When you buy a drill bit set, it most likely will come in a storage case. This case will help you figure out which size bit you need to use. When drilling holes for a pilot or lead hole for a nail, find which slot in the bit case the nail will fit in. The next size down is the bit you should choose. When drilling a pilot hole for a screw, you need to choose two bits. One for the starter hole and one for the pilot hole. Find which slot in your bit storage case the screw will fit in. That is the size of bit you should use for the pilot hole. For the starter hold, use the next smaller sized bit.
To reduce wood splits, such as when building a deck, first drill pilot holes for the nails using a drill bit size about three-quarters the diameter of the nail. In a pinch, if you don't have a bit you can chuck in one of the nails being used. Blunting the nail point will also help prevent splits, since a blunt nail will tear, rather than spread the wood fibers. An alternate method to avoid splitting the ends of boards is to allow an extra length to hang beyond the edge of the deck, do the nailing, then use a circular saw to trim off the ends.
You can buy depth stops to attach to drill bits to make blind holes at a certain depth. But for occasional jobs you can gauge depth by using masking tape around the bit at the right depth. Or, as shown, drill through the center of a dowel section, using the bit you need for the hole. Cut the dowel so the exposed bit will be the depth needed for the hole.
To drill a cleaner hole into a tricky material such as sheet metal or plastic the material in between two pieces of scrap wood. This way, any imperfections will occur on the top or bottom piece.
A simple way to clean corrosion from a twist drill bit is to let your power drill help you. While applying oil to the bit at its point of entry, drill repeatedly into a block of hardwood secured in a vise. Friction of the bit against the wood and abrasion of the wood chips will provide a scouring action to clean up the bit in a hurry.
Shavings can pile up around a hole being drilled, making it hard for you to see what you are doing. To prevent this, push the point of the drill bit through a 4-in. strip of masking tape, then draw the tape up the bit so it will clear the work. Fold the strip lengthwise to bring the sticky sides together. The tape "wings" will act as a fan to clear the surface.
As with screws, a little paraffin or beeswax will make driving certain nails, especially casing nails, much easier. If you are driving a cement-coated nail, always keep it going all the way once you start. Friction heats up the nail's coating and if you stop midway it cools down and tries to glue the nail in place.
Hot dipped galvanized nails have a rougher and more durable galvanizing while electro galvanized nails are smoother and often more prone to rust.
It's always preferable to nail through the thinner piece into the thicker piece. Driving the nail at an angle may not be attractive, but will give you a stronger hold. Use a nail that is long enough to allow approximately two thirds of the nail to be driven into the thicker piece.
When a smooth, finished appearance is necessary, stop hammering the finishing nail approximately 1/8 of an inch above the surface. Then place a nailset onto the tip of the nail head and set it into the surface with a couple of sharp taps.