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drilling holes for shelves in plywood

bch55's picture

I am building some bookcases and drilling holes for adjustable shelves in birch plywood that will be painted white.  The problem I am having is the plywood is slightly splintering around the holes when drilled.  This is not acceptable as it will really telegraph when painted.  In the past I have always dadoed and this is my first time using this method.


I am using a jig and drill from Rockler, Is this a quality of drill issue? technique ? I was going to spring for the Festool system but I do not use this hole system enough to justify a new router and hole drilling system.


Thanks for any suggestions


Ricardo

MarkRD's picture

(post #76080, reply #1 of 16)

You might want to consider a brad point bit or a forstner bit. They cut the outside of the hole before taking any "meat" out of the hole.

Mark


Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut it with an ax.
Measure it with a Micrometer,
Mark it with Chalk,
Cut it with an Ax.

Visit my woodworking blog Dust Maker
DDay's picture

(post #76080, reply #2 of 16)

Here's a link to a jig that will do that.  The jig is ridiculously priced, $300, so I made my own out of 1/4" high strength plastic/plexiglass/lexian stuff.  The stuff comes with a paper cover that I marked all the holes out on, then drilled them and it works perfect.  You cut the holes with a plunge router using a 1/4" spiral upcut bit.  This jig works very easily and cuts perfectly straight holes.


I just use regular clamps, I don't bother with the toggles.  You could also do it with plywood but I like the clear plastic/lexan.  It doesn't change with humidity, dent, splinter and will last forever.


 


http://megproducts.com/shelfpinholes.html


Edited 3/9/2005 4:13 pm ET by DDay

JonE's picture

(post #76080, reply #3 of 16)

I've got the jog and drill bit from Rockler, and it's just adequate.  I've found that you never get perfectly splinter-free holes, but by really easing the bit into the work (scoring the surface with the spurs of the bit), it's OK.


Better solution is a homemade jig and a router with a 1/4" or 5mm spiral upcut bit.    Really clean holes.


Jon


 

 

BorisYeltsin's picture

(post #76080, reply #4 of 16)

I just put some tape over the area and that seems to keep splintering down quite a bit. There are also brass insert sleeves that one may buy that fit into the hole and that fit standard quarter inch rods. They add a nice dressy touch to the project.

Regards,
Boris

"Sir, I may be drunk, but you're crazy, and I'll be sober tomorrow" -- WC Fields, "Its a Gift" 1934

Regards, Boris "Sir, I may be drunk, but you're crazy, and I'll be sober tomorrow" -- WC Fields, "Its a Gift" 1934
Elcoholic's picture

(post #76080, reply #5 of 16)

Ditto on what Dday said, did the same my self.  In use one must keep track of the top of the panel and the top of the jig so even if your hole spacing is a bit off the shelf will remain level.  I drilled a series of (3) 1/2" holes at the top and along one edge to register the jig to the panel.  I used some scrap 1/2" drill rod for the 3 registration pins.  A couple of quikclamps secures it to the panel.  BTW it's much easier to punch the holes before the box is assembled.  My jig is about 30" long for longer rows of shelf pin holes I drilled a 1/4" hole at the same spacing as the 1/2" bushing sized holes.  Register the successive series of holes with the last hole using a 1/4" pin.

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking


The more things change ...


We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.


Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking

The more things change ...

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

DDay's picture

(post #76080, reply #7 of 16)

I actually saw the jig on new yankee workshop, one of the 10 million tools that guy has.  I was all set to buy it, that was until I saw the price.  I don't know how that company expects people to pay $300 for a jig you can make in an hour.  That and a few others really got me into the concept of not buying any jig I can make.

Elcoholic's picture

(post #76080, reply #15 of 16)

I agree with the DIY approach unless jig making becomes an end to itself.  If you subscribe to ShopNotes it's probably too late :)  On the otherhand if you have money to burn then I suppose buying the jig saves your time for building your projects.

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking


The more things change ...


We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.


Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

John O'Connell - JKO Handcrafted Woodworking

The more things change ...

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized.  I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

Petronious Arbiter, 210 BC

lwj2's picture

(post #76080, reply #6 of 16)

I agree with Mark, a quality brad or Forstner bit, but I'll add: use a drill press.

Leon Jester

Leon Jester, Roanoke VA

CRAIGCONEY_M's picture

(post #76080, reply #8 of 16)

I have the Festool System, and it is worth its weight in gold. They have 2 differnent styles of drills for the router to eliminate chipping and tearout.  Prior to this system, I used the Rocker one, then made my own similar to the MEG out of 5/8 BB ply, and used the CMT plunge router bit, which gave satisfactory results.


