April 2015 Wood News Online Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News


Ask the Staff


I need to drill a flat bottom screw hole (counterbore). I need a pilot counterbore drill tool. A Forstner type bit in a hand held power drill would be risky. I am building a cabinet carcase from solid pine. Flathead screws near the end grain tend to split the wood when torqued. What can you recommend?

Thank you,



We do not have a bit to drill both flat bottom counterbore and pilot hole at once. You would first drill with a Forstner Bit and then drill the pilot hole for the screw shank next (with a standard bit or a tapered bit with no countersink installed on it).

A 1/2" diameter Forstner Bit in a hand held drill is not too tough. A 1" diameter and larger bit hand held does require more talent.

You could consider making a jig; you first drill through (on a drill press if you have one) a 3/4" birch plywood or MDF. This would act like a bushing for the Forstner Bit to help you drill more plumb.

This Portable Drill Guide could help as well for hand held drilling.

CLICK HERE to watch the video.

Since a flathead screw has the tapered shoulder, this is what wedges the wood near the end grain and causes a split to happen. I don't know if you need to plug the holes with a wood bung or not, but if the look of the screw or the size of another type of screw that has a flat shoulder (like a round head wood screw or a "combo tapping screw", available at most hardware stores) gives you enough room to still plug the hole, then that style of shoulder will be less likely to cause a split.


Ed Scent
Highland Woodworking


E-mail us with your woodworking questions. If yours is selected for publication,
we'll send you a free Highland Woodworking hat.

Return to Wood News front page

Print Friendly and

Bookmark and Share
See Previous Newsletters Subscribe to our Newsletter

Copyright © 2015 Highland Woodworking, Inc.

Highland Woodworking | 1045 N. Highland Avenue, NE | Atlanta | GA | 30306 | 404.872.4466