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I have drill bits that are 40+ yrs old and cant really judge if they are good or not....

1. Can someone recommend a good quality set that would have all the bits for ship modeling?

2. Should it be metric or inches? Both?

3. Should I get two sets--one for normal sizes and another for micro sizes

4. Is there a box u can recommend where I can put some of my current bits and sort them by size...I have seem some on Amazon but not sure how to judge quality

5. How do I tell if my current bits are worth keeping?

6. If I just keep current bits loose, is there good tool to measure diameter that u can recommend?

 

THX!!

 

 

Nazir

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Nazir,

 

So unless the drill bits are rusting or bent or dull they should be ok to use, but ill try to answer some of your questions!

 

So sites like amazon are great because you can get things for relatively cheap, and things like drill bits i buy on amazon because you can get a pack of 50 for just a few bucks, ill link in the set i bought for my self. 

 

Metric or imperial is up to you i would say, I only have bits in mm because i can easily convert them from inches to mm and mm to inches. If you have used inches all your life you might feel more inclined to use that and same with mm. 

 

If you have a need for regular drill bits you can get those too, most micro sets have sizes that will cover every application in ship modeling. Usually i would suggest buying tools as you need them but a micro set of drill bits will likely have most of the common sizes.

 

The kit i use came with a box that is categorized by size of drill bit. Plastic boxes should work fine, i have seen small vials you can keep them in but i have also seen wooden boxes, that part is up to you as most cases will be good enough quality.

 

Your current bits should be fine if they are free of rust not bent and have an edge still, i suppose the only way to tell is to use them. If you can drill through some scrap of what ever you are using then they should be just fine!

 

A good pair of calipers are critical for model making of any kind, personally i prefer digital calipers so there is no guess work. The set i use are made from a hard resin plastic and read inches and mm. Ill give you another link of a good set of calipers. 

 

Hope that helps!!

 

Drill bits:

https://www.amazon.com/Unxuey-Precision-Drilling-Plastic-0-4mm-3-2mm/dp/B07T2YGB8B/ref=sr_1_55?dchild=1&keywords=Micro+drill+bit+set&qid=1606318567&sr=8-55

 

Pin vise for drill bits (in case you don’t have one):

https://www.amazon.com/SE-Pin-Vise-Set-846PV/dp/B001EPX75U/ref=sr_1_16?dchild=1&keywords=Micro+pin+vise&qid=1606318651&sr=8-16

 

Digital calipers:

https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Caliper-Sangabery-inches-Vernier/dp/B07VSVMWTJ/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=Digital+calipers&qid=1606318717&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyMkxLM1cxNDRPMzc4JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwOTQ0NzM4MkZZWVJNQUtZWllWMSZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjQ0MDMyMkpUT0VINURMOTQ2SCZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

 

Bradley

Current Builds:

Flying Fish - Model Shipways - 1:96

 

Future Builds:

Young America 1853 - Scratch Build - 1:72

 

Completed Builds:

HMS Racehorse - Mantua - 1:47 (No pictures unfortunately)

Providence Whale Boat - Artesania Latina - 1:25 (Also no pictures)

Lowell Grand Banks Dory - Model Shipways - 1:24

 

Shelved Builds:

Pride of Baltimore 2 - Model Shipways - 1:64 (Also no pictures)

 

 

 

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It would help to know where you live as the US uses a different system than the rest of the World.

 

Here in the US there are several series of drill bits.  The most common are graduated in 1/64th fractions of an inch.  In outfitting a shop I would start by buying a set of high speed steel bits from 1/16 thru 1/4in.  Well taken care of these should last a long time and if you break one it will be easily replaced at any hardware or home improvement store.  Bits larger than 1/4in are can be added as needed.

 

The second system are numbered bits 1-80 (I think). These are useful as many sizes are required to drill holes for US NC and NF threads.  Again buy sizes 60 and above when and if needed.

 

For ship model building you will need a set of drills under 1/16in.  Model suppliers, jewelers suppliers, and Amazon sell sets of #80 thru #61 in a circular drill stand.  You can also buy very small carbide resharpened bits inexpensively and some modelers like them but they are very brittle and break easily.

 

There are also lettered sizes; A, B, C, etc.  I have never run into a project that has required these and am unfamiliar with them.

