Use Forstner bits for hardwood - you have to pay attention to that

As a handyman you probably know the Forstner drill mainly from the insertion of pot bands in cabinets. The tools known as "knothole drills" are not always easy to handle. What you have to pay attention to, especially when drilling hardwood, you will read in our article.

Operation of the Forstner drill

Even the appearance shows that a Forstner drill works differently than a conventional twist drill. It is more like a milling tool.

In fact, its operation is quite similar: the cutting edges at the top remove wood chips as the drill rotates and thus mill a circular hole in the surface of the wood.

This is needed, for example, if a recess for a pot band to be made on a cabinet door.

Forstner drills have the advantage that they run much quieter than milling drills and are also suitable for hard woods. If exactly predrilled (drill strength = thickness of the centering pin) very clean results can be expected.

Hardwood drilling with Forstner drills

The harder the wood is, the harder it is to make such a recess with the Forstner bit. Here are some things to bear:

  • Quality of the Forstner drill
  • Sharpness of the drill
  • print
  • speed


The quality of the drill is crucial. With hard woods you can usually hardly get anything with cheap, inferior drills. A good Forstner drill costs in the specialized trade almost always at least 10 - 15 EUR.


With blunt drills, of course, hardly any result can be achieved. Always make sure that the Forstner drill you are using is really sharp.


For hard woods, you need to increase the pressure on the drill. However, it should not be so big that the wood starts to smoke. It is best to use a drill press to best regulate the pressure.


The rotation speed should be as high as possible when drilling hard woods. So you usually get a good result. Reduce the speed but always, if you realize that it comes to unclean cut.

Tips & Tricks

When using the Forstner drill, always pay attention to the correct direction of rotation! In many cases this is often the problem when drilling does not work well or does not work at all.

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