Boring Large Holes for a Leg Vise by Hand


Yesterday I decided to install the leg vise on one of our 12 Nicholson benches and was faced with boring a 2-1/2 hole through the 4 leg for the large wooden screw. A 2-1/2 t-handled auger would make quick work of that but the problem is that I don’t have one that exact size. Rather than make a run to the hardware store to buy a hole saw for an electric driver, I went after it with meat-power. I started boring with a freshly-sharpened expansion bit, which breezed through the white pine side board. But once the bit hit the spruce leg, everything came to a screeching halt. The dang wood was more than I could muscle.

After straining and sweating to try to make it go, here’s what I did that worked…

Using a brace and 3/4 auger, I bored a series of holes around the 2-1/2 circle established by the expansion bit. Although I had to bore a number of holes, the small diameter made it manageable. Once most of the waste was bored out, I chopped it out from both sides with a gouge and mallet. This came out in chunks but after cleaning up the inside with a coarse rasp, I was able to install the vise before the end of the work day.

Today, after the nut was fastened to the back of the leg, I used the vise to shave leg stock for some staked benches we’re building. (The thing holds like a beast.)

The moral of the story is: Sometimes bigger isn’t better. In these cases, take small bits at a time to make your life a whole lot easier. 

- Joshua