Drilling on the Lathe – Woodworking Tip of the Week

Drilling on the lathe is the focus of this edition of the Woodworking Tip of the Week. If you have never done it, drilling on the lathe can be a little interesting. Most of the time, you drill something with the piece stationary. The drill spins, and makes the hole. On the lathe, drilling is the exact opposite. The piece moves, and the drill does not.

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drilling on the latheIf you have a lathe, you have an effective way of making perpendicular holes in smaller pieces of wood. All you need is a chuck to hold your piece, a drill, and a chuck for the tail stock.

Chuck the piece that will be drilled into the lathe, and secure it tightly. Then, chuck a drill into the tail stock of the lathe. Drilling on the lathe involves turning on the machine, and slowly advancing the drill into the piece.

The headstock will rotate the piece, and the drill will remove material, making the hole. Be careful as you advance the drill into the work. Once you reach your target depth, retract the drill until it is completely out of the wood. Turn off the lathe, and check your bore. If you need more depth, advance the drill again.

drilling on the latheDrilling on the lathe is great for making concentric holes in round pieces like dowels. It can be difficult to do this on a drill press. There are jigs you can make to help out, but if you have a lathe there is no need.

These small wooden toy screwdrivers were easy to make on the lathe. I drilled each one of the Walnut handles a couple inches deep, then sunk the Maple dowels into them with glue. The deep tang really makes the pieces strong, and the holes were perfectly concentric.

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A nicely done center drill means that the shaft does not look off center when you rotate the piece. These toy screwdrivers were made for my son, and for a book that I am currently working on. The help from the lathe in getting the holes perfectly centered meant a better looking final piece.

If you have a lathe in the shop, start practicing. Chuck a small piece of wood, and try drilling holes. You will notice that the process is a little different depending on the type of drill that you use. A twist will work differently than a paddle or Forstner, and you will have to learn how to manipulate them. You can also go back into the hole with some bits and widen it slightly if necessary. All of this happens right on the lathe, so it is very easy to control.

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If you have any questions about Drilling on the Lathe, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.


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