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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,
I have been using metric drill bits in a router table to drill pen blanks.

I have been drilling my pen blanks with a "MLCS Powerlift / Porter-Cable / RBI" Router table, which I have previously posted on this forum as an x-y-z router table. RouterForums.com Search term is "x-y-z router table"

I am using Elaire Corporation Porter Cable 7mm, 8mm, and 10mm Collets.
One can order that "pen-making" collet set as a new item PC-SET3 via PayPal.
Three Collet Series are available; Bosch, Porter Cable, and Milwaukee. (Also 6mm and 12mm)
Source: The Elaire Corporation - Precision USA made collets, holders, air tool components
(a USA company). Contact: Mark Neeley
=
Mark
 

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These metric drill bits are designed to work in the speed range under 3,000 rpms. Running them at higher speeds is not a good idea, unsafe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Ways to drill WOOD pen blanks

I have to go with Mike, this sounds like a very unsafe operation. Drill your pen blanks on a drill press or lathe.
Hi all,

Pictures are coming, but not today.

I am only drilling WOOD blanks. Beech and Oak. No plastic or Not-Wood. The wood comes from items of personal significance to my family. Using the pens made from family "wood" seems to invoke a special feeling when using the pens.
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What I found out...

1. Adequate quill travel distance for drilling pen blanks on my drill press is a problem, so I looked for other means.
2. Using a sliding tailstock with a drill chuck on my PSI lathe is way too sloppy and slow, so I set that method aside, too.
3. A jig setup using my radial arm saw and drill attachment, works fine, and gives me as much drilling depth as the drill would allow. Very accurate (at 3450 rpm), but the chuck is too small and restricts me to 5/16 drill bits or smaller.
4. Using my RBI mortising router table (Posted on this forum as an X-Y router table or an X-Y-Z router table), I set up my PC router with a special 10mm collet bought from Elaire Corp. With the Powerlift speed at 100%, I drilled about 3 inches of a "cigar" pen blank in and out in about 10-15 seconds using the paddle switch. I am using German-made HSS pen drill bits, and they hold up fine. It takes longer to lock down the pen blank with a Bessey toggle clamp, and align the drill bit with the pen blank than to actually use the router.
I have drilled all the "personal" pen blanks I have in one 30 minute session and am now waiting for other people's "wood".
I will take pictures then.
Mark
ps
The Radial-Arm-Saw (RAS) method works fine... the drill chuck size is the problem.
pps
The 7mm, 8mm, and 10mm Collets from Elaire Corp. seem to have very little runout.
ppps
Safety is a relative term, whether it's a tool, a pistol, or a car.
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Mark, every router manual tells you the speeds they run at which are far beyond the rating of these drills. There is no question, this is an unsafe practice. No machinist ever runs a tool beyond it's rated speed. It is an accident waiting to happen.
 

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I really haven't ever found the slightest problem drilling pen blanks in the drill press, whilst I've never timed it, I would guess about 10 seconds per blank. For a long time I used the home-made jig shown in the first shot but now use the more precision one in the second shot. I think that I posted a photo-shoot showing the modifications I made to it in order to make it into a complete assembly jig.
Acrylics I now prefer to make in the metal lathe, from turning the square blank round, drilling the hole and final polishing.
I do have to agree with Mike that twist drills are not intended for router use. As a matter of interest, how do you hold a 7mm or 10mm bit in the collet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
More on Drilling Pen Blanks