Meg also sells a BB unit for a little over $100 I believe. 

DDay's picture

(post #76080, reply #9 of 16)

I saw the festool one on Gary Katz's website, that looks really nice.  Like all the festool tools though, they are very nice and innovative but ouch, that price.

DonaldCBrown's picture

(post #76080, reply #10 of 16)

A very effective shelf-pin jig for use with a router can be made with a piece of scrap--say 1/2" plywood about 6" wide and longer that the span of holes you want to drill.

You'll use a 1/4" or 5mm bit for drilling the holes, depending on the pins you intend to use, so decide on a router bit collet that will accommodate that bit, then select a drill bit the same size as the outer dimension of the collet.

Drill a line of evenly spaced holes along the center line of your board. They don't have to be precisely even, as you'll appreciate from the nect step.

After drilling the holes (a brad-point bit makes nice clean ones, but use whatever you have), rip the board down the center of the holes. Mark one end of the stock before ripping so that any enevenness in spacing will be matched in each half. Space the two half-hole boards, with ends aligned, the distance you want between rows of holes, then fasten them in some way so that spacing and alignment are retained (a couple of 1/4" strips across the two halves works fine).

In using the jig, set your desired depth of plunge, nestle the router collet into the half-holes at your desired hole locations, and plunge.
Works as well as the $300 model.

Some considerations before you start on the jig:

- Leave enough blank space at the top and bottom of the board to clear the router base for drilling the end holes.

- Depending on how you fix the two halves together, you may want to pad out the workpiece side with something so that the jig lies firmly on the workpiece.

- Drill the shelf-pin holes before assembling the cabinet. (You already figured that out, didn't you?)

Sorry for the absence of pictures. My HTML license has been revoked.


Edited 3/9/2005 9:15 pm ET by Donald C. Brown

CRAIGCONEY_M's picture

(post #76080, reply #13 of 16)

As far as the price of the tools goes....


Quality Quality  Quality......


Support  Support Support....


Great Dust Collection - the DC on the sanders is unbelievable.  No dust cloud lingering above your work peice.


Excellent Cuts-extremely clean.  With their routers, I can use the cheapest quality router bits & get smooth cuts which require little sanding.  With higher grade bits, I obviously get better cuts.    I can use the same bit with a number of other manufacturers's routers, and spend hours sanding the profile.   How much is that worth?


Versatility


Repeatability.


Check out woodshopdemos.com.  John Lucas has an excellent site with tips on applications of festool, as well as many others.   


For the money you spend with the festool system, you use it for more than just one thing.  Try using a line boring machine for anything else. 


By the way, did I mention the quality of the tools and the excellent support & customer service? 


 

bch55's picture

(post #76080, reply #14 of 16)

Thanks for all the information provided.


 

nikkiwood's picture

(post #76080, reply #11 of 16)

I do thousands of bookshelf holes, and have never bothered to jig up for a plunge router. I always thought it was way too time consuming.

The key to a cleanly cut hole is a very good (and sharp) brad point bit; If I remember correctly, Fisch made mine.

A drill press is best, but you can also use a drill guide -- I have a Porta-lign.

Finally, it helps matters considerably if you use plywood with a fiber core (MDF), instead of a veneer core.

******************************************************** "It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts." John Wooden 1910-
johnhardy's picture

(post #76080, reply #12 of 16)

One way to get splinter free holes, whether it be with a saw or a drill, is to use sacrificial boards (plywood, old wood, whatever) on top of and beneath the material you're drilling. This virtually prevents splinters and is a cheap way to solve the problem.


John

migraine's picture

(post #76080, reply #16 of 16)

Take a stick of 3/4" x 3" plywood the approx lenght of the inside of your cabinet/part. Mark a line down the center of the plywood and then measure up ever 1" to 1 1/2" or 32mm.  this will give you the position of your shelf holes.  Now drill with a 1/16" or 3/32" drillbit all the way through the plywood.  These holes will then be used to insert 1" drywall screws.  Make the tips of the drywall screws stick out just a little so that when you set this hole jig on your parts a lightly hit with a mallet or hammer, they will leave a mark.  Now use a 3/16", 1/4" or 5mm drill bit(brad point or forstner bit) and drill for the self hole.  If you don't want to but holes in certain areas, just back out the drywall screws until they don't leave a mark.


Just do not accidentally turn the jig upside down as you are marking your parts.  Been there.. done that...