how much drill press for 3&1/2" forstner bit?

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Forum topic by oopsboardstretchrplz posted 10-22-2011 10:26 PM 4209 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2582 days

10-22-2011 10:26 PM

I’ve been thinking about making some coasters to give as xmas gifts this year. I think I would like to make a similar version of some coasters that a friend of mine bought me at a craft fair. I will try to attach a pic of said coaster to this post. I have about 10 board feet of some curly cherry I think will be nice for the project.

What I’m thinking…
I will joint and plane stock to desired width (approx 3/4”)
Then use my 4&1/2” hole saw to cut piece.
Then bore approx 3/8” into piece with a 3&1/2” forstner bit
Then put on a finish
I would like to put some kind of design in the bored out section of workpiece (possibly a fav sports team logo or something in the like)
Then cover logo with resin or somehow seal the logo in coaster

FYI, that is a nickel in pic of coaster

I guess my main question is how beefy of a drill press is needed to bore though hardwoods with a big 3&1/2” forstner bit? (I don’t yet own a drill press and this is a good excuse to buy one. I’ve been wanting one for a while)

I am waaayyyyyyy open to any suggestions if you may think of an easier/better way to complete this project.


-- When there's frost on the pumpkin... it's time for chubby dunkin'!

11 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#1 posted 10-22-2011 10:37 PM

Advice – - I have a 3” forstner bit that I have used several times. I find it is much easier (and you will need less drill press beef) if you drill the hold in steps.

Make certain that your stock is securing clamped in place. I use the 3” bit first just to establish the perimeter of the hole, barely scratching the surface. Then I use a 1.5” bit, followed by a 2.25” bit, followed by a 3” bit.

It takes some time, but drilling a 3” (or 3.5”) hole into a hard wood is pretty difficult otherwise.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2628 days

#2 posted 10-23-2011 03:00 AM

Most drill presses have fractional HP. I know the 1/3hp motor on my drill press is enough to drill a 3” hole, I doubt it would get bogged down on a 3.5”. Really it just doesn’t take much hp, but you do have to go slowly.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3074 days

#3 posted 10-23-2011 10:22 AM

I drill 3 1/2” holes with a forstner on my 38 year old 3/4 hp drill press in ebony and bloodwood, and have no trouble. The most important consideration is speed. 120 rpm or slower. Pick the dp that allows you to get into that range. When you start the hole, be gentle, hesitate before you fully engage the bit, and back it out often to clear chips. Make sure the workpiece is firmly clamped to the table.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3767 days

#4 posted 10-23-2011 02:08 PM

I have a 1 hp and a 1/2 hp drill press. The 1/2 hp will barely drill a 2” hole and the 1 hp has never bogged down on any drill. I’ve used it for 4” hole saws also. Fussy says his 3/4 hp drill works fine (agree also with his speed recommendation, although not many drill presses will turn that slow),so I guess it’s your call. Can’t have too much hp on a drill press.

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

10524 posts in 3452 days

#5 posted 10-23-2011 04:29 PM

I’d use a router for the interior cut.
A 1/2” MDF pattern and a bowl bit. Or, if you prefer a sharp transiition at the bottom, a pattern bit.
JMO, but I’d make the exterior square. Maybe a small chamfer the top edges.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3122 days

#6 posted 10-23-2011 04:53 PM

Get your board sized and use the forstner bit first. You will have a much easier time clamping a large board than individual round blanks. Set a progression and move the board in successive increments. When you have all the counterbores in the board, do it again and cut them out with the hole saw.
Cut out the coasters with your hole saw and turn the counterbore’s on the lathe. Safer and controllable.

My 2 cents.

View oopsboardstretchrplz's profile


10 posts in 2582 days

#7 posted 10-23-2011 05:59 PM

All great info. Thnx u all. Keep it comin plz

-- When there's frost on the pumpkin... it's time for chubby dunkin'!

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2946 days

#8 posted 10-23-2011 06:09 PM

Genes router suggestion sounds like a winner. Besides the bowl bit is cheaper than a 3-1/2”forstner. If that isn’t in the picture like others pointed out…advance slowly.

-- Life is good.

View Jacob Lucas's profile

Jacob Lucas

100 posts in 2455 days

#9 posted 10-23-2011 06:19 PM

Honestly, you don’t need much power from a Drill Press. Just take the holes slowly and be sure not to over heat your bit and your fine.

View poopiekat's profile


4356 posts in 3757 days

#10 posted 10-23-2011 06:33 PM

This whole project simply begs to be done on a lathe with a good chuck. Save the money you’d spend on an enormous forstner bit which will have little value otherwise in your shop, and get your drill press with that money instead.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

10524 posts in 3452 days

#11 posted 10-23-2011 08:31 PM

Poopiekat is right.
Not being a turner, I immediately thought of the router.
Actually, for multiples, a router and pattern(s) would likely be faster.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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