 

Roger

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For the numbered bits, there are gauges  sold under the General company name #61-80  and  #60 - #1(?) .  These are handy for to identify loose bits.

As Roger writes - the circular holder - a Roger's style holder is a handy dispenser.  

A block of dense foam will hold any frequently used bits-   just write the number next to the hole in the foam.

As for when bits go bad - they pretty much tell you by breaking or bending.  

My most common use is for trunnels - these are limited to 1" - 2" in scale  so for most  common modeling scales this is in the #70 and higher (smaller) range.

For dowels that join two pieces of wood -I usually go with #50 +/-. 

 

NRG member 45 years

 

Current:  

HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly

Other

Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers

 

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I agree with everybody above. The most commonly used for ship modelling are the smaller numbered bits 61 to 80. The only thing I would add is that when you decide on a size for say trunnels  or other frequently used application where drilling is required to buy in bulk. You can buy them by the pack on Amazon or other retailer and they are inexpensive. I use  #72  for trunnels and because of the small size, I break them fairly routinely.

Completed scratch build: The armed brig "Badger" 1777

Current scratch build: The 36 gun frigate "Unite" 1796

Completed kits: Mamoli "Alert", Caldercraft "Sherbourne"

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Although more expensive carbide drill bits are superb for clean and accurate holes. They must be handled carefully since they are brittle and will break if pushed slightly sideways.  I still use hss for most cuts but for accuracy and clean cuts I always use carbide bits. Amazon and other online merchants usually carry them. I purchase most of mine from a small online site called Drill Bit City...Moab

Completed Builds:

Virginia Armed Sloop...Model Shipways

Ranger...Corel

Louise Steam Launch...Constructo

Hansa Kogge...Dusek

Yankee Hero...BlueJacket

Spray...BlueJacket

26’ Long Boat...Model Shipways

Under Construction:

Emma C. Berry...Model Shipways

 

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I recently picked up a few boxes of small tungsten bits in metric sizes .4mm, .55mm and .6mm for a song. I believe they are used for drilling printed circuit boards etc. They were literally $2.50 for 10 bits including the box. For any others I do what was suggested and grab the packs on Amazon or what they call 'Jobber' packages (a whole series of sizes in a plain brown box). I haven't used the small bits yet except to try them out and they seem sharp as can be and leave very clean holes.

 

 

 

 

4821606-4.jpg

Edited by Ron Burns
bad formatting

Current Build- HMS Winchelsea 1764 1:48

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Ron; where did you get the boxes of small bits?...Moab

Completed Builds:

Virginia Armed Sloop...Model Shipways

Ranger...Corel

Louise Steam Launch...Constructo

Hansa Kogge...Dusek

Yankee Hero...BlueJacket

Spray...BlueJacket

26’ Long Boat...Model Shipways

Under Construction:

Emma C. Berry...Model Shipways

 

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I have bought Bits like Ron has pictured and found them to be sharp indeed, however they are very brittle and should only be used in a drill press and not free hand. Products may vary though.

Edited by reklein

Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren

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As for the small numbered bits, I find I break them regularly if I'm not careful. I also find that buying replacements one at a time at a hobby store, if you are lucky enough to still have one in your neighborhood, is inconvenient and costs a lot more than buying in bulk. It seems certain sizes get used more than others and, consequently, need to be replaced more often than others. I discovered that every so often outfits like Micro-Mark or Model Expo will have sales with a percentage discount on everything in their catalog. I decided to "bite the bullet" and buy tubes of ten or twelve bits in the sizes I break frequently when they are on sale and keep them always in stock in my shop. It's a huge savings over buying them one at a time, if you can find them, and my work  progress isn't halted for want of a bit anymore. I use a Rogers circular bit holder for my "working bits," of course.

Edited by Bob Cleek
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Yes, I buy HSS number drills in small sizes in bulk as well now that they are easily available. Curiously, now I've a good supply, I rarely break one!

Be sure to sign up for an epic Nelson/Trafalgar project if you would like to see it made into a TV series  http://trafalgar.tv

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While we're on the subject of small drill bits. The ones you find in tubes or small drill indexes are less brittle so unless you use pin vices  you should make sure your drill press chuck will close completely. Some chucks will only close to a couple mm gap. The Dremel tools chucks will close all the way but the drill motor doesnt have much torque at low speeds. So when you drill plastic at high speeds it just melts a hole. For that same reason I like to use a coping saw on plastic rather than a power jigsaw because of the heat generated. Hope this isn't too vague.

Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren

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I only break the ones I have least of!!

current build- Swan ,scratch

on shelf,Rattlesnake, Alert semi scratch,Le Coureur,, Fubbs scratch

completed: nostrum mare,victory(Corel), san felipe, sovereign of the seas, sicilian  cargo boat ,royal yacht caroline, armed pinnace, charles morgan whaler, galilee boat, wappen von hamburg, la reale (Dusek), amerigo vespucci, oneida (semi scratch) diane, great harry-elizabethan galleon (semi scratch), agammemnon, hanna (scratch).19th cent. shipyard diorama (Constructo), picket boat, victory bow section

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  • 2 weeks later...

For those needing drill bits, I just noticed that ModelExpo is having a great "loss leader" sale on an entire set of #61 through #80 bits (the same as the Rogers circular bit index,) five of each size in clear plastic tubes in a nice wooden box with a decent pin vise for only $35. That's as low a price as I've ever seen for micro-bits. When you need more individual sizes, ModelExpo sells these bits in packs of five for $3.49. The same bits without the wooden case and pin vise would run about $70, so the bits alone are half price and the box and pin vise are a bonus! If I didn't already have a good supply, I'd grab one in a hot minute. 

 

https://modelexpo-online.com/MT2001-Set-of-100-Number-Drills-5-each-of-61-80-in-a-Wood-Box-Pin-Vise_p_1411.html

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Thanks, guys. I'm brand new to the hobby (still waiting for my first kit to be delivered from OcCre) and I was poking around the Shop Notes forum to see what you all might be suggesting as far as the basic tools for ship modeling are concerned. I've developed a short shopping list from the research I've done so far. I took Bob's suggestion and bought the drill set from Model Expo as well as a few other basic items. I plan to take the MSW advice to not buy too many tools too soon, but to buy them more as I need them. Thanks again!

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I bought that big box of drill bits from ModelExpo the last time they were on sale.  I measured all of them when they arrived and found a HUGE discrepancy between what was supposed to supplied and what actually was received.  Some sizes were missing completely, some had double the quantity,  Don't tell anyone but when I emailed them with the results they sent me all the missing sizes and didn't tell me to send them the ones that were excess!  Pain in the neck to measure all those drills but it worked out in the end (for me)!

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Come to think of it, a few years back, ModelExpo had a sale on drill bits by size and I ordered a bunch of different sizes. I had the exact same problem and an email to them got solved in the same way. Apparently, the kids the manufacturer had chained to the workbenches in China weren't all that concerned about putting the correct number of bits in the right tubes! I thought it was a fluke and forgot about that until now. They sent the replacements right away, though with no questions asked.

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3 hours ago, Gr8teful Rick said:

but to buy them more as I need them

I wish this was something I learned when I first started, I guess it doesn’t matter much now but when I started building models, if I thought I would need a tool At any point I just bought it. Now I pretty much have any thing I need but at first I had several tools sitting around that never got touched. It’s a good idea to buy tools as you need them, I found that buying tools one at a time allows you to really learn that tool which makes using it really nice later. I will say that I ordered bits from model expo sometime last year and only had one or two discrepancies, not enough to have more sent to me. I’m sure your purchase will be fine! 

Current Builds:

Flying Fish - Model Shipways - 1:96

 

Future Builds:

Young America 1853 - Scratch Build - 1:72

 

Completed Builds:

HMS Racehorse - Mantua - 1:47 (No pictures unfortunately)

Providence Whale Boat - Artesania Latina - 1:25 (Also no pictures)

Lowell Grand Banks Dory - Model Shipways - 1:24

 

Shelved Builds:

Pride of Baltimore 2 - Model Shipways - 1:64 (Also no pictures)

 

 

 

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Here's a useful chart of equivalent drill sizes ...https://vermontamerican.com/drill-bit-decimal-equivalency-chart/   

 

There's four columns -  Letter/Number,    Metric,    Inches (in decimals),     MM (in decimals). 

