View Full Version : Center-Drilling the Blank (Prior to Turning)

Eric Roach
09-10-2015, 06:37 PM
My boss asked me recently why I don't center-drill before turning, and one of the answers I gave is that the centers on the head and tail stock of my Jet Mini lathe are not wide enough for a 5/32" hole -- I would have to try to manually center the piece because of the play.

I know some builders pre-drill...but I wonder how they accurately center the piece. Are they just using larger lathes with bigger centers that will fill a 5/32" hole before pressing the piece, or is there a trick to it?

This is really just to satisfy a curiosity -- I'm fine with center-drilling after turning and rarely have any real problems when centering the holes on the ends.

Thanks for any insight,


09-10-2015, 07:40 PM
Eric I replaced my head stock this past winter. The new on has a 1/4" spring loaded center. It's the wood river deluxe drive center 5/8" 2MT
My tail center is a cup and the center cone is less than 5/32" where the wood abuts the cup, so I'd have to get a different tail stock center.

You could use a 60 degree cone for the tail stock if you wished to drill first.

The benefit I can see would be that your turned plugs dimensions would be centered at the thru holes, however if you are making a swimmer where the hole is not supposed to be centered it wouldn't be worth it.
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09-10-2015, 09:12 PM
Hi Eric, I use the Sorby live an step centers. Work pretty good most times. Sometimes I swap an put one of the big point live centers in for bigger tail holes an experiments.You just have to be carefull not to put too much pressure on that one as it will cause the wood to split. I do mostly 5/32 but there are some woods with crazy sap lines that I use 3/16. Ron

09-11-2015, 10:50 AM
Some plugs do not get a "straight through" hole. Other than that when using "steb" centers they align with the 5/32 hole very nicely.

09-11-2015, 12:40 PM
I will post my centers when i get a chance but i always drill if the plug requires one. If not like metals and off sets i drill later but my pilot holes are always 5/32
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Eric Roach
09-11-2015, 08:03 PM
Thanks for all the feedback, guys. I have to lookup some of the items mentioned above.

I have some pre-drilled stock I bought in the past from somewhere that I haven't been able to use because I can't center it -- these suggestions might help.

09-13-2015, 02:15 PM
Eric a steb center for head stock and a live step center for tail works fine for pre drilled blanks. Like Matt mentioned a 60 degree tails took center will work.