Terms of the Trade: What Is a Pilot Hole?

A screw being inserted into a piece of lumber.

A pilot hole serves a useful purpose when connecting wood with hardware. To serve as a guide for inserting a nail or screw into a piece of wood, drill a pilot hole, which should be smaller and shallower than needed. It will prevent the wood from splitting, make it easier to insert the nail or screw, and result in straighter hardware.