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Discussion Starter #1
I'm running receptacles and lighting for an attic/bedroom conversion, and am having an awful time drilling through the studs. This place was built in 1900 and I guess the studs have been there since then, and they are old.

I've tried an auger bit set from Harbor Freight (I suspect they're worthless), with no luck at all

I've had to step down to a 1/2" spade bit to get anywhere, and I really would like a larger hole, but I can't seem to get anywhere with anything larger.

I'm using a corded drill (not an impact - as I don't have one).

Can anyone offer any suggestions on best bit for a corded drill in these old studs?
 

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retired framer
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You might do better with a twist drill with a stepped down shank to fit the drill. You would be able to enlarge smaller holes too.

 

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what kind of drill are you using ?
(my vintage WEN 1/2" VSR drill has awesome power).
there are specific bits for this job in your local Box Store.

'
 

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Discussion Starter #4
3/8" corded drill. Neal, do you have a favorite brand on the twist drill, and would I need a 1/2 inch drill?
 

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retired framer
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3/8" corded drill. Neal, do you have a favorite brand on the twist drill, and would I need a 1/2 inch drill?
I haven't bought one since the 70s when i bought a tool box with close to 1000 bits in it. :wink2: They are made for mild steel so even a cheap one should stand up pretty good.
 

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Most low priced 3/8 drills aren't up to drilling large holes in studs. You could squeak by using a high end one like a Milwaukee Magnum Hole Shooter but if you have quite a few to drill you should get a 1/2" drill motor like electricians use, Milwaukee Hole Hog or equal (if there is an equal).

If you insist on using a 3/8 drill motor, you better give it lots of rest between holes or you'll fry it. A spade bit will be your best bet for that small drill motor since they don't self feed like an augur bit does.
 

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If you have a 1/2 inch drill and an auger bit you should have no problem. A good brand spade bit like DeWalt or Bosch will work until you hit a nail.
 

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Knows Enough to be Danger
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I've never had a quality sharp spade bit of any size that's in a set fail in any wood, old wood or old Oak.
Same. I thought spade bits were invented for guys trying to drill holes bigger than their shank.

I have a fairly new set of Irwin's from HD that I like. They have a tip thats threaded, that almost pulls it into the wood. Works well.
 

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For those of us who started out with a brace and bit, drilling holes with a small amount of power isn't all that tough.

You can drill a 2&9/16 hole with a 1/4" drill motor if you have the hot licks it takes. It's all in how you hold your mouth while rocking the bit from side to side and around and around, all the while keeping it from self feeding, since that will stall the motor. Patience is required and a good strong grip. After you master those tactics, it's downhill all the way to a career in the electrical or plumbing fields where the big bucks are.

:vs_cool:
 

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Same. I thought spade bits were invented for guys trying to drill holes bigger than their shank.

I have a fairly new set of Irwin's from HD that I like. They have a tip thats threaded, that almost pulls it into the wood. Works well.
Very true and correct, but the studs are 120 years old. Let's just say wood was different back then, plus they contain as much moisture as a stone. Quality spade bit will go thru, but it can break your wrists with the amount of force they'll produce. Large drill body with handle(s) will help. Lots of bit designs that could work better in really hard wood, forstner, hole saws, auger bits, get high quality. Worst case, you''ll need to drill pilot holes and step up in size.
 

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I've always had the best luck using a quality 1/2" drive drill and auger bits. You could always drill a smaller pilot hole first in all your studs then go back with the larger diameter drill bit.
 

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I would suggest buying a better drill (motor). Self feed bits such as auger and spade with worm tip bits need a lot of tork at a slower rpm. You can get a D handle drill at Harbor Freight for under $100. 600 rpm is ideal for auger bits.
 

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Houses of that vintage were likely built with wood that we would call 'old growth' today and is much denser. My last house was built around 1895 and I augered a number of holes with a 3/8" corded drill with little difficulty.A decent spade bit should still do it but if it is a cheap one and you get too aggressive (push too hard, turn too fast) you can cook the edges pretty easily. The first hole might be okay but everyone after that will be an exercise in frustration.
 

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If you drill pilot holes the auger bit won't work. The screw on the auger bit pulls the cutting edges into the wood. If the screw doesn't have material to bite into it's useless. I have auger bits and the cutting edges are sharp but the screw is stripped. Useless.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks guys for all the tips. Got it done.

This is my house that I'm working on, and I called up a friend of mine who has been in the residential electrical business close to 50 years now (he's still going at 70 - lol). He told me that that old wood was poplar and I'd never get through it without a new bit. He suggested I get a ship bit, so I got this one from the Depot. It was like a hot knife through butter. 5/16" chuck worked in my 3/8 corded drill.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milwaukee-1-2-in-x-6-in-Ship-Auger-Bit-48-13-0503/202256261
 

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For those of us who started out with a brace and bit, drilling holes with a small amount of power isn't all that tough.

You can drill a 2&9/16 hole with a 1/4" drill motor if you have the hot licks it takes. It's all in how you hold your mouth while rocking the bit from side to side and around and around, all the while keeping it from self feeding, since that will stall the motor. Patience is required and a good strong grip. After you master those tactics, it's downhill all the way to a career in the electrical or plumbing fields where the big bucks are.

:vs_cool:
Could you send us a video.......

(I have a holehog.....but I sure want to see that video....:surprise::wink2:)
 

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I've always had the best luck using a quality 1/2" drive drill and auger bits.
My father was an electrician and I'd go with him often on side jobs on weekends for "beer money". That's the combination he used, a 1/2" drill and a 1" auger bit with a 3 foot extension. And back then (mid 1960's) a 1/2" drill was a serious-looking bit of gear, they're a lot smaller now.

I always thought that would be a neat combination to hang on the wall in a dentist's waiting room....:biggrin2:
 
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