best way to drill holes into bench stretcher?


I've got my neander bench base almost built, hurrah!, just need to bolt the stretchers to the legs. (Common knock-down construction: 10mm hole through leg into stretcher end grain, with a perpendicular hole in the stretcher to take a nut (tapped pieces of 8x18x35mm steel)).
Anyway, how do I make sure I drill this long leg-and-stretcher hole straight?
The only way I've thought of is (1) drill the holes into the legs first. Don't know how I'm going to ensure it's perpendicular to the leg - trestle legs too big to put on a pillar drill; (2) use the holes in the legs as a guide to drill into the stretcher end grain. What sort of drill bit do I need to use here? Is there any danger of it wandering off course in the end grain?
Or is this simpler than I'm making it and that actually judging it by eye and using a long twist drill straight through from the leg in one go is sufficient?
Insights gratefully received :)
graham.
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On Fri, 07 Apr 2006 10:37:30 +0100, graham wrote:

Graham,
I used a very long drill bit, in a hand drill. The legs and stretcher were assembled, using a long pipe clamp to hold it all together. I had a helper hold a square against the leg at the entry point for the bit, while I tried to stay in alignment with it. I drilled the through hole in the leg, and the hole into the stretcher end grain, in one go.
Drilling into end grain will result in the bit wanting to wander. A small diameter bit will flex. I used a somewhat larger diameter drill and hardware (half inch). I started out going slowly, and held the drill as steady as I could. Once I was through the leg and into the stretcher an inch or so, that helped to guide the bit, and it worked out OK.
I used a router and a template to make the cross hole in the stretcher.
--
Art


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A hint that I use a lot when trying to drill a horizontal hole is to put a large washer on the drill bit. (Using brace and bit) If the washer moves toward me as I drill, the bit slopes down, if toward the work, it slopes up. I can usually get the other direction accurate enough by eye. Works quite well.
Walt C

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the stretchers to the legs.
An alternative to drilling is to make the stretcher from two pieces --- each half the thickness of the final thickness. Route a grove in each board where the rod will run, and glue the two halves together.
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and glue the two halves together.
Now, that's a creative solution.

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WHY NOT USE FOUR BOLTS?
That is, do the same thing on the stretcher that you did on the leg? Use a threaded rod two washers and two nuts. Wait a minute, why not use one machine bolt through the leg (from the outside) into the stretcher and have the perpendicular hole drilled into the stretcher to hold the nut.

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Use your pillar drill (assuming that's the same as a drill press) to make a perpendicular hole thourgh a piece of thick scrap. The scrap is your drill guide to drill through the leg, then proceed with your step 2.
I'd recommend a long brad point bit.
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I do the above but make the scrap the same length as the width of the stretcher with additional pieces of scrap attached at 90 degrees. This makes a nice jig. I use the same system for bed bolts.
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lots of useful feedback - thanks guys. I'm going to go with the making-a-guide-from-a-piece-of-scrap technique, plus some trial runs and slow drilling.
As someone mentioned it, I considered tapped brass round for the nuts but decided I couldn't be sure of locating the hole for them perfectly aligned with the bolt (though it must be possible as plenty of others take this option) and instead made some long nuts out of ~8x18mm steel flat.
graham.
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Recently did this on my bench. I had routed the mortises that those stretchers go into. I drilled from the inside of the mortise through the leg. Used a backing board to prevent blow out on the leg.
Then I inserted the stretcher into the mortise and used the existing hole as the drill guide. Had to make two hardware store trips though, as I went to a store that I know is less expensive for these larger bolts. SOMEONE put 5" bolts in the 4" bin and I didn't measure them in the store...
Alan
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