Bathroom drywall with wood beam behind it.

In a very specific location, created 2 pilot holes (through the drywall into the beam).

Want to attach a wood plank, exactly into those 2 pilot holes.

When the wood is held over the 2 pilot holes...I don't know where those two holes are....but I want to drill the plank specifically into those holes.

Any input on this method?:

  1. Drill pilot holes.
  2. Place small amount of ink/paint around the whole.
  3. Place the wood plank on the wall where it needs to be attached.
  4. Remove plank and drill holes where the ink is (on the back of plank).
  5. Place plank back on wall, align holes, fasten with wood screws.

Any other methods?

5 Answers 5


cut the head off of two bolts or nails that fit snugly into the holes, and extend out from the drywall some amount - may 1/4". Line up the board over these pegs, and hit the surface of the board with a mallet over each peg. This will make an indent on the back surface that you can drill. Be careful that your first hit doesn't mess up your alignment for the second one.

  • 2
    A variant on this that I have also used is to stick two felt pens, tips out, in the holes. Then position your board over and gently press to mark the back of the board. Dec 31, 2016 at 5:27
  • Ruins two bolts (aside from the time and effort needed to cut them), assumes the wood will be dented by the bolts but not damaged by the mallet, and assumes hitting the board doesn't shake or damage the drywall on either side of the wall. Jan 3, 2017 at 18:03
  • 1
    shrug - couple of pennies worth of hardware. File a point on them and you can probably just push on it to make the mark. Use a piece of scrap to protect the front surface. But you really don't have to hit it hard at all, even for hardwood - certainly not enough to damage the drywall on the other side of the wall! Jan 3, 2017 at 18:14

Do a rubbing of the holes.

  1. Put piece of paper up to holes
  2. Mark two reference points on the paper outside the perimeter of the board so you can see it while the board is up (perhaps use a small finishing nail or something rather than a simple mark so you can pull the paper out in front of the board)
  3. Rub holes with a pencil before placing the board and remove paper
  4. Place the board and put paper overtop of it, with the reference marks in place

You'll see an outline of the hole.

  • The holes are clearly visible, what does having an outline of them on the piece of paper do if one doesn't know where, on the board, those holes would line up? One needs the distance of those holes from some end point, to the right or left; to which the end of the board would be placed. Jan 3, 2017 at 17:59
  • @JamesOlson Should be pretty easy to make two reference points on the piece of paper outside the perimeter of the board Jan 3, 2017 at 20:31
  • I see you edited your answer for clarification on this ^^. All is good. Jan 4, 2017 at 12:26

Scribe a vertical pencil mark from the center of the holes. Hold plank to wall (if using a tape measure isn't an option) and mark , on the plank, where the lines from the wall would be on the plank.


Yes, of course there is. Dowel centers. Pop them in the holes, push or tap the board, remove the board, drill the board, remove the centers. This is a common problem with a standard solution.

dowel centers - image from lee valley tools, no affiliation or endorsement implied.

  • Cool! Looks like this is the intended usage of these little guys too! Jan 4, 2017 at 13:25

Since you only have two pilot holes, you could put marks on the wall a specific distance from each pilot hole to form a dotted line of 4 dots (the inner two being pilot holes). Then just measure from the outer ones your set distance to find the covered pilot holes.

o---O-O---o <-- Like this, or at any other angle

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