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Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stuck

Posted by spaghetina (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 11, 09 at 1:47

Hi everyone! I usually hang out in the garden forums, but since this is more of a building question, I thought I'd dip my feet in different waters.

I'm trying to build a raised garden bed, which includes stacked landscaping timbers. To join them, I'm using 1/2 rebar, which requires that I drill down through all the lengths of timbers stacked upon each other. I've thought about trying to take them apart to drill the holes through each piece separately, but I would never be able to figure out how to get each hole in the exact right place, so instead, opted to buy a 16" wood boring bit to drill through them all at once.

The problem is, once I get to the bottom of the 12", I can't get the bit back out through the holes. Earlier today, pouring sweat and cursing under my breath, I had to nearly dismantle one of my beds in order to move the timbers around and wiggle the bit out of the bottom piece of wood, while all of the ones above it were stacked up on the bit, like rings on a finger.

Is there an easier way to get a 5/8" hole straight through 12" of lumber, or am I going to be stuck fighting that bit every step of the way?


Follow-Up Postings:

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Oopsie!

Oops, I just realized that the title of my post says 12' of wood, instead of 12". I meant inches, not feet! I blame the shift key, and the cookie in my left hand.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

The subject line always shows ['] instead of ["].
Use an auger bit, oil or soap it up, and pull it back every inch or so to clear the hole. It also helps to use a half inch drill of large amperage but make sure it has two handles and you have room to get out of the way if it binds. Running it at a medium speed is probably wise.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

I would advise making a jig, or template, and individually drilling, if the joints are repetitive.

Your problem is the flutes (or flights, if auger style bit) are packing with chips, along with thermal expansion of the bit.

Short feeds and frequent withdrawl can lessen the chip build up. A spade bit, though suffering the same issues, is easily sharpenable and cheap, though you would require an extension to drive, no biggie.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Reverse the drill and the bit should spiral out of the hole.
Better is to clear the hole every couple of inches instead of letting all the shavings jam up behind the bit.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

I hope you have a 'ship auger bit' or 'bell hanger bit.'.

They have a hollow in the middle to help hold chips and pull them out.

Long bits need a slow drive to clear chips, less than about 500-800 RPM.

A regular twist drill bit will be a nightmare in wood and that length. They simply cannot remove the large wood chips quickly enough.

Long bits also often require reversing the drill to push them out of deep holes.

Be careful using ANY liquid to try and lubricate the drill.
It can cause the wood to swell and make removal a real problem.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Using a long spade bit, I back the bit out of the hole, turning at full speed, after every 1 to 2 inches of boring in order to clear the chips.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

All the above tips about clearing chips, etc., are right on. However, I would be reluctant to try to use a jig on something as irregular as landscape timbers and drilling them individually. I've tried that and found you just can't get things to line up that well, even if you're careful. So, stack them and drill down. As you complete each hole, drive in the rebar before moving on to the next hole.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Thanks, everyone. I did try reversing the drill, but that sucker just would not come out. Of course, that was when I was at the very end of the 12", so at that point, I'm not sure much would have worked to get it out. I'll try backing out frequently, and see if that helps. The chips did seem to be getting compacted in there, but somehow I just didn't put two and two together. I was ramming that thing down, full speed ahead, thinking they'd just work their way out. Patience is a virtue, but it's not one I possess much of. Lol.

While I'm here, I know it's a long shot, but is there some way to make sure I'm drilling straight down and will hit every timber without pulling the beds apart and measuring, or is this just going to be an eyeballing thing? I eyeballed the first hole, and totally missed the last timber, shaving off the side of it, lol. I figured it'd be ok because of the weight above it, and the fact that nobody will see my little oopsie once the bed is filled with soil. However, I'd kind of like to avoid potentially having that happen on the outside. The second one I drilled was good...although I was biting my nails when I hit that last timber.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Thanks, everyone. I did try reversing the drill, but that sucker just would not come out. Of course, that was when I was at the very end of the 12", so at that point, I'm not sure much would have worked to get it out. I'll try backing out frequently, and see if that helps. The chips did seem to be getting compacted in there, but somehow I just didn't put two and two together. I was ramming that thing down, full speed ahead, thinking they'd just work their way out. Patience is a virtue, but it's not one I possess much of. Lol.

While I'm here, I know it's a long shot, but is there some way to make sure I'm drilling straight down and will hit every timber without pulling the beds apart and measuring, or is this just going to be an eyeballing thing? I eyeballed the first hole, and totally missed the last timber, shaving off the side of it, lol. I figured it'd be ok because of the weight above it, and the fact that nobody will see my little oopsie once the bed is filled with soil. However, I'd kind of like to avoid potentially having that happen on the outside. The second one I drilled was good...although I was biting my nails when I hit that last timber.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Im not a professional but, in any case, here are my 2c:
I would try a bit whose tip is wider than the shaft. That way you dont have friction along the entire length of the shaft, and if your timbers shift a bit with respect to each other while you drill, you dont have a jam.
You could also try to go down, say 1"-2" at a time and then suction out the wood chips with a plastic tube attached to a vacuum cleaner (you dont need a tight seal around the vacuum).

Also, I wonder,
Isnt rebar going to have a short life, especially if you are using the newer pressure treated wood? It seems to corrode even galvanized. I dont know what may last longer. Copper rod?


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Well, drilling through rough timbers is not precision wood working. If you can't eyeball very well, it might help if you get yourself a triangle or small framing square as a visual aid to help align the shaft of your drill 90 degrees to the surface you're drilling into.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Good tips, thanks again, all. As it turns out, that first hole and my mistake was an anomaly. I've been more careful on the subsequent holes, and haven't missed one, although I will say that using a drill with a battery that dies every 5 minutes has proven to be more than frustrating. I had to recharge it 3 times in order to get 2 holes drilled.

