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April 18, 2017

How to reduce drill hole deviation

This article appeared in Rock Products.

Good operating practice is key to reducing drill hole deviation.

Every mining operation has had to deal with damaged drill rods or stalled operations due to hole deviation. While your choice of equipment can help, good operating practice is the most effective way to mitigate the problem.

It is helpful to understand the reason deviation occurs. If drill bits rotate perfectly on a central axis, the direction of advance does not change. However, the mechanics of percussive drilling prevent perfect rotation. Radial crushing of rock and repeated rotation create a hole larger than the bit diameter. With normal rotation, the bit gears itself against the hole wall. If continuously forced toward the same side of the wall, overbreak occurs and the bit naturally wanders in that direction.

The following is a summary of the report: Reducing Drill Hole Deviation.

Download the full report to learn more.

The problem is more pronounced with horizontal holes. Gravity creates sagging in the center of the string, pointing the bit upward and forcing it to rotate off-center. In addition, the weight of the string causes the bit to pivot. Combined with counter-clockwise rotation, the bit is continuously forced to the left side of the hole and tends to wander up and left.

Poor drilling practices and ground conditions compound the problem. Here are the most common factors in hole deviation and general fixes. More specific guidelines can be found in our downloadable presentation.

Good drilling practice, combined with well-chosen equipment and a proper care routine, can diminish hole deviation and help your operation be as productive and cost-effective as possible.

Hole collaring

Hole collaring presents the highest risk of misalignment in the drilling cycle. When collaring, the bit is not supported, so it tends to “skate” across the surface. Uneven rock surfaces cause bending stresses and the potential for the bit to tilt off-center.

Take time to set up accurately and collar correctly.

Feed pressures

Excessive feed pressure causes the string to bend, thus tilting the bit off-center. The downward force of the string weight and feed pressure cause the bit to pivot during rotation. This motion continuously forces the bit to one side of the hole, resulting in deviation.

Use no more feed pressure than necessary.

Ground conditions

In banded ground (successive hard and soft layers), the bit tends to turn into the softer layers. In fractured ground, the bit tends to follow the path of least resistance and follow fissures.

Maintain the correct feed pressure. 

Product choice

Certain kinds of rods or bits can help reduce hole deviation.  For example, cross bits tend to drill a straighter hole than button bits; however, they can be significantly more expensive.

Choose products only after assessing the opportunity cost of not drilling straight holes as well as the potentially greater and more cost-effective influence of drilling practices. 

Product care

Excessive thread wear results in excessive play between mating components and increases the risk of deviation. In addition, dull bits tend to deviate more than sharp bits.

Avoid drilling practices that result in premature thread wear, and regularly check equipment for excessive wear.


Download our full Reducing Drill Hole Deviation presentation in PDF format


  • Gillian Babcock sagt:
    Dein Kommentar wartet auf die Moderation. Dies ist eine Vorschau, dein Kommentar wird sichtbar, nachdem er freigegeben wurde.
    My dad wants to save up on our water bills because it’s higher than usual, so, he is planning to drill a well. It was explained here that when drilling a hole, it’s important to take time to collar correctly and set up to minimize deviation. Furthermore, it’s recommended to hire professional contractors for quality drilling services.
  • Faylinn Byrne sagt:
    Dein Kommentar wartet auf die Moderation. Dies ist eine Vorschau, dein Kommentar wird sichtbar, nachdem er freigegeben wurde.
    It’s great that you elaborated on how you should not use more feed pressure than what is necessary. so the string won’t bend off-center. I am starting a building project soon, but I realized I don’t have the correct materials to finish it or even the right training, so I am starting to think about hiring a professional to help me. I am glad I was able to learn a lot about this article, and how it can help me in future situations as well.

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James Burris


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