Full Chisel Blog

April 7, 2009

Beam Drill

Filed under: Drilling,Historical Material,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 2:03 pm

Well that didn’t take long at all.  Although I don’t have a table yet, I was able to use a couple of holdfasts to secure it to the front of my bench.

Beam Drill

I couldn’t be happier as to how it works.  I made the post from some scrap pine that was salvaged from a pallet.  There are three pieces of wood that I glued it together with two openings, one for the beam and the other for the table.  I took the board with the most bow and cut it up for the center pieces.  This will allow me to adjust both up and down to accommodate any size material and different length drill bits.

The beam is a scrap of poplar that I tapered, drilled a hole for the pivot then drilled a countersunk hole on the underside of the beam 12 inches from the post.  This means that if I center the work and the hole to be drilled in the proper place, the hole will be straight up and down.

I plan on drilling a small hole on the end of the beam to secure a weight, as was traditional.  I however feel that this provides plenty of leverage and there is no worrying about whether the hole is straight up and down and this tool insures that with proper setup the holes will be straight.

And the list gets ever shorter.



  1. Great post! This one would make a good video of the setup and making a hole.

    Comment by Luke Townsley — April 7, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  2. I don’t ever plan on building one of these, but what I have gotten from it is that I could if I wanted to. Up to now, I always had to have a set of plans and all the right tools and it had to be perfect with a great finish on it, and if I couldn’t have all that, I simply was not going to do it. I really like your furniture repair stuff too. It conveys a “can-do” approach which is an eye opener for me.
    Terry Chapman

    Comment by Terry Chapman — April 7, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

  3. Beautiful, too.

    Comment by Joe Cottonwood — April 7, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

  4. Stephen

    Really great work there. The simplicity and utility (compared to modern machinery) reminds of why basic designs are timeless. So when will you book be coming out?


    Comment by Gary Roberts — April 8, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  5. Luke,

    When I get the table finished I will do a video, good idea!


    Welcome and thanks for your comments. I started with old tools doing antique repair and restoration and it is an interesting business as everything you get in is ‘new to you’, so you learn as you go.


    Thanks, my niece ordered a copy of your book from Amazon.


    Yes it is one of the most simple machines I have ever made, two moving parts. I just got a bid on The Hide Glue Book and it should be out in a couple of weeks, I still need to do the cover art.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — April 8, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  6. Stephen, won’t the hole be ever a slight angle as the lever is pulled down? I’m sure it wouldn’t make a big difference.
    Neat design, lit wood have been a great tool for the village. Are you going to do the apprentice bit in the cabinet shop this year?

    Comment by Dave Buss — April 8, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  7. Dave,

    I did do a bit of calculation and the drill does move slightly from the arc drawn by the beam. On a 3 inch thick piece there is a bit of deflection. If the drill is started with the beam above center then goes to below center the movement is not much. Most of the holes will not be deep enough to make a difference. Once the hole is started, then the work can be moved to allow for the arc movement.

    I will be at the Front Gate this year.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — April 8, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  8. […] been up to, now we know That drill press idea is slick. Stephen Shepherd wrote up his experiences http://www.fullchisel.com/blog/?p=312 Did you find it worthwhile in use? Save time, more accurate or just cool to try Is this for the […]

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