LumberJocks

A lifesaver for installing hinges, hooks, anything that requires a centered hole

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Review by CharlesA posted 01-04-2015 07:14 PM 5213 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
A lifesaver for installing hinges, hooks, anything that requires a centered hole A lifesaver for installing hinges, hooks, anything that requires a centered hole No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Okay, for some of you this tool may be unnecessary. But whenever I have installed hinges, coat hooks, or anything else that requires a centered hole, I always seem to be just a hair off. I would carefully mark with a pencil, then use a punch to mark the hole, drill it carefully, and voila, I’d end up with screws that were almost centered . . . every time.

Christopher Schwarz recommended this Starrett Punch, but I balked at the price tag. But I tried it, and I am glad I did.

A built in mechanism does the punching for you when you’ve depressed the tip all the way—a spring-loaded mechanism punches sharply.

What do I like?
  • the one-handed operation. Unlike the cheaper centering punch I tried before this one, I don’t need one hand to hold the punch and one to hit it with a hammer. I can use this one on a vertical surface. I am installing coat hooks this week on a vertical surface. I can hold the hood with my left hand and punch it with the right hand alone. I just push.
  • the punch itself is sharp and makes a workable hole. I can adjust the force and i can re-sharpen it if necessary.
What do I not like?
  • the mechanism requires that the diameter of the barrel be significantly larger than a simple punch. With some applications, this punch has a hard time fitting.

I wouldn’t go back to anything else.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson




View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3333 posts in 1882 days



10 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5737 posts in 2898 days


#1 posted 01-04-2015 07:22 PM

Here is another option… self centering drill bits. A set of three sizes runs $6-24. The ends of the cylinder is tapered, so even if it doesn’t fit the bore exactly, it will still be centered. If you have a shelf-drilling jig, you may already own one.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View tyvekboy's profile

tyvekboy

1783 posts in 3098 days


#2 posted 01-04-2015 08:22 PM

I second pintodeluxeʻs solution. Rockler also sells a set for $30.00.

http://www.rockler.com/rockler-insty-drive-self-centering-bits

I use these all the time. Drill the centered pilot hole in one swell foop.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3333 posts in 1882 days


#3 posted 01-04-2015 08:29 PM

I’m installing some coat hooks like these:

I’m not sure I could get those self-centering drill bits in at 90 degrees. I use the punch for the initial placement, then remove the hook so I can drill the hole.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View KayBee's profile

KayBee

1083 posts in 3331 days


#4 posted 01-04-2015 08:40 PM

It’s a great punch! So good, that someone liberated mine from work. Those self centering vix bits are nice. Sometimes you don’t want the screw exactly centered or at a right angle. Center punch makes this easy to do.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View Rick S.'s profile

Rick S.

10142 posts in 3118 days


#5 posted 01-05-2015 02:48 AM

I agree! I wouldn’t be without them for centering screws in Hinges and whatever else.

Lee Valley has the same ones you bought for about the same price.

I opted to go with a different set after going there and looking at them. Not saying mine is a better set, they just suited my needs better, and a set of three for various uses was $23.00. Price was not a factor in the buying decision.

They are also Spring Loaded and Adjustable Tension.

Thanks for the Review Charles.

-- If it wasn't for Electricity, We'd all be Watching Television by Candlelight!

View HillbillyShooter's profile

HillbillyShooter

5811 posts in 2377 days


#6 posted 01-05-2015 10:47 PM

Automatic center punches are great, and Starrett makes the absolute best IMHO. I’ve use one as far back as I can remember (50s or 60s); and, I prefer the all steel ACP to the aluminum body, especially the ones with replaceable tips. For centering hinges (and anything similar where it will work), I agree the vix self centering bits are the best. However, not all self centering bits are equal. I had great luck with the original vix bit (c.f., http://vixbitsonline.com/ ) and mediocre with other brands.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2787 posts in 2381 days


#7 posted 01-09-2015 01:54 PM

$47!!! I have the five dollar version from the homer depot and it works fine for my needs. I use it for installing door hinges. A full set of sizes might be nice for smaller cabinet hinges.

View bonobo's profile

bonobo

297 posts in 2141 days


#8 posted 01-15-2015 02:06 AM

Well made tool but I wish it was offered in a smaller size, more suited to box hinges and lock hardware.

-- “The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” ― Mark Twain

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3333 posts in 1882 days


#9 posted 06-12-2016 04:58 AM

I was using this tool again today and was reminded how helpful it is.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

4922 posts in 3328 days


#10 posted 01-26-2017 09:37 PM

A self centering punch is useful, but unless you use a brad point drill, you won’t get a concentric hole. Ordinary twist drills will go off center every time in both soft and hard woods. You need to use a very high speed with the brad point for reliable results. This is more or less a tip, not an endorsement or negative view, and certainly having a Starrett gives one peace-of-mind that you are using the best available.

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