How To Drill Into A Tree Without Hurting It [Nails, Screws & TABs]

So, how best can a tree be drilled without hurting it? Do nails hurt trees?

Do you wish to undertake a project such as a treehouse or something similar? One thing you cannot do without is drilling or nailing into targeted trees.

However, there’s a need not to harm such trees as they serve an important function.

Nails In Trees: Attach Something Without Damage

This is a valid concern for many DIY’ers and if you belong to this category, we’ll be showing you how to complete your project without fear of harming your trees.

Everything unfolds smoothly without a hitch.

Is Your Tree Softwood? Avoid Drilling

Woods considered too soft aren’t ideal for drilling. In terms of vulnerability, these have the most exposure and are likely to get damaged when drilled into.

In other words, such trees are likely to get stressed up due to drilling.

If you can, avoid softwoods such as coast redwood, pine, Douglas fir, spruce, yew, Scots pine, and larch among other softwoods. These won’t do well especially when too many holes are drilled into the tree.

  • Other Trees That Shouldn’t Be Drilled

It’s also not a good idea to drill through weak trees. These are trees that have been infected or already stressed.

Any holes or cut through them only worsens their condition as the tree layer (beneath the bark) transporting nutrients and water is wounded.

Being an already stressed tree, any more stress only serves to worsen its condition. Young trees are also among those to avoid drilling. So also are trees with thin or small barks.

In a nutshell, only mature hardwoods can withstand drilling without a problem. Even at that, drilling needs to be done the right way.

How Trees Heal

To better understand how safe drilling is performed, you’ll need to know the basics of how trees heal. Whenever a hole is drilled, the tree is hurt and immediately sets in motion the natural healing process.

This process is known as compartmentalization.

Just as the name suggests, compartmentalization is the process where the tree protects and heals itself by forming a wall around the drilled hole.

This helps prevent infection and also ensures the exposed or affected area(s) are treated.

With multiple drilled holes come multiple compartmentalized areas which can affect the tree’s structure.

As such, you’ll need to either reduce the number of drilled holes or use an appropriate tool that eliminates the need for multiple holes. This is where the treehouse attachment bolt comes into the picture.

Limit the Number of Holes Drilled Into A Tree

As part of considerations not to harm or hurt a tree, you want to ensure that a limited number of holes are drilled in a calculated manner. If you’ve helped out on a treehouse project before, you might have heard about the treehouse attachment bolt (the TAB).

This is one key requirement for fixing or attaching a treehouse onto a tree.

So, what’s the TAB? As the name suggests, the treehouse attachment bolt is a bolt that serves to fasten treehouses to trees.

It’s designed to hold a lot of weight and load and eliminates the need for multiple drills, thus helping trees heal better.

  • TAB design

The design of the treehouse attachment bolt isn’t complicated at all. It has a screw that’s drilled into the tree while the stem serves as a support for the bracket.

The TAB is found in multiple sizes each having its unique uses.

Drilling Into A Tree Without Hurting It

We’ve earlier mentioned the need to avoid softwood trees when drilling as these can easily be stressed. Also, because young trees are still developing, they shouldn’t be considered for drilling.

With that said, how do you proceed to drill into a tree without hurting it?

The TAB comes under focus here as an effective way to limit tree injury by avoiding multiple drills. Before any action is taken, you’re expected to have picked out the areas where the TAB is to be inserted.

This is followed by the drilling of a hole using a drill bit. The TAB collar is going to determine the depth of the drilled hole. It’s important to note that the tree bark is only a covering and isn’t as rigid as the heartwood.

As such, a measurement for drills starts from the cambium.

The hole being drilled should be level. It’s important during drilling to ensure the drill is kept running as you pull it out. With the debris out and drilling completed, what remains is to have your TAB fixed in place.

Other Drill Types Asides From the TAB

The TAB does a great job at providing stability to structures such as treehouses and also preventing multiple drill holes in trees. While this is true, there are other ways to drill into a tree. You may decide to use nails or screws.

Although these are widely used, not all nails or screws are good for such jobs.

It’s best to only use rust-proof nails and screws made from aluminum or stainless steel. These present fewer risks and ensure that trees aren’t infected.

Some Caution

It’s important to ensure that certain precautions are adhered to when drilling into trees. When followed, these limit the chances of your tree getting hurt.

  • Never Drill Too Many Holes on a Tree

There’s a limit to the number of holes that can be drilled into a tree. Remember, every hole drilled is an injury created. So, the more the injuries, the more stressed out the tree is.

As such, only calculated drilling should be done on such trees.

Anything more is looking for trouble.

  • Is the Tree Safe Enough?

Before you ever drill into a tree, you must ascertain its level of safety. Safety in this sense refers to how healthy the tree is. There are certain trees with defective growth due to stress or diseases.

Such should be avoided.

Confusion About the Health of A Tree

Before drilling is done on a tree, it needs to be assessed in terms of its strength, how healthy it is and whether such tree is mature enough. While the others are easily noticeable, a tree’s health can be quite tricky to ascertain.

When confused, we recommend you consult an arborist to help out. Arborists are tree professionals that can detect any issues with your tree and will advise accordingly.

Being able to drill into a tree without hurting it or with minimal hurt is possible as seen above. The health of your tree matters and should be a priority.

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