How to Screw into Wood Without a Drill

How to Screw into Wood Without a Drill (7 EASY Ways)

If you spend a lot of time with wood, you know how inconvenient it can be to stop what you’re doing to get a drill out of the drawer only to find that it’s out of power.

Although it’s a little trickier, you don’t always need a drill to screw it into the wood!

In this post, I’ll explore the best ways to screw into wood without a drill, some of the techniques and alternative tools you can use, and much more. Let’s get started!

Make a Pilot Hole

Before we start, you need to understand the concept of a pilot hole.

Pilot holes provide a way for your screw to burrow themselves inside the wood without a power drill. Needless to say, it’s an essential starting point critical to success when drilling holes manually.

There are two ways to make a pilot hole that are also technically methods to drill into the wood without an electronic component:

  • Use a bow drill: A bow drill utilizes a string to dig a tiny hole into a wooden surface.
  • Try a hammer and nails: A hammer and nails, gently tapped, will make a small hole in a wooden surface.

You can check out these methods to fix a hole that’s too big if you need more help!

Best Ways to Screw Into Wood Without a Drill

1. Use a Screwdriver


There’s a good chance you have a screwdriver laying around somewhere in your home, and it can be the perfect tool to screw into wood without a drill.

Sure, it’s going to take a little more work – but it’s the easiest method on my list.

If you don’t have a drill available, you can easy screw into wood with a screwdriver by following these steps:

  • Make a pilot hole using a hammer and nail (or another method)
  • Use a handheld screwdriver to screw into the pilot hole by turning it clockwise into the wood

2. Try an Awl

An awl is an excellent way to get a screw into the wood without the help of a power tool.

Essentially, this tool is a sharp stick with a flat end, not unlike screw heads. Woodworkers can utilize the awl with a hammer for installing screws without a power drill.

To use an awl, you will need to do the following:

  • Mark the spot where you want the hole or create a pilot hole
  • Place the awl on top of the hole
  • Grab a hammer you can have a firm grip on
  • Drive the awl through the wood

After this process, you should have a hole you can work with to install screws with a screwdriver.

An awl doesn’t create a massive hole, but it’s enough that you can make do with your screws and drill into wood. You will need strength and precision to utilize an awl correctly, so ensure you’re ready for this before you decide to go with the hammer and awl route.

3. Use Self-Driving Screws

There are also self-driving screw options on the market that can be extremely helpful.

With self-driving screws, you won’t need to create pilot holes – instead you can drill your screws directly into the wood.

You can utilize these to make a hole in the wood and drive screws through the material. You can tell a wood screw is self-driving if it has a little notch in the bottom of the threads. Self-drilling screws are excellent in place of an electric drill.

To work with self-drilling screws, you will need to:

  • Place the screw on a marked spot or in a pilot hole
  • Screw it in with a handheld screwdriver
  • Use an awl to finish the process if you can’t get it inside

Once inside, you can remove the self-driving screw from the wood if desired.

If you don’t have any self-driving screws on hand, you can notch a regular screw to make it easier to complete the process. Take a knife and create a groove to allow the screw to head into the wood without much trouble.

You’ll need a manual screwdriver for this method, but you should already have that on hand.

4. Work With a Chisel

Using Chisel

If you need a large hole for your screws, a chisel works.

This method is a lot like the awl technique in that it requires strength to bring to fruition effectively whatever project you’re working on in your life.

Chisels are available at most hardware stores and are very affordable. They typically have a handle and a flat edge to dig into the material.

To utilize a chisel, you will need to:

  • Place the chisel in a perpendicular position on the wood
  • Take a hammer of choice
  • Pound the chisel into the wood
  • Repeat gently, turning the chisel until a hole forms

It shouldn’t take long for the chisel to create a larger hole for your project.

If you don’t need a big indent for your wood screws, the chisel might not be the right tool for your project. It can take some focus to master turning the chisel while hammering to make that ideal spot for a screw to settle into the wood.

Need to plane wood but don’t have a planer? Check out these easy ways to plane wood without a planer!

5. Attempt Metal and Heat

An old-fashioned way of creating a hole is to combine metal and heat to, quite literally, burn a hole through the wood.

If you try this method, ensure you do it outside. The flame doesn’t have to be big, but there’s always a fire risk whenever that heat is present!

