What drill bit to use for bookcase shelf pin holes?

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Forum topic by Kali2024 posted 05-10-2011 11:00 PM 22474 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 2574 days

05-10-2011 11:00 PM

So apparently your typical .25” typical twist bit is a no go…so what should I use to create the perfect, clean shelf pin holes?

14 replies so far

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3586 days

#1 posted 05-10-2011 11:06 PM

You should possibly be best consult a catalogue for sizes etc these come in various sizes so read and make sure your doing the right thing best of luck dear lady. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Loren's profile


10401 posts in 3648 days

#2 posted 05-10-2011 11:12 PM

.25” is ok if you’re using .25” shelf pins. You get a snug fit that way. Don’t
use a standard twist drill though; use a brad point or a twist drill sharpened
to a “cabinetmaker’s point” (which is a shop-made version of brad points).

You can also use a .25” twist end mill in a plunge router.

Shelf pins usually come in 5mm or .25”, which is closer to 6mm.

If using the 5mm pins, there’s a fractional inch size drill that will work,
but you can buy a 5mm bit online easily enough. Local stores are not
likely to carry metric bits, much less metric brad points.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3287 days

#3 posted 05-11-2011 12:04 AM

Loren is right, there are basically 2 sizes. Rockler sells a special bit for this (either size) that works with a jig they also have.

You might check that out


View allmyfingers's profile


40 posts in 2647 days

#4 posted 05-11-2011 02:05 AM

rockler jig and bit set is inexpensive and idiot proof.

-- I cut it 3 times and it was still too short?!?

View Kali2024's profile


29 posts in 2574 days

#5 posted 05-11-2011 02:40 AM

Thanks so much for the tips! I’ll try the jig- has to be 100x better than using a peg board as a template! Again, i appreciate it!

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3894 days

#6 posted 05-11-2011 03:01 AM

5mm are the most common for Home Depot type shelf pins.

I drill a 7.5mm hole, the insert a brass or chrome sleeve and a 6mm sleeve fits in that

and the list goes on…............

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 2687 days

#7 posted 05-11-2011 06:34 AM

I use a .25” downward spiral bit in my plunge router with a 3/8 Outer Diameter collet. I have a few shop made jigs that have a 3/8 dado and 3/8” holes spaced every 2”. The dado is aligned with the holes to keep the collet in line so as to not have to search for each hole. Works great! The downward spiral bit keeps veneers and laminates chip free and the plunge router ensures 90* holes every time.

Bit was $17 on amazon, well worth it.

View Earlextech's profile


1161 posts in 2691 days

#8 posted 05-11-2011 03:06 PM

Brad point.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2685 days

#9 posted 05-12-2011 05:40 PM

Norm built a similar jig several years ago. I modified it somewhat so it looks almost like a drywall t-square. Beauty is using the plunge router, I think get more uniform depth control plus if the template holes aren’t exactly spaced (I’m talking about .00x something), it doesn’t really matter as long as the jig is orientated on the same top or bottom edge (i.e. if hole 1 is 1”, but hole 2 is 1 1/64” from hole 1, moving the jig from the right side of a panel to the left side will keep the same pattern (no rocking of the shelves). When first made, the holes that accept the guide bushing are a little tight but with time they loosen up. It’s amazingly fast to set-up (use the quick clamps) and use. I find I spend more time in moving it around than I do boring the holes!).

View Bearpaw's profile


255 posts in 3721 days

#10 posted 05-13-2011 05:48 PM

The jig teejk spoke of is the one I have used for many years. I have had great success in using it. If you are interested in it I can take a picture of it for you. It is very easy to build.

Now a table saw for Mothers day is different.

-- "When we build, let us think we build forever." John Ruskin

View CampD's profile


1667 posts in 3486 days

#11 posted 05-13-2011 06:15 PM

I 2nd the Rockler Jig and drill bit, been using it for years and dozens of projects and cabinets with no sign of wear.
Paid for itself the first time.

-- Doug...

View ptweedy's profile


75 posts in 3394 days

#12 posted 05-13-2011 07:25 PM

goto you will find the best shelf hole jig that I have seen or used. It is also the fastest by a huge margin. phil

View ptweedy's profile


75 posts in 3394 days

#13 posted 05-14-2011 12:10 AM

sorry the above html is not correct. Go to the woodworkers gazzett and look for a detailed look at shelf pin hole jigs. The last review is of a home made one that I first built in 2004. Mine has only one side and a fence on the off side. This article was written in 1999 april. phil

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3069 days

#14 posted 05-14-2011 12:19 AM

A twist drill is probably the right size, but it isn’t easy to keep them from “wandering” without some kind of jig. I’ve built several over the years – usually from peg board – and they have worked pretty well until they begin to wear a bit and get a little sloppy.

I got a jig from Rockler about three years ago and consider the $35 cost a real bargain. Mine uses a 1/4” Vix-type bit with a collar that fits into the jig holes. I can crank out shelf pin holes for a full height bookcase in a matter of minutes and they’re always dead-on.

The most common pin diameters are 1/4” and 5mm.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

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