Woodturning is said to be the safest form of woodworking, that said it can still be dangerous and care should be taken at all times

The methods and procedures I show here are what I do at the moment and feel safe doing, I am not suggesting that you should do things the same way, that is up to you, if you don’t feel safe doing it one way find another way of doing it.

Above all take care and remember if this is your hobby it is supposed to be fun so enjoy it.

The next step is to drill the blank out to take the brass tubes.   The easiest way to do this is with a bench drill that is accurate and can drill the full depth of the blank without having to raise the table.

My bench drill is neither of these so I drill them on the lathe, I hold the blank in the chuck using the O’Donnell jaws from Axminster for this but any jaws that will hold the blank firm and square will do.

I hold the drill in a Jacob’s chuck in the tailstock, the other piece of equipment I use when drilling is a plastic brush, this is to clear the waste from the drill.

If the blank has been cut square it is easy to put in the chuck as it will centre itself, if not you will have to fiddle with it a bit to get it straight and central, it will help if you manually mark the centre before mounting it.

I always start drilling from what will be the centre of the pen as sometimes the drill will wander of straight when drilling and this way the pattern will line up better when assembling.

I usually have the speed at about 500 rpm for drilling as I find this speed works best for me, the trick to successful drilling is take it slow and easy, the only prize you will get for rushing is a broken blank.

I slowly wind the drill in at about 1/2” to 1” at a time before removing it and cleaning the waste out using the plastic brush.  

You get used to the feel of the drill and can tell when it starts to struggle because it is getting blocked up.   Also keep an eye on the amount of waste coming out of the hole if this stops or reduces greatly remove and clean the drill.   If you are doing several blanks make sure the drill doesn’t get too hot otherwise this can cause problems.   If I am doing a number of blanks I usually have more than one drill so I can swap them around when they get hot.

With acrylics be careful otherwise you could end up with the drill stuck in the blank as the picture below shows.   This has only happened to me once but it was very annoying as it was a brand new drill

It is also a good idea to measure the blank against the drill and marking the drill so you know when you are getting near the end of the blank.   It is a good idea to remove the drill and clean it just before reaching the end of the blank, then drilling very slowly as this helps to prevent chipping around the exit hole.

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