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How to Countersink a Screw – DIY Tutorial from Functional Rustic

I appreciate the rough-around-the-edges style of rustic furniture and dΓ©cor. Untreated wood. Exposed screws. Dents. Scuff marks. I love when a piece looks like it has a story to tell.

All of my creations for Functional Rustic have a story. They are rough around the edges because they have had a rough life to this point. Instead of hiding what the wood has been through I try to highlight how the scars make it beautifully unique.

The “rough” look sounds good and is an easier look to accomplish for a beginner but it comes with some obstacles. I knew nothing about wood working when I started this repurposing business and even today I feel like I still know very little. However, I am learning new approaches and techniques every day.



One of the techniques I recently learned was how to countersink a screw. If you are anything like I was a month ago than you have no idea what that means. Fear not – Functional Rustic is here to teach you.

My house is filled with tables, shelves and dΓ©cor I built out of repurposed pallets. I don’t have a brick and mortar store so my “warehouse” is also my actual house. My sister and her boyfriend came into town for the holidays and had a chance to see my creations.

I asked Jon, the boyfriend from across the pond (Since originally writing this piece the boyfriend has become a husband. They had a sky dive wedding!), what he thought of my creations. As he slid his hand across the top of my pallet coffee table he remarks, “If you countersink the screws it wont catch on people’s clothing.”

“Screw you Jon”, was my first thought. I’m proud of this table. I worked very hard on it. I put a lot of time, energy and creativity into building it. I love how the screws look. The screws are from the original pallet and deserve to be highlighted. Screw you Jon for not appreciating my work.

Of course what I said was, “Thanks Jon, that’s a good idea.” So, I hated him for a couple minutes and then thought about what he was saying. I may like how the screws look but I really don’t like catching clothing on a screw head.



I chose to stop hating him for his really good idea and instead confessed that I had no idea what countersinking actually is (that was embarrassing as the only employee in a wood working business) and asked if he could teach me.

DIY Tutorial – How to Countersink a Screw

Step One:
Drill the pilot hole for your screw as you normally would. (Pilot hole is a hole that is slightly smaller than the size of the screw. It allows the screw to enter the wood and also stay in place.)

Step Two:
After you drill your pilot hole find a drill bit that is the same size as the head of the screw. (The head of the screw is the top where the screw driver would go.)

Countersink Screw 7
Find a drill bit that is larger than the head of the screw. Here is the original drill bit and the larger drill bit. www.FunctionalRustic.com

Step Three:
Center the larger drill bit on the originally pilot hole. Drill down a couple millimeters (Jon is from England so I will use the metric system in my description, ha.) Basically, give the button on the drill a small push. You only want to make a shallow hole.

Step Four:
Drill your screw into the hole as you normally would. Because of the wider hole at the top of the pilot hole, the head of the screw will be flush with or just below the surface of the wood.

Drill your screw into the hole. Notice how the screw head is now flush with the surface of the wood.

Congratulations! Your countersunk your screw!!

Step Five:
Take pictures of your countersinking skills and share them with Functional Rustic on DIY Project of Facebook.

I use the countersinking technique when I create these:

Countersinking the screws prevents gaps from forming between the boards when I create the 3 Tier Wooden Tea Light Holders.

Written by Sarah Palmer – Owner, Functional Rustic

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