Help needed with hand countersink

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Forum topic by kabamaru posted 02-17-2014 09:29 PM 2197 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1585 days

02-17-2014 09:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: countersink clifton

Hello everybody,

I really need your help. I’m an amateur woodworker (mainly luthier) but I hadn’t used a countersink before – I don’t use screws that much. Since I have a quality drill-bit set, I figured I could get away with a hand countersink instead of another set of drill-bits with countersink attached, plus I like working with hand tools. I got this not so cheap hand countersink by Clifton, thinking it would be a quality hand tool that would fit my needs. It turns out, I cannot make a decent chamfer with this thing. The result is always uneven, and anything but smooth (torn wood fibers etc.) – horrible. I tested it on a variety of softwoods/hardwoods.

So I’m asking you, what am I doing wrong? Am I supposed to sharpen this thing, or is it supposed to be ready to go? Are there any usage tips for this kind of tool? I’ve searched the net quite a bit, and it seems like no one uses a hand countersink… Did I just make the worst purchase ever?

7 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


18351 posts in 1882 days

#1 posted 02-17-2014 09:43 PM

I’ve never used a hand countersink before. I can imagine on soft woods that it will want to tear if it’s not really sharp. If you don’t countersink a lot, you can just use an oversized drill bit to make a countersink. You just have to be careful not to drill too deep. That is what I do if I need to make a countersink in metal. Usually I’ll use about a 3/8 to half inch bit. What I use most though is a de Walt set that has a pilot and countersink on one side and driver bit on the other side. You just pull it out and flip it over. Of course this is not a hand tool.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2593 days

#2 posted 02-17-2014 10:17 PM

I use a countersink in a egg-beater type hand drill. It works well.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2701 days

#3 posted 02-17-2014 10:30 PM

I am wondering if you are turning the c’sink too slow. Have you tried it in a drill motor? The problem with using a drill bit (I use them too) is they are 59-1/2 degree angle while a c’sink is 82 degrees. If you use a bit or a counter sink you want to be sure to stop at the right time so the head of the screw fits perfectly. I think even the hand drill mentioned by Don W would turn the c’sink faster than you could ever turn it by hand. with a drill you can turn it faster and hold it steady so when it comes to grain it doesn’t jump. Once it jumps you have the bump and can’t get rid of it.

View JohnChung's profile


410 posts in 2100 days

#4 posted 02-18-2014 06:22 AM

I have the counter sink from LV:,180,42337&ap=1

It is pretty good. It does leave a good surface. Don’t expect super smooth but it is acceptableno torn fibers. The problem is that it does take a while to sink it in. If it is hardwood you need to push it harder.

I was not happy with the speedhand turning and quality surface of the countersinkit is not super smooth and went for this:,180,42240,42281&p=70967

These bits are fast and does leave a smooth counter sink.

View knockknock's profile


447 posts in 2199 days

#5 posted 02-18-2014 06:58 AM

You might try counter sinking before drilling the hole (use an awl to set the starting center), or drill a small pilot hole and then counter sink. You also might try while counter sinking, every once in a while (and when finishing) spin the counter sink with little downward pressure, to clip the high points.

View C_PLUS_Woodworker's profile


601 posts in 2933 days

#6 posted 02-18-2014 07:13 AM

I have had this happen to me… might be helpful

Have you checked to see if it is plugged in ???

View kabamaru's profile


4 posts in 1585 days

#7 posted 02-18-2014 10:05 AM

Thanks for the input, guys.

I tried a few things you suggested. Turning the countersink faster seems to improve things, as does counter sinking before drilling. The result again is not good enough though, as I almost never get a nice round chamfer. Maybe it’ll get better with practice…

Also, I’m a bit reluctant going for the “drill bit and countersink all-in-one” solution because, depending on the screw root’s diameter and type of wood, I would need quite a few different bit sizes to drill the pilot hole I need. Plus I already have a nice and extensive set of brad point drill bits.

So, for now I’m leaning towards getting a good countersink bit to get some work done. I wanted to ask, what’s the purpose of smaller diameter countersinks? Isn’t the angle’s degrees all that matters?

PS. To those that suggested attaching my countersink to another tool e.g. a power drill, I don’t think I can detach the bit from the handle without destroying the handtool. It looks it’s not meant to be disassembled.

@firefighterontheside: Didn’t try your suggestion yet, but I will.

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