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Thread: Drill Press and Drilling the Perfect Hole

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Evansville, IN
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    Drill Press and Drilling the Perfect Hole

    Hello, I am new to woodworking to be sure. So let my ignorance be known upfront.

    My problem:
    I'm trying to drill a perfect, smooth hole into a board with no chipping on the front or back. I have trouble with this.

    Attempted Solutions:
    • I tried different woods (from Home Depot). Common board was a mess all around. Oak was better, but still not perfect. And pine seems somewhere in the middle.
    • I have a piece of wood clamped underneath. And then I clamp my working piece on top of that so nothing is moving or sliding. I thought that would solve the problem. It definitely improved it, but didn't fully solve it.
    • I've tried using forstner bits and brad point pits. Again, both improved what I was working with, but still not perfect.


    I have a $150 5-speed drill press from Sears. I know that isn't exactly an industrial machine. For one, I can't set my drill press speed to exactly match what each type of wood calls for, but I can get somewhat close.

    My questions are...
    1. Am I doing anything wrong that might be obvious to an expert?
    2. Is there something I'm not doing that I should?
    3. Is my drill press just too amateurish to really do this? Should I have got the 10 speed or something more expensive?
    4. Am I chasing a dream that can't be accomplished?


    Any help from people that really know this stuff would be amazing!

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  2. #2
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    It's likely more your bit than any other problem. Are you using a regular drill bit, a brad point, forstner, or what?

    Brad points and forstner bits are designed for wood and will do a better job. "Regular" jobbers bits or split point bits are intended as multi-purpose, and actuall work better in metal than in wood.

    You don't say what size hole you want to drill, but you might be able to drill a thru hole with a much smaller bit, then start the larger hole, using the smaller one as a 'pilot', then turn the board over and finish the hole from that side.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Wapakoneta, OH
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    That looks like plywood (?), and it's always tough to keep it from having a small amount of tear out. But Jim's suggestion of drilling a very small pilot hole and then use a forstner from both sides has always worked for me; bear in mind, you sometimes get tear out on the starting side. In those cases, it always seemed to me that if I was more careful with the starting cut (move into the wood more slowly) it gave the cutters more time to cut the circle and prevent the tear out. I wouldn't blame the drill press, you have plenty of speed variety to do this, but there may be some runout (wobble) on the chuck that isn't helping. The bits would be more suspect to me, if they are good quality then that shouldn't happen. If they aren't, try to buy a Freud HSS forstner (there are others, but Freud seems to be more available) and see if you still have the problem. A small one (3/4" +/-) shouldn't be too expensive. That would also be true of the brad point bits.
    Last edited by fred hargis; 06-12-2015 at 08:05 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Yup, its the bit (mostly). It may still be a bit of a stretch to get a "perfect" hole in pine depending on the quality of the board but your best bet is a good quality brad point.

    I have a set of these: http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/pag...80,42240,42247
    and everyone who's used the same sings their praises pretty loudly. I believe that they are actually Colt drill bits, but LV does re-grind the profile and they cut cleaner than anything else I've tried. You can buy them individually if you just need a size or two (unfortunately you just missed their free shipping by like 3 days! It'll come back around in a month or three).

    The rest of what you're doing (and Jim's suggestions) are also good.

    edit: a good quality forstener like Fred suggests should also give a pretty clean hole, the quality difference in those is also substantial.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Brad points also have outside spurs that cut the edge fibers on the holes. The old fashioned bit and brace used the same technology. There also something to be said for technique.

    Start your hole slowly to let the spurs cut those fibers that would otherwise tear out and then you can speed up a bit. You wisely clamped your piece on a backer board, but also slow down in anticipation of breaking through the board into the backer board to again allow the spurs to cut the edge fibers.

    BTW, welcome aboard. Please don't be put off by our occasional bickering. Our bickering is usually much kinder than some other places you may have visited.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  6. #6
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    Sep 2007
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    Shorewood, WI
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    Check that your spinning bit does not wobble, which would indicate either a bent or offset bit, or runout in your chuck. If runout is low, your best bet is a good bit. High quality bradpoint bits cut very cleanly.

