I would like to "customize" my Ikea Billy.

Therefore I would like to drill holes for the wooden dowels as well as the steel "dowel screws"

Is there a specific drill I could buy somewhere ? If not, how to determine which drill size I should use ?

  • 1
    Be warned that Ikea engineers their furniture quite carefully, and they only make the furniture solid where it really needs to be, the rest is glued honeycomb. You may find your alternate location does not have any "meat" where you need it to be. There are communities of people who hack Ikea furniture; check with them. Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 3:11
  • @Harper thanks for the heads up ! Do you know of any such community ? I have been searching for it, but couldn't find it Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 9:52
  • Google "hacking ikea" Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 14:23

2 Answers 2


Is there a specific drill [bit] I could buy somewhere?


I'm pretty sure those are standard metric parts. You just use any appropriate-sized metric wood drill-bit.

how to determine which drill size I should use?

For the wood dowels, measure the diameter and round to mearest mm. That's the size drill you need. Wood dowels tend to expand if they are not kept really dry, so round down. The most common metric sizes are 6, 8 and 10 mm.

For the metal cam-lock "dowels", you measure the inner diameter of the threaded part, like you would with any wood-screw. I think Ikea sometimes use threaded inserts for those, the thread may not be designed to cut a mating thread into chipboard. Note that some alloy-cams are very weak and brittle, I would try to find some good quality ones (or use a different type of fastener entirely)

You can do your measuring with a vernier caliper (or digital caliper if the batteries haven't died again) or just hold the thing up to the light and try various drill bit shanks behind and in front of it. A good alternative is to measure the Ikea-provided holes by dropping metric drill-bits into them backwards until you find a good fit.

You can always do some tests in scrap wood to reassure yourself you have the right sized drill-bit before making holes in any important material.

Lastly, you don't have to use Ikea hardware of course. You can be inventive with other fastening systems that work in chipboard. Screws, ordinary glued dowels, furniture-blocks, knock-down blocks etc. I sometimes have to be creative when repairing relatives' Ikea or Ikea-like furniture :-)

"Dowel points" can be useful for marking where to drill.

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For the dowel screws i used a (14mm i believe) modified spade drill bit. I modified it by sanding down the point to make it as non-pointy as possible while still having a point to control the center.

The reason for modification is because the point will penetrate the opposite finish and make it ugly.

For the rest a normal wood drill will be fine

  • Another option when drilling holes for the camlocks is a Forstner bit which will leave a cleaner hole and has a much shorter point. Best used in a drill press but can be used without if you have a steady hand.
    – Carl
    Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 12:00

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