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Jameel “Jamal-Alabama” Abraham of Benchcrafted introduced me to these bits, and I still need to repay the favor with beer and/or bratwurst. These bits are the cat’s meow, knees and pyjamas.

Made in Japan, the WoodOwls cut through tough, wet, thick wood like it almost isn’t there. When you drill a lot of holes through 6”-thick wet French oak, these bits are a lifesaver. But even if you don’t build benches as part of your living, the WoodOwls are a great piece of kit.

I use them in chairmaking, especially when boring the holes in the seat for the legs. Even with a hand brace, the WoodOwls perform spectacularly, reducing the effort to make a deep hole.

The Ultra-Smooth Tri-spur Augers are ideal for general work. If you work in reclaimed wood, the Nailchipper version is a good choice (I have several Nailchippers x for construction jobs). Even though the Nailchipper bit is supposed to be for coarse work, it leave a surprisingly clean hole.

The only downside to the bits is they are metric, but they are sized closely to SAE. I honestly haven’t run into a problem where I needed a bigger- or smaller-diameter hole.

Now before you buy a whole set, I’d recommend you give one a try. Buy a 3/4” ($16.95) or 1” ($19.95) bit for some new holdfast holes in your workbench. After you use them, you’ll think they are ridiculously inexpensive for what you get.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Megan Fitzpatrick has started a competing gift guide on the editor’s blog. Check it out here.

Read Day 1 of the gift guide here: Clauss Scissors.
Day two on a Boot Tray for Sharpening.
Day three on humidity monitors.
Day four on a MWTCA membership is here.
Day five on the Arno burnisher.
If you’d like to read gift guides from past years, check this link.

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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Showing 5 comments
  • LongLeaf

    I just watched your DVD about No Fear Chair Making and thought it was very well done.

    In the DVD you used a brace and a Wood Owl bit.

    Was that a vintage brace, and can you use bits like these in vintage braces?

    Thank you,

  • Ralf

    Mr Schwarz,

    I have a question about one of your videos. Nails
    Your bookcase build you say that a 5/64 bit should be used for a forged nail.
    The nail in question is 4d, thickness of wood.
    I looked on Lee Valley on there nail page.
    A 35mm nail ( 4d) it says to use a 3/32 drill
    It is not much difference or is it
    Also in there chart 5/64 drill should be for a 23mm (2d) nail
    there is probable a simple explanation for this, what drill should I use for what nail ?
    Is there a chart ?
    thanks Ralph

  • delong1974

    The ultra-smooth bits are gold. I have enough Wood Owls now that I need a canvass roll to keep them in. Definitely sold on these. Don’t forget a feather file to sharpen them up now and then.

  • JMAW Works

    Have you tried the Irwin speedbore tri-lobed bits to compare? I picked one up when I ran across it at the home center shortly after you first raved about the woodowls and was very happy with how it works, but wasn’t sure if I was still missing out on something without the woodowls, as there do appear to be some differences (length, spurs, coatings)

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