Drill a Hole Without a Center Point

Drill a holeI made a quick fix the other day I thought I’d share with you. I needed to make a 5/8″ wide stopped dado with a round end. I didn’t have a 5/8″ router bit, so I planned to make the round ends with a Forstner bit, and the length of the dado by taking multiple passes with a 1/4″ bit in my router. Unfortunately, it was too late before I remembered I needed the round end on the dado (see my pencil line)! I should have done the Forstner work first, then routed the dado. Now, there wasn’t a place for me to center the Forstner bit. Ugh! I didn’t have access to a drill press, so I had to come up with a solution, and fast. This project was way behind schedule.

Drill a holeI figured it out. I knew that if I could get a hole going in the correct spot, the sides of the Forstner bit would be guided by the hole, but I just needed a place to locate the point of the bit. I took a 1/4″ thick piece of flat scrap wood, and transferred the location where I wanted the hole to the scrap piece. I also identified a centerline, so I knew the hole would be aligned with my dado.

Drill a holeI clamped the scrap piece onto the top of my work piece with the dado, indexing the centerline on the scrap piece with a centerline I marked on the end of my work piece. When drilling through scrap like this, it is imperative to clamp the scrap piece twice. The first clamp, close to the hole, holds the scrap from pulling up and away from the work piece, as the drilling action tends to pull the piece up. The second clamp stops the scrap from spinning around the bit. I drill with slow and even pressure, making sure to drill straight down. Once the drill bit gets through the scrap, the sides of the bit are guided by the hole I just made. Make sure to let the cutters of the Forstner work gently into the irregular dado beneath.

Drill a holeA great save. When I remove the clamps, and slide the work piece away from the scrap, you can see the results. The hole is in the perfect place! The hole in my scrap piece created a template for my Forstner bit to follow. I’m sure you will find a use for this tip some time too.

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