Should A Drill Bit Be The Same Size As The Screw?

Choosing a drill bit might seem like a small part of the building process, but it can completely reshape everything. Think of a drill bit and a screw as the foundational building blocks that start an entire project. Without the proper tools for the job, you won’t achieve the results that you’re hoping for.

The drill bit should be the same size as the shaft of the screw without accounting for the threads. To do this, simply line up a screw side by side with the drill bit. If they’re the same size, then you’re good to go. You can also look for the measurements labeled on most bits and screws.

Should A Drill Bit Be The Same Size As The Screw?

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following bits of information:

  • How to choose the correct screw and drill bit
  • How to make a perfect pilot hole
  • Cautionary advice and suggestions

How to Choose the Correct Drill Bit Size for a Screw

If you’re a beginner when it comes to using drill bits, screws, and tools, then you might be having a bit of a challenge choosing the correct sizes. After all, there’s a seemingly endless amount of fractions and decimals used, so how are you supposed to know exactly what to use for your project?

Fortunately, there are quite a few methods that you can try to ensure that you’re picking out the right sizes. All you have to do is follow the suggestions below, and start drilling away! Here they are:

  • Take the screw that you’re using and the drill bit that looks like it’s the closest size. Line them up end to end and check if the drill bit is the same width as the screw without its threads. If so, then you’re good to go. Warning: if a drill bit is the same size as the screw with the threads, then you could end up making too big of a hole.
  • Find the labels on each of the packages of screws and bits. Almost all drill bits have their dimensions labeled on the actual bit. For screws, you’ll need to find the box or bag that they came in. For a size 2 screw, use a 1/16 bit. For a size 9 screw, use a 9/64 bit. Research graphs and refer to the packing if you get lost.
  • If you’re going to be using washers and other materials that sometimes require a loose screw, then you should do the opposite of the first suggestion. Line the screw and drill bit up and to end and make sure that the bit is the same width as the screw with its threads. This will prevent the screw from sealing too hard against the surface, allowing you to use a washer.

How to Make a Perfect Pilot Hole

Once you’ve chosen the correct drill bit for your screw by following the suggestions in the previous section, it’s time to drill the pilot hole.

Making the pilot hole will enable you to guide the screw to where it needs to go. Without it, you’re going to cause wood chips, splintering, and possibly break a bit.

Drilling a great pilot hole can be done by following these steps:

  1. Mark the point for the screw with a marker or a pencil. This step will enable you to know exactly where to start the hole. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make an offset pilot hole without marking it beforehand. Save yourself time and a headache pack a marking utensil in your tool kit.
  2. Vice the project in place. If you’re drilling into wood, then use clamps to seal it down. Make sure you don’t secure metal too hard, or it could bend. The same pressure could cause wood to break or chip. If you’re drilling into a wall or a stable surface, then you don’t have to worry about this step.
  3. Attach the drill bit that you need and place it vertically lined up with the marked dot. This might seem obvious, but cutting corners by not maintaining a vertical positioning can cause the hole to become sideways or slanted. You need a straight up-and-down hole to maintain a strong grip. Also a brad point drill bit will help you make an accurate hole.
  4. If you’re drilling through the surface, stop once the drill bit comes completely out the other side. However, if you’re only partially drilling into the surface, make a mark on the bit to not exceed the desired dimensions. Drilling too far can prevent the screw from holding.
  5. While holding down the trigger to keep the drill bit spinning, slowly pull out the bit. You might have to do this a few times to rim it out all the way. This step is crucial since it gets rid of wood debris and prevents divots and polishes the surfaces.
  6. Wipe out the wood or metal debris that comes out around the hole with a rag. Once you’re done, you can proceed to use the screw that you picked out. Failure to wipe away the debris can cause it to get stuck in with the screw, preventing a secure hold and sending debris throughout the room.

That’s all there is to it! Making a pilot hole for a screw is very easy if you have the correct drill bits on hand.

If you’re trying to figure out how to make a pilot hole for a nail, simply pick a drill bit that’s the same width as the nail shaft and follow the same steps as mentioned above.

If you want to read more about drilling pilot holes in wood please check this article.

Safety Advice and Warnings

Although drilling a pilot hole and choosing the correct sizes for your projects aren’t too dangerous, it’s still very important to stay safe.

Power tools are no joke, which is why so many people use safety gear. Follow the advice below to prevent accidents from happening.

  • Wear safety gear, including gloves, goggles, and long sleeve shirts. Some people go as far as wearing a mask over their mouth. All of this gear is designed to prevent debris from causing cuts, aside from the gloves that keep your hands safe from drill bits and screws.
  • If you can help it, don’t cut into the old wood that’s chipped or water-logged. These preexisting problems can stop your screws from holding a firm grip. The project might seem complete, but it’ll come apart in due time.
  • Don’t buy cheap screws and drill bits. They might seem tempting, but they can break or rust, both of which cause problems down the road. Instead, spend a couple more dollars and enjoy long-lasting equipment.
  • Go slow and steady, not fast and reckless. The goal isn’t to race to drill a hole. Slow movements create precise cuts that hold screws and last for decades to come. If you rush it, you could ruin your drill or cause splinters and excess debris.


Picking out the correct size for your screws and drill bits makes a massive difference. By following the advice found in the first section of this post, you can accurately choose the best size for the job.

You should’ve also learned the following information in this article:

  • Line up the drill bit and the screws that you’re using to determine the correct size. Remember that the bit should be the same width as the screw without threads.
  • Hold the drill vertically to achieve a perfect pilot hole.
  • Don’t forget to rim the drilled hole and wipe away the debris.
  • Wear protective safety gear to prevent injuries.

Cheers, tools owners!

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Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.