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How to drill perpendicular to end of stick ?

22554 Views 44 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  CAS14
New to this forum, and to learning how to make walking/hiking sticks.

A question I have is :

How do you drill straight, perpendicular "end-on" holes into the end of a curvy stick ( not a perfect dowel).

I'm trying to drill into the ends of a rather tall hiking staff , which is taller than the florr mounted Drill press I have.

I've been looking at plans on how to build a horozontal drill/boring jig, and playing around with the idea of getting 2 x-y cross-slide vise to hold the top and bottom ends of the stick , to be able to adjust the alignment to a drill. Then looked at mounting my unimat with drill configuration mounted on the lathe bed, to be able to move the drill head. Other thoughts are to find one of those jigs that allows you to strap in an ordinary hand drill to "create" a cheap drill press....but still the problem of either moving the drill to drill into the stick, or vice-versa, moving the entire long jig holding the stick.

How do you all do the end-on perpendicular drilling ?
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I do same as Cobalt , put the shank horizontal in a vice and manually drill it, to mark the hole center I use a combination rule ( the ones with slide on attachments) and use the center finder one, mark 3 t0 5 lines ,if not round you can see the centre in between all the lines pop it, find a small spirit level and set you drill with a long bit horizontal and stick the level to the drill reading horizontal, this gives you a visual vertical positioning of of the drill, the horizontal position is by eye,
You can always tape a small spirit level to the drill and use it as a guide when drilling .But with hazel you can see the centre of the shank so I just use that and hand eye co-ordination ,and its usually fairly accurate but mostly okay any variation can be overcome by using epoxy putty . but I always drill the hole 1st before I cut the shank to length so if I do make a mistake I cut it out and start again., but mostly its okay .

This works for me as now I harvest my own shanks I always cut them longer than I want when I harvest them. this allows for mistakes and gives my the choice of lengths. Mostly there over 6ft when I harvest them so there's plenty of room which allows for any cracking in the wood during seasoning but this hardly ever happens when seasoning if you leave the bark on. I never strip the bark anyway.
If you feel you must have a horizontal boring machine a used ShopSmith is a cheap way to have one. I just drill the best I can by eye. If things are a little off (likely) I ream the hole out until things line up and use epoxy to glue things together. It fills any gaps and makes a good strong joint.

some samples of drilling out for connectors

and one thing i do have trouble with is drilling holes in is bone and horn collars it can be a job centre drilling into something that's round gripping the collar they always seem to slip and bone ones if they get to hot during drilling breaks in half .need a good gripping method to drill such a small round item .there only 1 inch in diameter any ideas how to hold them to ensure a clean cut without the collar slipping and jamming in the drill??????

These are the things giving me the most trouble to drill a hole for the threaded bar Wood Automotive tire Tints and shades Circle Metal

at lest with these items its more straight forward

Household hardware Wood Gas Temperature Metal
Water Automotive tire Wood Bicycle part Jewellery
Building Wood Landscape Soil Hardwood
Water Automotive tire Wood Bicycle part Jewellery


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Hi Cobalt , I just use an old B&D drill table vice the moving jaw has a 45deg groove vertically cut for holding round bar, it is only a finger tightening vice (no T bar) never had a problem, for the heat prob knock the speed down if poss. and ensure drill is sharp. because of drilling varying mat'ls of differing hardness I invested in good quality HSS long series 8 & 10 mm drills, found the carbon steel drills lost their cutting edge very quickly.

