Drill Straight Holes Without a Drill Press

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Despite my love of the drill press for building benches, you don’t need one to bore dead-straight holes for your dogs and holdfasts.

When I need to add a hole to a benchtop that is already assembled (or is a large slab), I use the jig shown above with a brace and auger. I call it the “Cletus Bore-drunk” jig because you can bore a hole dead straight even if you have been drinking (thanks to several people for the in-shop testing).

The jig is three pieces of wood: A flat platform that you can clamp to the benchtop, a thick block of wood (about 3” thick) with a dead-straight hole bored through it and a wooden fence that registers against an edge of the benchtop.

It is much like an oversized doweling jig.

The photo above is about 14 years old from when I was building the “$175 Workbench.” I usually make these jigs when I need them and then recycle their parts when I’m done, so I don’t have any of these jigs on hand.

— Christopher Schwarz

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12 Responses to Drill Straight Holes Without a Drill Press

  1. So you DO need a drill press, just at two or three removes. How do you drill the hole without a drill press at all? Perhaps you use a small square or two? Or do you learn to get by without perfectly perpendicular holes? I ask honestly, no snark intended.

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    • lostartpress says:

      I don’t think you have to have a drill press to make that jig. You just have to keep boring holes in the thick stock until you get a straight one. Then use that.

      If you are hopeless bore(er), make the guide block from two parts instead. Saw out a dado in each block that is as wide as the diameter of the bit and the depth is one-half the bit’s diameter. Then glue the two blocks together. The resulting square hole will guide the auger just fine.

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  2. Wow, thanks, this is unbelievably timely. I’m planning to put 3/4″ dog holes in a new benchtop in the next few days, and had been wondering whether I’d need to sacrifice a few home center 4x6s to Wood Owl Auger bit practice before doing the real thing. Now that I think about it, maybe that should be a scout badge: Auger Bit Ace.

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  3. Jerry Olson says:

    Is Lost Art press going to Winston Salem in September??

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  4. Jeremy says:

    Can’t believe you justify such wasteful consumerism and the use of throw away tools…#joke

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  5. John Kneidel says:

    If you don’t have a drill press, or can’t bore dead straight holes by hand, here’s another method that is VERY similar and can be done with hand tools…

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  6. There is also a similar way to do this on a blogpost on “A woodworkers musings”. http://dblaney.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/a-very-simple-jig-for-boring-leg-holes-in-windsor-chair-seats/
    The jig is angeled but could be made the same way for straight holes.

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  7. buikberg says:

    no jigs – use a small mirror

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  8. woodgeek says:

    That picture must’ve been taken before you converted all of your braces to Yankees. 😉

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