I'm not a professional carpenter and I haven't worked much with wood before. I also lack proper tools.

I made a heart-shaped wooden pendant for my girlfriend with a paper knife and smoothed it out with some sandpaper. It's about 3.2cm long, 2.5cm wide and about 1cm tall, made with red sandalwood (which I believe is a type of hardwood). The base is flat with the edges smoothed off, but the top is more rounder as it goes to the sides. I now have planned to drill a small hole on the cleft and into the center of the pendant, into which I'm planning to screw in an eye bolt (something like this - http://goo.gl/UKjWUA). By doing that, the screw will be going against the grains.

Now my problem is, I don't have a drill. And I don't know how to make a hole in wood by other means on something as delicate as this. Plus I can't take chances, if you know what I mean.

I'd be very glad if anyone knows a solution to this, an alternate method to drill a wood in this pendant.

  • 2
    I'd view this as a perfect excuse to buy more tools, however you might try experimenting on a spare bit of wood with a large needle heated red-hot on a stove (assuming you have, or can rig up, something to hold it with). You may be able to drill a hole using just a drill bit with tape around the blank end to fashion a handle. It will be a lot of work. Commented May 12, 2014 at 9:30
  • 1
    if you have any electrical motor on a toy that you can break, the motor shaft can make a really good drill (provided you clip off the end at an angle with some wire clippers. (thinking out the box there)
    – Hightower
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 12:47
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    I may be digging too much into your personal business, but what's wrong with buying a drill? A decent multipurpose drill for the home can be had for under $50, plus the cost of the drill bit you require. It would also be equivalent to renting a drill, and would save you the time (which equals $ of course) that would be spent doing it a less optimal way, especially when dealing with a hardwood.
    – MDMoore313
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 13:49
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    @BigHomie: One argument against buying a drill is that it takes up some space for storage. Many people don't like "clutter" which they call anything they don't need on a daily basis.
    – sharptooth
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 13:50
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    @sharptooth Good point, b/c at that point to tuck it away you should get a general purpose toolbox/bag, which, although, a good one can be had for cheap, adds to the overall cost. However.... woodworking already takes up some space, so...?
    – MDMoore313
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 13:52

4 Answers 4


Your best bet is to either:

  • borrow or rent a drill (the optimal way) or
  • craft a bow drill (this answer explains it and I never tried that and I guess it'll take a lot of effort to get started with it) or
  • try to do the same without making the hole - use some hardcore glue perhaps - or
  • if you have a rotary tool like Dremel you can fit most small drill bits there, just be verrry careful - this is not an officially recommended way

If these options are unacceptable you can try drilling a hole using a drill bit (the cheapest small diameter drill bit for metal will do) held with a needle file holder (which pretty much resembles a drill chuck) - either rent it or buy it, it is usually inexpensive and can be used later when doing other fine work with needle files. You put the bit into the holder and drill the piece by rotating the holder a bit clockwise, then a bit counter clockwise, repeat until the work is done. This will be a very tedious process but remember you didn't want to use a drill which is an optimal tool for this job.

Whatever you prefer just don't try to pierce or melt through the hard wood - the piece will crack.

  • I think this video uses the needle file holder you mentioned?
    – MDMoore313
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 13:55
  • 1
    @BigHomie: That's a drill chuck detached from a drill but it can be used for this task. The downside is it can be relatively expensive and is of little use outside of this specific task.
    – sharptooth
    Commented May 12, 2014 at 14:01
  • I think getting myself a few basic tools wouldn't hurt :) I tried the drill bit method and it wasn't that difficult. Thank you for your help. Commented May 15, 2014 at 13:46

For drilling a tiny hole in a tiny object, you need to leave the world of home improvement and enter the world of hobby modeling. What you need is a pin vice. It's basically a tiny tiny hand drill:

enter image description here

This tool allows precise mechanical control and will drill extremely small holes.

  • That's a neat thing, even better than a needle file holder.
    – sharptooth
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 7:08
  • I have to add that the black thick thing on one of the ends rotates freely so you can simply place the drill bit where you want to drill and then press it with your index finger and use the other fingers to rotate the rest of the thing. This makes drilling a straight neat hole much easier compared to holding the bit with pliers of needle file holder.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 10:29

Better than a drill would be to use a drill press. Find out if anyone you know has one. Any school that has a shop class will, even the maintenance depts might have one. They're even common tools for professional woodworkers and other trades as well as hobbyists. If you're in the US you can try posting an add on craigslist to see if someone willing to make the hole for you. Even if you just find someone with a regular drill that would be good too.

I'd try to get it drilled but if that's absolutely not a possibility, you can also try making your pilot hole with a nail. Find a thin nail (I'm assuming the pendant is small unless you're dating Flavor Fav) that has a diameter slightly smaller than the shank of the eyebolt (shank doesn't include the width of the threads and hit the tip of the nail point with a hammer until the point flattens out a bit. Then gently drive the into the wood. The wood will be less likely to split this way but there's still a chance. After you have your pilot hole hammered in coat the threads of the screw with soap and gently screw it in. Practice a few times on some scrap (in the same grain orientation) before you try it on the pendant.


Regardless how the hole is drilled, the diameter of the hole is most important. This was touched on in OrganicLawnDIY answer. The drill needs to be sized for the diameter of the shank of the screw eye, if not, it will split the piece. Tapping or hammering a nail in to make a pilot hole will split it. Anything that does not remove the wood to create the hole, once you try to install the eye, will split the wood.

If you are not going to do another project like this one, and do not want to invest in a drill, do purchase a proper sized drill bit to create the hole you need. Do the tape trick mentioned in RedGrittyBrick's comment to increase the diameter of the drill bit where you grip it to twist it in so that will be easier. Duct tape may be good for this, the gray plastic/cloth mesh kind, even the real duct tape too would work. It has to have really strong adhesive or it will break loose and spin free with the resistance that will be given while trying to drill. I have done it without the tape, it is very difficult, but can be done with much patience.

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