Drawbore Pins

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Blog entry by Mike Lingenfelter posted 12-22-2007 04:56 AM 9510 reads 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m trying to get things ready for when I start to build my workbench. I plan to use Drawboring to pin my tenons on the bench. To help align the holes for the pins I needed a Drawbore Pin (a machinist would call them drift pins). For woodworkers the drift pin generally has a handle, to better wiggle it around. I had recently read an article by Christopher Schwarz on Drawbore Pins, which these are based on. You can read his article for a complete description and explanation of the steps. Over all it is very easy to do.

I left work early today and thought I would knock them out. I had some success and a failure (more about the failure later). Christopher suggested picking up a cheap set of punches and alignment tools from Sears. I dropped by Sears and found the set he talked about in his article, but there was a 13 piece set on sale for only a $1 more ($8.00).

I had some Maple in the scrap pile, so I milled up a piece 1.25” x 1.25”. There was enough for the 2 handles.


I then needed to bore a hole in the center to accept the pin. I couldn’t lower my drill press table far enough to be able to drill the hole. I had just gotten some bits for my brace, off of eBay. So I got medieval on it.


Next I needed to taper the handle. I did that on the band saw, and cleaned it up with a hand plane.


The next step was to chamfer the edges, to make it more comfortable to hold. I used my block plane for this. I put a couple scrap piece of wood in the vise, to hold it in place while I worked on the handle.


The next step was to heat the pin up and drive the handle home. Now for the failure part. I’m not sure if you tell from the picture blow, but there is a slight bend in the top part of the pin. I didn’t notice this until it was too late.



That bend was enough to cause the handle to split. I will try and straighten it out and try again. I don’t have a metal vise. So in the first picture above, I drilled hole in a board. I then found some washers to put on the pin, to keep it from being pounded into the wood while I attached the handle. It worked really well.

Now for the success part of the day. The small pin went together without any problems. The handle feels really good in your hand. I’ll redo the large pin tomorrow.


6 comments so far

View Chris 's profile


1877 posts in 3415 days

#1 posted 12-22-2007 06:36 AM

Mike…. Great Post! :) I too am planning on starting a bench soon and have considered the draw bore method for the M&T joints as Chris Schwarz had discussed.

Please let us know how this goes; I am very interested as I have absolutely no experience with large joints and very little with mortise & tenon joinery in general.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3386 days

#2 posted 12-23-2007 02:56 PM

Hi Mike,
I’m not sure what is going on here. I’ve used draw bore pins since 1978. Most recently on the tenons on the work bench I posted and on the Buffalo Bed. I fit the mortise and then drill the pin hole through both sides of the mortise. I then insert the tenon in the mortise and blacken the dowel that will be the pin with charcoal. I insert the dowel in the pin hole and twist it to mark the hole on the tenon. I then drill the tenon at least 1/16 of an inch toward the shoulder of the tenon. I point the dowel and with the tenon in the mortise I drive the dowel through all the holes and out the back side. I then trim them off flush with both sides. This is the way I learned while studying colonial furniture in the ‘70’s. There is another way which doesn’t go all the way through. I think the through pin is stronger and works every time. The first ones of these I built in 1978 are in a Red Oak foot stool. It belongs to a friend and is still going strong. You can’t pull it apart with a truck. It seems this is like a drift punch, is that right?

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 3538 days

#3 posted 12-23-2007 05:35 PM

Your procedure for drawboaring is essentially the procedure I use. The Drawbore Pins are essentially a driff pin/punch. With the the drawboring technique you can leave your tennon looser, than you would if you were fitting it to be glued. In fact you don’t really have to glue a drawbore joint. The strength comes from the tension created on the shoulders, and the pins that prevent it from moving. Although I plan to glue my joints. The drawbore pins will be used if I do have some looseness in my joint, and I need to line my holes. I also see them being used more on larger joints, like on the bench I plan to build. I’ve seen timber-framers use drawbore/driff pins, to pull their joints in alignment. We will see how useful they will be on smaller joints, like cabinet doors or something like that.

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3212 days

#4 posted 01-21-2009 02:47 AM


Great post. I read this same article by Chris and bought the set he recommended. I haven’t make the handles yet but will be doing that shortly. Any thoughts on the pins a year later now that you can buy them commercially?

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View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 3538 days

#5 posted 01-21-2009 03:04 AM

I’ve used my a few times and they work really well. The new Lie-Nielsen pins look really nice. You can make them for a lot less money. It all comes down to what your time is worth. Some people would just buy a pair, now that you can. This project was fun to do and pretty easy. I’d like a set of 4, so I will probably make a couple more, even though I can buy them now.

View nuxow's profile


1 post in 1845 days

#6 posted 10-09-2011 10:29 PM

Here is the one I just made. It took 6 hour. Handle made from a 1.5 inch Maple dowel from Woodcraft on a drill press. The pin is a Dasco Pro Alignment Punch.

It was fun to make, but would be easier and nicer if I had a lathe.

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