Anarchist’s 2016 Gift Guide, Day 6: WoodOwl Auger Bits - Popular Woodworking Magazine
 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Woodworking Blogs


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.

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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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