can drilling wood cause fire
Kristina Davis

I’ve always wondered, can drilling wood cause fire? Would the force from the device kickstart a fire?

As someone who is planning to start woodwork, this is crucial information. So, I dug deep and researched everything that was needed before I embark on this journey.

Yes, drilling wood can start and cause a fire just like how sawing does if not done correctly. Avoid drilling with a dull drill bit because this is how fires are started.

I’ll go into extreme detail to understand what causes wood burning when drilling, how it starts, as well as precautionary measures you need to know to avoid this from happening.

Understanding How Wood Burns

how wood burns

One word – friction. Almost everything can burn and start a fire from friction.

Wood contains several molecules that are atoms of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen, as well as a couple of elements that make it both flammable and combustible.

You can start wood from friction or by gassing it up. Before wood burns, you will feel it heating and warming up – it might even smoke at first without fire.

After that, when mixed with oxygen and other compounds, you will a find fire starting.

Note: Regardless of how you start a wood fire, the combustibility and flammability of wood are what’s responsible for its burning.

Can Drilling Wood Cause Fire?

does drilling wood cause fire

Yes and no – confused enough? Don’t worry, let me explain.

As I explained above, wood burns because of friction, and drilling causes friction, right?

The high-speed and constant turning of the drill bit, in essence, is enough to start a fire. Especially if you fail to follow certain rules and regulations.

Drill bits are designed to push through the wood in the sense that they would not ignite if done properly. 

Yes, you read that right, even with high RPM (revolutions per minute), it would not burn, spark, or even cause and start anything connected to fire and heat.

So, now, let me give you some of the common causes of why wood burns when you drill them.

What Causes Wood Burning When Drilling?

causes wood burning

From friction alone, it’ll be easy for you to identify the many different ways woods burn when you drill them.

But, in order for me to give you better and more concrete information about it, here are some of the few most common causes why wood burns when you drill them.

Reason #1: Dull Drill Bit

The most common cause of the burning of wood while drilling is a dull drill bit. When I say dull drill bits, I’m talking about drill bits that aren’t sharpened properly.

There are many different causes of dull or unsharpened drill bits, but the most common are:

  • You use the drill bits without breaks
  • The speed at which you use your drill bits is faster than the usual
  • You’re using cheap, low-quality drill bits

And while it’s not an entirely dangerous thing to do, using dull drill bits can restrict you from working faster and more effectively compared to using new and sharpened drill bits.

Reason#2: Higher Speed Than the Recommended

higher speed

Another common factor that affects the sharpness of drill bits is that the speed you’re using is faster than the recommended speed for that particular drill bit.

Drill bit manufacturers put labels on the packages of the drill bits for guidance.

Commonly, the recommended speeds are determined by the size and thickness of the drill bit, but they all wouldn’t be exactly the same.

Reason #3: No Lubrication

Lubrication is an imperative part of wood drilling.

Not having lubricants can ruin your woodworking projects because they would not be smooth and flexible enough to pierce through the wood.

The obvious thing that would happen if there’s no lubrication is that the friction from your drill bit and your wood will be harsher.

Also, it will be more susceptible to combustion and ignition.

Reason #4: Larger Drill Bit in Higher Speed

a larger drill bit

Lastly, using a large and bigger-sized drill bit in higher speed settings can also start and cause fire when you do the drilling or sawing.

Tip: Add the dilemma of not using any lubricant with it, then it’s really a recipe for disaster.

I know that it’s difficult to wrap your head around starting a fire when drilling, but is there something you can do to prevent it?

What areas should you need to look at in order to avoid these discrepancies while doing your woodworking projects?

How Can You Avoid Your Wood From Burning via Drilling?

There are several practices woodworking experts, carpenters, joiners, as well as lumberjacks that use drills to follow so that their wood doesn’t burn.

Here are some of the top tips I have prepared so you can be free from your wood heating up, or even burning when drilling.

how to avoid wood burning

Tip #1: Sharpen Your Drill Bit

As the most common reason why wood burns is a dull drill bit, the first tip I can give you is for you to ensure that you sharpen your drill bits.

Although dull drill bits are rare because fully worn-out drill bits would flake, fail, and falter, it’s still worth knowing that you can sharpen drill bits to make them more accurate and effective.

Sharpening a drill bit requires skill, time, and most importantly, patience.

You have to know the type of grinding wheel you’ll use, the angle at which you need to hold your bit, and the timing.

NOTE: You can bring your drill bit to expert sharpeners so that you won’t have problems sharpening them.

Tip #2: Adjust Your Drilling Position

adjust drilling position

It’s not common knowledge, but did you know that the drilling position influences the temperature of your drills, and in turn, the wood as well?

And yes, this happens even if you’re using the right feed rate and if your drill bit is sharpened properly.

As the bit turns and rotates, the shaves or the material that’s removed will move deeper into the wood.

The shavings, naturally, would be warm, and sometimes even hot to the touch, and when it comes in contact with the bit, the heat will transfer.

To avoid this, occurrence, you can adjust the drilling position every now and then. This is so that the shavings wouldn’t all fall in the same spot.

Tip #3: Apply Lubrication

apply lubricant

The next important tip I can give you is to apply lubrication so that the friction from the bit and your wood would not heat and warm up.

You can find over-the-counter wood lubricants that wouldn’t be harmful to the wood.

When I say they wouldn’t be harmful, I mean the liquid content wouldn’t seep into its fibers and compromise its structure.

Michael Dredsner, Author of The New Wood Finishing Book, says that he likes to use soap when it comes to lubricating his drill bits.

Tip #4: Select a Better and Fitter Drill Bit

Last, and most definitely not least is to find better-quality drill bits.

Of course, the world has its fair share of many different types and qualities of drill bits – there are some that are bad, while there are some that are good.

If yours are warming or heating up faster than it should, it’s probably the former.

Invest in your drill bits, because no matter how cheap your wood is, your drill bit is the one to blame for any impact or result after processing.


popular questions

In case you require more information about wood burning because of drilling, here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about it.

Can Drilling Into a Wall Cause Fire?

Yes, it’s possible to cause fire when you drill into a wall, floor, or any other type of platform.

Regardless of the material you’re drilling into, if it’s not done properly, it will warm and heat up, and it can start a fire.

Can You Drill Through Wet Wood?

Yes, you can actually drill through wet wood, in fact, a lot of experts suggest doing so because it’s easier, and it’ll be a lot more flexible and workable than drilling through rough and dry wood.

Final Words

So, can drilling wood cause fire? Is it just a myth? Unfortunately, it’s not! Incorrect and improper drilling is something serious and can even cause and start a fire.

From today, be mindful of how you drill your wood!

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