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What Is Spot Facing?

By N.M. Shanley
Updated May 17, 2024
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Spot facing is a mechanical drilling, or milling, process. After the initial hole is drilled, a larger well, or recess, is drilled into the material. The head of the screw or nail fits into this well. This allows the nail or screw to sit flush with the surface of the item that is drilled. This term is also spelled as spotfacing and spot-facing by machinists and parts manufacturers.

This technique can be used on a variety of machine and woodworking projects to ensure a smooth, professional finish. Furniture makers often use it to hide nails and screws. Machinery with working parts also uses spot facing. This can help ensure that the heads of any nails, screws, or bolts do not get in the way of the moving parts.

Both professional and do-it-yourself carpenters and machinists can use spot facing. When working with wood, this process is also known as counter-sinking, or double-sinking, a nut or screw. Amateur carpenters generally use drill bits of different sizes for counter-sinking. Professionals often use a special one-piece drill bit to do this.

Spot facing, also known as counter boring, can be forward or backward. In forward counter boring, the well is drilled on the top surface of the object being drilled. Backward counter boring involves drilling a well on the underside of the object that is drilled.

The term spot facing is sometimes used to identify a specific type of counter boring. Some machinists use the term to refer to working with an object that is not flat, or has been cast in metal. For example, when drilling an object with an angled or round surface, that is referred to as spot facing.

Specialty tools, called counterbores, can be purchased to make this process easier for a machinist. These tools are usually referred to as spot facing cutters. Generally, these are metal, rotating drill bits with cutting edges that match the size of the hole to be drilled or milled.

The counterbore is attached to a drill press. It rotates in the drill, while the object being drilled remains stationary. When the drilling process is complete, a smooth hole with the well either on the top or bottom of the object, is ready for a nut, bolt, or screw to be inserted.

Counter boring tools are available from several manufacturers for specific drilling needs. Tools can be specialized to do forward or backward counter boring. Combination tools are also available that do both types of work.

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Discussion Comments

By drtroubles — On Oct 30, 2011

@popcorn - The easiest way to properly countersink your screws is to pick up a countersink drill bit. This will create the perfect indentation for your screw so that you won't have to look at it once you're finished.

As far as covering the screw when you're done, you should just buy some wood putty that matches the wood you are working with. Once it is dry sand it down and finish the whole thing and you'll have a really professional looking piece.

A good idea is to try out your spot facing on a piece of wood you don't care about. This way if you make a mistake it is not a big deal.

By popcorn — On Oct 30, 2011

I've just started doing some DIY home woodworking projects and I would really like to know how to properly countersink a screw so that I get a really professional finish on my pieces. Do I need any special tools to countersink my screws? Also, what is the best material for covering the screw once it is in?

I am building a bookshelf and a small table at the moment and am hoping that they will be nice enough when I finish that I will be able to put them on display in my home. I previously made a chair, but it didn't look so nice, so I am hoping that proper countersinking will solve my problem.

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