 

The Letter/Number column also switches to fractional inches (in 1/64ths) as required.

 

The pocket sized Zeus booklet (UK only?) contains all that info and much more eg thread info .... https://www.amazon.co.uk/RDGTOOLS-ZEUS-CHART-LATEST-REVISION/dp/B00S9SVESM/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=zeus+book&qid=1607602520&sr=8-1

 

When I was much younger, HSS drills seemed to last longer. These days, most of the cheap twist drills I buy from Amazon are junk - particularly the sub 1 mm ones ...they are fragile and the 'cut chisel edge' is often way off centre .... https://ruko.de/en/blog/eight-characteristics-of-a-twist-drill

 

However they are 'good enough' for general work around the house and some hobbies.

 

SKF & Dormer, Presto and Osborn were good makes back in the day.  But we are now in the 'disposable' age so fewer and fewer products are made/expected to last too long.

 

I'd be curious to know what drill manufacturers supply NASA and SpaceX ...those guys will demand the best quality.

 

Richard

 

 

        

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10 hours ago, Rik Thistle said:

I'd be curious to know what drill manufacturers supply NASA and SpaceX ...those guys will demand the best quality.

With the stories I've heard about $37 screws,  $640 toilet seats, and a $7,622 coffee maker, I wonder if any of us could afford such bits!

 

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-07-30-vw-18804-story.html

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Bob,

 

And those are 1986 prices!...gulp.

 

Yes, the old defence contractor network was sure milking that the NASA cow for all it was worth.

 

But I can't see Musk tolerating that kind of behaviour...his delivery rocket launches are about 1/10th the price of LM, Boeing etc IIRC. And I don't think his teams ever have time for coffee so no machines needed 😉

 

Richard

 

 

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Nazir,

 

6. If I just keep current bits loose, is there good tool to measure diameter that u can recommend?

 

The manufaturer/material/drill diameter is usually stamped/etched on the blank end of the drill. An eyeglass can make out that small print.

 

If that print is unreadable then a micrometer (or a Vernier at a push) across the widest diameter of the cutting flutes will acurately tell you the drill diameter.

 

Richard

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12 hours ago, Rik Thistle said:

The pocket sized Zeus booklet (UK only?) contains all that info and much more eg thread info .... https://www.amazon.co.uk/RDGTOOLS-ZEUS-CHART-LATEST-REVISION/dp/B00S9SVESM/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=zeus+book&qid=1607602520&sr=8-1

Seeing booklet takes me back about 50 years 😀 

Richard

Current Build: Early 19th Century US Revenue Cutter (Artesania Latina "Dallas" - messed about)

Completed Build: Yakatabune - Japanese - Woody Joe mini

Member: Nautical Research Guild & Midwest Model Shipwrights

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On 11/25/2020 at 6:36 AM, Nazir said:

4. Is there a box u can recommend where I can put some of my current bits and sort them by size...I have seem some on Amazon but not sure how to judge quality

5. How do I tell if my current bits are worth keeping?

6. If I just keep current bits loose, is there good tool to measure diameter that u can recommend?

 

Like everyone, I suppose, I have a "junk bits box" into which go all miscellaneous bits that are 1/8" or larger. Sometimes I go through them to find a "sacrificial bit" that I won't care about dulling. Sometimes I cut the shaft off one when I need a bit of rod of its diameter.

 

On the other hand, one of each size of all of my good bits are kept in drill indexes. The rest are stored in boxes, often in envelopes, plastic zip lock bags, or, for the very small ones, the clear plastic tubes they come in from the store. All are organized as to size. It's very important to keep everything stored where you can get to it when you need to find it. Drill indexes are very important not only because they keep the drills from banging around in a jumbled box or drawer, but most importantly because it saves huge amounts of time. You can immediately go to the drill index and pull out the exactly size bit you need. You don't have to go fiddling through a mess of bits with a micrometer or calipers trying to find the right sized bit or the sharp one rather than the dull one. The first thing every well-taught craftsman learns is to keep his tools organized: a place for everything and everything in its place. For a pro, time is money, but for amateurs, time is progress on the task and a lot less frustration. (Do as I say, not as I do. :D)

 

For the small numbered bits, an index is essential. For a start, the classic Rogers index, which will set you back about $30 with the full set of bits, is invaluable. Those tiny bits have a way of disappearing if you aren't careful with them and I can't even pick up the smaller ones without a good set of tweezers if they are laying flat on the workbench they are so small. The plastic cover is also a great feature that protects the fragile tiny bits. These are so small that you would have to measure them with a micrometer to be sure of the size. The printed sizes on the index eliminate that entirely:

 

VTG MICRO DRILL Bit Index set Machinist Jewelers Tools No.61 to 80 V F  Rogers - $9.99 | PicClick

 

Larger bits are often sold in sets that come with indexes, as well. There are many different styles of index.

