The Furniture Restoration Tool List: Drilling and Driving

In woodworking generally, but in restoration particularly, you will be dealing with holes; making new ones, cleaning old ones and repairing them. These holes will come in an inconvenient array of diameters, so you will become familiar with drill bits, drills and driving. Fasteners like nails and screws that were used to originally build a piece of furniture will often wear loose, or break off, leaving irregular holes that need repair. Then there are subsequent “repairs” that use various fasteners, creating new holes and more often than not, peripheral damage.

Below is a sampling of many of the tools that I use for drilling and driving. I began with a basic set of brad-point drill bits and gradually added other bits and equipment as needed. Once restoration became my primary work, drill-bit consumption escalated, and I bought pieces as I needed them for a particular job. I usually do not purchase “sets” of any tools, as there are always several duds included that will never see use, but with drill bits I will eschew this practice when I find sets on sale or clearance at very low prices.

A selection of drills both electric and hand powered
A selection of drilling and driving tools that I use. The Brace is a Millers Falls No.733-8IN, the “eggbeater” drill is a Goodell Pratt. I selected the battery operated drill in back for comfort and balance, beneath it my 25 year old reliable and USA made, rather heavy 3/8ths Milwaukee and beneath it a cheap home center find. The two gauges are depth finding devices.

Types of Drill Bits and Accessories

a variety of woodworking drill bits and woodboring tools
In furniture restoration you’ll find that over time a variety of drill bits and other spinning devices can come in handy. Here is a selection of types of bits you may find useful. Starting at the bottom left and moving clockwise: A paddle bit, with a flat body and long point, a pair of brad-point bits*, a Forstner bit*, a small “hole-saw” with a lead screw, a large plug cutter, a card to size fasteners, a couple of burrs, a circle cutting jig, a sanding drum and finally a drill gauge. A set of both imperial and metric Brad point bits are very useful to have on hand.


Gimlets, Plug-Cutters, Counter-Sinks and Nail Sets

Gimlets, nail sets plug cutters and countersinks
From the left: Nail sets to drive nail heads beneath the wood surface, an auger-bit file to sharpen drill bits, three gimlets used to bore screw holes, above them plug-cutters, and finally on the left a pair of drills bits one tapered, one straight, with countersinks. The countersinks bore a larger, deep hole for the head of the screw, so it can sink below the surface and be plugged.

Fractional Bits

An incremental set of twist drill bits
A series of twist drill bits, increasing by 1/64th increments from 1/16th to 1/4 of an inch. The hexagonal ends of their shaft allow a secure grip by the power drill. They can also be effectively used in the “Eggbeater” Drill I carry for on-site work.

Boring Old Tools

A collection of old wood drill bits augers forstners shell nose center expansion twist drill that all were made to fit the hand brace
Here’s a selection of old wood boring bits I have accumulated; They are designed to be used in a hand-cranked Brace. In the back row are auger-bits, forstner-bits, shell-bits, an expansion bit, in the front to the left, center-bits, an assortment of small bits and drivers along with countersinks. I acquired most of them included with other tool purchases over the years, without the intention of specific use for them. I can tell you that the Center Bits in the left foreground have been useful on a number of occasions as has the Expansion Bit in the far right back corner. The flat-head screwdriver bits have been useful also with stubborn old fasteners; its surprising how much torque a brace can produce.

Boon Spits*

Spoon bits and two reamers for woodworking
Here are three Spoon Bits and s pair of Reamers. As far as I know these find most of their use in chairmaking, especially windsor chairmaking, which is why I bought them in the first place. The one on the left is antique. not needed for restoration, but interesting if you’d like to know what make that hole with the semi-circular bottom.

*See Reverend Spooner

The Drill Press

Sometimes you need to drill a dead accurate hole, or spin a large diameter cutter with relative safety and this is why you will want a drill press. These tools have some versatility and can be pressed into service as drum sanders, mortising tools and even as lathes for turning small parts. These are available as bench-top and floor models. I have a Delta floor model by chance, but I think that I could do just fine with a bench top version. Whatever version you purchase, make sure replacement parts and accessories are easily available on short notice. Try to get a range of speeds that begins with as low an rpm (around 200 or less would be nice) setting as possible for woodworking. I would not go lower than a 1/2 horsepower motor, and would recommend 3/4, if possible. Actually, I find that I use this tool quite often for making the jigs that I will use to complete other work, when these jigs must be as accurate as possible.

© 2019 Joseph Hoover. Sticks and Glue. All Rights Reserved.

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