19 February 2019 at 7:52 am #555190
I bought this auger bit for my hand brace:
I know they mention it does not work too well on hardwood, but my main issue is not the snail getting clogged up. I find that physically I am limited to a 1” bit for hand drilling, and ecen that takaes all my strength to turn. A 1 1/2” bit is almost impossible for me to turn, the cut is too aggressive and requires more force that I can muster. Also my electric hand drill cannot turn it, it almost breaks my wrist with torque but the wood is too hard. Btw this is in maple.
So how am I suppose to drill a hole with that auger bit? Or does it just not work in hardwood? What are my choises?19 February 2019 at 9:38 am #555193
Larger holes were traditionally done with larger a brace.
The standard sweep for most braces is 10”. When I started hanging doors before high torque battery power, I used a 12” sweep brace for holes to about 1 3/4” and a 14” sweep brace for holes to 2 1/4”. The larger sweep gave you more leverage. Conversely, I used a 6” sweep brace (called a “quick brace”) for small holes because I could rotate the bit faster.
The other thing to consider is the pitch of the snail, which determines how deep a cut the bit takes for each rotation. Your bit is probably designed for softwoods – quicker, but takes more torque. Find bits with a tighter pitch snail for hardwoods.
Ok, three things: And look for bits that have at least two flutes and cutters. Irwin and Russell-Jennings both made bit pattern with two flutes. Each cutter on the end of each flute only has to do half the work.
The three flute Wood Owl bits Lee Valley offers are very good in hardwood. I use one for chair tenons. I’ve never sharpened them, so I can’t offer an opinion on that part.
Irwin also makes a three flute bit. I think it is designed for a power drill and I haven’t tried it.
The bit you link to is sometimes called a ship’s auger and was designed for long holes in softwoods like yellow pine or Douglass fir. They are quick and clear shavings well. In my experience, the hole walls aren’t all that crisp, though.19 February 2019 at 12:54 pm #555215
@lorenzojose you mention chair tenons. Are you referring to round mortise & tenons as in spindle chair construction? I’ve considered learning to make one of the many forms of spindle chairs, but I’ve had my hands on a number of old spindle chairs, and they often are loose, so I’ve wondered whether the approach is just inherently weak and not worth learning. Any thoughts? I can start a new thread so that this one doesn’t go off the rails.
19 February 2019 at 5:08 pm #555221
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Ed.
Thanks, that makes perfect sense. I did not know about the larger braces. I will take a look at the Wood Owl bits – just saw them online yesterday.19 February 2019 at 7:03 pm #555224
Yes, I’m talking about chair round tenons. Chairmakers dealt with loose tenons in a couple ways. For weight bearing joints, they used tapered tenons and matching round mortises that got tighter as you sat on them. You drilled the hole, then reamed it with a tapered tool.
Joints like chair stringers were made by drying the stringer and inserting them into green wood, which then shrank around the tenon. Of course, a wedged through tenon was also made, and I think at least USA made “Windsor” chairs were made with a dried tenon that bulged into the mortice and the mortice was made with a spoon bit wider inside the hole than at the surface. The chairs wiggled sometimes, but were near impossible to disassemble.i first learned about that joint in the late 1950’s on a school trip to a colonial woodworking museum and it stuck.
Here’s a link on a taper reamer and tenon cutter. I’ve made the reamer, but haven’t yet made the matching tenon cutter. I just use a spokeshave. But I just acquired a suitable cutter to make one. If you have a lathe, it’s even easier. I made the metal reamer cutter from an old compass saw blade.
Here is a link to the first in an excellent and very comprehensive chair making series by Curtis Buchananan.
And below find a picture of a reamer and cutter that are easy to make. I made my reamer with a spokeshave by testing it against holes I drilled in a scrap. It’s not hard, just a little time consuming. You make the tenon cutter after you make the reamer so they match.
19 February 2019 at 7:18 pm #555226
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Larry Geib.
Good luck finding the larger braces. I haven’t seen a 14” one in years, and the 12” ones are a bit of a premium item. It will drill the 2”+ hole, but with a little effort.
My 14” one is on semi-permanent loan to a fellow who still uses it. They are great if you are working in an office or someplace. No noise.
That little Miller Falls quick brace is also snapped up by collectors. I got mine for free from the fellow I bought the 12” one from when he retired in 1970. When he saw how I cleaned up the bigger one, he figured the little one was going to a good home. It is already deeded to the next lifetime use, who will be the fourth owner.
Look for bits in antique mall or car boot sales. They often sell for under a dollar. Just make sure the nickers are still good. 90% of the bits are worn out. But I always go through the bins and usually find one.
With a hardwood bit, an 1 1/2” hole shouldn’t be too hard.19 February 2019 at 10:18 pm #555229
There is another alternative I should have mentioned.
When I started, carpenters didn’t carry around a whole set of bits. They instead carried maybe three popular bolt sizes and an adjustable bit.
just google Irwin adjustable bit. I’ll post a picture below.
The original was by Clark, I think, but Irwin, Stanley,
North Brothers and Miller Falls made them. Other brands like sears and Dunlap were rebranded. The best IMO had a worm screw adjuster, but all worked fine.
Notice the very fine pitch on the snail, which makes it good for hardwood.
They usually came with two different size cutters. And they came in two size ranges, 3/4”-2” or about 1” to 2 1/2” or so.
I usually see adjustable bits used for $10-$20. Make sure you get both cutters for that price.
Hardware stores also stocked the cutters separately, but I’m sure that is no longer true. Irwin still makes them, but I think only with a hex end, and not the wood brace diamond end. They will still work in a brace.
One last consideration. Bits came in two versions. The usual was actually slightly oversized (1/32”?) so you could drill a hole and inset a bolt easily.
But they also made exact size bits for doweling. They are a little rarer. Take calipers with you when you shop.19 February 2019 at 10:28 pm #555231
Thanks – did not know about that bit. I just picked up some night owl bits and will try these out. Very good information – thank you!20 February 2019 at 6:18 am #55523520 February 2019 at 1:12 pm #555240
Are there new, off the shelf expansive bits that are worth buying? I have an old one that barely works, yet is still one of the most useful bits I own. You can drill any moderate to large-ish hole and have the advantage of watching for the snail to emerge so that you can come back the other way and end up with a clean, cut hole. The one I have is from a flea market and it was mis-sharpened by its previous owner. Nothing I’ve tried has made it much better. I think the abuse was just too much, so I’d like to just order a new one, if a decent new one is available. I think Irwin still makes them, but do they work or are they junk like so many other modern tools?
Larry, thanks for the info about spindle chairs. I’ll likely have more questions for you (or anyone), if that is okay.
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