What Are Blind Holes in Engineering and Machining?

Blind hole engineering plays an important role in the manufacture of various modern products. Blind holes are a common design feature with numerous applications across industries.

However, the blind hole machining process can be a bit tricky. Therefore, there is a need to explore the fascinating topic of blind holes and uncover their significance in manufacturing.

In this compressive guide, I’ll cover the fundamentals of blind holes. By the end of this article, you should have a good understanding of what blind holes are, their applications, the drilling process, machining tips and tricks, and more. So, let’s dive in!

What is a Blind Hole?

What is Blind Hole

Before we proceed, we need to have a clear understanding of the concept of a blind hole.

A blind hole refers to a hole that is machined to a specific depth without breaking through to the other end of the workpiece. Therefore, this opening has a bottom. Its name comes from the fact that you cannot see through a blind hole.

Blind holes have specific structural and functional roles and they are also known as pockets or closed holes.

Blind Holes VS Through Holes

Through Hole Vs Blind Hole

Unlike a blind hole, a through hole fully penetrates the thickness of the workpiece. In other words, this hole has two open ends on opposite sides of the workpiece. On the other hand, a blind hole has one open end and a bottom.

A through hole, also called a thru-hole, is easier to machine since you don’t drill up to a specified depth. Both hole variations can be threaded to accommodate bolts and screws or left unthreaded for pin locators. Bottoming taps are often used for threading blind holes and a taper tap is used with thru-holes.

How To Drill a Blind Hole

Drilling blind holes requires keen attention to detail to create precise holes. I’ll guide you through a step-by-step breakdown of the blind hole drilling process.

Choose a suitable drill bit

Before you can even start the blind hole machining process, you need to select an appropriate drill bit. The drill bit radius should correspond to the specifications of the desired hole.

After choosing a drill, you can fit it into a drill chuck and secure it. Confirm that the drill bit is correctly aligned to prevent straying and maintain precision.

Workpiece setup

As with any other machining process, the workpiece needs to be firmly secured before the drilling process. Clamps and vices can be used to prevent any deviations during drilling.

Also, the operator should indicate the hole location on the workpiece. You can use a sharp pointed tool or a center punch to indicate the center of the hole. This creates a clear starting position for the drill.

Mark the drilling depth

To successfully achieve the required blind hole’s depth, you need to mark the depth of the cavity on the drill bit. First, measure the desired distance starting at the drill’s tip up to the cavity’s required endpoint. A marker or tape wrapped around the drill bit can act as a depth indicator.

Drilling operation

Once everything is set up, you’re ready to start machining blind holes. First, align the tip of the drill bit with the previously marked location of the blind hole.

In the initial phase, drill the blind hole slowly to form a pilot hole. This feature improves accuracy and makes the final drilling operation easier and faster. When drilling, maintain a constant and moderate downward pressure for optimal results. You also need to ensure that the drilling speed remains consistent.

Operators should always wear proper protective gear such as safety goggles and heavy-duty gloves during drilling processes.

Monitor the drilling depth

Throughout the drilling process, stop periodically and check if you’ve reached the desired depth. This can be done using a depth gauge or the marked drill bit. This step helps prevent unplanned through hole-drilling or overly deep cavities.

Debris removal

Drilling generates chips and dust that gradually build up in the hole. Pause the fabrication process periodically and clear all debris since it can hinder drilling efforts. Common cleaning techniques include compressed air and a high-pressure stream of liquid coolant. You can also use a drill flute or hand-operated air gun for hole cleanup.

Wrap up the drilling process

Keep drilling until you attain the required hole depth. Finally, inspect the drilled hole to ensure it satisfies the required specifications. Post-manufacturing processing can be used if needed to smooth everything out and leave a fine finish.

Blind hole drilling can be a manual process or it can be automated through CNC (computer numerical control) technology. Unsurprisingly, manual drilling is time-consuming and it can be tricky to maintain accuracy.

On the other hand, CNC machines, such as CNC drills, CNC mills, and CNC lathes, are versatile and they make the most accurate holes. CNC drilling involves a rotating workpiece and a stationary drill. As the two interact, material is removed from the cavity forming a high-precision blind hole.

Drill Depth Clearance in Blind Holes


One of the most important considerations when machining blind holes is the blind hole depth. The operator should ensure that the depth of the hole never exceeds the workpiece thickness. Blind holes that are too deep tend to weaken the material and increase the risk of breakages.

Conversely, if a blind hole is too shallow, it may not be strong enough to support joining components. Always refer to the design specifications to create a blind hole that is the correct depth.

If you’re machining blind holes for tapping, the specified depth should be enough to allow the tap to create the required threads. The correct number of threads provides optimal engagement for the fastener resulting in stronger connections. Optimal hole depth depends on several factors including the type of tap to be used, workpiece thickness, and intended use

When machining blind holes that are twice as deep as the fastener’s diameter, the recommended tap depth is:

Thread depth + (Thread pitch * 9)

For other types of holes, it’s best to adopt a tap depth of:

(Thread depth + (1 + Thread pitch 4)) + (Thread pitch 5)

What is the Callout Symbol of a Blind hole?

