Can Drilling Wood Cause Fire? – 7 Reasons and Solutions

When we drill, we can observe the smoke and smell of a fire, but we can’t see any flames. So is there any fire when drilling wood? I will explain this step by step, considering essential reasons in detail. Finally, you can solve this yourself by using this guide. So let’s see, can drilling wood cause a fire?

Normally, drilling wood causes fire and smoke inside the drilling hole due to increase friction between the drill bit and workpiece. This can happen due to high RPM, too much pressure, using a dull drill bit, chips clogging, continuous drilling and misidentifying the type of wood.

There are so many solutions for this. I have listed them in detail below. So let’s see what the reasons and solutions for this problem are.

Why is Wood Smoking When Drilling?

Wood can be smoked while drilling due to these reasons such as using higher RPM, dull drill bit, chips clogging inside the flutes, applying too much pressure to the drill bit, and using an incorrect drill bit. More than that, when you hold the rotating drill bit in the same place, that can be heated, and we can see the smoke.

Below are the detailed reasons for the above reasons.

wood drilling with smoke

1. Misidentifying the Type of Wood

Types of wood is very important. Mainly there are two types of wood. Softwood and hardwood are them. Normally, softwood is less dense with weak fiber. But hardwood is denser with strong fiber. When a hole is drilled inside the wood, there is resistance. We can categorize them as point angle and cutting edge resistance, and outer surface resistance.

When the drill bit is rotating, it produces heat due to the friction between the drill bit and the hole-cutting surface. Due to the friction, heat can be increased easily. As a result of this, the wood surface can burn during the drill bit rotation.

This can be seen in dense and tough woods. So you had better know the type of wood before drilling it.

Here, wood can be divided into two main types.

  • Softwood
  • Hardwood
HardnessSoft than the hardwoodHeavier than the softwood
UsageProduce temporary structures E.g.: For construction purposes
(props and trusses)
Manufacture furniture manufacturer high
quality and durable structures
ColourLight colourDark Color
PriceLess expensive than the hardwoodMore expensive than the softwood
Ease of DrillingEasy to drillHard to drill
Fire ResistanceFire resistance is poorFire resistance is better
DurabilityLess durabilityHigh durability
Differences between Hardwood and Softwood

Choosing suitable wood for the user’s needs is very important. Because the speed and RPM of the drill bit are determined by the type of wood, therefore, misidentifying the type of wood can cause fires during the drilling.

2. High RPM

When the RPM is increased, the heat-generating rate is also increased. As a result of this, workpiece burns can be observed in higher RPMs.

More than that, these factors help to increase the heating during drilling.

  • Material (Softwood or hardwood)
  • Diameter of the drill bit
  • Drill bit type

When the user drills the wood at a high RPM, the wood can be burned and damaged. However, low RPM is also not ideal for wood drill bits. Moreover, using a large drill bit at high RPM cause fire.

3. Dull Drill Bit

If the drill is not sharpened properly and dull drill bit, then it is a cause of the fire. Moreover, it also leads to reduce work efficiency. Therefore, this is the most common cause of firing the wood while drilling.

When the drill bit is dull, it tends to scratch on the surface rather than cut and remove the material. Hence a lot of heat is generated.

4. Wood Flakes/ Chips Get Trapped in the Flutes

When drilling wood, small wood flakes/ chips are formed inside the hole. If the flute length of the drill bit is insufficient, those wood flakes/ chips get trapped in the flute of the drill bit. Those flakes/ chips burn due to friction and heat.

5. Apply too Much Pressure

Pressing the drill bit too hard will cause burning marks. Burning marks occur due to the fire that generates when drilling wood.  Therefore, if the user continues to apply too much pressure, the wood will burn. and also sometimes, the drill bit can break due to the higher temperature.

6. Use an Incorrect Drill Bit

As mentioned earlier, the drill bit use will vary depending on the type of wood. Moreover, some drill bits are not suitable for wood, such as Cobalt drill bits. Therefore, using an incorrect drill bit also led to firing the wood while drilling.

7. Drill the Same Place/ Hole Continuously

Accordingly, when drilling wood, repeatedly drilling the same place/ hole will increase the heat and cause it to burn. Moreover, the drill bit can be dull if use the drill bit without breaks.

You can cool the drill bit using this guide.

Why is My Drill Bit Smoking?

The user can detect the fire early before it catches fire and causes burn marks. That is, it can be identified by the heat and smoke around it.

When there is smoking, you should make sure whether the drill is smoking or drill bit smoking. When a drill is overheated, you can see smoke there.

  • High RPM

Higher RPM create more friction and generates heat. Moreover, using a large drill bit at high RPM cause fire. Accordingly, there is smoke when drilling wood.

  • High Pressure

The user must apply considerable pressure to drill the wood. But applying too much pressure will cause the wood to smoke while drilling.

  • Dull Drill Bit

If the user uses the drill bits continuously or uses the high RPM, or uses low-quality drill bits can cause for dull drill bits. Accordingly, the use of drill bits, as mentioned above, causes smoke when drilling wood.

  • Wet Wood

Drilling wet wood is easier than drilling dry wood. Moreover, wet wood is less likely to catch fire when drilling. Instead, the possibility of smoking is very high.

  • Insufficient Flute Length

When drilling wood, small wood chips are formed in the hole. They are called wood chips or flakes. Their presence in the cavity, combined with friction and heat, creates smoke. Therefore, these chips should be removed from that hole.

The drill bit has a flute to remove them. But if the length is not sufficient, the chips will not be removed properly and smoke will be generated as mentioned earlier.

Read More About – Top 08 Drill Bit Problems and Solutions

How Can You Drill Without Smoking?

1. Identifying the Type of Wood Correctly.

As mentioned earlier, there are two types of wood: softwood and hardwood. The wood can be drilled without burning by correctly identifying the respective wood by the characteristics of each type of wood. It is also very important to choose the type of wood that is relevant to one’s needs.

2. Choose a Suitable RPM

As mentioned earlier, RPM for drilling wood depends on several factors. Accordingly, the user must identify the appropriate RPM for the wood drill.

Simply, hardwood requires low RPM than softwood. Moreover, it requires low RPM if the drill bit is larger. The RPM is also determined by the type of the drill bit. Accordingly, different types of drill bits with the same diameter have different RPM values.

RPM table for softwood and hardwood
Drill bit and Suitable RPM for Softwood and Hardwood

3. Choose a Suitable Drill Bit

drill bits for wood
Wood drill bits

The drill bit used will vary depending on the wood. Accordingly, the pressure and speed to be applied are also determined. Therefore, choosing the right drill bit for the job is very important. Moreover, using high-quality drill bits is also really important.

4. Sharpen the Drill Bit

Sharpen is required at the right time because that is led to avoiding wood burning and increases efficiency.

5. Choose a Suitable Drill

Use the right drill is led to avoid wood burning. For example, electric drills or gas drills are not suitable for hardwood. Therefore, the drill should be selected according to the wood.

6. Sufficient Flute Length

Flute length and its angle must be concerned when drilling the wood. This flute length has different angles. For example, hardwood requires a large helix angle.

Tom Mackency

Tom Mackency

Hi, I am Tom Mackency. It has been 10 years that I have been working as a professional woodworker since 2013. I am really enjoying my carrier by creating many kinds of projects in my workshop. But mostly I like for home improvement projects. Home improvement and DIY projects are the most interesting things for me. More than that, the coolest things are power tools. Those are very precious and efficient than a decade ago. So I try to introduce so many things about power tools, woodworking, DIY projects, home improvement and many more interesting topics here.