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