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Drilling without a drill press

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  • Drilling without a drill press


  • #2
    Damn near impossible without a press. The bit will walk a little no matter how hard I try to steady it, and you won't hit dead 90 degree verticle. I have no tips, other than if you must just do your best and accept a little tolerance wiggle.
    Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
    Wogg Music

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    • #3
      For about $30 on Amazon you can get one of these hand held drill guides. They are not as accurate as a drill press, but way better than free handing it.

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      • #4
        Well, someone just mentioned this tip to me, and it's a good one.... drill the hole through another scrap of wood, 1/2" would be fine, preferably hard wood.... and clamp that to the piece to be drilled. It will act as a guide to keep it from wandering.

        But I think it's always best to drill a small pilot hole first, that always helps. You can drill a 1/8" hole, that will go in pretty straight... then go bigger, and one more to get to the finished size.

        I've found that if you are using a soft wood, the growth rings will tend to be harder where the seam appears to be (where no growth occurred) and softer in the open part (where it was growing quickly, mid-summer) so when the drill bit hits the harder part of the wood, it will want to deflect to the softer part. This phenomenon isn't an issue with hard woods, but softer woods yes... I've noticed it happens really bad in 2x4 wood like fir and some pines... and it depends on how the grain is oriented and how it curves (how the board is cut)

        Also, Fostner bits usually don't have this issue. They have a center pin that likes to keep it in the middle, and the outer cutting rings keep it centered too once it gets into the wood a sixteenth or so. A multi-bit Fostner set can be had for fairly cheap... HFT has one for $38 before the 20% off coupon... sizes 1/4" to 2 1/8".

        TomZ
        *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
        *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF *Cello's Speaker Project Page

        *Building the "Micro-B 2.1 Plate Amplifier -- Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3 * Part 4 * * Part 5 'Review' * -- Assembly Instructions PDF

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        • #5
          Tom, have you used larger forstner bits free hand? Don't they work better in a drill press?

          Your suggestion to pre-drill through another block of wood is a good idea. You still have to try to get that one straight but at least clamping it in place prevents the bit from wandering on your new workpiece.

          Another variation would be to drill your pilot hole in your guide block--maybe using a piece of MDF for the guide block since your bit will not wander in MDF. Use another 3/4 inch or 1 inch block of wood that you can clamp in place after you have put right angle guidelines for the drill bit on the edge of it. Then clamp this guide block to your MDF guide block so you can use the side of the block and the guidelines to visually align your drill bit along two axes. This two-step method should help you produce a perpendicular pilot hole in your guide block.

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          • #6
            Hi Stephen, I've never had success trying to drill straight holes with my hand drill, but TomZ's got good advice for you. Another trick I've seen is to take two pieces of straight wood and glue / screw them together at a 90 degree angle. As long as you've got them together square and straight, you can hold the guide with your free hand and line the drill bit up where the two faces of wood meet. Keep the bit from wobbling around by using that guide, and you should get relatively straight holes. See some more tips from Popular Mechancs Magazine here

            Honestly, the first tool upgrade I made when starting to drill speaker baffles was to get a small drill press. This one still serves in my shop today, even though I bought it's bigger brother for more capacity. WEN 4208 8 inch 5-speed drill press You might find these on sale at Menards too, if you have one of those around.

            Good luck!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by marvin View Post
              Tom, have you used larger forstner bits free hand? Don't they work better in a drill press?

              Your suggestion to pre-drill through another block of wood is a good idea. You still have to try to get that one straight but at least clamping it in place prevents the bit from wandering on your new workpiece.

              Another variation would be to use a 3/4 inch or 1 inch block of wood that you can clamp in place after you have put right angle guidelines for the drill bit on the edge of it. Then you can use the side of the block and the guidelines to visually align your drill bit along two axes. This gives the advantage of seeing your drill point but does not address the wandering of the bit in soft growth rings.
              I don't usually use the larger ones free-hand since I have a drill press. As long as you have the work piece secured, though, it's not usually a problem, or I haven't found it to be. Of course, I have some 3"+ fostner bits.... those are drill-press-only! I think for binding-post holes like Steve is looking to do, a hand drill would be just fine.

              I don't seem to have much of an issue drilling in straight generally speaking. If I am concerned, I hold the drill in place, then look at it from both axis's viewpoints to make sure I'm pretty close. Of course, I've drilled probably thousands of holes by hand, by now I kind of know what to do/not to do... or at least I should!

