Boring vs Drilling: What Is The Difference

Boring Vs Drilling: What Is The Difference

Many people are confused about the difference between drilling and boring.

In fact, most people don’t see a difference at all because they both involve cutting holes into a workpiece, right?

Even when you refer to the dictionary, the same definition applies to both drilling and boring; however, if you are a manufacturing engineer, then you know that there is a very specific difference between the two actions even though many people use the terms interchangeably.

In the following article, we’ll take a look at the major differences between boring and drilling and which process is most suitable for which type of task.

What is the difference between boring and drilling?

In order to understand these two processes, you need to understand exactly what action is performed in each of these processes separately.


press drill

Drilling is basically a cutting process that involves the use of a drill and a drill bit in order to make a circular shape or hole in a workpiece.

The drill bit is a type of rotary cutting tool that, like most other Rotary cutting tools, rotates while scraping material out of the workpiece. In order to drill a hole in a workpiece, a manufacturing company or user must press the drill hard against the workpiece.

As soon as the drill is activated, the drill bit will dig its way into the workpiece while making a secular shaped hole in the process.

Most people are of the misconception that drilling can only be done on soft materials like wood.

However, many drilling processes involve wooden workpieces and other harder materials, such as different types of metal. In fact, you can drill a hole into absolutely any material as long as the drill bit is harder than that specific workpiece.

And if it is, it will scrape out the material to create a circular shape in absolutely anything.


boring mill

When we speak of boring, we are referring to a cutting process that involves the use of the single-point cutting tool, otherwise known as a boring head to make an existing hole in the workpiece larger.

So as you can see, this is a big contrast to drilling, which is basically performed to create an initial hole in a workpiece. So from what we can see so far, drilling creates a new hole in a workpiece while boring simply enlargens an existing hole.

The boring process itself is performed using a lathe, milling machine, or a horizontal boring mill.

Each machine makes use of a different mechanism; however, each one is designed to make an existing hole larger, and that’s the defining characteristic or difference between boring and drilling.

What are the types of boring tools?

The first boring machine was created in 1775 by John Wilkinson.

Turning and boring have abrasive counterparts when it comes to internal and external cylindrical grinding. Based on the parameter values, as well as the requirements of a certain application, you pick the process that you want.

Different types of machinery or tools can be used in order to facilitate a boring process. You can use universal machines, general-purpose machines, milling machines, and lathes.

Machines that are specifically designed to focus or assist in boring workpieces as its primary function are boring mills and other boring machines.

These machines are available in different sizes and styles. Boring tasks on small workpieces can be carried out on a lathe while larger workpieces usually require horizontal boring mills.

Power requirements

You may need as much as 200 hp in order to conduct certain boring tasks.

Metal boring tools

boring head

These are mainly used in arts and in metalwork. Metalworking applications include drilling holes during the making of cars, precision cutting, and installation of roofs.

Some artists who are searching for more ways to express themselves will make unique sculptures and other pieces of art using different metals.

The high quality achieved in these pieces of art is made possible by using metal boring machines, including hand drills, drill presses, and lathes.

Almost all of these tools require some type of external power source.

Post-hole tools

The Clamshell post hole digger is a popular tool and is used for digging holes for fences, planting tasks as well as mailboxes.

Augers are used for boring holes in the ground and are available in vehicle-mounted as well as gas-powered types. They are mainly used in industrial tasks or in cases where a large number of holes will need to be dug.

Carpentry tools

boring tool for carpentry

Carpenters bore holes in furniture when either making or repairing it. The hand drill is one of the most common tools used.

A nail and hammer are also used, but it’s easier to use a hand drill. Carpenters also make use of chisels especially when they are decorating furniture or need to add more detail to their workpieces.

Borehole tools are used mostly to create residential boreholes in order to alleviate water shortages. They can be used in remote areas such as ranches to provide water to surrounding areas.

