My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1227: Drilling a Vertical Hole into Thin Stock

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-23-2014 12:05 PM 1488 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1226: Writing Instructions Part 1227 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1228: New Patterns Available on our Website »

Oh, my goodness! The last several days have been FULL! The past several days I have put in at least 14-16 hours per day working on my new patterns and packets. Sometime around 9pm last night, I finally finished creating the two packets for the ballerina projects (one packet for painting them and the other for the woodworkers to scroll them out). As much work as it was, it was still enjoyable and I am pleased with the final results. I am eager to get them posted on the site and see how others like them as well.

In the mean time, I awoke to well over a foot and a half of snow on the ground. It came down all day yesterday and through the night, although it is calm now. It appears the worst of it is over. Today will be a day of cleaning up and getting things back to normal I suspect. We were fortunate that we had no power outages in our area and we were safe and warm here inside. I suppose living in Nova Scotia we expect snow in January. In any case, all is well.

I woke up this morning still feeling that I was in ‘high gear’ as I have been for the past few days. I had to take a breath and stop and think and remember that the main task that I was working on was DONE. Sometimes when I get in that intense working mode, it takes some time for it to wean even though the task is already completed. While I still have our website’s newsletter to write and send out today, it can be done in more of a relaxed frame of mind, and after that I will do some slower paced things. It will be good to take a breather – even for a short time.

There was one thing that I wanted to share here in the blog with you all. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I decided to drill a vertical hole into the ballerina ornaments so as not to disrupt the design. If I were to hang them in the traditional manner (by drilling a small hole into the face of the ornament) I would have needed to drill right through their heads, and I think it would have ruined the look of them.

My own samples for the scrolled ornaments were cut out of 1/4” maple. However, the painted samples, as well as the ‘kits’ that I will be offering are cut from 1/8” birch plywood. The 1/8” thickness sometimes provides a challenge for some to drill in this manner so for the scroll saw pattern, I offered a step-by-step tutorial that I would also like to share here. This method works well and I have found with a little concentration and care, you can find a good deal of success in drilling things of this nature.

Let me start out by saying that I am using a 1/16” brad tipped drill bit. (Although when a bit is that small – I don’t know how much difference having the brad tip will make). The bit needs to be a sharp bit, as a dull bit will travel on the wood when initially boring into it and slip to the side. For the example, I am drilling into 1/8” Baltic birch plywood.

When I drew up the designs, I designated (with the dotted lines) an alternative path to cut the pieces out initially. You cut as usual:

And when you get to the dotted line, follow it across the top of the ornament:

Continue along the ornament path so that you have a flat top where you plan to drill:

Go to your drill press (It is necessary to use a drill press for this method) and line up the piece with the bit (with the drill OFF!):

Turn your piece to a slight angle so you can see that you are centered on the top of the wood piece. This is easier to do with the plywood, as you can see the bands of the layers. When you are sure you are centered, press firmly yet gently so that you press a small indentation for the bit to seat in. This will help it stay centered when you begin drilling.

Keep holding the piece into place and turn on the drill press. Allow the bit to do the work and ‘bite’ into the wood. When this occurs, GENTLY push the piece up into the bit – holding it straight and level – and allow the bit to enter the wood approximately 1/4” or so. You could place a piece of tape over the tip of the bit to measure the depth if you wish, but I didn’t do so for the photographs. It is important to not force the bit, and let the drill and bit do the work. Use a medium firm pressure to bore the hole without pressing too hard or fast. (PATIENCE!)

You now have a beautifully clean 1/16” hole! You can see from the picture that there is plenty of room on both sides. (And you DOUBTED me!!)

Now you go back to the saw and finish your cut:

And the results is a nice hole in the top of the head.

There are several things to consider – Remember not to go too deep with the drilling, or when you cut her head out she will have a hole in her chin. Also be aware that you may have to tilt the bit to a slight angle to avoid hitting her hand on the spinning press. Since you are tucking a eye pin or cord into the hole, it can be ‘tilted’ to follow the angle of the head without negative consequences. The ornaments will hang the same either way.

You can see here that there is plenty of room for the 1/32” cording to be inserted. I cut the cord to 8” lengths and tied a knot at the loose end. I pulled the knot very firmly to make it as small as possible and then dragged it into a small puddle of glue. I then pushed it into the hole with an opened up paper clip and let it dry.

This system worked perfectly:

One of the ballerinas needed to be hung by the foot, but that didn’t pose a problem at all. I used the same method and again was very successful:

I hope this little tutorial helps you out. I can think of many times when I didn’t want to drill a hole for hanging into the face of an ornament or object and I found this method to work well.

I do suggest you practice on some scraps first to get the feel of your own drill press and bits. You will understand that you don’t need a lot of pressure to drill these types of holes. Just a slight firm push is sufficient to get the job done. And you need to concentrate. Don’t do this while your head is somewhere else.

I am off to finish updated the site. The ballerinas as well as some new patterns that Keith created will be up on the site later on today. I will also be offering the painting kits for these ornaments, which will include the twelve pre-cut and pre-drilled ballerinas. I am also going to include the hanging cord.

You can order the cord from Home Sew at this web address:

It is a very good company that has high quality products and delivers quickly. They sell the 1/32” metallic cord for $3.75 per 100 yards of cord! You can’t beat that price!

I hope all of my friends who were in the path of the storm are safe and warm. Enjoy your Thursday everyone.

Today’s Featured Product

SLDK302 – 1 Corinthians 16:14 – “Love Bible Passage Plaque

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

4 comments so far

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2832 days

#1 posted 01-23-2014 01:44 PM

Very intricate, and delicate. I really like how you did that plaque.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#2 posted 01-23-2014 01:48 PM

Thanks, Roger! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View CFrye's profile


10246 posts in 1868 days

#3 posted 01-23-2014 02:42 PM

Good morning Sheila! Don’t you wish you could just stay inside with a hot cup of whatever and enjoy the beautiful snowscapes before they’re trampled and plowed? Thank you for the extra tips and pics on your drilling process. I wonder if it would be steadier if you clamped the piece between two support blocks that would hold it straight? You could even clamp several pieces at one time, say, between a couple of pieces of 2×4’s. Hope you stay safe and warm. Happy Thursday!

-- God bless, Candy

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#4 posted 01-23-2014 02:57 PM

Good morning, Candy!
I don’t think it is hard at all to hold the pieces steady. Remember, when I was photographing the steps, I had to use one hand to hold the camera. Much of this process is ‘feel’ so you would lose that feeling if your bit was slipping and you had the pieces in a jig or clamped. I would think there would be more danger of going through the side of the piece that way.

But if you try it and it works for you, please let us know! I always say there are more than one path to a destination!

Yes – we have a winter wonderland here today. All pretty and white. I don’t know yet if we will get out to check the mail or not. Either way, I am busy and happy.

Thanks so much for your input. Have a wonderful day! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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