Boring Wood Inserts

By Tom Kirkman, (RodMaker Magazine)

Here's a question from the July/August 1999 issue of RodMaker magazine:

"Although I buy my reel seat hardware, I like to turn my own wooden inserts. I am having trouble boring these inserts, however, and wonder if you give me any tips, particularly on centering the insert and how best to get a clean bore down through the exact center." Robert, Atlanta, GA

RodMaker Magazine

"I don't know what type of equipment you have to work with, so I'll discuss a couple of different ways for you to do this. First, a lathe with a self-centering, or 4-jaw independent chuck is by far the best tool to use in boring a wood reel seat insert. If you prefer to bore your insert before the actual turning, you'll need to use the 4-jaw independent chuck. If you turn the insert first, you can use a self-centering chuck and tighten on one of the insert's shoulders, preferably the longer one. After you've decided on the required bore diameter, select the appropriate drill bit. (Make sure to use a true wood boring brad-point bit instead of the common twist drill bits. These will give you a much clearned, straighter cut. These are available from various building supply and hardware stores. Contact WoodWorkers Supply at 1-800-645-9292 and ask about their Vortex-D bradpoint bits which work extremely well in hard, twisted grain woods.)

I have found that a turning speed of from 1300 to 1500 RPM seems to work best, but this will vary depending upon the particular wood you are working with. It is imperative that you stop and withdraw the bit every so often in order to eject the chips. Failure to do so will result in a clogged bore and quick overheating of the bit and insert which then leads to splitting of the insert. This is even more important when working with tropical hardwoods, which are highly resinous and will clog the flutes on the bit quickly. How do you know when to withdraw the bit and clean the flutes? When the bit stops ejecting chips, it's time to stop. After a while you'll develop a feel for how the bit is cutting and instinctively know how far you can bore before withdrawing and clearing the flutes.

Make sure you are keenly aware of the depth of your bore so you do do not drill into the chuck. Marking the bit with a piece of tape that represents the total bore depth will prevent this from happening.

It is also possible to bore seat inserts on a drill press. To do so, you'll need to fabricate a holding clamp which looks much like two thick paddles with matching V-notches cut into the opposing faces. This will allow you to hold the insert in a perfectly vertical plane. The same steps for boring and clearing wood chips on the lathe applies to the drill press as well.

With the proper bit and procedure, you'll find that you can bore accurate, clean holes in your inserts in a matter of just a few minutes. ~ Tom Kirkman

Publishers note:

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your fellow rodmakers! ~ Publisher, FAOL

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