Accurately drilling into the end of a dowel - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 11-20-2019, 03:31 PM Thread Starter
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Accurately drilling into the end of a dowel

Just a quick video on drilling accurately into a dowel with a drill press.

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post #2 of 25 Old 11-20-2019, 10:33 PM
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pretty ingenious paul
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post #3 of 25 Old 11-21-2019, 08:50 AM
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I understand about the drill seeking the center, but when I lower the table on my drill press, the table can rotate in the horizontal plane. I guess I could try clamping the rack to the column to prevent the rotation.
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post #4 of 25 Old 11-21-2019, 11:23 AM
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Brilliant!

Two weeks ago, I needed a small hole in a small dowel to replace a plastic part that I had over-sanded. The part was a spacer for a pen that I made. It took me eight tries with a hand drill to get one good, straight hole. Most of the time, the drill popped out the side, despite all due care when drilling. This trick would have saved me a lot of time.

Thank you for sharing!
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post #5 of 25 Old 11-21-2019, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ducbsa View Post
but when I lower the table on my drill press, the table can rotate in the horizontal plane.
same here. but... fully extend the quill, clamp and then it would still work on a short dowel
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post #6 of 25 Old 11-21-2019, 06:09 PM
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Try a centering guide ....

Quite often plastic sealing caps have a molded in centered pin that you can use to locate your drill bit when slipped over the end of the dowel:



Other bottle tips look like these:
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Last edited by woodnthings; 11-21-2019 at 07:09 PM.
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post #7 of 25 Old 11-29-2019, 07:13 PM
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Mountains of molehills!

No need for jigs or anything fancy, just a center finder. This is my big "rough one" I use for finding centers of large and oblong pieces, and using a comically oversize dowel to show the process easier. Takes a few seconds and gives a reference good enough for a hand drill to work out just fine.

The process should be relatively self explanatory. Place dowel in center finder, mark one line, rotate any degree, mark another line. Use an awl or punch to create an accurate reference point for your drill, and you have an accurately centered dowel hole every time without any "setup" and doesnt even have the possibility for errors.

https://www.amazon.com/Taytools-4695...069186&sr=8-50

13 bucks for a machinist one. Works for almost any size dowel you could possibly need Id think.
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post #8 of 25 Old 11-29-2019, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob493 View Post
Mountains of molehills!

No need for jigs or anything fancy, just a center finder. This is my big "rough one" I use for finding centers of large and oblong pieces, and using a comically oversize dowel to show the process easier. Takes a few seconds and gives a reference good enough for a hand drill to work out just fine.

The process should be relatively self explanatory. Place dowel in center finder, mark one line, rotate any degree, mark another line. Use an awl or punch to create an accurate reference point for your drill, and you have an accurately centered dowel hole every time without any "setup" and doesnt even have the possibility for errors.

[... URL here ...]

13 bucks for a machinist one. Works for almost any size dowel you could possibly need Id think.
Center finders have size limitations. They don't work on small dowels, like the one I was trying to drill. Furthermore, a center finder does not help you line up the drill to get the bit perfectly down the center of the dowel. That is the real problem I encountered. Drilling by hand, I punched through the side of the dowel seven times before I got it to work.

The trick that @Paul Montgomery posted would have been the perfect solution for me to get a straight hole the first time, and I am very glad he shared it. Thank you Paul!
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post #9 of 25 Old 11-29-2019, 08:11 PM
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The center finder is for marking the center. Even if you're using the other jigs and ideas, its not a bad idea to have a clear indication of where the center is anyway. That said, even 1/8" dowels can use this method fine, I do it all the time (I do inlayed "dowels" for fretboard markers frequently, it requires absolute precision).

Using the awl provides accurate referencing for the drill bit, and works EVERY time on any size dowel. If your stock isnt lined up or your drilling technique is off, then yeah you might have issues with drilling through the sides. Im not even sure how you even could mess up my technique tbh, its foolproof and doesnt waste time with jigs and fiddling with complicated table setups. If you're drilling by "hand", I assume you mean a cordless drill running it through? That'd be difficult to do with almost any setup and would require a lot of practice.
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post #10 of 25 Old 11-29-2019, 08:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob493 View Post
If you're drilling by "hand", I assume you mean a cordless drill running it through? That'd be difficult to do with almost any setup and would require a lot of practice.
Take a thick piece of scrap, drill halfway through with a drill the size of your dowel, then drill all the way through with whatever hole size you eventually want to put in the dowel, letting the second drill center itself in the bottom of the hole left by the first drill. You now have a drill guide that will put a hole in the center of a dowel, even with a hand drill.

Jig should look like this:
--------l l-----------
--------l_ _l-----------
----------l l-------------
----------l l-------------

Dowel in the big end, drill in the small end. Easy peasy

Edit: bloody formatting screwed up the example. Still gets the idea across at least...
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post #11 of 25 Old 11-29-2019, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
Take a thick piece of scrap, drill halfway through with a drill the size of your dowel, then drill all the way through with whatever hole size you eventually want to put in the dowel, letting the second drill center itself in the bottom of the hole left by the first drill. You now have a drill guide that will put a hole in the center of a dowel, even with a hand drill.

Jig should look like this:
--------l l-----------
--------l_ _l-----------
----------l l-------------
----------l l-------------

Dowel in the big end, drill in the small end. Easy peasy

Edit: bloody formatting screwed up the example. Still gets the idea across at least...

yup, I get what you're saying, but you gotta drill the small size first to reference the large size, otherwise you still run the risk of being out of center. That works too, quick and easy.

