How to Punch a Hole in Wood


While a drill is the best tool for creating holes in wood, it may not always be available. In such cases it is handy to have another method. When attempting this project, keep in mind that wood was once a living thing, so the bond between the grains is intense. Any object that spreads its force out too much, when being driven through wood, will cause a split, so start small. Since your punch tool will not be removing wood as it cuts, like a drill bit, it will push the wood further and further back to create the hole.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Nails of various thicknesses
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper

Starting the Hole

  • Use a tape measure to locate and mark the spot for the hole. If possible position it in a clear area, away from distinctive grain lines and large knots. Position a nail punch on the spot and strike it with a hammer to leave a dimple.

  • Position a thick finishing nail (a No. 8 brad works well), long enough to pierce the wood on the spot and tap it in slowly. After each blow, wiggle the nail loose with fingers, or pliers if needed, and pull it back out. Repeat this action until your nail punches through the wood.

  • Remove the nail from the hole with the claw end of a hammer or pliers. Select a larger box nail and drive it through one blow at a time, wiggling it loose and starting over with each blow until it punches through the wood.

Widening the Hole

  • Continue with a framing nail using the same procedure, slowly widening the hole until it is suitable for your purpose. Avoid more than one blow at a time and always wiggle and twist the nail in the hole before removing.

  • Widen the hole even further, if needed, by twisting a small phillips screwdriver through it, removing a little wood at a time. Twist the tool in slightly, then twist it back out and blow the shavings from the hole.

  • Sand the edges of the hole on both sides to remove splinters. Use 100 grit sandpaper for the first pass, then 150-grit to smooth it.

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  • "Trim Carpentry": Phillip Moon; Thomson Delmar Learning, 2207
  • "Trim Carpentry for the Homeowner": Glen Huey; Betterway Books, 2008
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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