Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a power drill and sometimes use it to make holes to put up hooks, etc. in my brick+plaster wall. But no matter how carefully I line the holes up and measure them, the hook always ends up at a crooked angle.

My method:

  1. Hold the hook against the wall
  2. Use a thin pencil to mark the two holes that need to be drilled for one hook
  3. Take the hook down
  4. Place the drill on the first mark
  5. Slowly drill a little way in, until I'm sure the hole is in the right place
  6. Drill all the way in, using the drill 'hammer' setting
  7. Put a raw plug in the hole, hammering it the last part of the way
  8. Place the hook back up, partly screw in one screw, and check that the 2nd mark is in the right place
  9. Take the hook down again and drill the second hole.
  10. Put the hook up and carefully screw both screws in

The hook will be mostly straight right until the last minute, when screwing the screws in for the last few millimetres will cause the hook to skew wildly to one side. Holding the hook firmly in place while screwing can improve it very slightly, but it's still not perfectly vertical.

What am I doing wrong?

the hook

share|improve this question
1  
Don't use hammer unless you're going into concrete or masonary. –  Chris Cudmore May 14 '12 at 21:00
1  
An Automatic Center Punch can be useful for marking the exact center of holes. –  Tester101 May 15 '12 at 12:25
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Sometimes it's the simplest jobs that can be the most difficult. I'm willing to bet that its the summation of tiny errors leading to a visible flaw at the end. The question you want to ask is "How do I mark and drill a hole exactly where I want it to be?" (For a given value of exactly)

The answer to this question (and many others) is: Make a jig or paper template. Even if you're only doing it once, making a jig or a template is essential for precise work.

For this particular job, a paper template will probably do. Trace the outline of your hook (and holes) onto a sheet of paper. Now, at your leisure, using compass, straight-edge, GPS, and Lasers, find the center of the holes. Even if you just eyeball it, you're still more accurate than doing it on the wall, as you're working at a desk or table with good lighting and a comfortable working position.

Now, photocopy that sucker!

Cut it out, tape it to the wall, and start the drill hole with a small nail or even punch it with a nail set. You don't want the drill "walking" away from its start position. Go in with a small bit next. The idea is that the tool will do all the work so that you can concentrate on keeping that drill level, and on center. Go to your 1/4 inch bit for the plugs, and clean out the hole.

Remove paper, insert plugs, and you're golden.

It may seem like a lot of work, but the results are worth it.
1) Generally, you can't be accurate working vertically, so figure out a way to do the detail work on a flat surface. 2) Always start a drill hole with a nail or punch. It will always walk away when you power on the drill. (This is quadruply true on metal or hard plastics.)

share|improve this answer
add comment

The screws in your picture have a tapered head that match the holes for the screws, so when they are tightened all the way, it will force the screw into the center of the hole; this is why they are OK until they are tightened. My guess is that your marks or holes are not perfectly in the center. It could also be that you are drilling at an angle. Grab a square and hold it against the wall so you can see what 90 degrees perpendicular looks like - are you drilling on that angle or slightly off?

share|improve this answer
add comment

Similar to what Steven has said, the screws have a tapered head. You aren't starting your hole directly in the center of the fixture's hole when drilling.

I'd suggest taking an ink pen and wrapping tape around the tip so that it is the thickness of the hole in the hook fixture when marking your drill holes. This ensures your marks are centered in the hole. I'd also suggest starting the hole by hand by pressing the screw into sheetrock ensuring that your pilot hole is aligned correctly. This leaves a nice divot for your drill bit.

Good Luck!

share|improve this answer
add comment

It sounds like you aren't drilling straight into the wall, but without seeing you in action it's going to be difficult to say for sure, but here are a few things to try:

  • Don't use the hammer setting unless the wall you are drilling into is particularly dense. The extra vibration might be enough to send you off course.
  • Make sure that the drill is perpendicular to the wall both vertically and horizontally.
  • Make sure that the drill bit is sharp and the correct one for the material being drilled into.

It takes a lot of practice - I'm still getting it wrong!

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.