 

7217329AA-24.jpg

 

The index boxes keep the bits free of dust, which attracts moisture and promotes corrosion. You can give them all an occasional squirt with WD-40 to make sure they don't rust.  it's also easy enough to make your own indexes by just taking a piece of material, wood would be the most obvious, and drill a hole with each drill bit you have, label the holes, and stick the bits in the holes. However, if you are going to buy a set of bits, it makes sense to get a set that comes with an index that suits your fancy.

 

You'll know your current bits aren't worth using when they are dull. Like one Supreme Court Justice once wrote, "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it." Sometimes a problem with a bit's performance isn't because it's dull, but rather because the type of bit is the right one for the job, particularly when drilling metal, but if a bit won't cut metal as you expect it to, or it chews up your wood and doesn't make clean-edged holes, it might be dull. Trying a new one is usually the best way to tell. If new bit cuts better, you know the first one was dull. If not, you have a new bit on hand for when the first does inevitably get dull! There are many different bit types and different bit point angles. Over time, if you read up, you'll get some idea of what they all do. It's a learning curve thing. You may even get to the point of sharpening your larger bits yourself, but that's story for another night.

 

The point is, however, that every bit is worth keeping. Larger dull bits can be resharpened on a grinder or in a bit sharpener, if you want to get into that and if you have larger bits, sharpening is way more cost effective than buying new ones. Smaller bits, not so much. Bits can be useful in other ways, as well. Every so often you will have need for a little piece of rod and an old drill bit can save the day. They can be cut easily with Dremel cut-off wheels. Modelers should get in the habit of saving odds and ends which may be useful in a model someday. (At least that's what I tell "She Who Must Be Obeyed!" :D)

 

The best tool to measure the size of a drill bit, if you can't read the size stamped on the shaft in larger bits, is a drill index. Just keep sticking it in the holes until you find the hole that it fits exactly and read the size off the index. Failing that, a micrometer or a caliper is the tool for the job. Micrometers are more accurate, but a caliper will be very handy, if not essential, for any number of measuring tasks when modeling. They come in mechanical "Vernier" and electronic "digital" versions. The mechanical calipers' measurements are read off a scale like a common ruler. The digital ones have a digital readout. I'm partial to the mechanical ones because the digital read-out ones need batteries and I'm a Luddite at heart, anyhow. The one advantage of the digital ones is that you can set the fancier ones to read out in imperial or metric measurements, and even in decimal equivalents of imperial measurements.

 

Don't be scared off by the prices you see charged for some of these measuring tools. You get what you pay for, and high accuracy tolerances cost the big bucks because what you are really buying is a scientific instrument. That said, you don't have to spend the big bucks for the fancy highly accurate measuring devices unless you want to, though. We don't need NASA level tolerances when building ship models. A mid-range price point instrument is fine for modeling purposes and you can get by even with the low-priced ones. Shop around and make your own choice. (And like all fine instruments, keep them in their cases when not in use and don't drop them on the floor!)

 

Mechanical Outside Micrometer

 

Micrometer (above)

 

image.jpeg.75ee4201f0ad459ffee1287f64f15787.jpeg

 

Mechanical Vernier caliper (above)

 

0 to 150mm Range, 0.01mm Resolution, Electronic Caliper

 

Electronic digital caliper

 

 

Edited by Bob Cleek
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while on the subject of drill bits how about a word on drill motors. When drilling plastic I have found that a small power screwdriver with a drill chuck is a good way to power your drill. Nice slow speed and plenty of torque. This way you can drill your hole instead of burn or melt it. For this reason I also like to use a coping saw for cutting heavy plastic with out melting it as a power jigsaw would.

 

Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren

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