I really haven't ever found the slightest problem drilling pen blanks in the drill press, whilst I've never timed it, I would guess about 10 seconds per blank. For a long time I used the home-made jig shown in the first shot but now use the more precision one in the second shot. I think that I posted a photo-shoot showing the modifications I made to it in order to make it into a complete assembly jig.
Acrylics I now prefer to make in the metal lathe, from turning the square blank round, drilling the hole and final polishing.
I do have to agree with Mike that twist drills are not intended for router use. As a matter of interest, how do you hold a 7mm or 10mm bit in the collet?
HI Harry,
Thanks for taking the time to look at my workup.
I'll start at the bottom of your post and work backwards.
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1. I ordered a custom set of 7mm, 8mm, and 10mm collets (PC-SET3) for my Porter-Cable 890 routers from Elaire Corporation -Router Collets specifically for using german made HSS drill bits. It is still basically a plunge router operation, whether using a RAS/drill chuck, or a router in a Powerlift base.
2. I specifically mentioned that I was only drilling wood. It's very easy to melt anything made of plastic. I agree with you that using a metal lathe for acrylics is the way to proceed.
3. The quill travel on my cheap Harbor Freight drill press is only 2 inches, and pen blanks are always longer. Looking at your picture of your drill press, I would expect that your quill travel is more like 6 inches. So your setup seems ideal.

Now on to some safety issues.
Probably a woodshop is not the safest place to be.
I would never allow anyone with little to no experience to use any power equipment without some common sense mentoring.
This forum is therefore a great place to get good information on what to do and what not to do, as experience is gained working with wood.
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Even though I spent most of my life using another skill-set, I am still fairly comfortable working with large power tools in a commercial wood environment. That's mainly because for the 1 year I quit high school, I was mentored by my father on how to fabricate furniture in his factory before I was 18 years old. At one end of the factory, you could find me cutting and grading raw lumber while operating a 15 inch Comet Radial Arm Saw. At the other end of the factory, I might be on the finishing line. The only difference now is that I don't use setup jigs on machines to cut 1000 legs in one session... now I cut 4 legs. All the machines I operated then and now are inherently dangerous to use without adequate training and experience.
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Let me say again: This forum is therefore a great place to get good information on what to do and what not to do, working with wood.
Safety is always in the forefront, and for woodworkers starting out, this is the place to be.
For myself, I am always interested in a better way to work wood.
IMHO Harry, you definitely have a mentor status in these forums.
Mark
 

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Mark, I'm genuinely interested in seeing your set-up for the pen blanks, how about a photo or two, I'm sure that you know that I love photographs, no imagination is needed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Plunge Drilling Pen Blanks with a Router Table - PHOTOS

Mark, I'm genuinely interested in seeing your set-up for the pen blanks, how about a photo or two, I'm sure that you know that I love photographs, no imagination is needed!
Hi Harry,
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As I promised I am back from Coronado, and have made a photo series for drilling WOOD pen blanks using a Mortising Router Table. Enough pen blanks were drilled on the last go around that there was no need to drill more pen blanks. Hence a photo mockup.

The photos should show the layout of parts and the sequence of operation.
The cast in this mockup are: Porter-Cable 890 router, a 10 mm Elaire Corp. Collet, 10 mm HS Pen drill bits made in Germany, a MLCS Powerlift, and an RBI RS-29 Mortising Table set at 90 deg for horizontal routing. (A jig could be made for using a traditional router table to plunge-drill pen blanks vertically using the same parts.)

Using a MLCS voltage reducer and the variable speed PC router set for Full speed, router speeds could be slowed to about 3000-4000 rpm. (The German-made HSS bits did just fine at 10,000 rpm, the lowest setting on the router without the voltage reducer.)

Router Drilling is similar to Plunge Routing, but is recommended only for pen-making woodworkers with a working knowledge of routers. Others should stay with a drill press with a long quill, or preferably a wood lathe with a drill chuck setup. (Presently modifying a PSI pen lathe for "Zero Tolerance" on the tailstock Slide to stop the looseness of the railing, which should make easier to drill good pen blanks.)

Happy to field any questions on the technique, even though the RBI Mortising Table is no longer available.
In this forum, SEARCH for "X-Y" or "X-Y-Z" "Router Table", for how the RBI RS-29 router table was modified to accept a MLCS PowerLift.
(Also check this forum for using a Radial Arm Saw(RAS) with a drill chuck to drill pen blanks.)
=
Mark
 

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