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Holding small piece for drilling


while on the subject of drill bits, can someone give me some advise
on how to hold a small piece (1"long x1/4"wide) without having it
catch the piece and spin it around and or break the drill bit?

Im using my flex shaft and a 2mm drill bit.

Rgds, gail


Youneed to get hold of a toolmakers clamp. They are available in
different sizes. Basically they are a pair of parallel bars with 2
machine screws through them and they have flat smooth jaws. Once you
have some you will find lots of other uses for them, I use a couple
of pairs for gripping and twisting wire, holding ear posts for
working on setting etc.

Nick Royall


I’ve used masking tape over the whole piece and taped it down to my
wood block, being sure to seal the tape over the edge of the piece.
That wouldn’t work if the piece was round…




With a piece that size or larger I usually press down firmly on one
end with a short length of wood. If the piece heats up the wood
prevents finger burns.

That said, for some reason I seem to have an unreasonable amount of
difficulty drilling metal with my flex shaft - Foredom.

while on the subject of drill bits, can someone give me some
advise on how to hold a small piece (1"long x1/4"wide) without
having it catch the piece and spin it around and or break the drill

The way most machine shops handle this is to make a “jig block”. You
make a wooden block with a slot to hold the piece flush with the
face of the block. Then you put a cover block on top that has a hole
drilled to line up where you want to drill. You either clamp, screw,
or use registration pins to hold the whole mess together.

The piece you are trying to drill is locked down, and you have a
guide so that all copies are the same.

You could probably do something similar with something like Jett

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL


I use my ring clamp to hold the metal I am drilling. It only took one
broken drill bit thru my pinky finger before I discovered the "other"
benefits of my ring clamp :slight_smile:



Yes, Try Jett Sett or Shellac. Take an old dowel rod 1/2 inch or so
and cut it handle length. Then melt either Jett Sett or Shellac on
the end to make a knob or ball. When it is almost hardened or cooled,
press it against a steel block or other nonporous object to make a
smooth flat surface. Let it completely cool in cold water or air
cool, then slightly heat you object to be drilled and set it in and
when it cools it will be held by the hardened, cooled material. While
drilling, try to keep your object as cool as possible or it will
loosen up.

Good luck, Steve

can someone give me some advise on how to hold a small piece
(1"long x1/4"wide) without having it catch the piece and spin it
around and or break the drill bit? 

try a plain old ordinary ring clamp. pretty versatile things… you
can also use various pliers, small bench vises, or whatnot, if you’ve
got them. Ring clamps, though, with their leather jaws, are nice
because they don’t mark the metal.

if you’ve no other good way, the old standby is shellac or lapidary
dop wax, or something of the sort. You imbed the item in that to hold
it. Disadvantage is it takes longer to get ready to drill, then more
time to clean off afterwards, and if the item gets too warm, the wax
melts and can let go. similar materials are the thermoplastics like
jett set, or the grey thermoplastic GRS sells. Or, chasing pitch can
work too. But if you’re drilling or working on anything fragile,
easily bent or crushed, or otherwise in need not just of holding but
also of support, then this is often the best way.

If nothing else is available, glue it to something. Epoxy, super
glue, or foam mounting tape, double sided carpet tape, or the like,
can be used, though the tapes are not always predictably secure for
small items.

Sometimes you can carve enough of a groove in your bench pin or a
piece of wood so you can simply hold it down with fingers, the
grooves sufficiently resisting a spinning motion to let your fingers
hold it securely. This, if you know what you’re doing, often works
fine, but without experience, you can think it’s secure when it’s
not, risking injury to drill bit or fingers.

If large enough, or you’ve got a small enough C clamp, you can clamp
it to a piece of wood, being then able to hold the larger piece of
wood. This is similar to standard practice when drilling larger items
on things like drill presses.

What you probably don’t want to do, unless you’re very sure you can
hold it, and this would tend to be with smaller drills, is just hold
it in your fingers. But I’m guessing you’ve already found this out,
or you wouldn’t have been asking the question.

It will also help a lot to use a proper lubricant when drilling. A
properly lubed drill will cut more easily, and be less likely to
catch the workpiece.

Peter Rowe


hold the piece with pliers near where you’ll be drilling. To prevent
marring the metal, use a bit of masking tape on the metal or the jaws
of pliers. With that size bit in a small piece, I’d suggest a pilot
hole with a smaller bit first.

Pam Chott



Vice Grips with jaws padded with leather works pretty well.



It might help to securely tape the metal to a piece of scrap wood
large enough for you to hold. That way the piece is stabilized and
the wood acts as a support for the metal and is a good place for the
drill bit to go into as opposed to your bench, etc.



Drill a couple of holes in the top of your bench pin about 3/4 inch,
apart, Inset a couple of drill bits, burr shanks, or similar and
place the piece between them. They will stop the piece from spinning

Jerry in Kodiak


Try a watchmaker’s pin vise, available most watch material supply
houses Try Casker- good company in Cincinnati. Made in steel and
brass. Great for holding wire (adjustable), watch stems, hands,



Another way to hold small pieces to work on is to heat them up and
melt into the end of a piece of Delrin rod. It grips surprisingly
well, many sizes available on E-bay. I suppose you could do it into a
bit of sheet also. Just reheat to remove.

regards Tim Blades.


If the piece is flat, superglue it onto a bigger piece of metal so
that you have a bigger ‘handle’ to hold. When you have finished
drilling, warm the metal up and the superglue will let go, then clean
away any residue with Acetone…