Make a drill jig for drilling the end of boards

DIY drill guide for drilling the end of a board

When building so many diy projects, one often needs to drill repetitive holes into the end of boards (so, a drill jig is very useful). For example, if you have a knife joint, you will need holes at the end of one of the boards, if you install an eccentric removable screw, you will need holes (and these holes must be precise). The examples can indefinitely continue. The holes in the ends of the boards are almost never missing from a woodworking project.

Unfortunately, using the drill press you can not drill such holes. If, for smaller pieces you can build a stand, the longer pieces (for example the sleepers of a bed) will never fit.

It would be better to have a horizontal drilling tool, but as such a tool is rather expensive, it is not worth buying it for a small workshop.

You can try to drill the holes with a corded drill, using a drill stand, if possible. If you have no experience, the holes will be wrongly positioned or not perpendicular, which will make the final assembly very difficult.

If you want the drilled holes to be very accurate, you can build from wood scraps a special drill jig, for your project.

The drill guide in this article is specially made for my project in progress: I needed to drill on both ends, one centered hole, in 10 pine wood pieces, 2.5 cm by 2.5 cm in section.

I started by screwing two boards so that they would be perpendicular to each other (here I cheated a little, the assembly was already made for a very thick log cutting jig). I chose a piece of hardwood (I found a 4 cm thick piece of beech wood) and I checked that the piece had at least 2 sides perpendicular to each other. I calculated the position of the pilot hole, taking care to collect the thickness of the wall of the square on which I will fix the piece of beech wood.

we started to build our wooden jig from two perpendicular planksthe two planks joint together
The wood boards from which the construction of the drill guide starts
for the drilling jig we used a 4 cm thick piece of wood scrap
The 4 cm thick piece of beech wood scrap

I have set the position of the hole (if there are several on the same edge, it is good to drill all of them at first to avoid having to move the drill jig) and I drilled the beech piece using the drill press. I used an 8 mm drill bit, the required hole diameter, (the holes will be used to fit 8 mm wood dowels). Because the drill will often slightly damage the guide hole, it is advisable that the thickness of the guide plank to be at least 3 cm. Thus, the drill bit will be straight and the guide will be harder to be damaged.

we drilled a pilot hole, perfectly perpendicular, in order to use it for the drilling jig
The pilot drilled hole must be perfectly perpendicular
fixing the beech wood scrap on a square frame with screws
The beech wood scrap is fixed on the square with some screws

I screwed the board on the square. I took care that the part from which I started the pilot hole to be towards the inside of the guide (so I avoided any hole positioning errors, if the drill press did not make the hole perfectly perpendicular). Then I did a first test with a scrap (one scrap left from cutting the pieces that I had to drill, because it was the same size).

I first tested the drill jig to be sure it works, before drilling the boards of the project
The test drilled hole is centered

After I checked that the guide was accurate, I started to drill the wooden pieces for the project in progress. I’ve drilled all the 10 pieces on both ends in just 3 minutes, without having to measure each one and without the risk of making any mistake.

drilling the boards of the project by using the drilling jig
I kept the wooden piece straight with the help of a scrap piece of panel
DIY drill guide for drilling the end of a board
The 10 wooden pieces were accurately drilled in just a few minutes using the drill guide

Because I needed to drill the end of a wooden board for the same project, I chose not to build another guide, but to use the same one. To get the centered holes (the board was thinner), I used small veneer pieces of 2.5 mm and 1.6 mm to level the plank on the guide.

the thinner plank that have to be drilled into the ends
The additional pine wood plank was thinner
we used small pieces of wood as spacers for our drilling guide
Small pieces of beech wood veneer used as spacers
the holes drilled with our custom jig for drilling holes in the ends of the boards, are centered
The holes are centered because I used the beech wood veneer spacers and the built-in drill guide
the boards are perfectly aligned due to our DIY drilling guide
The perfectly aligned holes helped achieve a very successful end result

You can also learn how to drill perfect holes with two drill jigs for dowel joints, at a certain angle, using as example an laminated oak wood room divider.

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