Not Sure I’m Man Enough

My current project is a bookcase.  When I worked out the design I chose to add a simple decorative cutout to the side panels.  Nothing complex, actually a fairly common motif, four intersecting circles.  Once I decided to add it, I immediately began thinking of ways to actually cut the four circles.

There is the tried and true method of drilling a small access hole, threading in a coping saw blade and cut away the waste.   Then clean up everything with a rasp.  This would work, but can be tricky to keep the circles exact.  The thing with simple is that it looks best if it’s executed exactly with the utmost precision.  So I began looking for alternatives.

I have a brace and a set of auger bits and I use them all of time for my larger drilling needs.  Heck, I even use it for driving screws on occasion.  I’ve read about and seen photos of an expansive bit that can be used in a brace to drill/cut large precise holes.  A quick search on Ebay and I found a decent quality example and hit the “buy it now” button.  It arrived soon after and out to the shop I went for a test drive.

Like the box says, it will bore holes from 7/8″ to 3″.  There are two cutters to span the range and you slide the cutter out to the radius of the desired hole (I need my holes to be just under 3″).  Chuck the thing in the brace and turn away.  Should be easy, right?

The expansive bit works as advertised.  A nice clean, large hole.  As per the usual, you go half way through from one side and then finish off from the other.  What I hadn’t factored into the equation was how much force it would take to peel an 1-1/2″ swath of wood.  Holy crap!  I’ve gotta’ do it eight times to complete the design on both panels.  Not sure I’m man enough for that all in one go.  I may have to spread it out over a couple of days.

It does produce a nice hole that needs minimal cleanup and you get a nice saucer shaped puck as well.

I’ll give the cutters a good honing and start in on the decorative cutouts on the bookcase sides in or over the next few days.

Greg Merritt

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14 Responses to Not Sure I’m Man Enough

  1. Adam says:

    Maybe it’s time for a brace with a larger sweep? That would cut down on the force needed.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      The thought has crossed my mind. I think I’ll just tough it out though. If I start adding this kind of detail more often, I’ll invest in a long sweep brace for sure.

    • Greg, I’m impressed you managed it at all. When I tried my one inch Jennings with my ten inch brace I started looking for a fourteen. I wouldn’t say it’s a breeze but it certainly helps.

  2. bloksav says:

    I have one of those bits as well. couldn’t agree more on that they are hard to turn.
    But they are still great little things, because they can be adjusted.


  3. momist says:

    I found it hard to turn mine with a 10″ brace, but the ratchet function makes it somewhat easier, as you can use only the arc with the most power. Another requirement is to hold the work very firmly, to resist the force applied!

  4. billlattpa says:

    I’m glad you posted this, being that I was in the market for one and it kind of got put on the back burner. I have to imagine that it was pretty tough. I think I would have placed it on the bench top, climbed up onto the bench, and used all of my weight. That being said, I can’t imagine that being good for the knees after three or four holes.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Bill its worth the minimal investment. I now have the ability to bore any size hole up to 3″. Its tough to turn, but out to the limits of the bit. I’ll bet the smaller diameters will be far easier.
      I needed to lean into it, but the lead screw did a pretty good job of pulling the bit into the cut. The bulk of the effort is in the turning of the brace. Like I said, it works as advertised. I just had not thought about how difficult it would be to turn. As noted above, a longer sweep brace would go a long way to easing the effort needed.

  5. A agree with Bill. I would have to get on top of it for weight and control. Good work by the way.

  6. Wesley Beal says:

    Yikes. Climbing on top of it would help. Myself, I would of tested the tool on a piece of scrap, and then decided on a new design… Maybe make that piece out of two boards, with half-circles on each, or something, anything, just don’t make me bore those holes! 🙂

    • Greg Merritt says:

      LOL…this is a piece of scrap. I’m crazy, not stupid. I’ll have to put some brute force into it, but I think I’ll be able to get the details added to the bookcase sides just as planned. I may think twice about adding the same detail to anouther project though. At least at this scale. 😉

  7. Pingback: Bookcase-Progress 5 | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS

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