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Essential Core Skills
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  • Drill a Hole
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  • How to Attach to a Wall
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    Essential Core Skills: Drilling a Hole

    Most Common Mistakes

    1. Not drilling straight 
    2. Drilling in wrong location
    3. Using wrong size bits
    4. Using dull drill bit

    Tools and Materials
    Power or battery drill, anchors, screws, bradawl, drill bits, carpenter’s pencil

    Safety: Before any drilling, take the time to find out where your electrical wiring, gas or water lines are. DON’T drill around an electrical outlet, any light switches, etc. There are instruments available to detect metal pipe work, electrical cables, etc.

    The diameter of your hole depends on the size of the screw and the length of your wall anchor and screw. When you drill, debris will collect at the far end, so drill a little deeper than the length of your anchor. TIP: Wrap a piece of tape around the drill bit to mark how deep you will be drilling.


    Depending on your home, your wall are made of:

    • Sheetrock
    • Plaster
    • Brick
    • Concrete

    Brick and concrete need masonry drill bits. Sheetrock can be drilled with a standard drill bit. Plaster on the other hand, although some say a regular drill bit will do the job, let’s just be frank – plaster is tough. Use a masonry bit and eliminate the frustration.

    Soft walls can also be problem. A small hole can easily grow in a large hole. Use a threaded wall anchor. Hollow wall anchors are used in hollow partition walls, but be careful – these wall may not be suited to hold very heavy items.


    Probably not the best thing to do. Not only do you have electrical wires, perhaps water lines, but also they are not necessary solid.

    Remember that ceilings are drywall nailed to supporting beams (Joists). Then either plastered or textured.

    If you are hanging something heavy on the ceiling, find the joists so that you have something solid to screw into. Not easy to find, you may have to tap along until you hear a solid knock instead of a hollow one.


    Screws go into most wood fairly easily. However, pre-drilling a hole is always a good idea. A pilot hole can also help guide a screw more easily, accurately and straighter. You can always make a pilot hold with a small bit or a bradawl (check tool glossary).

    Nails do not necessary need pre-drilling or a pilot hole. But again, they go in easier and straighter by drilling a pilot hole. It will save you the aggravation of seeing your nail bend, going in crooked, splitting the wood or at the wrong angle.

    If you are drilling into a ceramic tile, for example, shower or towel bar, you need to be careful of not chipping or cracking the tile. TIP: Stick a piece of masking tape to the surface of the tile to keep your bit steady and stop it from sliding, causing damage. Use a masonry bit, set the drill to rotary action and use a slow speed.

    Drilling into metal: use a nail punch to mark the spot (makes a small dent) and place the v-shape end of the bit into the dent before starting to drill

    Drilling into laminate: Drill downward through the top of the surface, not under, other you risk the possibility of cracking the laminate.

    Recap – Drilling a Hole

    1. Check that there are no electrical wires or pipes.
    2. Mark your hole by doing a pilot hole (either by using a bradawl, hammer or drill)
    3. Remember to keep your drill at a 90 degree angle (use drill level)
    4. Place the point of your drill bit firmly against your pilot hole
    5. Turn on the drill, push gently into the wall and continue until the hole is drill to where you need it
    6. Use a lower clutch setting (slower speed) until you feel more comfortable using a drill

    Recap – Anchors

    1. Once you drill your hole, insert a wall anchor into the drilled hole.
    2. Tap with a hammer into the wall
    Insert your hardware into the anchor (i.e. picture hanger screw, coat hook, etc.) Place against the wall, insert the screw and tighten with a screwdriver