control over the depth angle, especially if you are using your forehead while drilling.
- You will have a great depth control of the hole like you get in a Bit & Brace Drill.
- A little faster than bit & brace, but less efficient in larger bit sizes.
3. Using a Simple Hand Drill with a Chuk to drill a hole in wood
Okay, so I will not spend a lot of time on Hand Drill as it is just like the other two drills I mentioned, except for using it with bare hands and zero assistance.
Consider this more like a screwdriver with a drilling bit at the tip. You will have to use just like a screwdriver and make the hole by rotating the drill with your hand. This process is definitely going to take a lot of time.
This drill is mostly used for delicate work where speed or power is not a concern, like working with Jewellery or electronics, but you can still use it to drill a hole in wood without a drill
4. Using a Semi-Circular Chisel to Make a Hole in Wood
Now let’s get to the most basic and timeless way to make a wood hole, using a simple chisel. A Chisel comes with different types of Cutting tips. For making a circular hole in the wood, you will need one with a semicircular cutting tip. They come in various sizes, and you can select the most appropriate according to the required whole size.
Although it will take a lot of effort to make a hole with a chisel, what I have experienced is that it is more like fine art and requires professional skills to make a perfect hole. You need to be extremely patient and have a good amount of experience using this tool to drill a hole in wood without a drill
Use the following steps to make a hole with a Semicircular Chisel.
Step One: The first thing you need to do is select the chisel with an appropriate diameter.
Step Two: Mark the point where you intend to make the hole. Then use a simple divider caliper wing to draw a circle around this point with the hole’s exact diameter.
Step Three: Keep the chisel exactly perpendicular to the circular marking and hammer the chisel’s head with a wooden sled. Change the position and hammer again.
Step Four: Once you complete a single circle then gently carve out the hole. You will have to repeat this process until you reach the desired depth. This process is not going to be very efficient and it will become difficult as you go deeper.
5. Making a Hole in wood by burning
Trees and Woods had been around for millions of years, even before we came into existence. We have been using wood for so long to build everything, and our ancestors worked around with great ways to work efficiently with it.
One method used traditionally to drill a hole in wood without a drill was by burning out a hole. Although this method is not used currently and requires a great effort, let me still discuss how you can do it.
The science is simple, grab a piping hot rod and place its tip on the wood. It will immediately burn out a spot. Rotate the rod to go deep and repeat. However, this process works better with a plank of fresh wood, as a dry one may catch fire.
Secondly, if you intend to make holes with larger depths, the hole will start to get wider on the tip due to excess heat from the hot rod when going deeper for every shot. This method is widely used with bamboo as it is hollow from the inside.
6. Making a Hole in Wood by using the Fire Drill Method
This method is normally used to start a fire with a wooden stick which is rotated inside a hole using your hand or string attached on both ends of a bow. The process is quite simple and self-explanatory as seen in the image.
All you have to do is replace the stick with a drill bit. This will not yield good results but kind of a hack if you don’t have a proper hand tool and are not looking forward to a well-crafted hole angle and diameter.
The biggest hurdle in this process is keeping the drill bit in place. You will have to use one of your hands to grab the bit’s head while rotating.
What to do if I need to make a bigger hole without a drill.
If you intend to make a bigger hole and don’t have a drill, you can still use the methods discussed earlier; however, using a bit brace hand drill is our favorite. All you have to do is use a circular saw drill bit.
The process is going to remain the same. Mark the spot where you intend to drill. Fit your circular saw bit in the chuck and hold the bit-brace properly by placing one hand on the head and the other on the rotating handle. Start with a pilot hole with the bit at the center, and then make your way till the circular jaws start cutting the wood.
This manual drilling process will definitely consume a lot of effort and time, but it will be worth it. A job well done is what we should look forward to.
List of Other Materials You Can Drill Using Bit Brace or Egg Beater Drill
A Bit Brace or an Egg Beater Drill is a hand-operated tool and comes with its own limitations. You can not use them for multiple holes in a go as the process is exhausting. The required effort multiplies for drilling larger holes, but still, these are good tools to have on hand.
Eggbeater drill is more commonly used to make holes in delicate products like jewelry, expensive stones, or other artisan products. You can still use it to drill small holes in plastic, soft metal or metal sheets, composites, ceramic with compatible bits and foam.
On the other hand, a bit brace is used for heavy-duty jobs. It is particularly designed to drill holes in wood, but you can use a bit-brace to drill in plastic, soft metal with matching drill bit, ice, composites, ceramic with compatible bits, and foam.
How to Drill in Plastic without a Drill?
You can use a hand drill like Bit-Brace or Egg Beater Drill to make holes in the plastic. You will need to use spur-point bits, also known as dowel bits, to make the holes. You can also use a simple hand drill by sticking in the compatible drill bit in the chuck and manually rotating it to drill in.
How to Drill in Metal without a Drill?
Drilling in hard metal without a drill is difficult and will require traditional blacksmiths, like heating and deforming the metal. You can use a hand drill like Bit-Brace or Egg Beater Drill with a sharp general-purpose twist bit to drill in metal.
How to Drill holes in Ice Without a Drill?
The best way to drill holes in Ice without an electric drill is by using Bit & Brace with Ice Auger Drill Bits. You can also use a normal ice Axe, Spud Bar, Digging Iron, or Ice Saw to make holes in the ice for fishing over frozen lakes.