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Yankee Drills


   
 

Working with Hands - James E. Price


 
  Boring Hole With Fire 1 of 2  

 

For eons mankind has made holes through
wood with burning awls
or augers.

 

 

I seldom see any current woodworkers using this method to make perfectly round or square holes in wooden workpieces.

When I was but a youngster burning augers were common here in the Missouri Ozarks and were often used by blacksmith's to make bolt holes in wooden wagon parts. But their use was not limited to smiths because I remember a man named Punk Murray sitting by a small fire in his yard burning holes in wood with a burning awl.

My impression is that this was a common method used during pioneer times to make holes in logs and rived boards.

In 1974 I made a burning auger that I have used many times since. It has a square cross section at the top for a distance of about two inches and then is square tapered to a sharp tip. With it I can burn 1/2-inch square holes or use it as a reamer by turning it to create tapered holes of various diameters smaller than 1/2 inch.

This morning I built a fire out of fallen pecan limbs for heating the auger and demonstrating to unplugged woodworkers just how easy it is to do. A rived red oak board was used and I used a period brace with a quill bit to bore a small hole through the board in order to efficiently start the burning process.

Then, the hole was enlarged with a period gimlet with a cow horn handle to enlarge it.


 
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