Thursday, May 19, 2011

Power Drills In The Woodturning Workshop: From Holes To Sanding

Over the years, the hand held electric drill has become a mainstay of the general woodworking shop. Recent developments have made it into a drill, screwdriver, not driver, and sander. Such a versatile tool well deserves to be in the woodturner's arsenal.
While drills are available in sizes from one quarter inch to one half inch depending on the maximum diameter drill bit they can mount, the three eighths hand drill is the most common size sold and meets all the demands of most woodturners.
Obviously, the drill can be used to drill holes of various sizes. Simple and inexpensive jigs are available to allow it to be used as a bench model drill press although the costs of small bench model drill presses allow most shops to have have both types in use. As such they are stable and accurate enough to drill pen blanks and small projects for use of mandrels and other holding devices.
One of the great uses for power drills has become their ability to serve as screw drivers and nut drivers. This is extremely handy when mounting faceplates to bowl blanks and similar work. Screws with wide centers and deep threads are needed and require a fair amount of torques to drive them. Number fourteen self tapping sheet metal screws work well. If they are obtained with a Phillips or Robertson head an appropriate driver bit in the electric drill makes fast work of the process. It is a good idea to have one of the modern drills with adjustable tension on the chuck so that the drill stops driving once the screw is seated. Pilot holes may not be needed in green wood but if they are in dry hardwood, the drill is handy for that use as well. Some of the screws come with hexagonal heads and the appropriate driver serves well for them.
Many woodturners use a four jaw chuck and have various size jaws for different purposes. While it would be good to have a different chuck for each size jaw, the costs often prohibit this. With the appropriate type of bit for the electric drill to fit the screws holding the jaws, it makes the removal and replacement of them quick and easy.
Sanding is not the favorite chore of most woodturners. Bowls and other faceplate items have large areas to sand and the grain tends to vary making the job harder and longer. A simple sanding pad for the drill allows the sand paper to move in the opposite direction to the wood, making the process go much quicker. This has become such a part of woodturning that appropriately sized disks are readily available from most woodturning and sandpaper suppliers.
While the small, drill powered lathes on the market are viewed as little more than toys by most woodturners, the electric hand drill still has a rjole in the woodturning shop. Most woodturners would do well to have couple at hand.

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