You will need wood, flame and metal tools. An awl is an excellent choice when you want to take advantage of metal and heat for the drilling process.

To utilize metal and heat to create a hole, you will need to:

  • Put the tip of the awl in heat, such as the flame of a candle
  • Place the hot metal on the wood where you want the hole to go
  • Gently apply pressure
  • Repeat with heat and press until the hole burns through the wood

Once you have the hole, cool down the metal and set it somewhere out of the way.

The hole will be the size of the pointed edge, so select a metal object that will create enough room for the screw head to dive inside the wood.

Always wear safety gear to keep your skin safe as you work with hot metal and wood.

6. Try an Egg Beater Hand Drill

An eggbeater hand drill is an excellent way to dig into the wood without the use of electric tools.

An eggbeater hand drill is also an excellent tool to have in your arsenal, just for occasions like this one.

Here’s how you can take advantage of an eggbeater hand drill for your project:

  • Purchase a quality eggbeater drill if you don’t already have one
  • Place the tip where you want the hole to go
  • Crank the handle of the drill in the right direction
  • Wait for the hole to form and keep going until you break through the wood

There are other manual drill options online if you want to try a few other methods. It’s always an excellent idea to have a manual screwdriver, drill, and other tool choices if you need to work without an electric option in your hands.

7. Use a Brace and Bit

A brace and bit is the final choice we’ll talk about for users who want to screw into the wood without a drill.

This tool is an excellent way to dig out an area for the screws to go with a little bit of manual labor. You can find a multitude of brace and bit options online and at your local hardware store.

Here’s how you can take advantage of a brace and bit to create a hole for your screws:

  • Mark the area you want to utilize for your screws
  • Secure the bit brace in place to provide stability
  • Choose the right ratchet settings for the tool
  • Put the brace in place to ensure you dig the right spot
  • Hold tight to the brace as you prepare to turn it into a drill
  • Turn the sweep handle in the right direction
  • Clear out remaining shavings from the hole

Here’s a great video more about brace and bit.

What’s the Best Way to Screw Into Wood Without a Drill?

Although it takes a little precision, one of the best ways to screw into the wood without a drill is by taking advantage of an awl or another similar option.

If you can figure out a way to create an effective indent, you should have no issue finding a way to put screws inside the wood with a screwdriver.

Another excellent technique is to use metal and heat.

Although there is some risk that comes with the use of heat, it’s a way to be precise without the dangers that come from pounding metal into a piece of wood. You also have a better chance of getting through the wood with some heat.

It’s up to you to determine what the best options are for your situation. What experience do you have? What tools are already in your home? Consider your resources before determining the method that would best suit your working circumstances.

Need more help when it comes to driving screws? Check out the video below!

How to screw in a stripped screw?

We’ve all been there – you’ve tried to drill in a screw only to realize that the head has been stripped.

Luckily, there are a few ways to screw it in without a drill.

The best method is to place a rubber band overtop of the screw head to gain friction when screwing it in.

Can I use a screwdriver instead of a drill?

Screwdrivers can be used in place of a drill in most cases. While it might be more difficult to get started, once the screw is in a few turns it should be easy to finish the job.

Do I need to pre-drill holes when using a screwdriver?

No, you do not need to pre-drill holes when using a screwdriver. However, doing so will make the job easier and reduce the chance of cracking or splitting the wood.

What Issues Come With Avoiding a Drill?

Sometimes it can be easier to work without an electronic drill. You don’t have to get up, plug tools in, or access drawers that might get in the way. However, there are a few disadvantages that are critical to consider when it comes to your best option for putting screws in wood.

Here are a few things you lose when utilizing a method other than an electronic tool:

  • There is a potential loss of precision
  • You might not be able to get the screws inside the wood
  • It may take longer to complete the process
  • You may lose stability and control with your tools and hands

Most of the time, it’s better to use an electric drill to screw holes and complete a variety of woodworking tasks.

Final Thoughts

If you want to screw into the wood without a drill, it can feel impossible. However, there are many techniques you can take advantage of to get your screws into the material without the addition of electronic tools.

From pounding with an awl to burning with a combination of metal and heat, there are many choices.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to drilling into the wood without the addition of electronic tools. If one doesn’t work, you can always try another. Consider all options for the best results when working with wood!