Horizontal Boring Using a Power Drill

Introduction: Horizontal Boring Using a Power Drill

About: The nickname is because I couldn't spell "Frobscottle". Loving getting back into electronics as a hobby after a break of many years. Now I work as an EPOS engineer, so I spend my days fixing tills ...

I needed to make deep, accurate holes for the drilling machine described in (instructable currently being written) As the step to do this was so long, I decided to put it into an instructable of its own.

The basis is one of not having any machine tools, unless you count a power drill, and needing a high degree of accuracy.

I took ideas from this instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/Concentric-Drilling-with-a-Radial-Arm-Saw/ and the 'Fonly drill (http://www.btinternet.com/~two.mm/articles/fonly/fonlydr.htm)
to set up my battery drill to make the central holes in my square bits of wood for the headstock of the drilling machine.  The details will vary depending on what you have available.  I discovered in the process of doing this that my drill is slightly wibbly-wobbly. *Sigh*.

You are going to end up with a long bed, with the drill mounted horizontally at one end, a retaining strip along one edge, and a sliding carriage to hold the stock.  I managed to achieve tolerance of 1/32" over about a foot with this setup, though I'm sure you could do better than this.

I eventually used a long piece of wood to make a bed for the whole thing, with a strip attached to the back of it for the stock-holder to slide against.  The drill holder was screwed down to this.  I was able to work much more accurately this way.

I discovered that when end-boring a piece of wood, especially with a standard twist drill, the drill tends to try and follow the grain rather than the direction you are drilling in.  This set up just isn't sturdy enough to overcome this.

I was able to drill out the end of the long 10mm bar shown in some of the pictures by making a stock-holder that could hold another drill chuck, mounting a drill in that one, drilling a mid-point holder to stop the bar wobbling, and mounting the bar in the drill.

The wooden stock I originally intended to use turned out to be diamond shaped rather than square, and impossible to hold consistently in the holder.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

* Straight piece of board to make a bed at least as long as the piece of stock you want to drill plus the length of the bit
* Strip of wood to make a runner along one edge of the bed
* 4 pieces of plywood - maybe 5mm - to hold the drill and the stock
* Piece of board a bit shorter than the body of the drill
* Thick piece of wood to attach the boards which carry the stock.  If using hole saws, this needs to be no longer than the length from the drill collar to the cutting edge of the saw that makes a hole to fit your stock, plus twice the thickness of the plywood.
* Screws and nails to hold it all together.
* Hammer
* Screwdriver
* Long piece of straight bar or dowel

Step 2: Make Bed and Carriage

Nail or screw the strip you are using for a runner to one edge of the long board.  This is the bed, Fasten the whole thing down to your bench.
Nail or screw 2 pieces of ply to the ends of the thick piece of wood.  This is the carriage which will hold the stock.  Use 2 rows of nails or screws so that they can't move.

Step 3: Make Drill Holder

Draw a vertical centre line down one of the pieces of ply, and choose a point at the level of the horizontal centre line for the stock, allowing for bed, carriage, stock width/diameter and a gap of maybe an inch or two.  Measure the diameter of the drill's collar, and choose an appropriate hole saw if you have one, or draw a circle to cut around.

Cut a hole big enough to snugly hold the collar of the drill.   Screw this piece to the piece of board which is just a bit shorter than the drill body (base board).

If you have one, fit a long straight piece of bar, or dowel, in the drill chuck.  This will soon show up any misalignment.  Fit the drill collar into the holder you just made. Prop up the drill body with the handle vertical or horizontal so it is held with the long bar parallel to the bed and to the edge with the strip attached.  Run the drill (slowly if it has speed control) to check for wobble, so you know to compensate for any.

Measure the height of the top and bottom surfaces of the drill body at the position the second piece of ply is going to be.  Draw a vertical centre line down the piece.  Mark the exact halfway point between your top and bottom lines and cut a round hole centred on it.

File the hole to fit the shape of the drill body, taking care not to go past the top and bottom limits you marked, and not to make it so the drill is twisted at all.

Fit the drill into the two boards and screw the back board to the base board.

Check the alignment again and secure the base board down to the bench.  Re-check the alignment.  Adjust any tilt using shims.  Gentle application of a hammer to the base board seems to be the best remedy for horizontal misalignment.

I found it necessary to add a couple of wood bars to the top of the drill holder, to stop the drill collar being pushed out of its hole when pressing hard with the workpiece (photo to follow)

Step 4: Make the Sliding Stock Holder

Fit a hole saw in the drill which is the same size as the diagonal (or diameter, for that matter) of the wood you are going to bore.  Screw or nail both pieces of ply to the end of the piece of wood which forms the carriage base, such that their edges touch the bed and it's edge strip.  Cut through both of them without turning the carriage around (you may have to remove the hole saw and remount it between the ends of the carriage).

If you are not using a hole saw, drill a tiny centre hole in the nearest piece and use that to centre your compass.  After cutting it out, slide the carriage down and repeat for the far piece.

If you intend to bore off centre, or at some angle, drill tiny centre holes as above, and use these to set up your markings.

Step 5: Ready to Bore!

Get your long bar or dowel, and check the drill alignment yet again, in case you've disturbed it.  If it's off, your carriage may be off too so you may have to re-make or partially re-make it.  I say this because that's what happened to me.

Fit a tiny drill bit in the drill.  Fit your piece of stock in the holder, lock the drill on (mine doesn't have a lock so I used a spring clamp) and drill a shallow hole.

Stop the drill and measure the distance from the hole to the edges of the stock.  It should be the same for every side/all round.

If all is well, fit the proper drill bit, and get boring! 

Tip.  As I was drilling the end grain of my piece, I found that a flat bit made for very slow going.  Using a large twist drill was much quicker.  I then used the correct sized flat bit to ream the hole to the size I wanted - no need to worry about centring as everything is anchored down.

Good luck!

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I have had good luck with bi-metal hole saws that are sold for boring studs to run electrical wires, they have a pilot drill that holds the saw steady and true in the hole. Spade bits are notorious for being hard to use for precision work, if you have a steady supported drill and your work clamped well, Forstener bits are outstanding for a flat-bottomed hole but are pricy as are the hole saws.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    The run out that you mention is all too common in both hand and drill presses. Part of it is built into the economy of the product but much of it often comes from the strain caused by harsh usage of the drill, hard or inconsistent materials and particularly from not having the right drills, low quality drills or hand sharpened bits that are less than perfect. Some of the cheaper bit sets have such poor metal that they can't even drill soft woods easily and getting more than one hole drilled with such a bit is unlikely. The cost of a good collection of drill bits can easily pass the cost of a good, pro quality table saw.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    What an interesting and informative comment! Thanks! I'm glad it's "not just me".