New to woodworking and I am trying to get into it as a hobby while fixing up stuff around the house.

Desk fix

In the above image link (Desk fix), I'm trying to fix this desk. It needs joints for the legs because it's unsturdy. I'm trying to create holes in the wood to so the screws can secure the joints, but I didn't realize how thick the wood was. Perhaps this is polywood. How do I get these screws in. Is my 20v electric drill not the right tool for this?

If I put a lot of weight on the electric drill, the hole is just a circle and not in the shape of the screw.

Edit: So if I put a lot of weight on it it makes a hole but it has no shape of the screw. It's just a like a cylinder and the screw goes in and out easily but isn't secure. It was burning smell.

Edit: Changed the direction of the electric drill and it works now. Feel like a dumbass!

  • 1
    I think we might need some more detail here. Are you drilling a pilot hole or just trying to drive the screw directly? Oct 3, 2018 at 18:05
  • Now that you're using the drill in the correct direction you'll have a much easier time of it :-) But just to let you know, normal wood screws often don't hold well in particleboard/chipboard because of its chip-based structure. For this reason there are specific screws made for the material which you might need to use in future.
    – Graphus
    Oct 3, 2018 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


This appears to be particleboard, which should drill easily with a sharp drill. I would strongly suspect a dull drill bit if you're getting a burning smell.

If you show pictures of the screw and the drill-bit (in particular its size in comparison to the screw and perhaps a close-up of the business-end) we may be able to help you more.

I would suppose it obvious, but the hole for a screw in wood needs to be smaller than the diameter of the screw. A drill the size of the "root" dimension of the screw is about right, perhaps 1/64th or so smaller is better.

  • Thanks for the help and advice. Turns out I was being retarded and screwing in the wrong direction Oct 3, 2018 at 20:23

The photo is pretty bad, but it looks like the material you're trying to screw into is particleboard. Working with particleboard is quite different than working with other, more traditional woodworking materials.

To answer your first question, there should be no problem drilling into particleboard. You probably have a dull drill bit.

The major problem working with particleboard is that it is not very strong, so you'll need to use much bigger screws than you would normally use. You'll also have to be careful with your pilot holes. If it is too small you will start displacing material and cause the screw to fail, if it is too big you will not leave enough material for the threads to bite and the screw will fail. Typically you want a slightly bigger pilot hole than normal.


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