If you’ve been around woodworking as long as I have, then this technique to drill holes straight is surely “old hat.” While it is an oldie, it is also a goodie, especially if you don’t have or cannot fit your workpiece under a drill press.
When working on the lowboy discovered in the back room at the Connecticut Historical Society, I set up to drill a couple of holes in the front lower rail. Instead of clamping a fence in position at my drill press, I grabbed a small block to use as a guide. Why I drilled the holes for the two drop finials this early in the game is to head off a problem I had as I assembled the Queen Anne Dressing Table in the June 2010 issue (#183).
In that build, as I clamped together the front, my clamp pressure snapped the highly cutout apron. As you may have guessed, it was a mad scramble to get things right before problems set in (glue dried). This time, I have a plan on how to head off such problems. You’ll need to read the article to learn my plan – it does involve the finial holes.
To use this technique, you need a small block that is cut square. Carefully drill through the block – I have a drill press so I used it, but if you’re sans a press, use a square and check from all angles as you slowly drill. With the block ready, line up the tip of your bit with your layout mark (I simply Xd across my stock), hold the block firmly against the workpiece then drill down square and straight. The block acts as a guide.
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