This woodworking tips card is about lathe drilling. The lathe can be used as a drill press of sorts for smaller items. The interesting thing is watching the process. If you have a lathe and you need to drill holes in your work, you may be able to do it without buying another tool.
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Using the Lathe to Drill Holes
The lathe can be used to drill holes in smaller items if you have a couple chucks. One to hold the piece, and another on the tail stock to hold the drill.
For all that the lathe does, drilling is one of the more interesting processes to watch. The part that always seems neat to me is that the drill does not move. In every other drilling operation, the drill spins. In this case, the piece moves and the drill remains stationary.
The other nice thing about drilling on the lathe is that the hole will be concentric to the outside of the piece. If you turn a piece round, and then center drill it, you will have a nicely centered hole.
Drilling the center of something like a dowel or a piece of square stock is difficult. Even if you measure really well, and use a drill press, it can be difficult to get the dead center. When you drill on the lathe, you get the dead center every time. It’s much more accurate.
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Equipment Needed for Lathe Drilling
You only need a couple things to start drilling on the lathe. First, you need a chuck to hold the piece. This can be a two to four jaw chuck, and they can be found in a number of places. Mine came from a pen making supplier, and has four jaws.
In addition, you are going to need a drill chuck for the tail stock of the lathe. This is a stationary chuck that holds a drill bit. These can be found online and in woodworking stores, and are not super expensive.
Then finally you need drills. Almost any kind of drill will work fine, but Forstner bits will be the best for larger holes. You can also loosen the tailstock and use the edge of the drill to widen out an existing hole. The detail and control you have when drilling with a lathe are unmatched.
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