Drill Spindle


Drill Spindle

Drill Spindle with an Integrated drive motor

The Drill Spindle (also called a drilling frame by many) is similar to a drill in the way it works. For use, it is held in a quick change tool post (QCTP), and the QCTP is bolted to an cross slide.

Vintage drilling bits

Newer drilling bits
Image courtesy Ornamental Tools

Drilling bits take various shapes, and some examples from Holtzapffel's Turning and Mechanical Manipulation, vol. 5 are shown to the left. New drilling bits, made with carbide cutting surfaces, are available from Chris Ploof at Ornamental Tools and a few other places.


The newer style drilling bits are typically held in a collet (one is shown in the picture to the right), but Jacobs drill chucks have also been used.

It is also common to use milling bits in a drill spindle. When using such milling bits, 2-flute bits are recommended as they are better for evacuating chips when milling wood.

Whether a drilling bit or a milling bit is used, that bit (AKA, a cutter) is traditionally rotated in the drilling spindle using an overhead drive. Direct drive approaches can also used but they are more rare. (An example of a direct drive approach is shown above on the right.)

As with cutting frames, drill spindles can be purchased from a number of vendors, or you can make your own.

Additional pictures of this device

Examples of work produced with this device

Examples of this device in use

Usage Notes

How it works

Notes on making one

Cutting Frames are not hard to make if you have a metal lathe (or access to one). A milling machine is also useful, but not required.

If you wish to make your own Drill Spindle, Bill Ooms has provided great directions.

Key Note: Drill Spindles are like cutting frames in that they are where the quality of ornamental cutting comes to life. If there is vibration in the drill spindle it will be transmitted to the cuts, and the quality of the work will be poor.

When you are using the ornamental lathe, listen for noise in the drill spindle. The drill spindle should have a whir like a finely tuned machine, and the noise level should be low. If there is vibration, the noise level will be higher. Sometimes much higher. And the tone of the noise will be higher:L It won't sound or run like a finely tuned machine.

More Information

Published Articles

Books and Papers

Web Sites



########## Standard Footer for all pages ##########

About this Site

Disclaimer: eMail comments to me at OTBookOfKnowledge @ Gmail.com. The process of woodturning involves the use of tools, machinery and materials which could cause injury or be a health hazard unless proper precautions are taken, including the wearing of appropriate protective equipment.