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Phillips flat head wood screwWood Screw Pilot Hole Sizing

A "pilot hole" is a hole drilled into a wood surface prior to installing a screw.  Pilot holes help to:

  1. Prevent wood from splitting from large screws or when near the end or edge of the board.
  2. Make installing the screw easier in hard materials, such as oak or maple.
  3. Improve accuracy by providing a guide (or "pilot") path for the screw to follow.

"Freehand" installation of screws is not always accurate.

When accuracy is essential, a pilot hole can help.  Here's a guide for sizing your pilot hole, courtesy the Bolt Depot.  

Wood screw pilot hole chart

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Jerry Alonzy, the founder of

Written by Jerry Alonzy

Jerry Alonzy, a.k.a. the Natural Handyman, has been an active handyman for over 30 years with experience in most areas of home repair and renovation.

As a do-it-yourself author and web developer since 1995, he has been featured in USA Today, the Today Show and on radio shows, magazines, newspapers and websites. His material appears widely on the web, but primarily on his website... The Natural Handyman. You can also find him on Google+.