Drill angled holes with a hand drill

the jig used to drill angled holes with a hand drill

Although you can drill angled holes quite easily using a bench drill, there are times when you simply can’t use one. I found myself in this situation when I was building a coat rack and I had to drill some angled holes to fit the wooden hooks of the rack.

Since it was an unusual coat rack, a very long and heavy one, it was practically impossible to use the bench drill to make the holes for the hooks. I first thought that I am skilled enough to drill the holes freehand, but I am experienced enough to realize that I simply can’t do such a thing this way: the drill would start wondering around, the angle would be different for each hole, and the position of the holes could not be precise enough.

the hooks of the coat rack are made from a piece of beech wood rod
The beech wood rod that I was planning to cut and use as hooks for the coat rack

I had to rely on a method that I use to drill holes in the ends of long boards, that I adapted to the current situation.

I searched for a scrap hardwood piece as thick as possible, yet thin enough to fit in my small bench drill. I had to think if it would fit in the bench drill, since we are talking about a 14 mm thick drill bit, that is quite long for my small bench drill. Actually, I have the smallest available bench drill, so I always have to be careful about the thickness of the pieces that I drill. After I found a piece that was appropriate for the job, I drilled a hole in it using the 14 mm bit. Before I drilled the hole, I marked the height of the spot where I would like to make the hole, so I wouldn’t have to adjust it for every hole that I would drill in the coat rack.

a hole in a piece of scrap using the drill press is all you need to do for this jig
Making the jig consists of drilling a hole in a piece of scrap using a drill press

With the jig ready for the job, I took the drill out of the bench drill and I put it in my battery operated screwdriver / drill (I almost never use the corded drill, since the smaller battery one does almost any job very easily, since it has a double speed gearbox that allows fast drilling speed in wood). For the ease of positioning the jig, I placed the wood beam that I needed to drill on the edge of the workbench, a little to the inside, so all I had to do was to place the jig on the edge and tighten it against the beam. For the tightening I used an F clamp and a piece of scrap on the opposite side, so I won’t damage the pine beam when I tighten the clamp.

the freshly built jig and the drill bit used for the holes
My freshly built jig and the hand drill with the drill bit in it
the clamp that holds the jig in place should be very tight
The jig has to be clamped very tight to the piece we need to drill
the jig used to drill angled holes with a hand drill
Drilling angled holes using a handheld drill

I had to drill a few holes until I learned the right way to hold the drill so it wouldn’t pull my hand, but in the end I managed to hold it the right way. So, don’t forget to hold the drill tight, otherwise you might risk to sprain your hand. Unless you are used to using such jigs, you should make more than one in the beginning, because you will wreck a few until you learn how to correctly hold the drill. With every hole that you drill without holding the bit straight in the pilot hole, you will damage the jig a little, so after a few holes you will have to make a new one.

Because I had to drill the holes spaced at 20 cm from each other, before removing the clamp I measured the distance from the edge of the jig, so I knew where to place it for the next hole. After loosening the clamp, I just moved it next to the mark, tightened it again and I was able to drill the next hole immediately.

marking the distance to the next hole before releasing the clamp
It’s easier to mark the distance to the next hole before releasing the clamp that holds the jig in place

I drilled a total of 16 holes, on both sides of the hallway coat rack, in just a couple of minutes. The moment of truth came when I installed the hooks in the pine wood beam. The hooks consisted of small pieces cut at 6 cm from a beech wood bar, 14 mm thick.

the angle of the holes is the same and they are evenly spaced
All the holes are at the same angle and evenly spaced

I wasn’t disappointed at all, when I was able to see how nicely all the holes were aligned.

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