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Old 05-19-2013, 07:55 AM   #1
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5/4 Tigerwood Deck,hard to drill


Going to do a Tigerwood deck,using 5/4 boards to prevent cupping and warping,large project (16X26) with 16 total stair treads.
My question is this,should I be looking at special drill bits to go through this decking,I know they build propeller shafts for minesweepers from this stuff,or should I just hit the gym first!!!
All useful answers are greatly appreciated.

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Old 05-19-2013, 08:02 AM   #2
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5/4 Tigerwood Deck,hard to drill


You should hit the gym but it will not help drill the Tigerwood. Exotic hardwoods can be tough on cutting tools. You almost have to approach them as if you were drilling or cutting metal and not wood. We used to use a lot of kapur stakes to hold up young trees and it was near impossible to get a simple nail to hold the tree tie in them. I laid teak for a couple of sailboat restorations. It was hard to go from building redwood decks and benches by day to teak decking on the weekend!

You will definitely want at least carbide tipped drills (and saw blades). Although, heat generation is your other issue. Tempered steel shafts that can take the heat are important. In fact, you could think about good hardened bits and spend what you would on carbide tips on a benchtop drill bit sharpener. And you will get nowhere fast when the bits dull so get a few and cylce them through sharpening. Obviously you will want more than one bit so you have a sharp one at all times.

If you are using cordless drills and saws, make sure you have extra charged batteries. Trying to work on hardwood so hard with something not delivering full torque can actually be dangerious as the cutting surfaces bind and even can kick back without umpph.

If you have a variable speed drill, play with the speed to find the optimum range for the wood. I think you will find slowing the drill speed and letting the bit do its thing will work better than spinning it at maximum speed.

Tigerwood makes for beautiful decking! And at only $1 or so a board foot too!


Last edited by user1007; 05-19-2013 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:17 AM   #3
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5/4 Tigerwood Deck,hard to drill


Have you thought about hidden fasteners? Why pepper such beautiful wood with exposed screws.
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:35 AM   #4
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5/4 Tigerwood Deck,hard to drill


Buy some cobault drill bits, not carbide tipped.
Cobault made for drilling hard metals and can take the heat without turning brittle.
http://www.toolbarn.com/bits/drill-bits/cobalt.html
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Old 05-19-2013, 08:36 AM   #5
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5/4 Tigerwood Deck,hard to drill


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Originally Posted by kwikfishron View Post
Have you thought about hidden fasteners? Why pepper such beautiful wood with exposed screws.
I will be using fasteners but need to screw posts and treads in
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:49 AM   #6
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5/4 Tigerwood Deck,hard to drill


I built a large deck using ipe, which is claimed to be the hardest wood (Janka scale) commercially available. I was concerned about tools dulling, but in practice it turned out to be a non-issue. My carbide saw blades cut the wood just fine, and for my installed screws I predrilled all the holes using tapered high speed steel drills with an incorporated countersink. I installed about 4000 screws, and went through two or three bits, but that was expected.

I elected to use exposed fasteners because I simply did not trust the hidden fasteners. There seem to be new hidden fastener systems each year, which leads to wonder if there are issues with the existing systems. Even with hidden fasteners, you still have to drill lots of holes. Cobalt bits would probably be great, but I never did find a tapered cobalt bit with included countersink, so I never used them on the project. I did drill a few holes for the rails etc. using titanium nitride bits, they worked very well. Just go slow, as the oil in the wood tends to heat, and can damage the bits if you go too fast.

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