I think it's time to go tool shopping. I need to find something with a lot of power, that's not going to burn out, and not going to make my small hands overtired from gripping the thick handle. I couldn't believe how tired my hands and arms were getting just trying to position myself over the timbers and drilling down. It doesn't help that I'm 5'1 on a good day, working with timbers 12" off the ground and a 16" drill bit, lol.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

"I will say that using a drill with a battery that dies every 5 minutes has proven to be more than frustrating. I had to recharge it 3 times in order to get 2 holes drilled."

This is not the place for a battery powered drill.

A 1/2 inch drill with a cord will have a lower speed and enough power to make short work of even 12 inch deep half inch holes (I can drill 1 inch holes through 14 inches of wood without blinking, and for even larger holes (like 4-6 inches) a HoleHawg is used.

What type of drill bit really matters for deep hole drilling in wood.
The bit should be a self feed type with a small screw tip to pull itself into the wood.
This provides a feed rate that is more likely to match the chip clearance rate than a twist drill or spade bit, and reduces the effort needed to push the drill into the work.
The bit will self feed and pull itself into the wood with minimal force to keep the screw tip biting into the wood.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

This is the time for a trip to your local pawn shop to see what kind of corded drills they may have for sale. Cordless drills have their place, but this isn't one of them. You need the power of a good corded drill and a good quality correctly sized extension cord to be able to reach out into your yard.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

No wonder you're having problems! As emphasized above, you need a powerful drill that won't burn out. If you want a really good drill that should last a very long time, get yourself a Milwaukee Magnum 1/2", 8 amp drill. It's about $100 on Amazon and I include a link to that so you can read the reviews and understand what you get when you buy a quality, corded drill. I've got 4 battery-powered drills, and I would never consider using any one of them for what you are doing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Milwaukee Magnum


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Well, that explains a lot. I did use a corded drill for one of the holes, BUT it was a very underpowered, totally unsuitable for the job, cheapie Skill that was picked up for maybe $5, about 10 years ago, from a neighbor that was moving. It actually worked really well, making reasonably short work of that first hole. Until it started smoking, that is. I unplugged it and put it away.

Thanks for the link, Kudzu. I know Milwaukee is supposed to make great tools, but I'm not sure I want to plunk down $100 for something I may not use very often. I'm obviously not much of a wood worker, and while I do attempt to build whatever I need, in whatever way I can, this doesn't happen very often. I might have to try my hand at building a pergola or something, just to justify the cost!


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Take the advice and use a ship auger and a hand brace. I have drilled thousands of holes through utility poles back in my day. Sometimes they were more than 12". A sharp ship auger and a good hand brace can do this job in a few minutes.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

sphagetina-
If you don't want to spend that kind of money for a good drill, go rent a beefy one from Home Depot or a tool rental place.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

I completely forgot about tool rentals. Man, this forum is great. Lol. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I've got 2 beds complete and a third halfway done, leaving just one more to finish. The remaining beds are only 9" tall, so they've been a lot easier to drill through. I wouldn't have thought 3" would make much of a difference, but it most certainly does.

On the drill front, I had an uncle bring over his DeWalt. His cordless Dewalt. :P I didn't know beforehand that it wasn't corded, but I figured anything was better than the gigantic, unwieldy thing I was using before. And it was. This drill let me get through about 3 holes per battery, and it has 2 batteries, as opposed to 1 hole with the Makita I was using before. If I have one good long day without rain to wait around for recharging batteries, I should be able to get the rest of the holes drilled. Hopefully.

Thank you all for the advice. It's food for thought for the next project, whatever that may be.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

sphagetina-
I know that a purchase of a good drill may not be a wise choice for you...but I'm dying to ask: How many hours of your time has this taken using rechargeables, and what value do you place on your time?

A drill is a pretty necessary tool in my house and I've found that many times I've bought a tool that I thought I'd use occasionally, and then started realizing it had many uses since it was right there. Just a thought...


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Honestly? A LOT of hours, Kudzu, lol. But it comes down to a matter of money or my frustration and time, and at this particular juncture, I have enough of the latter to spare, but a minimum of the former. Is it a complete p.i.t.a. to have to wait for drill batteries to recharge? Oh yes. (Ohhhhh, yes.) But do I want to spend as much on a drill as I've spent on the materials for the entire project? My inner cheapskate will not let me do it. I will say that I've used a drill more times in the last year than I have in my entire life, but that's due to my new-found gardening hobby. At this point, I have no more space to expand into, and unless I plan on building myself a front yard terrace or seriously plan on building myself some sort of wooden structure, I can't see needing a really good drill for much else. I have, however, been looking into how to build myself a planter bench like this one here (credit to Our Engineered Garden's blog), if I can find plans for it somewhere. I've seen similar benches online, most more complicated than this one, but right now, simplicity and cost are key, lol.


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Invest in a 1/2" corded drill and you'll never regret it. You can even use it with a paddle bit to mix up soils as well as concrete/mortar projects. My wife has me out there using ours in many gardening tasks and it comes in handy.

Here is a link that might be useful: amazon.com


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RE: Need to drill a hole through 12' of wood, boring bit gets stu

Aha...just as I suspected! I used to be like you and try to get by without the right tools or got cheap ones that were a pain to work with. Although I'm a notorious cheapskate, I decided late in life to buy a good tool whenever I needed one, and I haven't regretted it. (Actually, having a few good tools means I can be even cheaper because it gives me the capability to make things I otherwise would have to buy.)

Now you're talking about a planter bench... and who knows what's next? I bet if I asked you in three years how many times a corded drill would have come in handy, you'd tell me that you should have bought one.

Well, good luck with your projects wherever they take you!


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