    However if you buy inexpensive bits, brad points can be terrible while ordinary twist bits at the same price point may be fine. There is a way to get clean holes with twist bits, but it's much more elaborate than simply drilling with a good brad point. You use three different bits for one hole. First, place the hole precisely by drilling with a small diameter bit, small enough that any tearout will be in the region to be removed later. Leave stock clamped to the drillpress table, and replace the bit with one just smaller than the hole you want. Now drill; the small hole will keep the bit centered where you want it, and the backer will minimize problems at the exit. Now drill a third time with the proper sized bit. You will be shearing off such a small amount of material that it's likely to be quite clean.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Thomasville, GA
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    First, Welcome to the Family, Justin!

    Since you've used brad point and forstner bits and have the same results, I'll chime in with those suggesting to slow down your plunge rate. Any bit needs time to cut the wood fibers. If you plunge too fast, they don't have time to work.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  8. #8
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    Evansville, IN
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    Awesome answers guys. Very helpful. I'm going to work on a few of those suggestions as soon as I get home.

    I will say, knowing what is quality and what is not is often hard for me. I bought my brad point bits from Home Depot. They are Dewalt, and... they were the only ones they had. So I didn't exactly have options. But more and more, it seems anything you get from the box stores isn't very good quality. I feel slightly better at Sears, though that may be a misperception on my part. I really don't know yet. My forstner bits are a craftsman set. I got them them at Sears, obviously.

    Would you say I'm dealing with lesser quality on those brands for bits? I would gladly pay more if there is that much of a difference to be had.

    Definitely going to try to slow down and do the pilot hole suggestion.

    Oh and thanks for the welcome! I'll only have about 9,000 more questions coming up

  9. #9
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    Ah right that part - Welcome aboard!

    Figuring out what's good quality is indeed really difficult especially when it changes all the time and sometimes something can be decent but you just haven't figured out how to make it work well yet (not that any of us ever have that problem, just hypothetically )

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Neel View Post
    Would you say I'm dealing with lesser quality on those brands for bits? I would gladly pay more if there is that much of a difference to be had.
    Its all relative For a really clean hole a premium bit will get you a better hole out of the box for sure. I haven't tried the dewalts, but my uneducated guess based on comparable bits is that they aren't as sharp and won't have as good of a profile as say the LV bits. Unfortunately I don't have that much good to say about more modern craftsman tooling (there are exceptions to be sure, they're just getting harder to find). As with many things its a cry now or cry later.

    A properly sharpened auger bit can also do a good job, but its rare to find one properly sharpened nowadays unless you know how to do it yourself (its not hard but adding yet-another-thing-to-learn onto the pile isn't always the simplest).

    If you look closely at your first picture (and I'm going to wager that was done with the brad points) there are those little "tags" pulled out where the grain changed direction. This means that the "spur" on the side of the bit caught and pulled the wood instead of cutting it. So as others have said, its possible (or even probable) that the tip of the spur is sharper than the base so if you ease into the cut more slowly it may have time to cut that instead of pulling it. If those tags persist try feeling the leading edge of the spur, it should be SHARP, if its not then its going to continue to grab and drag. You can to a certain extent get a similar effect by speeding up the rotational rate of the drill press (essentially cuts per increment of advancement) but if you go to fast you'll also start to burn the bits so there's a limit there. Here's a reasonable speed chart: https://www.fnal.gov/pub/takefive/pd...peed_Chart.pdf

    I have some crappy brad points at home somewhere, I'll try and take a few pictures showing the difference in cuts between them (and maybe take a stab at sharpening one - never tried on a brad point, but hay why not ) tonight (unless I get honeydewed then all bets are of course off).

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    We look in the upper right corner to see where you are from. That is so we can help you with resources near you. It would be helpful if you were to adjust that by editing your profile.

    That said.

    Many of us have found the quality of Sears has deteriorated over the years. Lee Valley has very good quality tools. The prices are fair, the service is suburb, and sometimes the shipping is even free! Rockler and Woodcraft also have brick & mortar stores along with in-line sales. The tools they sell are for woodworking. The big box stores sell the things that have the biggest market-up and quickest turnover for them. Rarely does quality have a role in that business model.

    And that said, there are exceptions to every generalization and when you experience them, I hope they are of the very best kind.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

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