Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: Drawbore Pins!

Well, here we are again, drilling more holes in wood. Right here I was marking the holes for where the pins go, the drawbore pins that hold the tenons in and reinforce the hold...A LOT.

Of course, the long rails use knock-down vice hardware, so I marked a hole here for the hole where the bolt inserts.

When drilling these holes, it is a good idea to throw a piece of wood in the mortise space to reduce the chance of blow-out.

So, all of our holes are done. Now all we need are some pins to fill those holes with.

Now here's something really fun! Making pins. I took a piece of ash with the straightest grain I could find and cut it up into pieces that are about 3" long and just over 3/8" square.

Using this simple jig, I took 4-5 passes with a plane on each side.

When done, the result is this octagon shape. If it a hexagon, something's wrong.

Then it's just over to the sander to get one end sanded down to a blunt point.

I just pound it straight through the pin making tool. This is a Lie-Nielsen dowel plate.

I use the next pin to push the other pin through as to not pound the hammer into the dowel plate and ruin it.

After pounding through the plate.

The final count should be sixteen for this bench. I made one or two extra for good measure, and to be politically correct.


  1. I'm at roughly the same stage as you are. I wonder - will the slight waviness in the pins greatly affect their performance? I have only made a couple and I'm wondering if I need to select a different wood from which to rive my pins. What's your experience fitting those pins?

    I made mine from QS white oak, which were then riven. The grain looked straight, but once through the dowel plate they were straight no more...

  2. I can answer that. I've rived hundreds of pins from white oak and ash. The slight waviness does not affect the pin. I just pound the wavy ones like the rest. If its really bad, toss the pin. It could snap. But if you've made them from straight stock, shouldn't be a problem. The closer your pegs are to final size before you pound them through, the less waviness you'll get. Do not forget to rub some paraffin wax on the pin before you drive it. It makes a big difference.

  3. Jameel,

    Thanks! I would expect that there might be some deviation (this is, after all, an organic material) within the pin and it's comforting to know that the pin will still "work" despite minor deviations in its dimensions. I'm not quite anal enough to measure those deviations (but very close) with a dial caliper but is there a rule of thumb before pitching that pin? What kind of offset would necessitate throwing away a pin proven off by a specific dimension?

    Best regards,

    Andrew (too lazy to register)


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