Do you experience blowout when drilling rings on your lathe? It’s common for the exiting drill to break some fibers, but it’s also easy to prevent. All you need is one simple trick that will save your ring blanks, and I’ll show you exactly what to do. Enjoy.
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Drilling Wooden Ring Blanks on the Lathe
Normally, the drill bit turns when you drill a hole in a piece of wood. On the lathe, the drill stays still and the piece turns.
The first time you drill one of your rings on the lathe, you will be entertained by the process, I promise. It’s just the novelty of being the opposite of what you are used to.
The other thing you will notice is blowout on the back side of the ring blank. This happens on the lathe for the same reason that it happens on the drill press. You need a backer board under your your blank.
On the drill press this is easy. All you do is put a piece of wood under your blank and you are ready to drill. On the lathe you essentially do the same thing, but it’s a tiny bit more involved. I’ll show you how to do it, and you will be able to drill better ring blanks.
Cutting Your Backer Board for the Lathe
After all, your lathe chuck doesn’t change sizes every day, so your blanks don’t need to either.
Once you settle on a blank size, maybe an inch and a half square, you now know the size that you need to make your backup piece. This is the lighter colored piece you see in the picture behind the ring blank in the chuck.
Cut your sacrificial piece a tiny bit smaller than the ring blank. This way, you don’t have to worry about it not fitting inside the chuck behind the blank.
Setting Up The Blank and Sacrificial Piece for Drilling
If you are doing the quick version, just press the pieces deep in the chuck to get a good, tight fitting between the two.
The drill needs to think that the pieces are one solid unit, and the fibers will not break out of your ring blank. If you want some extra insurance on a really nice blank, then simply glue the backer board to the blank a few hours or a day before you drill.
Chuck the piece securely, and make sure it is flat against the bottom of the chuck so you get a nice, straight bore through the middle.
Drilling the Blank With No Blowout
Make sure that you watch a YouTube video or two on drilling like this before you start. It’s very different, and there are some things that will make the process a lot easier and safer for you.
Once you start drilling, you are waiting for the color of the exiting shavings to change. Look for the color of the sacrificial board, which in my case is nearly always MDF, so it’s easy to see the straw colored wood start coming out.
When this happens, you are through the blank completely, and you can start to retract your bit. When you remove the blank, the backer will fall right off. If you glued it, then simply use the belt sander or the band saw to remove it.
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The Lathe Drilling Process Overview
The basic process for drilling operations on your ring blank or work piece is to use Forstner bits in your drill chuck in the lathe tailstock. The blank and the backer are in the chuck on the headstock. Twist drills can do the same thing, so if that’s all you have you can use them.
Lightly touch the center spur of the bit against the blank to make a small center hole. This will help guide the turning lathe and keep the bit centered.
Advance the bit, and keep going until the depth of the hole reaches the backer board. Then, retract the bit leaving a long hole through the middle of the blank.
Again, watch some videos and be safe drilling on the lathe. This is a basic overview, and you will need to see it and practice a little before you can do it yourself.
If you have a lathe, and you make wooden rings or anything else on that lathe, then you should learn how to drill on the lathe as well. It’s just a simple exercise in using your tool, and it will do just as well of a job as your drill press.
Also, the nice thing about the lathe is you can wiggle your drill a little. For example, if your hole needs to be a little bigger than 5/8 inch, but not all the way to 3/4 inch, you can widen the hole by leaving your drill off center a pinch.
As you advance the bit, the leading edge will actually carve away material just like a lathe tool, leaving a wider opening. This means less sanding or refining the shape inside the opening to get the right fit.
The lathe is a magician in your shop. I promise if you look into the things you lathe can really do you will be surprised and amazed.
If you have any questions on How to Stop Blowout When Drilling Rings on the Lathe, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.
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