Builders’ Tip: A Simple Way to Bore Clean Holes




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When I need to bore an especially clean hole, such as one for a screw plug, I typically apply the simple principle of opening up my wallet — I use pricey, precision-machined brad-point drills that I normally can count on for crisp work.

But with certain woods, such as mahogany, even the sharpest cutters leave an unsightly frayed edge. And while up-shear geometry is great for evacuating shavings, it can drag debris past the surface fiber, causing splintering.

Here’s what I do to avoid the problem:

  • As shown in the accompanying drawing, start the hole with the driver/drill running in reverse to produce down-shear cutting. This pushes the waste wood away from the face of the work piece while compressing surface fibers at the circumference of the hole.
  • Finish boring with the driver/drill rotating normally.
  • Unless you use a drill press, the hole will likely be 1/64-inch or so out of round.

In all but the fussiest of circumstances, this amount will be negligible.

If this method is new to you, try the technique on a few pieces of scrap to get a feel for it.

— Michael Standish, West Roxbury, Mass.

Tips & Techniques provided by Fine Homebuilding.
©2008 The Taunton Press

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