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How to Use a Forstner Bit

By: David S. Miles | Last Updated: January 19, 2024

A crafter worth the salt should at least know about the Forstner bit. Knowing is one thing and using them another. Here is a guide on how to use a forstner bit with a hand drill or a drill press.

There are so many drill bits in the market today with the latest model and designs working on specialist work. If your work entails working with wood and plastics as your primary materials, you must know what a Forstner bit is or does.

This blogpost teaches about all you need to know about the foster bit and what you can do with it. The guide is good for both the newbies and the professionals alike.

What is a Forstner Bit?

How to Use a Forstner Bit

Forstner bit is a boring drill bit enabling you creates flat–bottomed holes that are flat and clean. The closest comparison they have is that of a hole saw or spade bits. The bit is versatile and effective in boring holes in difficult angles or on edges of the workpiece.

You can identify the Forstner bit by their outer cylindrical rim, commonly called the guide rime. The rims are available in different varieties, and they allow the bit to come out of the hole smoothly. Artisans working with wood favor the use of these bits because of their reliability in the outcome.

How to Use a Forstner Bit with a Drill Press

Using a drill press alongside a Forstner bit gives you the kind of precision you could ever wish for.

Step1: Placing the workpiece

Place the workpiece on the drill press and clamp it to secure it. You can also use a piece of scrap wood if you are learning to use the forstner bit for the first time. The wood prevents backing of the material when the bit is forced-press through the material.

Step 2: Attach and adjust the bit

The workpiece is already secured, attach the forstner in the drill, and make height adjustment. The bore you want to make on the material should correspond with the height you choose. You can always perform a test before getting into the workpiece.

Step 3: Alignment and Drilling

Mark the exact spot on the piecework, indicating the exact location where the boring should take place. Chalk or a pencil can do the marking. Align the material with the center if the Forstner bit by bringing the arm of your drilling press down. You can do this without turning the motor on.

The moment the alignment locks, lift the drill press, and then slowly lower it on the workpiece and weigh the pressure coming from the forstner bit.

As the hole, formation begins; increase the pressure and the speed.

Step 4: Withdraw and Finish

As you are almost reaching the desired hole depth, slow down the drill press. At this point, run the unit at its lowest speed. Keep the forstner bit on a spin as you withdraw the drill to create a clean vertical edge on exit.

If you need a hole going through the entire material, you can keep on drilling from this point onwards. If this is the ideal depth, take pauses occasionally to remove the accumulated sawdust. Occasional pauses give the drill to cool from generated heat.

Using a Forstner with a Hand Drill

Step 1: Placing the Backing

Mount a support that will protect the backside of your workpiece. The backing protects a blowout in case you are boring the whole piecework.

Step 2: Mark the Material

Attach the forstner bit and mark the exact position where the drill hole will pass through. The marking helps in precise alignment.

Step 3: Align the Drill

The forstner bit should align with the center mark on the material. Make it perpendicular to the target to avoid slipping.

Step 4: Dill and Finish

Grab the drill and release the trigger to engage the forstner bit. Make an initial ident to act as the bit guide. Put in pressure on your hand just enough to allow the drill to start making through the guide Drill to the desired hole depth.

Making Hole with Forstner Bit for Dowel

Forstner bit can also cut holes when making a dowel having a square end. A spade bit would create a dowel but with rough entry points and edges. Forstner bit remains the only bit to beat when it comes to creating dowel joint holes. The bit makes a precise flat-bottomed hole, an exact entry, and smooth edges are still unmatched.

Out of the many Forstner bits available, there is a cylindrical bit with a cutter that spins on two blades and cuts out like a bevel chisel. When the bit spins around the center point, the two blades slice the wood. If the Forstner bit is sharp, you will see long timber chips coming out of the cut section. The majority of Forstner bits have that smooth side keeping the bit centered, honing through the hole and the sides as well. The hole’s bottom remains perpendicular to the axis of the bit. The axis remains in one position irrespective of the drill’s angle when working. The same is true whether you are drilling in a square position, facing the board, or at an angle.

In making dowel holes, the Forstner bit gives a flat bottom and a smooth side to provide the joining sections a large surface to glide the dowel into the hole.

Forstner Bits Sizes

The typical packaging of Forstner bits is in kits of various sizes and includes a carrying case. Some stores sell them separately, and you can walk into a hardware store and pick the size that fits a particular hole size that you want. The smallest bit is 3/8 inches, and the largest being 1 inch. Some stock Forstner bits have a diameter of up to 2 inches. There is no Forstner bit smaller than the 3/8 inches.

Using a Forstner Bit

The best drill to get a Forstner bit’s full potential is by using a drill press or the chuck used alongside a lathe. The nature of cutters on the bit slice through the material causes downward pressure making it more of a challenge when using a hand drill.

You can use it to cut through angles and along the edges, something only possible with a twisted or a spade bit and using a hand press drill.

Disadvantages of Using Forstner Bits

Forstner bits, like any other drill bit, have its disadvantages. The speed of cutting is slow and heat up quickly, especially when they are blunt.

Forstner bits do not have a good material ejecting plan like other bits. You have to remove the bit physically from time to time.

Final word

The forstner drill is unique, specialized for some tasks, and quite useful for creating holes in difficult angles. Now that you know how to use a forstner bit on both the hand drill and the drill press, do more practice and be a professional.

Also Read:

Different Types of Electric Saws.

Different Types of Hand Tools & Their Uses.

Basic Woodworking Tools for Your Workshop.

Different Types of Wood Routers (with Pictures)

Different Types of Generators & Their Uses (with Pictures)

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