I'm trying to cut a handle (square rectangle rounded at both ends) in a
board. I was doing this with a 1" spade bit. Basically I was cutting
three holes, one in the center and one on each side, then cutting out
the sides with a jig saw. I keep measuring where to put the center of
the buit but it's off a little each time, in other words the holes don't
line up perfectly. Granted, we're talking the width of a dull pencil
point but it's driving me a little nuts.
Is there a drill press jig that might help on this or do I just need to
do the same thing but more carefull?
I always drill one hole, then turn the press off and use the depth stop spun
around the opposite side to hold the drill down. Then I clamp a scrap
piece behind the part I'm drilling then release the drill and slide the
wood to be drilled back and forth along the scrap to drill the rest of the
Make a simple fence. It can be as simple as a strip of 3/4" plywood with
two holes drilled in it. Use wing nuts and bolts to hold it in place. One
lined up for the first hole, it is simple to repeat.
FWIW, most spade bits I've ever used are crap. Forstner bits or hole saw
As others have said, a fence or constant spacer is one thing needed. The other
item is often more difficult: a straight spade bit. It's very difficult these
day to buy good spade bits. You can try checking yours out, and you may find
it's off enough to cause your problem. A forstner or sawtooth bit would do a
much better job (although at ten times the cost). A cheaper possibility might
be a hole saw, if the material's not too thick.
Spade bits are rarely straight. If you spin the drill chuck by hand you
will probably see the tip of the bit wobble as it rotates. The worst
thing you can do is hold the work piece rigid. Try drilling pilot holes
with a normal twist drill bit that is slightly larger than the width of
the tip of the spade bit and then, using a slow speed on your drill
press, drill into the workpiece with your spade bit letting your
workpiece 'float' so that it wobbles along with the spade bit. Your
hole positioning will be a lot more reliable.
Others advised about forstner bits and this is the best choice if you
want 'round' holes with good edge finish but if you're just gouging out
wood then spades will work if you know their limitations.
I'll take issue with that one. First, if your bit is that bent, IMHO you
should toss it. Second, once the wings of the spade bit have cut in, any
wobble is restricted. Third, I'd really like the workpiece to stay where it
is, rather than my having to duck out of the way.
The original poster stated that the wobble was the width of a dull
pencil - you'll be tossing quite a few spade bits if you consider this
unacceptable tolerance. My suggestion was to let the workpiece "float"
with the drill running at slow speed. I didn't suggest having the
workpiece totally unconstrained. There are several ways to keep the
workpiece from rotating without holding it rigid so you won't have to
"duck out of the way". The nice thing about spade bits is that they
don't grab and lift the workpiece like twist or brad point drill bits
do. You simply need to keep the workpiece from rotating.
Well, "floating" could be taken many ways by many people. And his wobble was
only a "...dull pencil point", which I didn't say was not acceptable. But
with your further explanation below, I don't have an issue with what you mean.
An alternative is to use the pilot hole you also suggested, and position and
slightly seat the bit there before starting the drill. I tend to do that, with
the piece locked down to the fence/table, and positioned under the bit. For
the best accuracy I use a starting drill for the pilot. With a few spade bits,
I'll have to manually rotate until the bit is directly over the pilot. Not a
disagreement, just an alternative.
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