When building a workbench, boring the dog and holdfast holes is a drag, even with an electric drill. Last month, however, that all changed.
While building a French oak Roubo workbench at an event put on by Benchcrafted (details here and the movie is here), Jameel Abraham introduced me to Japanese-made WoodOwl Nail Chipper bits. These bits have three cutting lips and are very nicely made – better than high-quality vintage augers.
The result is that the bits are wicked fast and cut fairly cleanly, though you’ll still have some cleanup around the rim.
But it is worth is when you can power through oak that is 6” thick in seconds.
We used these bits to make the through-mortises in the 6”-thick benchtops, which are 18th-century French oak. The oak was still a little wet, but these bits just could not be stopped. And even after 10 benches or so, the bits were still sharp.
(Note that they are resharpenable and you can buy a file to do the job.)
I bought my bits from Traditional Woodworker and could not be more pleased. These bits are so good that they are going to change my curriculum for when we build workbenches in class.
— Christopher Schwarz
Want bucketloads of workbench information? Check out my first book, “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” (Popular Woodworking).