Can you use drills for boring?

drill bit for boring

Although boring does come with its own set of tools that are perfectly suited to the task at hand, if you do not have any of these boring tools available, then it is possible to use drills for boring.

However, there’s a method and a process to it which you will need to get right so you can get the desired results.

What is the principle of boring?

A variety of different machinery and machining processes are required in order to make holes on solid surfaces.

Ultimately, the type of machines and the processes required will depend on the hole diameter, finish, and tolerance level requirement.

When it comes to making holes in any surface or workpiece, the process is either referred to as centering, turning, boring, reaming or honing. Each of these processes has slightly different objectives and can be applied under specific conditions.

However, one operation cannot be carried out prior to the other.

Drilling is ultimately carried out in order to originate or create a hole in a workpiece. It makes use of a multipoint cutter to make a cylindrical hole in the object.

Chip load in drilling is proportional to the drill diameter. However, a large diameter hole cannot be made in a single pass.

So you may require multiple drilling passes with progressively larger diameter drills or boring in order to enlarge the hole diameter. So boring is carried out to enlarge the diameter of an existing hole. It can also convert a cylindrical hole into a taper one.

However, boring cannot originate or create a whole. So boring can be performed only in the presence of an existing hole or after drilling  has been accomplished.

There are, however, certain similarities between drilling and boring.

boring with special drill bit
  • Both drilling and boring processes are metal cutting and machining operations. So ultimately, the goal is to remove excess material gradually from the workpiece with the help of a cutting tool. However, these two different processes make use of different types of cutters.
  • Both the processes come under – the subtractive manufacturing approach.
  • Both processes are associated with hole fabrication; however, the objective and point of application are different.
  • Chips are produced in both processes, so material removal takes place by shearing in the form of chips.

So when it comes to the principle of boarding, there are a few points to take into consideration.

  • The boring operation is conducted to enlarge an existing hole
  • Boring is only carried out after drilling. It cannot be performed if there is no drilled hole or hollow part available
  • Plunging is not possible using a boring tool. So the length of the hole cannot be increased by boring.
  • Boring is conducted to enlargen the hole diameter only
  • The cutting tool used in the boring operation is called a boarding bar
  • A boring bar a single point cutter, so it only consists of one main cutting edge that removes material from the workpiece
  • Chip evacuation is not an issue in boring. It can be fed continuously without any risk of clogging
  • The boring operation is similar to internal turning, and taper holes can be easily created by boring.

What about reaming?

hole reaming tools

In order to make a hole small, there is a process to be followed. This process is called reaming.

Reamers are mostly used for reaming a whole. Reamers are cutting tools, and they will help you cut and smoothen out the edge of the hole that you drilled into your workpiece or any other object.

Reaming is usually done after drilling a hole into a workpiece or object The diameter of the hole has to be a little less than the target diameter when you drill. So ultimately, you can have the target diameter when you are reaming.

There is a difference between the drill’s diameter and the reamer’s diameter. There are different types of reamers, such as the rose reamer, straight reamer, and shell reamer.

In order to make a small enlargement, you can use the straight reamer. The rose reamer is used for rough edges and forbearing; you can use shell reamers. There are different types of reamers, as well.

Tapered reamers are used to receive a tapered pin. However, non-precision tapered reamers are for cleaning burrs from a hole.

When you drill, you may get a hole that is not as perfect as you may want, and after boring the hole, you can ream the hole to get the perfect or desired shape.


Knowing the difference between drilling, boring, and reaming will make it a lot easier for you to make holes on an object or workpiece.

Ultimately, this will help you achieve a better quality of holes.

The main difference is based on how the holes are made. Ultimately, there is a method for each process, and the first hole will need to be made by drilling, and then it will need to be enlarged by boring.

Finally, using the reaming process, you can perfect the hole and get the desired result. There are also differences with the machines that are used for each of the processes.

However, if you follow the process, you will get the desired result each and every time.

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