I'm making some pull up bars with 1 1/8" diameter holes and have some questions about how I should drill the holes:

Right now I'm planning on using spade bits. A drill press is not practical in this situation, but I could use one if I had to. The poles are 6" x 6" x 10', and a small imperfection will span across 5' to magnify. Any suggestions on some sort of portable drill press I could clamp onto the wood to use?

Is there a better tool for this job? Ideally it should be inexpensive/rentable.

2 Answers 2


If you are set on using a hand-drill, there are jigs available that will keep the drill perpendicular to the object being drilled. Alternatively, holding a level against the drill will help you keep it aligned.

I would suggest using a Forstner bit instead of a spade bit. Spade bits can jump around a bit, tear out and are not that precise. They are good for rough work, but a Forstner bit will give you a much cleaner cut.

That being said, a drill press is the best tool for this, and they can be purchased relatively inexpensively. You could also find a "maker" workshop in your area, or a college with a shop where often you can rent time and use their tools.

  • Just a note: Any portable "drill press" jig I've ever used, was crap. You may be able to find a good one, but it's likely going to be expensive.
    – Tester101
    May 5, 2015 at 13:09
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    Sounds like a perfectly good excuse to buy a drill press!
    – Steven
    May 5, 2015 at 18:05
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    I know a guy who has a huge drill press, so I guess this is the way to go, I'll just have to drill them before I bring them to the work-site.
    – DavisDude
    May 5, 2015 at 22:50

For your safety, you absolutely must use a drill guide that is firmly clamped to the workpiece. Whether you buy one or make one is up to you. This diameter bit is too large for you to be able to control it by hand (and a spade bit will be worse than forstner in this regard as well). I gave myself a black eye when trying to drill holes this large and the drill got away from me... with that diameter you are generating a whole lot of torque. Any unevenness in your angle will make the bit catch. Hard. My general guideline is anything > 3/4" diameter gets a guide.

Alternatively, you can you a router straight bit with a guide riding on a template... depending on the depth of the hole you need.

  • Thanks for the safety advice! I will keep that in mind next time. Unfortunately, I don't think a router will be ideal in this situation.
    – DavisDude
    May 5, 2015 at 22:49

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