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How to Countersink a Screw

countersink tips How to Countersink a Screw
There is nothing more aggravating than screws that poke their heads out and expose the lips of their conical top. An easy method to hide those unsightly blemishes is to countersink.
It is common knowledge that the best way to get a job done is to have the right tools, and thankfully there are countersinking bits available that make the job much easier. It is a process as simple as knowing the length and diameter of the screws you are going to use, and buying the appropriate bits.


If the bits are not available, however, and countersinking needs to be done, it is possible to use regular drill bits, which will provide a clean enough hole to enable the screw to be flush with the wood.
1. Measure the length of the screws being used, and mark that measurement on the drill bit with a piece of masking tape. The bit will be used to drill a pilot hole, which is done in order to allow the screw to pass into the wood easier and to prevent splitting. The bit should be skinnier than the threaded part of the screw.
2. Drill the pilot hole, stopping at the tape.
3. If the wood is relatively soft, it could be easy to now–with some force–use a drill or screw gun to install the screws, making sure they are slightly embedded into the wood. If this proves unsuccessful, it is possible to use a drill bit that is roughly the size of the head to make a slight depression, thus allowing the screw to settle into the area.
4. Not only are the screws not going to catch on things or create other potential problems, but the holes can be filled with a matching color or stain of wood putty, thus hiding the screws.

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timothy dahl profile How to Countersink a Screw

Timothy Dahl

Founder/EIC at Charles & Hudson
Timothy’s background includes stints at This Old House, ELLE DECOR, Metropolitan Home and Woman’s Day. His work has been published on Wired Design, Bob Vila, DIY Network, The Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics and he has been featured on the Martha Stewart radio show and as a speaker at the ALT Design Summit, K/BIS and the National Hardware Show.
  • John the Garage

    Yeah, not only are they aggravating, they can also be a huge liability. I had a fellow contractor get sued once after a child cut open his leg from exposed screws he had put in.

  • J. Fletcher

    Is there a maximum recommended depth to countersink a screw? How much space should there be from the outside of the wood to the top of the screw?