I bought some beautiful porcelain knobs for my kitchen cabinets and drawers.

The"wood" is impenetrable. I was only able to drill a tiny bit in. Then I smelled burning.

Any suggestion on how I can drill through it? I've done extensive research and looked at many options, none of which seem to fit my issue.

Thank you for any suggestions you can give me.

  • 1
    By fibreboard do you mean MDF or particleboard? Regardless of which it is both materials are readily drilled into. I can't imagine even a blunt bit having that much difficulty penetrating it since you can drill small holes in it with rudimentary bits made from nails with the tip clipped off!
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 7:51
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    If you do have to go and buy new a new bit or two give brad-point, AKA lip-and-spur bits, a look. They're far more effective for drilling wood and composite materials than standard twist bits (which are originally made for drilling metal).
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 7:56
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    One other thing occurred to me, if the drill is reversible, and you're running it in reverse (counter-clockwise), that might produce exactly the symptoms you describe. What do you think @Graphus?
    – scanny
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 17:05
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    @scanny It's a possibility! More than once I've left a drill capable of forward and reverse in the wrong setting rather than remembering to flick it back to standard mode so it would be ready to drill with next time I picked it up.
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 6:12

1 Answer 1


I would strongly suspect a dull drill bit. Fiberboard is tough on drill bits, but a sharp new one (unless it's a Chinese cheapy made from carbon steel) should certainly hold up for several holes, say 25-50 easily.

A high-speed steel (HSS) drill bit will usually have "HS" or "HSS" imprinted on the shaft near where the size is stamped. If yours don't, it's time for a trip to the hardware store. Any brand-name twist drill bits will be HSS (Dewalt, Hanson, Vermont American, etc.).

But material aside, even HSS eventually dulls. If the cutting edges at the business end of the bit appear dull or rounded, that will explain your trouble and time for a new bit. A hardware store will generally sell them individually, so no need to buy a whole new set necessarily.

  • Dull bit seems the only possibility, but I can't quite get my head around even one of those not penetrating.
    – Graphus
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 7:53
  • All VERY good information. I suspect my cabinet doors are either MDF or fiberboard.
    – Christi
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 21:28
  • I'm going to Lowe's in a few days will buy a high-speed steel bit as well as a lip-and-spur bit. I'll buy one of each and test to see which one works the best. Then I'll go back and purchase multiple bits. I'm really picky about both my tools and hardware. My go-to tool brand has always been DeWalt. I have both a lithium battery operated and an electric drill. I prefer the electric, which is what I plan to use. I also know that my drill wasn't in reverse. My dad was a carpenter. I followed in his footsteps as a hobbyist. Again, thank you all. I'll report back to let you know how I fared.
    – Christi
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 21:39
  • @Christi: Even particleboard (as others, I suspect this is what you mean by 'fiberboard') can be easily drilled with a classic drill bit or a brad drill bit. Even if the drill bit is dull the drilling can be done, even if not as easy. There must be something very out of line for the drilling to fail as described. For example, the drill in reverse.. Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 13:06

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