how to drill a vertical hole

How to Drill a Perfectly Vertical Hole

This question is perennial. Everyone who works with tools, repairs equipment, builds or repairs furniture, or drills into a wall knows how hard it can be to drill a perfectly vertical hole without a drill press. You can't always get that project into the shop and aligned under your press. 

Or, most of the time, a drill press is on your "wish list" and you don't have the budget for one...​

​Take John, for instance. He works on heavy farm equipment and often needs to have his broken parts fixed literally "in the field". He can't easily, or timely, take an 80 lb part off a piece of equipment and haul it to the shop, square it up, and press play.

If you don't have a drill press or your project is cumbersome, there are affordable solutions to drilling a straight hole in wood, metal, stone or other material where the alignment of the hole is true.

Tools to Help You Drill a Perfectly Vertical Hole without a Drill Press

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​Big Gator Drill Guide

The Big Gator drill guide is a compact and easy to carry vertical hole drill guide that will let you drill straight holes pretty much anywhere.

You can drill in 17 hole sizes from 1/8" to 3/8" in 1/64" increments on flat surfaces, round parts, and in corners.

It's a durable drill guide that needs a little oil to keep it rust free. Made from nickel alloyed metal and heat treated for durability, the Big Gator drill guide is a good tool for drilling vertical holes on most surfaces easily. 

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MilesCraft Vertical Hole Drill Guide

This drill guide is similar to the Big Gator drill guide because it lays flat against the surface and lets you drill a precise hole without using a drill press.

It's a pretty sweet tool and differs from the Big Gator drill guide because it has fewer drill bit size options overall. Yet, it's made from a non-slip padding that lets you hold the drill guide in place while preventing both slipping and marring the wooden work surface.

It has a couple of v-grooves that will let you drill on round surfaces and get precise holes in things like dowels.

Wolfcraft Vertical Hole Drill Guide

Wolfcraft Drill Guide Attachment for 1/4-Inch or 3/8-Inch Drills

The Wolfcraft drill guide may be one of the better options if you need a more stable drill guide to drill vertical holes. It works by holding your handheld drill tightly, and this vertical drill guide lets you use your drill to get vertical or straight holes at angles where you need them.

Drill against your shower tile, into a corner at an angle, overhead, or vertically into wood or other materials on your workbench.

This vertical hole drilling tool lets you affordably drill holes with your power drill without the investment of a benchtop drill press. It's a solid purchase (though not too expensive) for the guy who needs precise holes drilled using your 3/8" or 1/4" hand held drill.

You may need to make a few adjustments to get it to work best for you, but the offset is that you can use your drill without having to invest in an expensive drill press that won't work in tight corners or on fixed surfaces.

This vertical drill guide gives you more options than the hand held drill guides, and it will let you attack more jobs with confidence - especially for the handyman who wants to make let his work speak for itself.

Luckily, like John, you don't have to make a drill guide out of a block of wood, press it to a wall and hope for the best like recommends.

"Cut two pieces of 1×4 scrap lumber the same length and square on each end, so when the drill chuck is held against the block, the drill bit protrudes the desired depth of the hole below the jig. Screw the two blocks of wood together to form a “T” shape. Position the drill bit on the stock, and hold the jig next to it." -

Nor is a scrap wood square you cut out and place against the equipment always the best option either.

Although it may be a fun way to tinker and do it yourself or find a way to drill a vertical hole on a budget, there are much easier ways to drill a perfectly vertical hole without using a drill press.

If you have the budget and want to add a drill press to your workshop, read our Drill Press Reviews to find one that's best for your needs.​

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