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Newbie - Can't figure out how to drill into pine :(

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Forum topic by Shubha posted 07-07-2015 12:58 AM 2116 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Shubha

13 posts in 563 days


07-07-2015 12:58 AM

Topic tags/keywords: drill screws power tools drill bits pilot holes

I’m making a coffee table out of used bowling alley lanes for the first time and what I’m doing seems like it should be simple – I am trying to drill screws into the underside to attach horizontal bars for stability. The screws are about 1.5” (so pretty short I think?) but my attempts have just ended up with a drillbit breaking in the hole.

After using a 9.5V cordless black and decker drill first to try to drill a pilot hole, then screw the screw directly in (it would stop with about 1/4” left on the outside), I got a 12V cordless drill. I tried drilling the screw directly in and again it stopped with about 1/4” left on the outside. I then tried drilling a pilot hole with a slightly bigger drill bit and the drill bit got stuck! I tried using the drill over and over but each time it would end up with the drill bit staying stuck in the hole as I pulled up on the drill. Pliers didn’t work either. Finally I tried moving the bit around a bit and, of course, the bit broke in the hole!

I am going to try a slightly thinner, and less long, screw, but as far as learning goes I’m not satisfied. There MUST be a way to screw 1.5” screws into pine. The internet has told me that cordless drills are just as good as corded drills for intense projects, so certainly it shouldn’t be the cordless drill that’s the problem here??

I’m sooo close to being done my table! Very frustrated to get hung up so close to the end. Any suggestions?


28 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 948 days


#1 posted 07-07-2015 01:05 AM

Are you sure you’re not hitting a nail?

Bowling alley lanes are not glued they are nailed together.

Try a different site to drill. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to drill into hard pine and not have a problem.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1324 days


#2 posted 07-07-2015 01:12 AM

Well, several things going on here. Yellow pine is hard for pine, but still not as hard as oak or others. Try to make sure the pilot you are drilling is as deep as the screw is long. When you drill holes, drill in some and then pull out to allow the hole to clear of debris, then drill some more. If you don’t, the bit gets tighter as you drill deeper. Eventually the bit got so tight that the chuck was slipping. Sometimes with cordless drills it is hard to get the bit tight enough. For pine I will pick a pilot bit that is a bit smaller than the shank of the screw. For oak and other hard woods I will use a bit that is about the same size as the shank of the screw. A trick for getting screws to go in easier is to use a bar of soap and rub the screw on the soap. What screws are you using?

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1324 days


#3 posted 07-07-2015 01:13 AM

Good point about the nails. There’s lots of nails in a bowling lane.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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Luthierman

157 posts in 554 days


#4 posted 07-07-2015 01:18 AM

Try a different site to drill. There s no reason you shouldn t be able to drill into hard pine and not have a problem.

- rwe2156

Yes. Think about drywall work. I cant set 2” screws a thousand at a time into pine without pre-drilling. I bet you’re going into maple, not pine. You did say you were a newb. Easy mistake. So then…. I would undersize your drill bit by around 10% of the screw diameter, but no more, maybe even a bit less. Maple is very hard. If you are using heavy duty screws and not cheapo ones you should be fine with what I said to do. But, if you are using screws like drywall screws, they are going to snap every time in maple. Lastly, when drilling holes dont go full bore and depth all at once. Pull it out a few times to clear the dust. Otherwise it will make your bit get stuck, especially if you are using an underpowered drill.

-- Jesse, West Lafayette, Indiana

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firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1324 days


#5 posted 07-07-2015 01:24 AM

Does your piece of bowling lane have the arrows on it?

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 953 days


#6 posted 07-07-2015 01:28 AM

It has to be some kind of hardwood. Make sure the drill bit is the same size or slight larger than the minor diameter.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View dawsonbob's profile

dawsonbob

1921 posts in 1222 days


#7 posted 07-07-2015 02:25 AM

I think Luthierman has the right of it. It’s probably maple, not pine. As he suggested, try lubricating the screws with soap or wax. Cordless drills will work fine, if you follow all the tips above.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

2635 posts in 2576 days


#8 posted 07-07-2015 02:45 AM

Show us a picture. I pretty much guarantee that the lane wood is maple. I can’t imagine any type of pine being hard enough.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

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crank49

3981 posts in 2438 days


#9 posted 07-07-2015 05:06 AM

Never heard of a bowling lane made of pine. Not even heart pine.
They are either Maple or Beech.. . and hard as hell. . . and as said above, put together with nails.

All the above advice is spot on as for drilling and lubricating the screws.
I would only add a couple things. Smaller drill bit, the higher the speed you must use to avoid breaking the bit.
Use a good quality high speed steel or cobalt steel drill bit.
If you must get your screws from a box store don’t use the un-branded screws; they are made from recycled garbage steel. I have had pretty good luck with Spax brand screws.

In the future it’s better to buy screws from someone like McFeely’s with square drive heads. Better quality and better price as well.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

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TopamaxSurvivor

17676 posts in 3143 days


#10 posted 07-07-2015 07:12 AM

As firefighter says, keep your drill clean. Those little twist drills fill up with debris very quickly. You probably need to pull it out and clean it at least 4 or 5 times for an 1 1/2” hole.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 948 days


#11 posted 07-07-2015 11:35 AM



Never heard of a bowling lane made of pine. Not even heart pine.
They are either Maple or Beech.. . and hard as hell. . . and as said above, put together with nails.
- crank49
Yeah many of them are just SYP. The bowling alley my son works at have all pine lanes with the exception of the first part where the ball hits that is maple.

I made my workbench out of a piece of pine bowling lane.

My son said they impregnate the pine with something that makes it harder.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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firefighterontheside

13520 posts in 1324 days


#12 posted 07-07-2015 12:27 PM

I made my kitchen island top and my workbench out of bowling lane. They are indeed yellow pine. I missed getting the sections that were the first 10’. Those were maple. I guess there’s no need for maple past the distance that someone is going to throw the ball. The finish on it was about 1/8” thick.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View boisdearc's profile

boisdearc

44 posts in 803 days


#13 posted 07-07-2015 01:48 PM

Practice drilling on a scrap piece to see if it will go.. Also don’t know if you are using sheet rock screws or not…. They are pretty weak..
Really sounds like you are hitting metal…

View SirIrb's profile

SirIrb

1239 posts in 698 days


#14 posted 07-07-2015 01:54 PM

I am no bowling guru. But I though the lanes were rock maple.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16244 posts in 3685 days


#15 posted 07-07-2015 02:10 PM

If your drill has two speed ranges, make sure you are using the high range for drilling, and the low range for driving the screw.

Also, the fact that the screw stops before going all the way in tells me your pilot hole is not deep enough. Sharp, good quality bits are important.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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