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Roto hinges

Roto hinges

Monday morning update- part eight of the Cabinetmaker’s Toolchest series. This video is all about drilling the holes in the various components of the toolchest carcase. I had a few people wondering about the bits I use and if my traditional brace was a two or three jaw chuck with additional questions (over on my YouTube channel) about whether the Forstner bits I use are made for braces etc..

First off, let me say that this brace is your typical run-of-the-mill brace made by Millers Falls in Greenfield, Mass. sometime between 1935 and 1949. The model is a No. 1710. It has a two-jaw chuck and you can still find them at flea markets and tool auctions quit regularly.  I’ve been using this one on an almost daily basis for the last 10 years or more and it’s one of my favorite tools here in the woodshop.

The auger bits I’m using for the 3/4-in. holes drilled in the front panel as well as the lid, are an old set manufactured by The Irwin Auger Bit Company in Wilmington, Ohio. My set has 13 bits ranging from a #4 which is 1/4-in. up to a #16, a 1-in. size. These ones are a great example of their boxed sets and I was lucky to find them in such good condition a few years ago.

So , why the 3/4-in. holes in the toolchest?

The 3/4-in. holes are for any clamping jobs you may want to do while on a job site. Used with a Veritas surface clamp, the holes turn the toolchest into a make-shift workbench. You’ll see more information on that in my book with some photos showing a few work holding options. The surface clamps are really a great work shop accessory making any 3/4-in. hole a useful clamping location.

As for the Forstner bits, they’re modern, off the shelf, HSS (high speed steel)  bits and work great in this vintage brace. The two jaws on the chuck hold them in place and again, I use them on a daily basis. I also use brad point bits and my Miller Dowels, stepped bits in this brace. Basically, all of my drilling needs are taken care of with this one brace. I have a couple of egg beater drills and use them for small drilling applications but find the brace easier and faster for most of my drilling needs.

You’ll see in the video, when I’m boring through the carcase panels using an auger bit, I drill down until the lead screw pokes through the opposite side of the panel and then turn the work piece over and finish drilling in from the other side. Less chance of blowing out the fibers that way. For the lid, I changed from the auger bit to a 3/4-in. Forstner bit to finish. The Forstner bits make a cleaner hole but are much slower in use.

The holes for the Roto hinges, in the end grain of the lid, are also made with a Forstner bit. Again, less chance of damaging or splitting the work. The lid is held in my front shoulder vise with a wooden hand screw attached on the top. This will hold the work piece tight while preventing any chance of splitting while I’m drilling out the holes.  The depth is checked with my dial calipers- I make sure the depth is a little deeper than required and the Roto hinges are glued in place with liquid hide glue after a light coat of oil/varnish is applied.

I enjoy using Roto hinges for different furniture applications. This tool chest lid is one and I have a great project in my new book which also uses them. (You’ll have to wait until September to see that one!)

I’ve been using a hand brace for a decade here in my wood shop and can honestly say I don’t miss a powered drill one bit. The feedback you get from a hand tool far outweighs the speed of a powered drill.

Until next time…



Here are some links to a few of the products used in this video:

Roto Hinges

Old Brown Glue

Forstner Bits

Wooden Handscrews

Veritas Surface Clamp