Veritas - Optical Centre Punch (05N59.1) (Rating: 5)

Boys and Girls,

I have quite a few dodgy items in my workshop as no-one has written a review prior to me purchasing… or I was too lazy to do a search!

As it's not fair to review my own jigs, for your edification I thought I might take the time to review this Veritas offering that I received as a Christmas present and Santa wasn't successful in reversing the inappropriate delivery.

Now most of my scribes and centre punches seem to have tolerances in the caliber of 1/16"+. If you don't suffer a similar malpractice or don't care about accuracy, go and read some other article.

My standard "centre punch" arsenal consisted of this spring loaded gadget (should do a separate review on this item),
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that required two hands to operate and if you pull it off the mark, it's AORR (All Over Red Rover)...
and this muscle builder
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that requires the strength of a gorilla to operate when new and has a tendency to slip when "broken in" (should do a separate negative review of this).

The Veritas gizmo comes in a neat black box (Gallery happy-snap #1) and comprises of 3 parts (Gallery snap #3 and by the curtesy of this duck, duplicated here to save you scrolling up),
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  1. Solid metal centre punch (90° V).
  2. Brass body shaped more like a chess prawn rather than a mobile crustacean. The base has a skid resistant rubber ring which elevated the brass unit off the timber and I assume permits entry of light to sight the cross-hair.
  3. Optical plastic sleeve with a "cross-hair" etched on one end.

First off you need to make a mark. I use and X which I have been practicing as my signature for the last 70 years… at least since my introduction to crayons.
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Now don't fret if you cannt recognise the X and say that's a bloody plus sign. Education for creating an X is outside the scope of this review, however, once you have marked your spot, it's now a case of how accurately you can indent the intersection to drill at the exact location.
And don't anyone dare to say that's a sideways picture...

You roughly place the brass body over the mark…
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by that I don't mean you slam it down on the work piece but exact alignment is not critical at this stage… and slide the plastic optical sleeve down the shaft
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By moving your preferably open eye close to the knobby end of the plastic sleeve…
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it will be obvious when you have the right focus and if your eye starts to bleed you moved too close… you will notice a very fine set of cross-hairs at the other end of the plastic sleeve. There is no need for any special lighting other than a dark workshop is not recommended. Now this cross hair would be about 1/10 the thickness of a pencil line so take some care in centering it. Please don't look for an X if you only marked a dot (or a +). Unfortunately I could not focus the camera to take a picture so you'll just have to trust me… ducks do not lie… they stand erect and only fly south when caught out.

With the cross-hair centered and firmly holding down the brass body (and please, try not to move it), withdraw the plastic sleeve with your free hand and slide the metal punch down the shaft,
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using the same hand… continually holding the body firm in the same spot with the original hand.
Preferably have it handy rather than trying to grope for it, pick up a mallet, hammer or whatever is your favourite bashing implement and dexterously whack the punch with your chosen battering ram.

You should take a few practice blows in the same/similar material… preferably away from your X to gauge the size of the resultant indentation and adjust your voracity accordingly. Too big and your drill may not centre properly and too small will not be much better.
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I whacked it hard… As is commonly whispered in the woodworking community, practice makes a nice hole in timber when resorting to the use of a force driven centre punch.

Pack your 3 pieces back in that neat black box before you start drilling as they have the propensity to roll into places that you will have an adversity of NOT reaching.

Drill away, however, I do recommend you use a drill press and an appropriate diameter drill bit so you can drill a perfect perpendicular hole in the exact spot you desire, otherwise you have just wasted the purchase of your Veritas punch and my time in writing this review.
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