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Thread: Drilling a hole in the end of a dowel

  1. #1
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    Drilling a hole in the end of a dowel

    I think this is a newbie question with an easy answer -- at least I hope it is. I need to drill a coaxial hole into the end of a 1 1/4 inch dowel. I can get it centered, but I'm having trouble getting it straight. What I've tried a few times is clamping the dowel in a vice and using a small level to make sure it's vertical. Then I use the bubble in my cordless drill to drill the hole straight down -- or at least that's what I try to do. I'm getting close to straight, but not close enough. Is there a better way to do this (without a drill press, which I don't have)? Are there any (inexpesive) jigs made for this sort of thing?

    P.S. I thought I posted a similar message earlier today, but I don't see it anywhere. So I must have done something wrong.
    Michael Ray Smith

  2. #2
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    How deep of a hole do you need to bore?

    Sometimes the reason for drilling the hole may inspire others to think of options that you have not considered.

    You likely do not have the set up to spin the dowel and to hold the bit stationary like would be done with a lathe.

    Also one thing to consider, as a drill bit gets loaded up with the wood being drilled it may tend to wander off track.

    There is also the possibility that a different type of bit would be less likely to wander. I have used thick walled stainless steel tubing to cut holes. In your case you would need a cone shaped stone to put a bevel on the inside of the tubing. Then file a few teeth on the edge. This is slow for any depth as you need to stop and clean the bit quite often.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
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    I'd use a long bit that allows you to really get a feel for when you drift off square. Also, consider that dowels are easy to split. Also consider that screw lead augers aren't really intended to bore into end grain. I think I'd get a nice long nose auger, since they won't split the dowel. Harder to start in the center (you'll have to chisel a little pocket to start the auger) but should work well once you get it going.
    Your endgrain is like your bellybutton. Yes, I know you have it. No, I don't want to see it.

    Ask me why I use hand tools, and I'll tell you

  4. #4
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    You could try drilling a hole in a block of wood that is perfectly perpendicular, e.g., with a drill press, and use that as a guide similar to a doweling jig. Or, you could use a doweling jig.

  5. #5
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    If you have access to a lathe, it might be easier to drill straight through an oversize piece, then mount the piece in the lathe and work it down to size. I believe that is the way it is sometimes done on tool handles.

  6. #6
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    This is an easy job on a lathe. Do you have any friends who have one?

  7. #7
    You can buy a $14 dowel drilling guide from Rockler, or drill bushings from Lee Valley, or make your own drilling guide on the drill press:

    Say yr dowel is 3/4" and you want to drill a 1/4" hole. Bore a 1/8" hole thru a block on the drill press. From one side, drill a 1/4" hole 1/2 way thru the block with the press. Flip the block and drill a 3/4" hole with the press. Fit the dowel into the big hole and drill from the other side with a handdrill.

  8. #8
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    Cleveland, Ohio
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    You may be able to incorporate this tip into drilling the hole horizontally - using a ring on the drill bit. I thought it was neat such a simple idea that should work:

    http://logancabinetshoppe.com/blog/2010/05/quick-tip-6/

  9. #9
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    Truth is, drilling a straight line into endgrain requires a different sort of drill bit, even on a lathe. What you want is a good shell auger or gundrill bit. Without it, your hole will wander despite everything you try. I asked myself the same question years ago when making a wooden penny whistle. That is project that got me started on hand tool use.

    Recently I had to revisit this method when trying to come up with a simple way to make octagonal tool handles. A Drilling the hole in the end so your tool comes out straight, ended up having the same problems. A jig helps, having the right drill bit is required. Half way through the post, just before the first black and white photo, I start detailing the methods you need, and why you need them. The comments have some details that might help as well.

    Jig Photo:


    Drill Bit (Gundrill or Shell Auger) Photo:



    A gundrill bit can be made pretty easily, so have no fear.

    Bob
    Last edited by Bob Strawn; 02-13-2012 at 5:41 PM.

  10. Certainly not inexpensive, but Bridge City Toolworks has something that can do this, that suggests that a dowelling jig might be just the thing. I recall that the demo of the BCT thing said that regular bits worked better that brad points for endgrain.

  11. #11
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    I take a scrap pc of wood 2-3" sq and 1-1.25"thk, then drill a hole the size of the dowel about 0.25"deep and drill a small hole for the drill bit centered in the hole (a forstner will leave a dimple to guide the small hole) and then place this over the end of the dowel and there is your drill guide.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Peter Pedisich; 02-13-2012 at 5:30 PM.

  12. #12
    The way I've always done it is to drill the hole, then mount the wood in a lathe and turn it down to size using the hole as the centers.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  13. #13
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    Thanks to everyone for great ideas!! I've tried a couple of basic doweling jigs and -- just as several of you predicted -- the bit still wanders. So the next thing is to get the right sort of bit.

    By the way, I don't have a lathe. . . yet. And maybe I'm just too stubborn or too naive, but it seems as if I ought to be able to do this with much simpler equipment.
    Michael Ray Smith

  14. #14
    Michael,
    Make two v-shaped blocks; one long and deep enough to support your dowel and another that will lay in the first block with a v that will support the drill bit and center it in your dowel....
    roy griggs
    roygriggs@valornet.com

  15. #15
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    I like. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Pedisich View Post
    I take a scrap pc of wood 2-3" sq and 1-1.25"thk, then drill a hole the size of the dowel about 0.25"deep and drill a small hole for the drill bit centered in the hole (a forstner will leave a dimple to guide the small hole) and then place this over the end of the dowel and there is your drill guide.
    Michael Ray Smith

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