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How to use a spoon bit?

How to use a spoon bit

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It is difficult to keep a drill bit with rounded edges on centre Keeping a bit with a rounded tip on centre can seem quite difficult when drilling by hand. With the proper technique, however, spoon bits are easy to use.
Image advising DIYers to locate their spoon bit on the centre mark of their proposed bore hole before they start the drilling process

Step 1 – Locate centre point

Place the tip of the drill on the central point of the bore hole. If you are using a drill press, make sure your equipment is set to a low speed.

Seating a spoon bit in a wooden workpiece by turning it clockwise and anticlockwise in increasing increments

Step 2 – Seating the bit

If you are using a hand brace, you will need to seat the bit. Turn your bit clockwise a little way, and then anticlockwise, changing between the two directions with slightly larger turns each time. This will cause the bit to cut an arc into the surface of the wood, which will help to seat it and keep it cutting in the right direction. Once the tip of the bit is clearly lodged in the wood, you are ready to start drilling.

Image showing the thin tip of a tapered spoon bit which creates a 'dish' before drilling straight down or at an angle Tapered spoon bits have smaller tips, and you will find yourself drilling full circles quite quickly to make a shallow niche in your workpiece. This is called a “dish”.
Wonkee Donkee notices that dishes (the hole created by the tip of a spoon bit to centre it) and spoons (as in spoon bits) are present in the rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle".
Image to illustrate the motion of drilling complete circles with a spoon bit once the seating process is complete

Step 3 – Drilling a hole

You are now ready to start drilling normally (i.e. in full circles, as you would with any other drill bit).

A caution sign to advise that if you are drilling with a spoon bit for the first time, it's better to work slowly to get used to how quickly the tool needs to spin before the strain becomes too much and causes the neck of the drill bit to break If this is your first time drilling with a spoon bit, take things slowly. This is because the twisting force provided even by a hand drill (and certainly by a drill press) will be enough to snap the neck of the bit if you hit a hidden imperfection in the wood, such as a knot.
Image showing a DIYer that they can speed up once they get the hang of using their spoon bit Once you have the hang of things, feel free to speed up!

Drilling angled holes

Image of a tapered spoon bit making an angled cut in a piece of material This works in much the same way as drilling straight holes, although the starting procedure is slightly different.
A DIYer seating their spoon bit in a wooden workpiece to make an angled bore hole While seating your bit, hold the drill at the angle of the hole you will be boring. This will set the drill on the right course before you begin.
Image to advise DIYers that you can change the angle of a tapered spoon bit while drilling as long as you work slowly If you keep to a relatively slow speed, you can also change angles while you are drilling!

How to accurately gauge drilling depth

Check if the spoon bit is too deep for your seat If you are looking to drill partial holes rather than boring all the way through your workpiece, you can easily make a mark on your spoon bit to show you the point at which you should stop drilling. Check your spoon bit against the side of your workpiece – if you’re using a tapered bit then this will also to help you to work out whether or not the hole it makes on the upper surface of the workpiece will be wide enough before the bit breaks through the other side.
Making a mark on a spoon bit to indicate the point at which drilling needs to stop to avoid breaking through to the other side of the workpiece Position your bit against the side of the workpiece so that the tip is at the depth you would like to drill to. You can then make a mark on the back of the spoon section of the bit with a marker level with the top of the workpiece. You can then use the mark to judge when it’s time to stop.

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