My way saves innocent scrap wood, unless youre doing routine sizes :D


Just to hammer a point, I dont have any smaller round stock im willing to waste atm, so heres a shelf pin I slapped up and did in about 30 seconds (hand drilled even, didnt feel like chucking up and plugging in the drill press). If we're talking anything smaller than 3/16" here and you want dead on accuracy, the only way is a lathe really.
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Last edited by bob493; 11-29-2019 at 08:49 PM.
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post #12 of 25 Old 11-29-2019, 08:55 PM
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@epicfail48

I feel like this is what you're trying to say to do?
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post #13 of 25 Old 11-30-2019, 12:44 AM
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Several good ideas presented in this thread, IMO.


The video in the OP is kind of neat, in that you don't have to buy anything (assuming you have a DP and machinist's vice--many people that have the DP will have the vice), and it demonstrates true outside-the-box thinking :)

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post #14 of 25 Old 11-30-2019, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob493 View Post
yup, I get what you're saying, but you gotta drill the small size first to reference the large size, otherwise you still run the risk of being out of center. That works too, quick and easy.
Not really, the larger drill will naturally leave a center for the smaller drill to follow. Enlarging a smaller hole with a larger drill is actually poor practice in a lot of situations, your average twist drill relies on the point of the bit to guide it accurately, to say nothing of things like forestner and brad point bits. Going large first and following with the small will let the small bit center itself like it would if you were to use a prick punch to spot the hole

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob493 View Post
@epicfail48

I feel like this is what you're trying to say to do?
Bingo. Sure, takes a bit of scrap, but i doubt anybody is gonna miss the amount needed to make one of those. Added benefit is the guide acts like a bushing for the drill, makes it less likely to deflect. Id comfortable say you could run a 1/16 hole through a 1/8 dowel that way

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post #15 of 25 Old 11-30-2019, 10:39 AM
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I watched the video, it is what it is as long as you can chuck the dowel in the drill press, so I say thanks for the tip.

Basically the idea is the same as doing it in a lathe with the dowel chucked and the bit in the tailstock, both are held parallel and centered to each other which is essential.

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post #16 of 25 Old 11-30-2019, 10:46 AM
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I still like Paul's video. It does exactly what I want, quickly and easily.

All the other ideas with center finders, jigs, etc. are nice ideas, but would take ten times longer than Paul's simple method.

Paul's technique also reminded me that I could have drilled my hole with a lathe using a similar technique to Paul's video.
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post #17 of 25 Old 11-30-2019, 10:52 AM
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Hm. Im not sure I follow the logic here truth be told. Pilot drill holes are used in almost every type of fabrication setup, wood or otherwise; with out the "wander". The cutting geometry of drill bits (again just 120-135 standard twist drills here ofc) requires a pilot hole for optimum performance of said bit. The tip of the drill bit (the web) does no actual cutting, and for larger bits the web thickness is the size of your pilot hole drill size.

If your bits are walking out from wood dowels on a drill press, then id wager your peice isnt 90 degrees or the drill is out of alignment or sticking out too far. A small impression is certainly plenty in almost any scenario to get a straight; through hole.

That aside i really dig the idea, might give it a try if i ever need to do REALLY small holes in something like that, those thin ones can get squirrely in harder woods
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post #18 of 25 Old 11-30-2019, 11:18 AM
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Drilling guides, jigs and fixtures ....

As a metal lathe owner, I've used centering drills to spot the end of a metal round to locate the 60* centers. They are short and stout, so there is virturally no wander and leave a small pilot hole and a 60* countersink for the centers. They come in various sizes for the appropriate centers:
https://www.amazon.com/Anytime-Tools...19198454&psc=1


There is no reason, they won't work to get a pilot or "starting" hole in a dowel. Using a center finder on the end, the cross line can be marked and their center punched with a steel punch. The drill press vise is used to support the short dowel vertically with it's "V" grooves to retain it. A small twist drill can be used as a pilot for a larger hole if it will "self center" in the previously punched hole OR the hole left by the centering drill, either way.


My concern with the method posted by Paul above, is that the drill press table will not locate excatly in the same position when you lower it, since it can pivot on the column. This was visible in the video.


The drill guide posted above, from a scrap piece with a centered pilot hole and a larger hole to secure the dowel would be another accurate way to get good results.

https://youtu.be/2_JjJ0-mStY?t=180


There's always more than one good way to get a good result..... well, almost always.
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post #19 of 25 Old 11-30-2019, 11:20 AM
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Any time there is a choice between a lathe and a drill press the lathe wins hands down, there is just too much play in most handyman grade drill press quills for close tolerances. Even with the lathe I will use a centre bit to establish a path for the regular bit to follow.

Same goes for using a milling machine over most drill presses if I want accuracy.
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post #20 of 25 Old 11-30-2019, 11:42 AM
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I watched the video, it is what it is as long as you can chuck the dowel in the drill press, so I say thanks for the tip.

Basically the idea is the same as doing it in a lathe with the dowel chucked and the bit in the tailstock, both are held parallel and centered to each other which is essential.

Different strokes is all. As long as the hole goes through the dowel straight, the method using it doesnt matter much. Ive done the center marking method for a long long time (since fabrication days when i was much younger), and it honestly takes me a few seconds because thats just the method im used to and its quick and easy.

Im also not wild about clamping wood into milling vises personally, i know you can use soft jaws and what not, but more often than not i wind up fighting to get pieces squared up straight. Meanwhile im sure an experienced machinist can whip out a straight clamp in seconds where im fumbling around with it.

Im by no means saying its "better", im just saying it works well for me and is another option. For instance, those without a milling vise cant even perform that style.

Edit : 1000% agree on the lathe. I just need to get one haha.
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