Drilling a centered hole in dowel rod

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by loiblb posted 06-15-2016 06:17 PM 923 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View loiblb's profile


143 posts in 1252 days

06-15-2016 06:17 PM

Not sure this is the proper place to post this.

I have a 2” dia. dowel two feet long that I would like to drill a 1/2” hole down the center to a depth of 6”.
The trick is keeping the hole truly center.
I tried to hand drill with small to larger drill bits and it was way off.
Is there a simple jig for this on a drill press?

8 replies so far

View MadMark's profile


979 posts in 1650 days

#1 posted 06-15-2016 06:20 PM

You need a lathe.

-- Madmark -

View ChrisK's profile


2014 posts in 3278 days

#2 posted 06-15-2016 06:23 PM

A lathe will make it easier to get the center. You can try marking the center with a punch and depending on the drill press move the table so you clamp the dowel to it under the bit. You need to be able to get the table parallel to the bit. There is not an easy way to do it it on a drill press.

-- Chris K

View MrUnix's profile


7037 posts in 2396 days

#3 posted 06-15-2016 06:26 PM

Yup, a lathe would be the way to go… although you would need a rather long bit to get 6” of depth. If you want to do it on a drill press, a v-block could be clamped in place to keep it centered and perpendicular, however the hole depth will still present a challenge due to the limited stroke length.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Notw's profile


672 posts in 1950 days

#4 posted 06-15-2016 06:28 PM

I would use something similar to a pen blank drilling vise. With it having a “V” notch on each side of the vise it may do a better job than a normal straight face vise. You’re going to need to take a lot of time with set up and making sure your table it exactly 90 degrees to you bit.

View bondogaposis's profile


5086 posts in 2548 days

#5 posted 06-15-2016 06:59 PM

Is there a simple jig for this on a drill press?

No, not on a drill press, it is easy to do on a lathe.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Lazyman's profile


2608 posts in 1584 days

#6 posted 06-15-2016 07:44 PM

Is the problem with finding the true center of the dowel to start with or keeping the drill aligned as you drill?

If finding the center is the problem, there are plenty of center finders available for a few bucks. Or you can make one with super glue and 2 corner braces that will do in a pinch. You align and super glue one brace so that it bisects the other. Just make sure that corner of the bisected brace is showing just enough so that your pencil lead will fit in the corner. Put the dowel into the corner and draw 2 lines from different directions to find the center. If you draw a 3rd line, you’ll know for sure if your center finder is accurate when all 3 lines intersect at the same point. Using an awl, center punch or nail to mark the center will help reduce the tendency for the bit to wander as you start to drill.

If keeping it aligned as you drill is the problem and you have a 2” forstner bit or hole saw, drill a hole the size of your dowel in a piece of scrap wood clamped to the drill press table. Put the dowel into the hole, put tape around the dowel if you don’t get a snug fit, and make sure that the marked center is aligned with the tip of the bit you will use to drill the center of the dowel. It would be a good idea to check that the dowel is square to the table and bit. You will have to swing your DP table to the side if the center hole is too small for the dowel. You may want to hold the dowel with a handscrew so it doesn’t twist and help make sure it stays square to the table. If your bit isn’t long enough, you may need to find an extension. Of course this assumes that your drill press is tall enough to accommodate your 2’ dowel.

Let me know if that doesn’t make sense and I will send a picture.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Cooler's profile


299 posts in 1040 days

#7 posted 06-15-2016 08:41 PM

I use my center finder on my Starrett square:

For greater accuracy use a scribe instead of a pencil. You need to make two lines. Easy.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1117 days

#8 posted 06-16-2016 03:25 AM


Another approach would be to build a box with the sides of the same thickness and of some length but with one side a little longer than the other three. The inside dimensions of the box should be exactly equal to the diameter of the dowel. Secure a lid to the box, the thicker the lid the better (maybe 1-1/2” thick). The lid must exactly line up with the outside faces of the box. Connect the opposite corners of the lid with a pencil to find the center of the lid. Drill a ½” hole through the lid with a Brad point bit at the center mark at the drill press, ensuring the drill bit is perpendicular to the drill press table.

Insert the dowel into the box until it bottoms out against the lid. Clamp the dowel to the one leg left longer than the others. If the lid is thick enough a drill bit in a hand held drill will follow the hole in the lid and place the bit at the center of the dowel. Using the same drill bit that made the hole in the lid is probably best. If the resulting hole in the dowel is not deep enough, there will probably be enough depth in the hole so that when removed from the jig, the hole in the end of the dowel can be further drilled.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics