which drill bits for oak beams? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 08-17-2018, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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which drill bits for oak beams?

Hi, I have 4"x6" hard oak beams that I will use to make a camping bench. These things are very tough to drill. I only have a hand cordless drill for this job.
- I used 1/2"x18" auger bit which had hard time drilling through 1 beam. The drill bit got very hot
- I used 3/16" drill bit to make a pilot hole for 1/2" lag bolts. But the lag bolt broke when screwing it in and the drill bit bent as well
- I used 6" nail (no pilot hole). The nail started bending after it went in about 1"
- I used 6" irwin speedbor and it seemed to work but my drill sure got a workout and it drained the battery

Ideally I'd like to use a threaded rod to connect everything together. So, I need to run a hole through all beams (4x4" wide). However if that's not possible I could connect them by using lag bolts.

What is the best drill bit for this job? Is it possible to drill through 4x4" beams all at once? Do I need a bigger/stronger drill?
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post #2 of 24 Old 08-17-2018, 02:47 PM
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Sounds like a good reason to buy a new tool LOL


You could work your way up to the size you want, start at 3/16 go to 5/16, then 3/8 and then 1/2

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post #3 of 24 Old 08-17-2018, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Catpower View Post
Sounds like a good reason to buy a new tool LOL


You could work your way up to the size you want, start at 3/16 go to 5/16, then 3/8 and then 1/2
Just last week I picked up 12" sliding double compound and Dewalt 734 planer

By new tool, do you mean bigger drill? What drill bits would work best on these?
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post #4 of 24 Old 08-17-2018, 03:49 PM
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I'd want to use a Forstner bit for that, but they're typically not that long. Probably a HSS brad point spur bit can be had long enough to drill through 4". You'll have to go slow, and remove the bit from the hole often to clear chips out. HSS (high speed steel) can get very hot without losing its temper, but if the wood starts to smoke I'd let things cool off.

That oak you got is nasty hard stuff, eh? I had a bubinga spindle on my lathe once and tried to drill a 3/4" hole through it with a regular twist drill, and even at the 500 rpm low speed the drill bit turned purple and smoked. I think bubinga is African for "granite".
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post #5 of 24 Old 08-17-2018, 05:23 PM
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For a one-time project like this I recommend renting a heavy-duty corded 1/2” drill with an auxiliary handle.
If you mark you locations precisely, you will be able to align all-thread tod completely through all the pieces and bolt together as you’ve described. Your rental can be for less than a full day and the power of a good drill will make a big difference.
Since you’ve chosen Oak, I recommend you drill a 9/16” hole for your 1/2” rebar because the Oak won’t give even a little bit.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #6 of 24 Old 08-17-2018, 06:08 PM
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You do not say what drill that you have. Nor if the bits are new/sharp. My Craftsman 1/2" 20v cordless drill has drilled through many tough situations. I would not hesitate to tackle what you describe. I do not think my Craftsman C3 would have had any problems either.



Modern cordless drill have a lot of torque. I do not know that a corded drill is necessary.


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post #7 of 24 Old 08-17-2018, 08:39 PM
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What 1/2" rebar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoSheriff View Post
Hi, I have 4"x6" hard oak beams that I will use to make a camping bench. These things are very tough to drill. I only have a hand cordless drill for this job.
- I used 1/2"x18" auger bit which had hard time drilling through 1 beam. The drill bit got very hot
- I used 3/16" drill bit to make a pilot hole for 1/2" lag bolts. But the lag bolt broke when screwing it in and the drill bit bent as well
- I used 6" nail (no pilot hole). The nail started bending after it went in about 1"
- I used 6" irwin speedbor and it seemed to work but my drill sure got a workout and it drained the battery

Ideally I'd like to use a threaded rod to connect everything together. So, I need to run a hole through all beams (4x4" wide). However if that's not possible I could connect them by using lag bolts.

What is the best drill bit for this job? Is it possible to drill through 4x4" beams all at once? Do I need a bigger/stronger drill?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toolman50 View Post
For a one-time project like this I recommend renting a heavy-duty corded 1/2” drill with an auxiliary handle.
If you mark you locations precisely, you will be able to align all-thread tod completely through all the pieces and bolt together as you’ve described. Your rental can be for less than a full day and the power of a good drill will make a big difference.
Since you’ve chosen Oak, I recommend you drill a 9/16” hole for your 1/2” rebar because the Oak won’t give even a little bit.
A twist drills size would be a 7/16" for 1/2" lag bolts. A battery powered drill will not do this in the depths and hardness you specify. I use a 1/2" variable speed corded drill to pre-drill 6" X 8" landscape timbers for 12" long nails, and I use long a 3/8" twist drill. I have to pull it out to remove the chips every so often. I've drill hundreds of holes this way.
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #8 of 24 Old 08-18-2018, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toolman50 View Post
For a one-time project like this I recommend renting a heavy-duty corded 1/2” drill with an auxiliary handle.
If you mark you locations precisely, you will be able to align all-thread tod completely through all the pieces and bolt together as you’ve described. Your rental can be for less than a full day and the power of a good drill will make a big difference.
Since you’ve chosen Oak, I recommend you drill a 9/16” hole for your 1/2” rebar because the Oak won’t give even a little bit.
My mistake above in calling it rebar, I meant all-thread. The all thread could be used to tie all the pieces together and bolted tightly. This is an alternative to using Lag screws. The nuts can be recessed into the legs for a smooth outside.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #9 of 24 Old 08-18-2018, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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I ended up using FastenMaster 10" Timberlok screws with 18v impact drill. This bench is very heavy.
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post #10 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 02:04 AM
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I sometimes keep a mug of cold water handy to frequently cool a drill.
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post #11 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 04:48 AM
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Use old tech

You could just use a brace and bit. There are plenty about. An Irwin or Jennings pattern auger will make short work of the oak. If you don’t know much about old technology you should read about how to sharpen the bit. No battery, so always ready to work at full power.

