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Old 03-14-2012, 11:10 PM   #1
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Drilling Straight and Level


I have to drill a horizontal hole 3/8" in diameter through a laminated beam that is 8" wide. However I need the hole to be level and not skewed sideways.

The beam is 12' up in the air and I will be standing on a ladder operating a drill. My drill does not have a built in level bubble.

I am using those long bits by Irwin.



Before I actually do this I clamped four 2x4s together and fastened it in between two studs and practiced - if I do it real carefully I can keep it level but I cannot seem to stop it from going a bit skewed. If the drill starts off a little off it will be two inches off on the other end.

Is there a simple way to do it straight and level? Some sort of jig I need to make?


Last edited by miamicuse; 03-14-2012 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:46 PM   #2
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Drilling Straight and Level


I'm heading back to bed, to see if I can fall asleep this time, but, in the mean time, how comfortable are you with keeping it aligned for a 4" deep hole, i.e. mark it on each side, and meet in the middle? What is the hole for that this wouldn't get you close enough? I doubt that too many people are going to bring their own ladder or ask to borrow one so that they can see how straight the hole is.

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Old 03-15-2012, 12:44 AM   #3
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Drilling Straight and Level


You can buy many different 'drill guide' - do a google search
or you can drill through the centre of a CD or Mirror (before there was CD's)
Or nail together 2 1x2's in a L
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Old 03-15-2012, 05:28 AM   #4
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Drilling Straight and Level


If you’re worried about how it looks then drill in from both sides.

If you don’t that bit will blow out (damage) the wood when it exits the other side.
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:45 AM   #5
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Drilling Straight and Level


I need to pass a 1/2" hollow threaded rod through this beam, the rod will protrude on both ends and a sculpture will hang from both sides of the rod, wiring will be passed from one side to the other via the rod as well. The rod will then be covered up with wood dowels and dressed up. Without getting into a lot of details basically I need the hole to be straight and level and if it's not the effect will be exaggerated.

If I just drill from both ends even if I start at the perfect spots if I don't drill straight and level the two ends won't meet or even if they meet it's not straight the rod won't pass through. I only have one shot at this.

I never used a drill guide guess I always thought it was meant to be used operating the drill downward may be it can be used horizontally?
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Old 03-15-2012, 08:47 AM   #6
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Drilling Straight and Level


Will the handle of the drill you plan to use let you attach a bubble level? Need to align its center with the drill bit though.
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:28 AM   #7
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Drilling Straight and Level


Quote:
Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
Will the handle of the drill you plan to use let you attach a bubble level? Need to align its center with the drill bit though.
I can attach a bubble level and I have practiced on four 2x4 clamped together.

If I get it level, I end up missing the alignment left to right. I really need it level AND perpendicular to the surface.

I am looking at some youtube videos for home made drill guide but so far haven't found one that seems to work in my case.

Now that I thought about it people who installs post beam caps would have the same problem if they need the bolt to pass through holes on both ends.

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Old 03-15-2012, 03:37 PM   #8
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Drilling Straight and Level


Quote:
Originally Posted by miamicuse View Post
I can attach a bubble level and I have practiced on four 2x4 clamped together.

If I get it level, I end up missing the alignment left to right. I really need it level AND perpendicular to the surface.

I am looking at some youtube videos for home made drill guide but so far haven't found one that seems to work in my case.

Now that I thought about it people who installs post beam caps would have the same problem if they need the bolt to pass through holes on both ends.

I know this comment doesn't address your question, but those holes in the Simpson connectors aren't meant for bolts. The installation guidelines specifically say not to install bolts through the holes.

http://www.strongtie.com/products/connectors/BC.asp
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Old 03-15-2012, 03:46 PM   #9
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Drilling Straight and Level


If you can get the drill vertically level with a bubble level, why not have an assistant hold a speed square (or framing square) against the beam so that you can rest the side of the drill against the speed square? It might not be perfectly straight, but it will help align it.
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:41 PM   #10
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Drilling Straight and Level


Drill guides can be used horizontal.
Try the Cd or mirror trick. Just tape it on to the beam.
Do some practice ones first.
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Old 03-16-2012, 05:46 AM   #11
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Drilling Straight and Level


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Last edited by mstew; 03-16-2012 at 05:55 AM.
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