I spent the weekend making a simple wine rack out of cedar for my mother as a gift.

I drilled 1.5" holes in a cedar 2x6 to make something like this: enter image description here

So to keep the bottles inverted (keep the cork wet) you have to drill down at a 45 degree angle or so. I used a 1.5" bit to drill the holes but it was real sloppy and well it just didn't go great.

So. What is the best way to drill a 1.5"+ hole at an angle through a 2x6?

  • Recommended tools/bits (not looking for a brand obviously) should be included unless there is an easy way to do this free hand...
  • For some reason, at first glance, it looks like you've got deep hole saws stuck in that rack. Even after the 2nd or 3rd time I've looked at it...
    – FreeMan
    May 11, 2015 at 20:32
  • @FreeMan Thats not mine actually. Didnt have a picture so I grabbed one off the web.
    – James
    May 11, 2015 at 20:44
  • It's worth saying that in general you wouldn't want to store wine bottles neck down for a long period because sediment will collect in the neck, which isn't usually where you want it. (OTOH, many wines are filtered these days, so it may not be a big problem.)
    – Caleb
    May 12, 2015 at 18:12
  • @Caleb Yeah, I am not storing anything of a worthy vintage to care. If I were doing that I would have a cellar and rotate them on a regular basis :)
    – James
    May 12, 2015 at 18:32
  • 1
    @Caleb I should also mention that we go through wine fast...lol
    – James
    May 12, 2015 at 19:02

7 Answers 7


Personally, I would use my drill press. The bed will tilt to any angle and then you just clamp the board to the bed. You would need a piece of waste wood under the board so not to put the bit into the metal bed.

I think Forstner bits would be the better idea for doing this though using a spade bit might be possible, if you lower it slow enough, I don't think I'd recommend it.

45 degrees is pretty steep for a hand held drill, but by starting it and slow tilting the drill to the correct angle while keeping the tip in the wood might give you something close to what you are looking for, but I'd stick with a drill press, much safer and more accurate.

  • I agree that a spade bit would probably not work very well.
    – rob
    May 11, 2015 at 16:46
  • I used a spade bit and it was a mess...though it got the job done. If I don't have a drill press (which I in fact do not) would the forstner bit and a guide do well enough?
    – James
    May 11, 2015 at 18:00
  • @James with a good guide, I think the forsner bit would give you a decent hole, though you'd still need a scrap board under and fairly strong wrists.
    – bowlturner
    May 11, 2015 at 18:06
  • I'll grab one and try it out next time I make one of these. ...and yes the spade bit jumped around like a 5 year old in a bounce house.
    – James
    May 11, 2015 at 18:07
  • 1
    I recently did exactly this for a handrail with horizontal balusters that were drilled into 4x4 posts on the ends and all the way through a 2x4 intermediate post. The holes were 11/16" and 41.5 degrees. Tilting the press table with my boards clamped, a scrap piece of plywood backing the hole and a spade bit worked flawlessly. I went slow and steady with no tear out and clean, straight holes.
    – broox
    Jun 4, 2016 at 14:34

Similar to bowlturner's answer, my answer depends on having access to a drill press.

However, I suggest you use a few jigs. I've done similar projects, and the biggest problem is that a forstner bit tends to skate around when you're dealing with angles that steep. (There's nothing for the center point to grab into until you're 1/2 way through the piece.)

The jig below gets clamped to your drill press table, and consists of three parts:

  1. an angled wedge that sets the angle for the hole.
  2. a backer board to keep tear-out to a minimum and to keep from drilling into your wedge.
  3. a wedge with a hole drilled in it that guides the forstner bit and keeps it from moving around.

How do you make the wedge? Simple- take a square block (or make a square block from two smaller pieces) and drill a hole with the forstner bit. Then take that piece to the band saw, turn it up on edge, and slice from one corner to the other, at an angle the same as you want to duplicate.

Slide the whole contraption together, clamp it securely to your drill press table, and drill away.


You might have to clamp this to the edge of your drill press table, so that the workpiece can hang below the table for holes further up the workpiece.