I have to ask though - why the massive over engineering using 4x6 oak? Not really a good choice for a seat which needs moving, and metal fasteners will be degraded by the natural tannic acid in oak. Nice job at the end though.
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post #12 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 06:57 AM
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Good job. I thought a cordless would do the job.


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post #13 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 08:49 AM
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Get a Wood Owl bit. I bought mine from Timberwolf tools. I built our pergola with 6x6 Walnut and Ash. This bit chewed through better than any bit I've ever used and no tearout on the exit hole.

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post #14 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 11:47 AM
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Drilling VS an impact driver

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoSheriff View Post
I ended up using FastenMaster 10" Timberlok screws with 18v impact drill. This bench is very heavy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
Good job. I thought a cordless would do the job.


George
A cordless drill would quit/run out of battery, fairly soon drilling 7/16" holes in Oak for 1/2" lag bolts. That's why we all recommended a "corded" drill motor. I wouldn't dream of using my 18V cordless drill for 3/8" pilot holes for the 12" nails I use on 6" X 8" timbers.

An impact driver is a whole different animal. A cordless one used on much smaller diameter screws obviously worked just fine. It's another "apples and oranges" comparison, completely different application and power requirements.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #15 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 12:45 PM
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Most 1/2" corded drills have handles designed to absorb the torque when using a large drill bit, it is your wrist that is absorbing it with most cordless drills, gets tiresome pretty fast even if the drill has enough power to drill the hole.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
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post #16 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
A cordless drill would quit/run out of battery, fairly soon drilling 7/16" holes in Oak for 1/2" lag bolts. That's why we all recommended a "corded" drill motor. I wouldn't dream of using my 18V cordless drill for 3/8" pilot holes for the 12" nails I use on 6" X 8" timbers.

An impact driver is a whole different animal. A cordless one used on much smaller diameter screws obviously worked just fine. It's another "apples and oranges" comparison, completely different application and power requirements.

An impact driver is just another form of cordless drill.


You need to go down to a commercial sales outlet and see the equipment they are selling to large contractors these days. The store that I was in a couple of days ago told me that the Milwaukee battery powered were the most popular for the companies to buy for their employees. While I was standing there there was a discussion about a company putting on more employees and coming back to negotiate.


There was a batter powered chain saw in front of me and I picked it up. It was heavier than my gas powered, WITHOUT the battery. The clerk said that was their most popular chain saw.


Battery power has come a long way. But it is not light weight.


George

Last edited by GeorgeC; 08-19-2018 at 06:51 PM.
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post #17 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I have to ask though - why the massive over engineering using 4x6 oak? Not really a good choice for a seat which needs moving, and metal fasteners will be degraded by the natural tannic acid in oak. Nice job at the end though.
These oak beams cost me fraction of what I'd pay for 2x4 spruce. I have a bunch of these oaks so I decided to build something from them. Looking for project ideas . I won't be moving this bench much. It will either place it on my deck or by the firepit.

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Get a Wood Owl bit. I bought mine from Timberwolf tools. I built our pergola with 6x6 Walnut and Ash. This bit chewed through better than any bit I've ever used and no tearout on the exit hole.
I've seen those Wood Owl bits on their website and wondered if they'd do the job.
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post #18 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 08:31 PM
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I sometimes keep a mug of cold water handy to frequently cool a drill.
johnep
Almost the same thing, I stop and drink a beer to allow the drill to cool down.
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #19 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoSheriff View Post
These oak beams cost me fraction of what I'd pay for 2x4 spruce. I have a bunch of these oaks so I decided to build something from them. Looking for project ideas . I won't be moving this bench much. It will either place it on my deck or by the firepit.


I've seen those Wood Owl bits on their website and wondered if they'd do the job.
I was amazed how well they worked. I had Irwin paddle bits and Speedbores and they just jammed up(actually burnt up my 1/2 inch DeWalt.) The Wood Owls chewed through like nothing and made a much cleaner hole. Worth every penny!

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post #20 of 24 Old 08-19-2018, 10:18 PM
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impact drivers VS drills

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Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
An impact driver is just another form of cordless drill.
George

You have no idea what you are talking about. They are completely different internally at the driven end.
https://youtu.be/PplmamhRCv4?t=329

By the way, I own a whole set of Milwaukee drills and impact drivers, about 3 of each in 1/4" hex drive and 3/8" and 1/2" square drive for mechanical and automotive work. Don't tell me how they work, I know. They do not use drills to drive nuts on threaded fasteners, like your truck's lug nuts. They use an impact driver. They are completely different.

Here's my biggest Milwaukee 1/2" impact driver:
https://www.amazon.com/Milwaukee-276...+impact+driver



With 700 ft lbs of torque, it will break your wrist if you aren't careful.


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 08-19-2018 at 10:35 PM.
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