How to drill a really long hole in deep wood.

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Forum topic by mmh posted 08-01-2009 09:17 PM 24351 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3649 posts in 2811 days

08-01-2009 09:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: drill deep hole drilling into long wood crotchwood drilling into cross grain wood

Got your attention? Great! I have a very unconventional task and would appreciate your expertise.

Q: How can I insert a 1/4” metal rod inside a 36” cane shaft?

The project is a cane shaft made from crotchwood Claro Black Walnut. Yes, crosswood of 36” long, grains going all directions but lengthwise. The shaft is 7/8” at the bottom diameter, increasing to 1 1/4”- 1 1/2” oblong diameter.

I have a 12” drill bit, and one thought is to cut the shaft at 22” length, drill into the bottom piece – bottom end upwards, middle section downwards and the top piece – middle section upwards as far as possible, (and re-attach pieces) but the diverse direction of grain can make the bit travel off center, not to mention the roundness of the shaft is hard to clamp down.

Another thought is to rout out a 1/4” strip along one side of the shaft to insert the rod, then fill gap with wood. This will cause an unsightly strip of different grain, but the task would be complete. Again, the shaft is shaped so there are no straight (non-rounded) edges to clamp down.

Saturating the shaft with thin CA glue has come to mind but is not as secure as a metal rod to take the weight of a 200+ lb. person. The 1/4” metal rod w/ epoxy seems to be the most adequate method I can think of (short of not using crotchwood to begin with).

Laminating two pieces of crotchwood with longrain hardwood will be another experiment, but meanwhile I’d like to figure out this task.

I could use a lathe with a lathe chuck and a center rest to hold the shaft in place in order to drill sideways. The lathe is only 34” long, but I could cut the shaft to 22”L as stated earlier if this option would work.

So, now you have the problem. Got any legitimate answers?

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

21 replies so far

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5784 posts in 2674 days

#1 posted 08-01-2009 09:25 PM

You could seperate it right up the middle with a fine tooth blade such as a bandsaw metal blade .Taking extreme care to keep it central.Then route the both sections with a ball nose bit large enough to take your metal rod then glue it back around the rod.Not perfect but this is a dificult job to get perfect by any means the only other option which is the recognized option is to mount it in a lathe and long hole bore it like you do for a standard lamp but with a piece this thing you need to be careful you dont drill out through the side it can be done with patience though actually this is the correct way to do it.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3028 days

#2 posted 08-01-2009 09:26 PM

A most insteresing problem. I might try to slice the whole thing in half and route a cove in each then glue it back together.

-- Working at Woodworking

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 2780 days

#3 posted 08-01-2009 09:49 PM

MMH i take it have not made the cane yet so if it was me i.d router the slot for the metal bar in to two blocks and epoxy two peices together the grai difference would be so small you would hardly know

just my two pence worth


-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1283 posts in 2826 days

#4 posted 08-01-2009 09:55 PM

set the cane on a lathe and drill at least half way through. Then turn it around and drill the other half. Your holes will come out much in line with each other and more centered. You will need a lathe that has a hole in the headstock. Make sure you buy a drill bit long enough to take in account the headstock, chuck and final depth of material. You can use a 1/4” drill bit that is used in the alarm or cable installation business.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View lew's profile


10693 posts in 2844 days

#5 posted 08-01-2009 09:57 PM


How big is your lathe? They make some really long drill bits for the electrical industry. Maybe you could get a hollow tail stock center and use a long bit to go thru the center of the stock. I am just not sure how you could keep it from tracking off center as you get further into the wood.


edit: just saw the lathe length, sorry

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5784 posts in 2674 days

#6 posted 08-01-2009 10:07 PM

if you go down the drilling on the lathe then remove the drill and clean it every few seconds or it will build up swarf and wander .This will work ok I have done it many times the sell a long bore drill just for this for making holes in wood for lamps and standard lamps.Good luck practice on apiece of scrap if you wish first take courage and go for it working slowly it is doable very much so.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View a1Jim's profile


113825 posts in 2666 days

#7 posted 08-01-2009 10:37 PM

Johns got it handled

-- Custom furniture

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2974 days

#8 posted 08-01-2009 10:44 PM

a1Jim said it!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Karson's profile


34994 posts in 3489 days

#9 posted 08-01-2009 11:18 PM

I like John’s idea of drilling through the head stock into the blank and then turning the blank around and go at it again.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5784 posts in 2674 days

#10 posted 08-01-2009 11:32 PM

I don’t get that if you come from the tailstock towards the headstock and reach the headstock there is surely no need to turn it round as your there already. you need to drill through the tailstock which must be hollow and work halfway and then turn it around not throught the headstock surely??? Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


16731 posts in 2765 days

#11 posted 08-02-2009 12:46 AM

I have deep drilled for a Kentucky rifle ramrod a couple of times. I soft soldered a drill rod on to a drill bit. With the open part of the ramrod channel inletted (about 24”) to use as a guide, the drill went straight through the 16-18” of solid curly maple right in front of the trigger guard. It’s easier than it sounds. If you use the lathe method above, it should be easier yet.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 3217 days

#12 posted 08-02-2009 01:55 AM

Here’s an extra long drill bit that I use to drill out holes for rustic lamps:
Lee Valley

I would cut my cane stock in to three equal pieces, drill each piece, then assemble the pieces on the rod.
I’d use spacer washers made from a contrasting wood.

Glue it all together, then shape the shaft in you favorite way.

-- 温故知新

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1283 posts in 2826 days

#13 posted 08-02-2009 01:57 AM

The reason to drill a bit past the middle and then turn the stock around is to insure better accuracy and less possibility of the bit to wander off center. It is very easy for a bit to wander with varying degrees of hardness, grain angle, etc. Wood is wood and one must respect and deal the nature of the material.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Broda's profile


313 posts in 2608 days

#14 posted 08-02-2009 03:45 AM

what if you could do it the same way they make digeridoos?
drill in as far as you can then push a very hot rod through the middle?

-- BRODY. NSW AUSTRALIA -arguments with turnings are rarely productive-

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2655 posts in 2615 days

#15 posted 08-02-2009 05:05 AM

HF has really long drill bits, 24” to 36”. ...but… I would take a steel rod and sharpen the end into a drilling point then slowly bore through the entire cane and once through cut off the rod ends and leave it in place. (I always do things the hard way.)

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

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