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Drilling holes with crisp edges in wood

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Hi All,

When drilling larger diameters holes in the hull of model ships for portholes, masts etc. it can be a challenge to get a nice clean hole without damaging the wooden edges. Also the drill can wander off-center if the material underneath consists of different materials, for example plywood and balsa below the same hole. 

It is possible to start with a smaller diameter drill and then enlarge the hole with bigger drills or files. Drills for making holes in metal is to me a no-go in wood as they tend to wander off-center, especially in woods like pine. Drills specially designed for drilling holes in wood should be used. They usually have a point to ensure that the hole is drilled where it is supposed to be. Also, the circumference has sharp cutting edges (spurs); the purpose of these is to cut the wood fibers and secure a sharp edge. There are a lot of different manufacturers of brad-point drill bits for wood; they can all cut a hole but the quality of the hole varies a lot. As with a lot of things - the more you pay the better quality hole you get. 


So I thought I would share my preferred go-to brand of brad-point twist drills: https://www.fine-tools.com/holzspiralbohrer.html

The spurs are very sharp and leaves a nice clean edge in any wood I have tried. The smallest diameter with spurs is 2 mm all the way up to 20 mm. 


As you can see, they are a bit pricey but they will last a life time for any modeler. If you are worried about the longevity, you can also get these drills with tungsten-carbide bits from 3 mm. 


/Lars Peter




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I usually use a small center punch or a pointed tool to make a small, pointed dent in the wood at the exact center of the hole and then drill a pilot hole with a very small drill bit. The pilot hole centers and guides the drill bit used to make the finished hole. I use this method for tiny holes drilled with a pin vise and larger holes drilled with power. 



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