6 Commonly Used Boring Tools in Carpentry (You Should Have)

When you think about drilling, the first thing you think of are all kinds of drills. But there’s not one drill, or even a few drills. There are a dozen different kinds of woodworking drill bits to create holes, that will come in all sizes and shapes.

Besides all these drills, there are also some less well-known drilling and boring tools in carpentry that will help you in specific situations, which I think everyone should have in their workshop.

That is the reason I want you to be introduced to these tools in this article.

The 6 commonly used boring tools in carpentry that you are about to discover in this article are:

  • center drill bit
  • bradawl
  • counter sink bit
  • step drill
  • flexible shaft drill bit
  • plug cutter

The first time I saw them, back in the days when I started woodworking, I was flabbergasted. I realized these tools would make it so much easier for me to work on my projects.

That’s why I want to share these tools with you so you can maximize your knowledge and explore how you can use them to be more productive.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

What Is A Boring Tool?

Boring tools are used to drill small holes or large holes in pieces of wood or other types of materials like wood, metal, plastic, concrete, glass, and stone. Boring tools for woodworking come in many sizes and shapes, and the most common uses of boring tools in woodworking are drills. In most cases, the terms “drill” and “boring tool” can be used interchangeably.

Using a boring tool can also be complicated, so you should know which boring tool to use depending on the type of project you are doing and the material you will be working with. In another article on my website, — 7 essential types of drill bits for woodworking —, I go more in-depth to the types of drills and what they are used for.

In this article, I will be going over the boring tools list that can be used in carpentry that will take drilling to the next level.

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6 boring tools in carpentry that you should have too!

Aside from the well-known varieties of drills, such as brad point bits, high-speed bits, hole saws, auger bits, twist drills, spade bits, forstner bits and many more, there are six boring tools for carpentry that you should be familiar with.

They can do more than simply drill holes or assist you in creating the perfect drill hole.

These drilling tools are quite specific, and I believe that everyone should have them. I’ll go through them one by one and briefly detail them, so you have a full understanding of how they function and how you may utilize them for your workshop projects.

What are the most used boring tools in carpentry?

The most commonly used boring tools in carpentry can vary depending on the specific needs of the woodworking project.

By discovering the 6 tools for boring holes below, you can decide for yourself what you will need the most and put those on top of your wishing list.

Boring tools for Wood # 1: Center drill bit

The first one on the list of driling tools used in carpentry is the center drill bit. These bits are self-centering and are usually made of high speed steel (HSS) and can drill holes in almost any material, but they work best with wood.

When you need to mount two pieces together and there are holes in the piece you want to mount, you can use a center drill bit to drill holes in the exact center of these holes.

There are different types of center drill bits. One type is where the inside of the center drill bit is actually a tapered shape.

These are designed to remove the wood in the center of the hole as it cuts, leaving a clean and precise hole in the middle of the object you are working on.

Another type of center drill bit is one in which a regular drill bit is surrounded by a metal sleeve. This type of center drill bit can be purchased in a set with different diameters.

To make a center hole, you need to use a center drill bimaterials,s a sleeve with a diameter that is equal to the hole that you use as a guide. Personally, I am a fan of this type of center drill, which you can see in the picture on the right.

What is the difference between a center drill bit and other types of drill bits?

Drill bits are used for drilling holes of different diameters.

The center drill bit, on the other hand, is used to drill a pilot hole, which can then be expanded by using another drill bit. It has a sharp conical point which helps it to penetrate into the material easily. Its point is slightly larger than the intended diameter of the pilot hole. This helps to avoid chipping and splintering at the edges of the hole.

Boring tools for Wood # 2: Bradawl

You can describe a bradawl as a small wood chisel with a flat or rounded blade and a long handle. At the end of the blade of a bradawl, there is a flattened tip that looks like some kind of sharp chisel edge or point that can make pilot holes in many materials, such as wood, and plastic.

To make a hole with the bradawl, you must turn it through the material to create a larger hole, but be careful not to push too hard, because the tip of the bradawl is sharp. This tool is very useful for creating pilot holes for screws or eyes in wood before adding them, and also for making small repairs.

What is the difference between an awl and a bradawl?

A bradawl is a slightly different tool than an awl, but both can be used on wood.

An awl is like a very thin, pointed, long nail. It has a very narrow nose that can pierce through wood or leather. This is handy if you want to drive small nails into the wood without having to hit it with a hammer, which would split the wood. An awl is more commonly used in leatherworking but can be used in fine woodworking as well.

The bradawl, on the other hand, will make a hole similar to a screw tip. The nose is wider than an awl and the tip is very sharp, sometimes looking like a very small chisel, and in other cases, pointy. Because of the wider nose, a bradawl will not be able to pierce through the wood, but will be used for manually placing screws. When you make a pre-hole with a bradawl, the screw will go through the wood much more easily.