Make a wood insert for the jaws with a groove to give 3 point contact and give it a try.
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i will make a wooden jaw to fit the collars could be the answer .Its pretty dam annoying when the collar slips out from the table vice and gets stuck in the drill bit

your right about the speed of the drill and the drill bit think it is a combination of the two caused the problem.
Instead of squeezing the edges, squeeze the flat portions instead. I'd make a simple clamp out of a couple flat pieces of wood and a couple bolts. Sandwich the horn or bone between the two boards then drill.

problem is that collars vary in size from approx. 18 to 25 mm .you have to file them back to fit the shank which isn't to bad as a lot of shanks are not perfectly round but this allows you to get a good fit... Most people will put some electric tape level to the joint to save marking the shank whilst filing it to fit,
Hi Cobalt, I prefer to leave bark on shanks and as you say this makes the joint a time consuming job has care needs to be taken to not damage the bark at the joint interface. I use masking tape (pre stuck on the bench to reduce its tackyness so bark is not removed when pulling off) I usually start with 3 thickness, and when starting to damage the tape, remove and reapply 2 thicknesses, then 1, and this is the time consuming bit , finally tickle up with no tape.ps at each tape change I usuall drop a grit grade or two, finishing off with 400 grit.
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Interesting jig you got there CAS14. give us a report on how it performs drilling the dowel hole in the shank.
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i also would like to see how you get on with it

you get on alright with masking tape I it thought maybe to thin and tear to easy for that so I will try it
We have different kinds of masking tape now, with different adhesive characteristics. The old-school tan masking tape is the most sticky. A blue painter's tape is intermediate. A green painter's tape is the least sticky, similar to the drafting tape that was available before drafting became a computer activity. I use the green tape most often, but the choice depends upon the activity. I suppose mose know this, but it hadn't been mentioned to my knowledge.
We just have one to my knowledge when I use it to mask things I just stick to my chinos to reduce the tackiness so to prevent it removing any paintwork

I do use electrician tape to stop marking the shank bark .but will try glops method as its cheaper and nothing ventured nothing gained.
Being an ex draughtsman, got to stick with draughting tape - pun intended :)

Sticking first on clothing or bench solves the problem, also its really only the overlap that needs to stick.
Forgive me for butting in on your jointing method using metal rod. But most stick repairs are where the metal has split the stick and come out the side. I make Country sticks such as Shepherds Crooks that catch sheep and are banged on the ground to move the Sheep. Other sticks are Beating sticks that are used to frighten game for the guns to shoot. these are banged on trees, bushes and the ground, so good Stick makers here use the dowel method.It's simply a 13mm hole drilled in the head and a 13mm dowel carved on the stick, stronger and safer than the metal and easier to do. Dave
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there is nothing to forgive ideas are always welcome here

the majority of people here give there views there supportive and helpful

A experianced stickmakers viewpiont like your self is very welcome and most will take you views on board .and with what the sticks you make are used for makes sense
I watched you videos stickwithdave, I like your process of attaching the topper and plan to use it. I can see advantages. However, I think that when there is a problem with a threaded steel rod it is because the length of the rod is too short and or the rod is too big leaving thin a side wall. I never use a rod larger than 5/16" in diameter. ( 7.9MM I think). I go a minimum 31/2" ( 89mm) in to the shank. I go to with in 3/4" (19mm) of the top of the topper. I have never had a issue with a stick doing that.
My sticks are made for leisure as opposed to working sticks so I have never had a problem with breakage. On one or two occasions during my learning curve I have had difficulty with topper and shank not being in line, with the topper held safely in a vice and a bit of gentle persuasion with a lump hammer it was soon sorted - advantage of a steel dowel.

Back to the dowel method which is the old and original method of jointing I have read were it can be advisable to drill down the dowel an insert a round nail to go past the dowel-shank shoulder to add strength to this type of joint.
I also make mine for liesure and have seen the same method as gloops mentioned

would you use a larger stick to go beating with, i wouldnt have thought many people would have a decorative stick for beating

I think a lot of people see there sticks as a extension of there personality there so easy to recognise and a good talking piont with ramblers and alike.
I grew up a country boy, stickwithdave. Those skills come in handy. Now that I'm a city boy, my day walks sometimes take me into poor neighborhoods that can be rough due to loose, aggressive dogs or potentially even young toughs. So I do take a weightier "beating stick" on those days, and I think I've avoided a dog bite or two.

I've been under the weather for a week, but I began an antibiotic today and should be coherent soon.
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