Rss Feed

Bore & Ream Bench

Toad Hall’s Boring/Reaming Bench

     Boring a barrel can be accomplished by various methods and machines.  The photos below show what we currently use in the shop to bore out a barrel by the quickest, easiest, and “CHEAPEST” method available to me.   Starting out as a long time brain cramp of mine several years back, its made largely of wood, was rather easy to construct, and handles barrels over 60 inches in length.  Maybe not as fast as what Don Getz uses, but it works very, very, well.

     The 3 major non-wooden parts are: a 1/2″ Jacobs chuck, a small arbor shaft from the local hardware store, and a wheel from an old corn sheller.  The non-traditional drill bit has a bore riding pilot ground into it and has 3 teeth.  Each tooth has been ground to slightly different heights so that as one edge wears down and becomes dull, the next one starts to bite.  One bit should be able to drill two 4 foot barrels before needing some heavy duty sharpening.  Three extensions are used to increase the depth of the bit in the barrel.  The extensions are made from common hot rolled steel rod and have 4 set screws mounted to secure the bit.

     The barrel is held securely in the wooden clamps with two wedges made of oak, similar to my rifling bench set-up.  The barrel cradle is propelled into the bit via a wooden lever in arrangement with a series of wooden pegs mounted on the side of the bench.  Chips may be removed with a bit of rag and a long dowel, or by a jet of air from a compressor.  When using an air compressor, the chips are caught in an empty milk jug.  Lubrication (old, used motor oil) is applied to the bit liberally with a small paint brush.  Please note that lots of oil is best.  The wooden gibs are lubricated with paraffin or candle wax.  “3 in 1” oil handles the babbitt bearings for the chuck shaft.  If you want a CD that contains beau coup detailed photos of this bench, but no dimensions, please send me $10 and that covers Priority postage, too.


This is the bench in all its radiant glory.  That heavy wheel supplies a lot of force for the bit.

The head block was made from gun stock scraps.  Two babbitt bearings keep the shaft running true.  Look closely and you will see two tiny holes on top of the head.  These are oil ways for the babbitt bearings.


How the barrel is clamped in position.  Make sure the wedges don’t work loose during use!


A non-traditional bit attached to the first extension.  Total usable drilling length in this case is 16 inches at this point.  The bit is used initially by itself in the chuck.  Three successively longer extensions are needed to bore the entire length of a 48 inch barrel.


The lever, pegs and tail block used to propel the barrel cradle into the drill bit.  As the bore becomes deeper, the lever is moved up a peg in order to apply sufficient pressure.  An assistant is really helpful when using this set-up, unless you have it attached to a weighted rope or something of that nature.  Some super-strong, but feeble minded person COULD use it by simply tying a rope to the handle and pulling upon it while he cranked the wheel.  Oh!  My aching back!!