Which is better, an awl or a bradawl?

That depends on what you are working on.

The awl has many uses in woodworking and leatherworking and easily pierces thin materials such as fabric and paper.

A bradawl will be used to pre-hole for screw entry rather than poking through the wood.

Some time ago, I made a video and blog post where I made an awl with a piece of scrap wood and an old drill. This was a fun and easy project that anyone can do. Be sure to check out that article, — how to make a cool and unique awl — here.

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Boring tools for Wood # 3: Countersink Bits

A countersink is a small cone-shaped tool with a pointed tip at the end of the shank, which is designed to create a small notch in the material where the screw will be. It creates this notch so that screws can be countersunk more easily without damaging the surrounding surface. Because of a countersink the head of the screw will be flush with the surface as a result.

Countersinks are usually made of high speed steel or carbide. They can be used on wood, metal, plastic, and even concrete.

To make a screw countersunk, you can use a countersink bit after you drilled a pilot hole. However, there are also drill bits available that can drill a pilot hole and countersink in the same step. These are known as “combination drill bits.” This type of countersink drill bit can be used to drill different sizes of pilot holes and flat countersinks in one step into materials like wood and plastic.

Using this type of drill will speed up your workflow by not having to switch between the pilot hole drill and the countersink bit all the time.
A more in-depth article on countersink bits can be found here.

Boring tools for Wood # 4: Step drill bit

The step drill bit is another one in the list of drilling tools used in carpentry which you should have in your workshop. The step drill bit, like the one from DeWalt you can see in the picture below, has the shape of a cone. This type of drill can be used for different purposes on materials that are soft or hard, like wood, plastic or metal.

First, you can use a step drill if you need to make different sizes of holes with just one bit. This will benefit in winning time by not have to change bits constantly.

A step bit gradually increases the hole as you go down while drilling. The deeper you drill, the larger the hole will be.

Second, you can use this type of drill to enlarge already drilled holes. Using a regular drill for this can cause gripping the material, deforming the circular hole, and hurting you because of the kickback of the (cordless) drill.

So the step drill will be a much easier and safer way to enlarge holes if you need to.

Third, you can use this type of drill bit to work on round surfaces such as metal pipes or tubing.

Using this device will keep the edges of the holes clean and smooth.

DEWALT Step Drill Bit Set, 3-Piece (DWA1790IR)

Check out more details and prices of this product by clicking the link below.

Boring tools for Wood # 5: Flexible shaft drill bit

Although this is not really a tool for boring holes in wood, this flexible shaft drill bit should not be missing from this list of special drilling tools for woodworkers.

No doubt you have already experienced this when you have to place or remove a screw in a place that you cannot reach with the cordless drill or a screwdriver. Then you will be glad to have this handy tool in your workshop. For only a small price, a flexible shaft drill bit will save you a lot of work and aggravation.

What is a flexible shaft drill bit?

The tool itself is a metal shaft that is bendable at various points, allowing it to be bent at any angle. Because of that, you can reach places and items that otherwise would be completely unreachable.

Flexible Drill Bit Extension and Universal Socket Wrench Tool Set

Check out more details and prices of this product by clicking the link below.

Boring tools for Wood # 6: Plug Cutter

The plug cutter is the last addition to this list of six commonly used cutting tools in carpentry. This woodworking tool can be used to produce wooden plugs that may be used as fillers in the same wood where faults or damage are to be fixed.

This tool can be of various sizes and shapes. Most are made of metal and usually have a semicircular shape and curved edges, where the inner dimensions of this tool determine the diameter of the plug.

I’ve used this method before to conceal the head of a screw in one of my projects. For this, I used my hand drill to make a massive countersink hole, causing the screw head to be substantially deeper than the surface.

That way, I was able to cover the head screw by gluing a plug into the hollow above using wood glue.

Make it Snappy Tools 3 Piece Tapered Plug Cutter Set

Check out more details and prices of this product by clicking the link below.


While these 6 drilling tools for carpentry aren’t necessarily the tools you’d think of or want to invest in them when starting out in woodworking, I believe they’re useful to have in your workshop. If you’re on a budget, I recommend starting with some basic drills and the 6 tools discussed in this article.

The reason I recommend these so much is that they’re one of those things you never know you need unless you have one. As I said before, they are small investments that can save you a lot of time and aggravation.

In this article, I mentioned pilot holes a few times. But what are pilot holes exactly? Are they really necessary? How big should they be? You can discover all that in my article, — Is a pilot hole necessary? Clearly explained for the best result!

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I hope this list of 6 boring tools in carpentry was helpful, and that this blog inspires you.

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Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration

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