              I guess one could also plunge in a bit of appropriate size on the router also.

              TomZ
              *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
              *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF *Cello's Speaker Project Page

              *Building the "Micro-B 2.1 Plate Amplifier -- Part 1 * Part 2 * Part 3 * Part 4 * * Part 5 'Review' * -- Assembly Instructions PDF

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              • #8
                You guys are AWEOSOME. I feel a little better and determined I will absolutely get a tabletop drill press this year. Funny thing is I have a guide set of sorts that did not work but I may give that another go. I hate the idea of my baffle looking all goofy.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by stephenmarklay View Post
                  You guys are AWEOSOME. I feel a little better and determined I will absolutely get a tabletop drill press this year. Funny thing is I have a guide set of sorts that did not work but I may give that another go. I hate the idea of my baffle looking all goofy.
                  As a fellow perfectionist, I can relate to wanting your project to be the best it can be. Consider each step a learning opportunity, and don't forget what my wife always tells me... Sometimes, done is better than perfect! Enjoy the ride and make improvements along the way.
                  Voxel Down Firing with Dayton SA70
                  Translam Subwoofers - The Jedi Mind Tricks
                  The Super Bees - Garage 2 way
                  SevenSixTwo - InDIYana 2018 Coax

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by KEtheredge87 View Post
                    As a fellow perfectionist, I can relate to wanting your project to be the best it can be. Consider each step a learning opportunity, and don't forget what my wife always tells me... Sometimes, done is better than perfect!
                    Sacrilege! My wife leaves the room when I tell her I have to start over...

                    I've used a scrap block of wood with a saw kerf as a guide and clamped it to the work piece (I had a table saw before I had a drill press).
                    John H

                    Synergy Horn, SLS-85, BMR-3L, Mini-TL, BR-2, Titan OB, B452, Udique, Vultus, Latus1, Seriatim, Aperivox,Pencil Tower

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                    • #11
                      John, does she leave because she doesn't want to hear you cursing at yourself for making a mistake, or because she doesn't want to get blamed for distracting you and causing the mistake?
                      Paul

                      Originally posted by jhollander View Post

                      Sacrilege! My wife leaves the room when I tell her I have to start over...

                      I've used a scrap block of wood with a saw kerf as a guide and clamped it to the work piece (I had a table saw before I had a drill press).

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tomzarbo View Post
                        But I think it's always best to drill a small pilot hole first, that always helps. You can drill a 1/8" hole, that will go in pretty straight... then go bigger, and one more to get to the finished size.
                        +1. And I use a long bit extension to get closer to perpendicular. If the hand drill chuck's center is off perpendicular by 1/4", it will be much less off angle at 18" than it will with just a 5" bit in the chuck. Drilling in edges is even easier to get perpendicular. Use a square with the bit extension. Tape the square square to the panel side. Then you can eyeball the difference between the square's side at the bit point and at the chuck center. That is, the chuck extension should be parallel to that side of the square and equidistant down it's length.

                        I use a similar concept to seat threaded inserts perpendicular - a 2' threaded rod coupled to an eye-hook as a handle.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by KEtheredge87 View Post
                          As a fellow perfectionist, I can relate to wanting your project to be the best it can be. Consider each step a learning opportunity, and don't forget what my wife always tells me... Sometimes, done is better than perfect! Enjoy the ride and make improvements along the way.
                          Your wife sounds like a smart cookie

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                          • #14
                            Cut two blocks of wood, glue them together to form an 'L' shape. Place the drill bit on the mark where the hole is to go, place the L block on the wood, with the crook of the joint against the bit, use it to start the hole perpendicular to the wood. Once you've drilled as far as you can before the drill chuck hits the block remove it and finish drilling the hole.
                            www.billfitzmaurice.com
                            www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by billiam
                              For speaker baffles, I use a plunge router and a circle template. However, getting the guide pin off a little, will still cause tiny but slight issues with the routing. Best to have a drill press available.
                              I am not sure if you are saying that you use that for the speaker hole or the holes to mount drivers and if applicable the holes to mount a baffle. Regardless that gives me an idea. I could route a through channel on a scrap piece of wood and use that as I guide for the baffle mounting holes. The drivers are easier since I can use a pilot hole from the backside through the woofer frame and the tweeter from the front.

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