In the manufacturing space, machinists and engineers use standardized symbols that convey design requirements. For example, the callout symbol of a blind hole communicates its desired location, fastener size, thread tap depth, thread pitch, and total hole depth.

These details are essential for machining accurate blind holes.

Why re Blind Holes Important in Modern Engineering?

Blind hole 01

Blind holes are a common feature that offer a range of benefits. Thanks to their unique advantages, they are used in the majority of industries including aviation, automotive, electronics, manufacturing, and medical equipment.

Here are some functions of blind holes.

  • As I’ve previously noted, blind holes can be threaded or unthreaded. Threaded holes facilitate the assembly process. They hold fasteners like bolts and screws allowing for seamless joining of components.

  • A key function of blind holes is to improve the strength and stability of the final part. Through careful positioning, they can promote better load distribution and prevent stress concentration. This improves the performance and durability of parts.

  • For some designs, blind holes serve an aesthetic purpose. They can be used to hide fasteners creating a neat and sleek appearance.

  • Blind holes play an important role weight reduction. In applications that demand lightweight end products, blind holes are often used to remove excess material. This creates lighter parts that satisfy weight requirements.

Other Machining Techniques for Blind Holes

Drilling is the most common process used to create blind holes. That being said, there are other ways of making blind holes. They include boring, milling, and trepanning. I’ll breiefly discuss each of these processes below.


Boring is a manufacturing technique that is ideal for large diameter holes that require high standards of precision. It involves enlarging an existing hole on a boring machine.


Milling is used for machining oversized holes that can’t be drilled and slotted holes. This process can also be used for rectangular holes.


A reamer slightly enlarges an existing hole by removing a small amount of material. This manufacturing tehnique is also used to improve precision and surface finish.

Tips for Drilling the Perfect Blind Hole

To reiterate, a blind hole does not completely penetrate the material. Here are some helpful tips to help you create a blind hole.

  • Choose the right drill bit. Drill bits are available in different sizes, materials, and angles. For optimal drilling, select a tool that is suitable for your specific project requirements.

  • Mark the depth. Blind hole marking is an essential step when precision is required. You can choose from a variety of marking techniques to prevent inaccurate hole depths and through hole drilling.

  • Use a high-quality lubricant. Lubrication is a simple way of improving the drilling process. A drilling lubricant will regulate temperatures and prevent heat build-up. This generates a cleaner hole and improves the lifespan of the drill bit.

  • Create a pilot hole first. When creating large-diameter holes, it’s beneficial to drill a pilot hole first. This feature improves accuracy by guiding the larger drill through the material.

  • Opt for a drill press rather than a handheld mill. When drilling blind holes, you can use a handheld mill or a drill press. While both methods are viable, the latter offers greater control creating precise holes. Unlike a hand drill, a drill press has a depth indicator and it can accurately drill perpendicular holes.

  • Take it slow. If you’re looking to drill clean and accurate holes, you should take your time and avoid rushing the process. Unnecessary speed can cause the drill to stray leading to avoidable errors.

  • Hole Cleanup. Post-drilling cleaning ensures optimal functionality of the hole. Operators can use brushes, compressed air, and deburring tools to clear out any debris or burrs left inside.

What Are Other Types W of Holes in Engineering and Machining?

Different applications call for different hole types. Let’s briefly discuss the common types of holes in engineering. These holes can either be blind holes or through holes.

  • Tapered holes: A tapered hole starts wider at one end and tapers at an angle as it approaches the other end. Therefore, the start diameter is different from the end diameter. Tapered holes are typically used with tapered pins rather than fasteners.

  • Tapped holes: A tapped hole is drilled first and then threaded on its internal surface. This is accomplished using a specialized tool called a tap. Tapped holes can hold threaded components such as screws and bolts and they are therefore used in fastening.

  • Counterbore holes: A counterbore hole consists of a simple hole that is connected to a broader hole above it. This flat-bottomed hole is suitable for applications where the fastener needs to sit below the surface.

  • Countersink holes: Just like counterbore holes, countersink holes consist of a standard hole with a wider hole on top. The main difference between these two hole variations is that a countersink hole has a conical shape. A countersunk hole is typically used with a flat head socket screw. Due to its flat top, the fastener will be flush with the surface of the workpiece eliminating any protrusions.

  • Counterdill holes: Similar to countersink holes, counterdrill holes are cone-shaped. However, they come with a recess (another hole) on top. This hole type is ideal for socket head countersunk screws. It provides a cleaner look since the fastener fits within the material’s surface.

  • Spotface holes: Spotface holes feature a standard hole and a shallow counterbore hole on top of it. They are ideal for holding washers and provide a smooth finish for fasteners.


Blind holes are a common design feature that is often machined through drilling. They are used to strengthen parts, improve the aesthetics of a surface, and support fasteners.

Drilling the perfect blind hole can be challenging. However, if you follow the recommended design and machining tips you should be able to achieve high precision blind holes.


Gavin Leo is a technical writer at Aria with 8 years of experience in Engineering, He proficient in machining characteristics and surface finish process of various materials. and participated in the development of more than 100complex injection molding and CNC machining projects. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience.