Step by Step Guide to Drill Holes in Particle Board

One of the biggest aspects of woodworking is using tools and joinery. Cutting wood and fastening it using screws and dowels is pretty common when working on projects. Of course, with wood, it is easy to cut it and fasten it with screws or dowels. Though pressed wood, specifically particle board is a different ball game. It acts very differently from solid wood, even if it is made out of wooden material. If you are planning on driving screws in particle board and want to know how to drill it, we have you covered. In this article, we will go through a step-by-step guide to drilling holes in particle board.

To drill holes in particle board, you first need to create markings. These markings will guide you to where you have to place your drill. If you have a laminate top, you might want to put paper tape on top of the mark where you have to drill. This helps in stabilising the drill bit so it does not steer or skid before making the hole due to the laminate being very smooth. Using a smaller diameter drill bit first and then using a bigger one is always a good idea. Lastly, using new and sharp drill bits is the key to cleaner holes.

Drilling holes in pressed wood is not very different from drilling holes in wood. You just have to make a little preparation depending on what kind of pressed wood we are talking about. If it is a veneer top particle board, then you should be able to drill into it without trouble.

However, laminate is slightly different, since it is smoother and made from plastic. It is a very hard but fragile material that can be broken easily if you try to bend it. Not to mention you have to drill at high speeds to ensure that the laminate does not crack or break.

Step-by-Step Guide on Drilling Holes in Particle Board

Prep work is the key to ensuring that whatever you are planning to do, works as you had intended it to. For drilling holes in the particle board, we are going to cover the process for both, the veneer top and laminated top.

Step 1 – Marking the Holes

You cannot just randomly make holes in wood or particle board. You need to mark the area where you will be drilling. So first take measurements and then using a pen or pencil, mark the drilling points.

Step 2 – Putting Tape on Drilling Points (For Laminated Top Particle Boards Only)

If you are drilling holes on a laminated top particle board, it is a good idea to place tape on your drilling points. Since laminate is very smooth, there is a high chance that the drill bit might skid or run before it starts to make the hole in it. This can cause scratches and cracks on the laminate. Instead, place tape on top of the drilling point so that the drill bit is stabilised and can make the hole without issues.

Step 3 –  Drilling Holes Using Smaller Bit (Optional)

To make sure that your holes are clean, you can drill a smaller hole using a smaller diameter drill bit first. This helps create a pilot hole for the bigger diameter drill bit that you need to use for making the holes of your choice. Place your drill perpendicular to the particle board and start drilling. Make sure to put your drill at full speed from the beginning so that it makes clean holes.

Step 4 – Drilling Holes

If you have created a smaller hole using a smaller diameter drill bit than the one that you need to use, this will be much easier. In case you haven’t, it is not a big problem, just place your drill machine perpendicular to the particle board, and start drilling at max speed from the start. This way the holes will be clean.

What Kind of Screws to Use in Particle Board

Usually, when you drill holes, it is for the purpose of driving screws into wood. The same can be said for particle boards. However, you cannot use the same wood screws that you use in solid wood for particle boards.

Because solid wood has a grain structure that grips onto the screw tightly so that it does not get loose once you drive it in. On the other hand, there is no grain whatsoever in the particle board for the screw to grip tightly.

So for particle boards, you need to use coarse threaded screws that give you the leverage you need to grip pressed wood, particularly particle boards. These screws have edges on the threads as well that act as anchors for the threads to latch tightly to the particle board.

Can I Screw Straight Into Particle Board?

No, You cannot screw straight into a particle board as it will split it apart. Particle board is made by compressing wood chips and glue together tightly. If you screw directly into the particle board, it will loosen the bond between the glue and the chips. This in return splits the board apart, the same is the case with MDF as well. 

Drilling a hole only takes so much time, in return you get cleaner results without the loss of materials. Not to mention, when you are drilling a pilot hole, you can use a countersink bit to make a counter sink for the screw head to rest in. You can use putty to cover the top of the screw head as well for smoother results.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drill into IKEA particle board?

Yes, you can drill into an IKEA manufactured particle board. IKEA uses particle board in most of its furniture. It is either that or MDF. You can drill a hole into a particle board manufactured by IKEA the same way you drill a hole in any other particle board.

What is the best drill bit for particle board?

Any wooden drill bit is best for drilling holes in particle boards. However, make sure the drill bit is sharp and new, the sharper the drill bit, the better and cleaner the holes.

How to get screws to stay in particle board?

First, you need to use coarse threaded screws for particle board. Secondly, use glue whenever possible. Before you drive a screw into a pilot hole, put glue inside it. This will help ensure that the screw stays in the particle board. Lastly, do not move the particle board that you have put screws in. Movement is the worst enemy of pressed wood, particle board included. If you move it a lot, whether you drive nails or screws into the board, it can come apart, tearing the board with it.

Final Thoughts

Making holes in particle boards is not that difficult. All you need is a little preparation work, and you can ensure that you get clean holes for driving screws into. Using good tools is also a key element, as you want your drill to be performing at max speed for drilling holes in particle board. Having a sharper and new drill bit will also ensure cleaner holes. Lastly, taking your time with each hole will make the job that much easier.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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