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Top 10 Diamond Driller Bad Habits

posted by the Epiroc Exploration & OreBody Solutions team

September 15, 2020

In this blog, we have provided a lot of information about how to choose equipment and how to take care of it properly. Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to look beyond the equipment part of the job and focus on how to do the job, or in the case of this blog, how not to do the job.

As with any job, after a while you can get complacent. You can forget what you were told when you started out and you start to develop some bad habits. Our technical team visits a lot of sites and they can attest to that. So, in this edition, we are going to delve into some diamond drilling bad habits.

Lack of patience
I start with this one because it is the root of a lot of other bad habits. Getting core in the box is the way to make money so many drillers rush to do things as quickly as possible. Sometimes though, you need to be patient and slow down. In certain situations, such as deep hole drilling, rushing can lead to mistakes and the mistakes will cost more than what you think. Burning a bit at 100 meters is an annoyance but at 1,500 meters it’s a big problem. Mistakes compound themselves when your hole is deep.  


Not lubricating enough

Lubrication is a driller’s best friend and you should use it on all moving parts and equipment. Take the time to lubricate properly and with the right lubricant. Multi-purpose grease is great for a variety of tools and equipment, including the insides of core barrels and the grease points on a drill rig (bearings, pivot points, etc.). Drill rod grease should be extra tacky and thread compound should be used on ALL threaded connections –rods and casing.

Not having an open mind 

Every driller has his own way of doing things and his favourite products. However, sometimes new products arrive on the market or better ways of doing things come along and you should keep an open mind. My technical team often visits sites where drillers are stubbornly opposed to trying new products or processes. Drilling fluid additives are a great case in point. Bentonite has been used for years so some drillers do not want to consider a mud program with newer drilling additives. That can be a mistake. 

Not keeping a log and sharing information

Every driller should keep a driller’s log but not every driller shares all the detailed information that he should with his cross shift. A good driller should know to the inch, the exact depth of his core bit in the borehole, so when it comes to the log, the more information gathered, the better. It should include hole conditions and any bad news like whether rods got stuck in the hole and if so, why. You want to share information with your cross shift, so they don’t encounter the same problems. 

Not performing maintenance on equipment

Taking a few minutes to perform regular maintenance on equipment and parts can save you a lot of time and money later on. Having to stop operations entirely due to equipment failure ends up costing so much more than the time it would have taken you to inspect and maintain equipment beforehand. Find the time to do it.

Not maintaining your bore hole

Drilling equipment is not the only thing that needs to be maintained. Your bore hole has an impact on drilling performance so you should make sure you take care of it. That means proper flushing after every run, making sure you gage your diamond tools regularly and keeping a good stable hole using additives as the hole demands. The walls should be stable to prevent collapse and that can be done by using drilling additives like DD-2000 or Sand Drill

Over torqueing when you join threads of drill rods to save time

Over torqueing your drill rods or “snapping” the rods together as you run them into the hole can cause damage to the shoulders of the pin and box ends of the threads, as well as causing galling and other damage.  Even though it takes longer, you should take the time to join the threads by hand.

Not using good thread compound

Not all thread compounds are made the same. Grease is not thread compound. You should be using a good thread compound with at least 50% zinc particle content, such as PIPE DOPE Z50. In addition to not choosing a good one, many drillers don’t use it often enough. Good thread compound applied regularly to clean threads will extend the life of your drill rods substantially.

Not listening to the drill

A good driller knows to listen to the drill rig and to the sounds and vibrations coming from the bottom of the hole. It’s one of the only ways to know what is going on down many meters beneath the surface. You should be paying attention to the sounds and feel of the equipment, such as sudden vibrations and the sound of your engine labouring. These are all hints that there is trouble brewing.

Making sure your bit is being flushed

Your diamond bit is one of the most important part of your drilling equipment, and it should always be flushed with drill water. Not enough water means that the cuttings from the rock can damage the drill bit. Take the time to check that the bit is being properly flushed with sufficient fluid before rotation starts.


You’ll probably notice that a lot of these bad habits come from rushing and trying to save time. While being efficient is always a good idea, make sure you don’t avoid tasks that must be done or do them without giving them the proper time and attention. Our technical team is a great resource for tips on maintenance and for suggesting new products and methods. You can contact them for more information. Our goal is to help you improve drilling performance.

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