  • My benchtop drill press's "table" is round and rather small, so it would be no problem for the workpiece to hang off the side as holes go up the board. (Push the table to the left a bit, and the piece could go down and to the right.
    – TX Turner
    May 11, 2015 at 17:37
  • Silly me; I think I misread the last line of your answer before. Thanks for the clarification.
    – rob
    May 11, 2015 at 17:53
  • Your answer is good TX but I don't have a drill press (so for me bowl's mention of another option wins)
    – James
    Jun 17, 2015 at 14:55

As bowlturner mentioned, a drill press with a Forstner bit is the first solution that comes to mind.

If you don't have a drill press, another solution is to cut the corner off a block of scrap wood at a 45-degree angle. Use a brad point, auger, or twist bit to drill straight through the newly-cut end, and clamp it to your workpiece for each hole. If you've ever used a Kreg pocket hole jig, this is basically the same concept.

Edit: after I clicked Submit to post my answer I noticed that TX Turner posted a somewhat similar solution for the drill press at about the same time as me. The guide block I'm suggesting is different in that it's a little easier to clamp since you're clamping flat pieces together instead of wedges. You can also use any flat backer board to prevent blowout, and you can easily register it against stop blocks on your workpiece for more precise hole placement.

45 degree drill guide block

  • This is the best non-drill press solution. It was the first approach I thought of as well.
    – Doresoom
    Mar 7, 2016 at 23:42

What is the best way to drill a 1.5"+ hole at an angle through a 2x6?

For drilling such large holes at an angle, a sawtooth Forstner bit is the right tool for the job.

sawtooth forstner bit

You'll want some means to guide the drill, though -- either a drill press, or a guide block as illustrated in some of the other answers, or an angle drill guide. (Just know that everyone I know who bought an angle guide eventually switched up to a drill press. Angle guides are the push reel mowers of woodworking. If you're going to drill another 20 angled holes, get the drill press, even a bench top model.)


I just stumbled upon this thread as I'm also trying to make a riddling rack. I came across a portable drill guide jig which seems like it would be another potential solution, although perhaps more expensive than the wedge option if you have a drill press. Cheaper ones exist, but may not be as good.

enter image description here


The way I do this kind of thing, is easily, freehand

If you make all your marks, a bit low, then start off with a small bit (maybe 1/8") and predrill to about a quarter inch and punch all the marks with it so they have a starting point for a bigger bit. It doesn't matter how deep really, if you go too deep, it will look bad. Don't go deep.

then take your larger bit, and start it until it goes all the way in until the crown has gotten level with the surface, meaning, the hole is now as wide as its going to get.

Then while holding the drill still in motion, preferably a higher wood speed, start to tilt it. It's that easy. Have something, like a thin long nail, or something in one of the guide holes to have guide angle template.

SO, each hole, after predrilling, enlarge your hole fullsize, keep motor running, tilt drill to proper angle, then go to depth.
extraction is your best guess, either motor on, or motor off, but i think on.

This is also probably the way the one in the picture was done, because its not exact..

but i did learn something new from the pros, with their guides they mentioned :-)

  • Seems that this might work with a twist bit, essentially asking it to cut with the flutes as you angle the work piece up (or tip the drill over), but I don't think it would work well with a Forstner, spade bit or hole saw (as needed for the fairly large diameter hole required for OPs purpose), since they don't have cutting edges along their sides. Additionally, even with a twist bit, I'd imagine it would do more burning than cutting, as the flutes aren't usually very sharp since their job is to pull chips out of the hole, not create it. But, if it works for you...
    – FreeMan
    Mar 7, 2016 at 20:15
  • would definitely not work with a hole saw, i was referring to a standard bit, nothing special. a spade bit will work, but might mess up any hope of clean edges, a quick try in a 2x4 and you will know right away. Have no experience with these special bits(forstner), maybe this is why i know this will work with a standard bit, lol. Mar 16, 2016 at 7:50

If you don't have access to a drill press then this two-step approach might work:

  1. Drill a guide hole at the desired angle. You can cut a 2x4 at the exact angle using a radial saw and use it as a jig for the drill (see photos below).

  2. Use a hole saw with a pilot bit (or a forstner bit) to cut the larger hole using the initial guide hole for precision.

enter image description here enter image description here

  • The problem with this solution is that your pilot bit won't be long enough to reach the initial guide hole before the hole saw starts cutting into the board.
    – Doresoom
    Mar 7, 2016 at 23:42
  • @Doresoom: hmm, yes, good point. I suppose you'd need a really long pilot bit...
    – maerics
    Mar 11, 2016 at 20:43

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