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What Drill Bit Set for Pen Turning

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Forum topic by Adrian A posted 529 days ago 1942 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Adrian A

150 posts in 1500 days


529 days ago

I need to get some drill bits for turning pens. What do you suggest? Getting just a normal brad point bit? Or going with a Fisch or Colt Parabolic Set?


14 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

3650 posts in 2261 days


#1 posted 529 days ago

WoodCraft has the new Whiteside precision bits … they would be my first choice.

I have 7mm bits (for Slimline pens) from PSI … they do the job, but there is a lot more slop than I would prefer.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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lumberjoe

2827 posts in 846 days


#2 posted 529 days ago

Get a “pen makers” bit. There is a BIG difference. I have a few really nice Colt bradpoints that I thought were awesome. When I finally killed my 7mm I replaced it with a Whiteside. I had to switch from using either thick CA or epoxy to thin CA when gluing the tubes. There is VERY little room as the tolerances are tight. It will even push out the majority of medium CA. Colt also makes a pen makers bit, but they are a little tougher to find. I do have a 10mm Colt. I will say that I prefer the whiteside, but not enough to replace the colt until it dies.

They don’t come in sets, so you need to buy them one at a time. They run between 15.00 and 22.00 EACH, so be prepared to shell out some cash. I make about 8 different pen styles, but there are a few (especially the 7mm, 3/8”, and 10mm) with the same diameter tubes.

Another good thing about “pen makers” bits – in addition to having a very precise tolerance, they are specifically designed to drill through end grain. If you stick with whiteside, they all run at the same speed, which is nice. They really do make a huge difference, even when comparing to a high quality brad point. Once you get the feed rate down, a whiteside pen makers bit will go all the way though most blanks without backing out for chip ejection. Wet wood or oily woods still tend to gum up a bit.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

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Adrian A

150 posts in 1500 days


#3 posted 529 days ago

Are the whitesides so precise that its too tight? Id be scared that there isn’t any glue staying and not getting pushed out.

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lumberjoe

2827 posts in 846 days


#4 posted 528 days ago

They are pretty precise. Precision is important – especially on pens with a very small profile or are tapered almost down to the brass tubes. If you have a lot of slop or blow out at the edges, your pen will chip out at the tips when you get down to the bushings.

With that said, I haven’t had any problems gluing tubes with thin CA, or if your glue is warm (it’s freezing here so my glue is a little thicker) medium CA. If you have been using thick, gel, or epoxy, you are going to have some issues.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

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TheDane

3650 posts in 2261 days


#5 posted 528 days ago

I wouldn’t worry about them being too precise. You don’t need much room for the glue.

I have been using Titebond’s polyurethane glue. It is similar to Gorilla’s ploy glue and foams up as it cures. With the less precise drill bits (e.g. the PSI bits I have been using), the glue fills the gaps and slop.

I’m going to retire the PSI bits as soon as I get a chance to get down to the Woodcraft store.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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jusfine

2280 posts in 1524 days


#6 posted 528 days ago

I have the Colt bits as well and really like them.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View moke's profile

moke

463 posts in 1374 days


#7 posted 528 days ago

I think it kind of depends on how far you want to get into this. I assume you are drilling on the lathe, if so, here is my “short” answer. I would niether get the colt series or a brad point set. Why? First the Colt series is very expensive for what it is and really not neccessary, and it you ever begin segment with metal the brad point will tear up the blank. The Colt series does have a “fast twist” design for material dispersal, but if you drill slow (which you should be doing anyway) it shouldn’t matter.

I have a set (which is a glorified HF set) made with cobault. I got it from a machine tool company ( which escapes me right now) and yes it was expensive, 199.00 I think….but it is a full set of fractional, lettered and numbered drill bits. If you intend to turn any of the “plastics” ...PR and the like…you must paint the inside of the blank, and I prefer to also paint the tube itself and then tint the epoxy, otherwise with 40 to 60% of the blanks you will be able to see the brass tubes. With that said you should drill the blank a few thousands oversize to accomidate all that paint. With this set you can do that. Since I bought mine, a fellow penmaker bought the “Good” full set of bit from HF and they looked to me to be a very similar set. I believe it is about 120.00. We “rolled them on a table saw and noted they were not bent or “skewed” in any way, and the box was the same, and even the equivalance chart in the box was the same font as mine…..

