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Author Topic: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.  (Read 581 times)

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Offline Joe Hillmann

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Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« on: April 15, 2021, 08:45:34 PM »
I am working on making a log railing for the cabin I am building.  I am making it out of aspen(because I lots of it)  I am turning the balusters on the lathe.  Other than needing to get another pulley to slow it down that works just fine.

But when it comes to drilling a hole in the upper and lower rails, the wet wood just frays and gums up the bit.  I have a 2 inch forstner bit that I just bought for the project and I have to clean it off every 1/16 of an inch to get it to drill.  I also tried a smaller spiral bit and a paddle bit and they do the same thing in the wet wood.  I realize the simple option would be to let the rails dry then drill them but I would rather not.  Do you have any tricks that may solve my problem?

Offline metalspinner

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2021, 08:27:51 AM »
The tear out is from taking too large a bite. If you score the hole diameter with a finer tooth count, the tear out could be reduced. I would try a hole saw for the first 1/8. Maybe for the full cut depending on the depth. 
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2021, 08:35:37 AM »
are you using a drill press, or by hand?  I have been able to push through and get the bit to bite more.  with a drill press.  or if you start each hole and let it dry a day then try it.  it may loose moisture faster and allow better cutting.  some bits have smooth edges, and other have teeth.  are you removing the bark?
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Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2021, 12:32:19 PM »
I started with a drill press and couldn'take any progress with constantly having to stop the motor and clear the bit.  I found I can drill the holes faster with a hand drill that I rock from side to side but it still takes forever and my drill isnt big enough so it is very hard on it.

I think what i will do is make all the spindles now but instead of maki g the tenon 3 inches long I will make them 4 or 5 inches long.  That way I cam cut them to final length later when drill thr rails to make up for the rails not being straight.  I am assuming turning aspen on the lathe will be more difficult as it dries.

My plans may be changing and may need as many as 400-ish spindles and 800 holes.  So i want to make each one as little of a struggle as possible.

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2021, 01:24:37 PM »
Is there a basement under this playhouse!?   :)  that is a lot.  I see spindles spaced about every 4 inches or so .  lots of rail.  so you are turning the spindles round or are they logs?  I think a picture would be worth a thousand words if you can manage it.  if you rock a forstner bit, the resulting hole will be oversized, and combine that with creating a tenon wet, that will shrink,  I agree with doing a few test runs.
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2021, 01:27:37 PM »
aspen is soft, so it may mill and drill better when dryer.  can you oven dry a chunk and try the lathe, tenon and mortice steps to see.  It sounds like the bits are stirring it instead of cutting it. big project.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline 1938farmall

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2021, 03:28:46 PM »
a paddle bit works surprisingly well in wet wood - but limited to 1-1/2" unless you get creative.
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Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2021, 04:52:04 PM »
Is there a basement under this playhouse!?   :)  that is a lot.  I see spindles spaced about every 4 inches or so .  lots of rail.  so you are turning the spindles round or are they logs?  I think a picture would be worth a thousand words if you can manage it.  if you rock a forstner bit, the resulting hole will be oversized, and combine that with creating a tenon wet, that will shrink,  I agree with doing a few test runs.
It is for a log cabin I am building.  Not a whole lot to show in pictures.  I spent all winter logging and milling the logs.  Tight now I am about 90% done with milling the wall logs and rafters and joists and the boards for the main cabin roof.  I still need to mill a bunch more lumber for floors, sub floors, and the porch roofs.

Normally i wouldn't consider working on the porch rails yet but i have a couple acres of aspen down from a storm and if I dont get them out of the woods before summer they will begin rotting.

The property we are building on also has a trailer house on it that we plan to add a covered porch with log railings as well.  

The plan is to space them so they are 4 inches edge to edge.  I am only turning the ends and leaving the body of it log.  In the future I may cut dados down the length of the spindles so I can slide a board in between each spindle to make it into a solid wall so I can use some of the porch area as covered winter storage.

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2021, 06:40:16 PM »
how bout a tenon cutter.

https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=105007.60

see what is listed as reply # 10 in my list
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2021, 08:14:21 PM »
Cutting the tennons isnt a problem.  Drilling the holes is.  I actually doubt a tennon cutter would be any easier than the lathe.  I have never actually used one but they look quite rough to use.  With the lathe it goes quite fast.

Offline doc henderson

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2021, 09:41:38 PM »
mine work well, but you could cut them larger than you need, the finish on the lathe when dry.  I can cut a tenon in 8 seconds.  if it is a large log, it might have to be sized through 3 sizes of cutters.  1 minute. they work best on wetter wood, and throw out apple slice style chips.   just throwing out ideas.  so this is for more than just a play house.  
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2021, 09:16:51 PM »
mine work well, but you could cut them larger than you need, the finish on the lathe when dry.  I can cut a tenon in 8 seconds.  if it is a large log, it might have to be sized through 3 sizes of cutters.  1 minute. they work best on wetter wood, and throw out apple slice style chips.   just throwing out ideas.  so this is for more than just a play house.  
The original plan was for it to be our cabin for a couple years untill it was finished and then we would move into it.  But now the trailerhous on the same piece of land is for sale and we are buying it.
That changes the plan for the cabin and right now we dont know what are plans are.

Offline kantuckid

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2021, 01:50:12 PM »
There are several bits that are far better for that size hole in green wood not needing the precision of a Forstner bit. DeWalt and other brands. google search wood bit images including the size and you'll see some. I will add that some larger bits are more so intended for plumbers and electricians and can be more toward speed than a decent hole for your balasters. Hole saw's not the right choice. Spade bit as mentioned is OK for that use as mentioned already. Some spade types are better than others! 
I actually use Forstners freehanded at times when a drill press would help, especially since I'm no longer the man I once was as they need lots of pressure to feed. 
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2021, 06:42:16 PM »
Irwin made some aggressive auger style bits, and reasonably priced.  a little rougher than a forstner bit.  I have a whole new set of spade bits in the rack hanging on peg board.  used to use that style a lot, none of these have been used.  
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2021, 10:48:47 AM »
How sharp are your forstner bits?  I've got some cheap ryobi forstner bits that are terrible.  My porter cable bits are much better.  The sharper they are, the better they will cut the aspen fibers instead of pulling them out.  What happens if you drill forward for a bit until it gums up and then run the drill backwards for a bit to clean the bit.
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Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Drilling a hole in wet aspen.
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2021, 10:04:57 PM »
How sharp are your forstner bits?  I've got some cheap ryobi forstner bits that are terrible.  My porter cable bits are much better.  The sharper they are, the better they will cut the aspen fibers instead of pulling them out.  What happens if you drill forward for a bit until it gums up and then run the drill backwards for a bit to clean the bit.
It is brand new, so fairly sharp.  I never tried running it backwards.  I may give it a try.  The wood is just very stringy when wet.  Even on the lathe it is impossible to take a light clean up cut with the skew because the fibers clog up the cutting edge.  But if I take an aggressive cut it cuts beautifully.  I think waiting for it to dry some is my best option.  I do think an aggressive spoon auger with a t handle would work.  But I dont have any bigger than 1/2 inch, I dont think anyone makes them in bigger sizes and doubt I could get the right shape if I tried to make my own.


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