In Shop Blog, Techniques

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Despite the fact that monkeys were as rare as hen’s teeth in the mountains of Arkansas, the highest praise for intelligence there was to be called a “clever monkey.”

To wit: “When Clem saw the Law, he slammed on brakes. That clever monkey got out of a speeding ticket by saying he was trying to stomp a sweat bee.”

But I digress. This month I’m reviewing new drawbore pins from four manufacturers for the Summer 2009 issue of Woodworking Magazine. One of the new entrants to the field is Lee Valley , its drawbore pins will be available in the next couple weeks at a special introductory price ($49 a pair).

When company officials sent me a couple for evaluation, they also sent a disassembled one so I could see how it was made (and presumably to keep me from sawing apart their pre-production models). It is cool. Monkey cool.

The stainless steel shaft passes entirely through the octagonal bubinga handle. And the tool is capped at the top with a strike button. Though you normally don’t need to strike drawbore pins, some people do.

The metal shaft is barbed to grab onto the inside of the handle. And it has a rubberish O-ring. Company officials were quick to point out the function of the O-ring. It is not a shock absorber (like leather between the bolster and handle of a chisel). Instead, it is an assembly aid at the factory.

The handles are epoxied on. When the cap is screwed in place, there is enough vacuum pressure to cause the epoxy to squirt out the bottom of the handle. Hence, the O-ring to seal things up.

The engineering is extremely clever, all-in-all. And though I won’t say which of the new tools I prefer (you’ll have to read the Summer 2009 issue for that), I will say that I favor the Lee Valley’s handle.

It should come as no surprise that around the office, one of the highest praises for intelligence is: “Clever Canadians.”

– Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 7 comments
  • Ken Buddha

    Any chance they’ll sell just the shaft? I can see making my own handle for one.

  • Chris F

    The whole concept of the eccentric pin appeals to me from an "elegance" standpoint. I like the thought of just easily sliding in the pin and then twisting it to tighten things up.

    On the other hand, the RI eccentric ones have a long taper on them, which doesn’t seem ideal for non-through pegs.

    I think the ideal would be just a very short taper, then a straight eccentric shaft with the large diameter the same size as the hole.

  • Justin Tyson

    Very nice, but I’m disappointed you didn’t choose to review Veritas’ new saw yesterday.,42884

  • Daniel Grant

    There’s also a nice video on Youtube of Chris working on what appears to be the same project as in the article.

    Here’s a link to the first part:

  • Christopher Schwarz

    The Lee Valley shafts are concentric. I deal with this issue in detail in the review. Discuss amongst yourselves…

    Also, here’s how I use the pin:


  • Old Baleine

    Those are handsome. Do you know if the shafts are eccentric like the Ray Iles, or concentric like all of the other new makers’ shafts?

  • tms


    Umm, say Chris, would you care to share your preferred technique for using a drawbore pin?


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