While I am NOT really a fan of HF, I have serious doubts as to whether several sets I have seen are made by the same manufacturer. To sum this up, by having a digital caliber and a “full” set of bits, you never have to buy any more bits (yes even metric) and you have the versatility to drill almost any size.

This is just my opinion…...I am sure you can make most anything work.

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lumberjoe

2827 posts in 846 days


#8 posted 528 days ago

Good point Moke. I drill on a drill press. If I were drilling on a lathe, I would likely use regular old twist bits.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

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moke

463 posts in 1374 days


#9 posted 528 days ago

Joe,
Thanks for the endorsement. I have tried a bunch of different methods for all “pen” things. I have to say drilling on the lathe, I actually, not only consider to be much more accurate, but easier too. I mentored a few guys in the last couple years and none of them even have a DP.

I drill with two chucks, a normal 3 or 4 jaw then the PSI drilling chuck. While it looks like a joke, it works very well. If you make many pens, I would try it!!!
Mike

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lumberjoe

2827 posts in 846 days


#10 posted 528 days ago

I would but:
A – my lathe has a short quill travel. I’d have to re-position the tailstock. Probably not a huge deal, but my DP can clear any pen blank I need to drill
B – No chucks :( If I were to drill on the lathe, I would get the PSI chuck and a standard jacobs for the tailstock.
C – I convinced my wife I needed this big bad drill press
D – I have a really nice drill press set up for drilling blanks and can batch them out quickly. No tooling changes required on the lathe either.
E – Belt change lathe speeds. It’s annoying. I prefer to turn pen blanks fast (usually 2200rpm), so I would need to change that as well. The whitside bits all run between 1000 and 1250 RPM. I set my DP on 950 and I am good to go.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

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moke

463 posts in 1374 days


#11 posted 528 days ago

Those sound like good reasons…especially #C !!!!!! I take every opportunity to justify new tools for any project she mentions!

View Adrian A's profile

Adrian A

150 posts in 1500 days


#12 posted 528 days ago

Moke,
So I dont understand why drilling with a twist bit on a drill press is bad but on a lathe is okay?

And since whiteside is a bradpoint, does that mean they meant for it only to be used on a drill press?

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lumberjoe

2827 posts in 846 days


#13 posted 528 days ago

On a lathe, the wood spins, not the drill bit. The wood is also held firmly in place in some sort of chuck. In addition to that, your head stock and tail stock are (or had better be) perfectly aligned. There is no margin for error like with a drill press. A brad point will work on a lathe as well but from my understanding a little more finesse is needed when starting the cut.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

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moke

463 posts in 1374 days


#14 posted 527 days ago

AdrainA,
I have used a lot of different kinds of drills both on a DP and the lathe. For wood, in my mind it really doesn’t matter. I have a huge collection of bits I have bought from pen kit retailers and I will occasionally use them too, but just for wood. As for twist bits, I hope I didn’t give you the idea that twist bits are bad any where, because I truly don’t think that. I use twist bits mostly because of the versatility of the sizing, and while I don’t drill pen blanks on the DP, I use them for my flat work all the time.

Brad points have two issues while drilling on the lathe. I do a lot of segmenting. I use many different kinds of material to make the segments. Some are metal, like pop cans, brass sheeting, aluminum sheeting, even aluminum dowels. Brad points seem to sometimes “catch” on the metal and break the blank. While it doesn’t always, sometimes I have considerable time invested into a blank and don’t want to risk it.

The second reason is starting and finishing…as joe said, sometimes the bit can wander upon starting, bit can even follow grain structure, for this I use a starter drill….HF…5.99 for 5 different sizes. But the real issue is when you “bore through” or complete the drilling. A brad point can easily tear or break out the end, ruining just enough of the blank to make it a little short. Now this is almost as common with twist bits as brad points, so there are several methods to eliminate that too.

So to answer your question, I don’t think either one is bad, rather there are some strengths to each….and having said that, I have met a lot of pen makers and some make some pretty awesome pens using some of the strangest and most “unaccepted” methods…this leads me to believe that what ever works for you….keep on, keepin on…..

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