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I find that when drilling into end grain (even with a brad point bit) , there is a certain amount of drift (due to soft and hard grain variation), which is difficult to overcome. And it is more prevalent using smaller drill bits. No matter how well marked, it seems to be a crap shoot most the time to achieve perfection. Lots of ideas here to find what effort is acceptable.
 

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In another life I make a product where I drill 1/16" dia. holes centred in the end of 1/4" dia. hardwood dowel stock, two factors come into play, lathe speed and having the end of the dowel flat and smooth.
I would appreciate more details. How deep do the holes go? How do you set the lathe speed? Which drills do you use?
 
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