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Bottled Ship Builder

Drilling tools


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Wire / twist  bits.   Available on-line through most ship/model outfits like Micro-Mark & Model Expo.

You can use the twist drill...a jeweler's drill, or get a small collet for a Dremel tool.

The smaller the #, the larger the diameter.  I use #68 thru #74.   #74 for running rigging line holes.  It is about the diameter

of a #10 beadwork needle which I use in threading the riggin.   #75 gets a little too tight.

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New member here trying to get some info before starting a build. Just wondering what people are using to drill holes in masts and bowsprits? How small are the holes or the size of bits you guys usually use? Anything info is much appreciated.




Hi ryanjd !

I use the drill with diameter of 0.3-0.5 mm for drilling the holes in the mast and bowsprit.



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Thanks everyone for the info!

I have been shopping eBay and I was considering a set of bits from 0.1mm-1mm, or a set of 0.3mm-0.5mm. They have a 1/8" shank so I could use a larger chuck if I wanted. Anything larger than 1mm I already have.

Has anyone ever tried making bits out of needles?

Thanks again :D

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Another idea that I've resorted to is to use insect mounting pins, very small diameters are available cheap. I use them in pin vices, cut off the sharp point and use emery cloth to shape the ends into spade type drill bits. I often need to drill holes smaller than the usually available #80 bits, if the pins don't work I will even use a dremel and cut off wheel to thin down the #80 bits. Keep in mind though that really tiny bits of any kind can often not drill straight, especially if there is much of any grain in the wood.


If splitting spars is any problem for you, then make your spars by gluing two, or more, layers of thin veneer together, then cut strips and sand them into round. Plan your holes so that the majority of them go perpendicular to the line of glue you used to make the veneer. That will keep the spar from splitting, also helps to drill the holes before the spars are quite sanded down to full shape. It does make drilling holes parallel to the glued line more difficult IF the hole has to go right down the line, i.e. only two layers of veneer.


Anchor's A Weigh!

John Fox III

Ladysmith, WI

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Good point on drilling, John.


From my days in oil/gas drilling...the same principles apply to both rock & wood...& why no hole will ever be straight

    1)   Drill bits want walk to be perpendicular to the plane it is boring.  The drill bit tends to walk up dip in rock, up the grain in wood.  

    2)   Changes in density increases drill walking.   In wood, this applies to the growth rings- which have a higher density-

          and glue joints as John mentioned.

    3)   High RPM's vs. low RPM's.   In soft material, high RPM's.  Denser the material, lower rpms should be used.

          Naturally, this does not mean Bo-Diddley if your variable speed Dremel has only one speed.

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That explains why my bamboo is such a pain to drill through. Thanks for the insight Jim. It's the drill walking and mast and spar integrity that got me into figuring out nondrilling methods using knots and thread blocks. Drilling does make it faster and easier though. So there's give and take to all methods.

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