What Size of Drill Bit Should I Use For a #10 Screw?

screw sizes

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Every home improvement or construction project would require the right tools and materials. Drill bits for a screw, in particular, come with specific codes representing its features and proper use on certain materials. 

To understand them better, we have compiled the size of drill bits for a #10 screw.

What is the Drill Bit Size That Matches a #10 Screw?

For #10 screws, it is best to know the appropriate pilot hole size on the intended wood, whether it is hardwood or softwood. As referenced below, the drill bit size that matches a #10 screw is 7/64 and 1/8 for softwood and hardwood, respectively.  

It’s also important to know that there are AB self-tapping screws, type B self-tapping screws, or Type 25 thread-cutting screws that may differ in sizing requirements for #10 screws.

10 screw

Screw Size

Drill Hole Size for Softwood

Drill Hole Size for Hardwood

#8

3/32″

1/8″

#10

7/64″

1/8″

#12

1/8″

9/64″

Step #1: Choose a Drill Bit

There are several methods to help you choose the appropriate drill bit. 

  1. One way of choosing the appropriate drill bit is by eyeballing it. You can compare and check the drill bit that is the closest size to the screw you will use. Compare these if they have the same width without their threads. You’d want to start with smaller size bits. If it is too tight, it is easier to make it wider with a larger diameter drill bit (as opposed to making the hole too wide).
  2. Refer to the table above for the pilot size hole appropriate for #10 screws. You can try the smaller bit for a tighter fit, but if you’re joining wood, it is better to stick to the appropriate sizes.
finding drill bit size

3. Whether you’re eyeballing or sticking to the table, it’s best to start with a smaller bit than what you intend to use, then move to a larger diameter bit. This way, making the hole will be much easier.

4. Check the labels on the packages of the screws and bits. Normally, these packages provide tables that guide screw and drill bit pairings. If you have lost the packaging, you may go and do further research.

Step #2: Place the Bit Unto the Drill

  1. Loosen the jaws of the drill bit slot of your drill. 
place bit on drill

2. Center the shank of the drill bit within the jaws of the bit slot. There are three to four jaws usually, and the drill bit should be at the tip of all of them to be perfectly centered.

3. Clamp the bit securely by slowly turning the chuck clockwise while simultaneously checking if the bit is still centered. On older drills, you might need a ‘chuck key’ to turn the chuck. Rotate the chuck counter-clockwise if you need to loosen the bit.

Step #3: Make the Right Drill Settings

  1. Refer to your drill’s manual for the buttons’ respective functions. This is necessary to make the proper adjustments and proper usage of the drill.
  2. For drilling holes, you will set your drill for high speed and low torque. 
  3. For deeper holes that will require the whole length of your bit, set your drill to low torque. 
  4. Set the direction of the drill rotation properly as well. If the drill bit is facing away from you, a clockwise rotation means you are drilling in, and a counter-clockwise direction for pulling the bit out.
drill setting

Step #4: Prepare the Surface or Material

  1. Clean the intended surface where you will perform the drilling. Make sure to mark specific locations where the drilling will be on the material. 
  2. Secure your workpiece by clamping it in a vice or by using adjustable clamps.
  3. If you are drilling through the piece, i.e. the drill bit will come out the other end, prevent splintering on the exit side by drilling your workpiece on a surplus piece of wood. 
  4. Be aware of the exit of your drill bit to prevent unintentionally drilling into your work table and other work materials.

Step #5: Start Drilling the Hole

  1. First, try and practice drilling a hole on a surplus piece of wood similar to your workpiece to get a ‘feel’ of the wood, i.e. what drill speed you can use and the force of the push you’ll need to drive the bit in.
  2. Do not press the trigger yet. Align your drill bit at a proper angle as you lay it on your workpiece.
  3. Start drilling by pulling the trigger lightly and slowly applying pressure to drive the bit in. Be aware of any corrections and adjustments you might need while the spin is still slow.
drilling

4. If there are no more adjustments, gradually increase the rotation speed by pulling the trigger all the way in while driving the bit slowly and surely. 

5. Pull the drill bit out by reversing the spin direction (refer to your drill’s manual, this is usually just a button). Clear the hole and its area of sawdust [1].

6. Pass a screw in the hole. A hole of the right size should allow a screw to be driven in with small to medium effort using a regular handheld screwdriver. If you are using too little or too much force, consider using the next smaller or larger drill bit size, respectively. 

FAQ

What should be the size of the pilot hole?

The pilot hole size will vary depending on the drill bit that will be used and the intended type of material. It is best to consult or refer to a guide for reference. 

Can the drill bit be tinier than the screw?

The drill bit shoe is not tinier than the screw. Rather, it should be almost the same size as the body of the screw without the threads. 

Conclusion

Choosing the correct drill bits for your screws will help your project become a success. This takes a bit of practice, intuition, and some research. 

However, do not be intimidated since you can plan ahead before taking on a project that requires these materials. We hope that this article helped you select the correct size of drill bit for a #10 screw.

Robert Johnson is a woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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