Relief holes when using large forstner bit?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by rooster posted 02-01-2014 12:15 PM 5612 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View rooster's profile


116 posts in 4989 days

02-01-2014 12:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tool forstner drill

Hey all,

I’m trying to drill very large diameter holes (3-1/4”) into hardwood blanks using a forstner bit. My bench top press says…”Heck no”. I plan to take the workpieces to a buddies house to use a much larger floor model press. My question before I go..

Should I drill a series of 1/4” relief holes inside the perimeter of the large circle? Obviously avoiding the edges for a clean hole and the center for the Forstner bit point. Would this help or would it just encourage the bit to bite/grab on the relief holes?


26 replies so far

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3727 days

#1 posted 02-01-2014 12:34 PM

nah…don’t bother. You’ll just make the large drill bit angry. Let it do it’s job. Definitely use a drill press if possible.

If you drill a small 1/8” pilot hole, you can flip it over and finish the hole to prevent blowout, if it matters.

View rooster's profile


116 posts in 4989 days

#2 posted 02-01-2014 01:16 PM

Thanks Mark! I’ll just use the larger press.

I’m trying to build a wine bottle tree. 3-1/4” hole is a bigger task than I anticipated.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 4021 days

#3 posted 02-01-2014 01:51 PM

If that fails you could make a template and do it with a router.

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 2803 days

#4 posted 02-01-2014 03:22 PM

Try using a fly cutter like this one. It only takes a narrow swath of wood and your small drill press should be able to handle it. I have one of these and use it all the time for larger holes.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View waho6o9's profile


9016 posts in 3628 days

#5 posted 02-01-2014 03:28 PM

Be careful using a fly cutter, maybe read Candy’s review on it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3742 days

#6 posted 02-02-2014 02:00 AM

The big drillpress should do the job BUT there are other ways: hole saw, router and straight bit with template, etc.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4629 days

#7 posted 02-02-2014 02:14 AM

A hole saw could do the job.


View rooster's profile


116 posts in 4989 days

#8 posted 02-02-2014 12:39 PM

Thanks all. I looked at a hole saw, the problem is that the material is 4” thick. I couldn’t find a hole saw that was deep enough. The larger press worked, but even on the lowest speed setting it hung up on occasion. After about 32” of hardwood, I could tell the bit was dull. Now for the next task of trying to sharpen a forstner bit.

I’ll post some pics when complete. Thanks again for the feedback.

View RodNGun's profile


118 posts in 3355 days

#9 posted 02-02-2014 02:36 PM

I drilled 250 3.5” forstner bit holes to make these wine racks. Big drill press, slow speed, headphones and a long playlist. Then I drilled the same number of small holes!

View rooster's profile


116 posts in 4989 days

#10 posted 02-03-2014 12:44 PM

whoa. nice work. a bit more than what I was doing.

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4084 days

#11 posted 02-04-2014 03:25 AM

There is NO Problem using a Relief Hole! I use them when I’m drilling an hole with a Hole saw. Should be NO Problem for a Forstner Bit. It certainly won’t “Make It Angry” ...LOL..

The reason mine USE TO Smoke all the time was just that the Cut Sawdust had no where to go. Some Diagrams below of relief hole.

The Circle Cutter that Candy’s Article is about is a Cheap Piece of Junk from Harbor Freight. About $6.00 Bucks I think. (Pic Below) They didn’t mention that!

I have one from Lee Valley ($32.90) It works just Fine. MAX RPM Of 500/550! Faster than that and you’re asking for Trouble! Also Pictured Below.

It also cuts an “Inside” or “outside’ Cut.

Hope it’s of some help.





-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View Tenfingers58's profile


96 posts in 3729 days

#12 posted 02-04-2014 06:18 AM

What I’ve done is clamp the board to the table, and drill a hole about 1/3 the diameter, then 2/3’s the diameter, then the full hole size. That way the bit isn’t trying to cut out all the waste at once.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3727 days

#13 posted 02-04-2014 01:21 PM

Hey Rick, That’s a good idea with a hole saw.
The dust is fine and would drop through the smaller hole. I’ll have to try that next time.

But that crazy wheel cutter bit looks like a medieval torture device. Too scary! Ha!

He’s drilling a 4” deep hole so the hole saw wouldn’t work. he’s also using a forstener bit which cuts large shavings and wouldn’t drop through a small hole – probably just get clogged.

I’d clamp a fence guide to the drill press and use an air hose and constantly clear the hole and work area. Do short 3/4 cuts and then blow it out, that’s the key. Cut most of the hole, drill a pilot hole, flip and finish it.

The problem with trying to drill it out first is the blowout on the back – unless you plan on flipping it and finishing the holes. I see this as a huge waste of time. Just drill the damn thing already! Ha! and don’t force it till it burns.

You might have to buy a new bit too.

View oldnovice's profile


7702 posts in 4419 days

#14 posted 02-04-2014 06:19 PM

I would do like renners suggested with a router, guide bushing, and template?

I use that method when I need to make holes bigger than my Forstner bits plus you get left over large diameter hole plugs.

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3348 days

#15 posted 02-04-2014 06:25 PM

The hole saw works if you flip the piece and attack the hole from the other side using the pilot bit as your registration. Not perfect, but it works. What’s the design that it has to be a hole in a 4 inch thick piece?

showing 1 through 15 of 26 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics