Tool Review: Modern-day spoon bits

0 Posted by - 11th July 2020 - Woodworking

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Spoon bits by Gramercy

We are all influenced by a post-industrial mindset, so it’s easy to get sucked into wanting to work like a machine. But chasing perfect results can get in the way of the process. I am constantly learning this myself, and I often try to gently shift my students toward a freer mindset. For those more inclined to hand tools and their results—especially chairmakers, like myself—spoon bits, chucked in a hand brace, are not to be missed.

Until recently, however, good options were scant aside from vintage models. Luckily, Gramercy has started producing their own. These bits, small diameter or large, cut into hard maple and pine with precision and verve. They’re fast, too. This is because subtle cutting angles at the very tip of a spoon bit dictate its effectiveness. These angles on good antiques fall within a small range, and Gramercy’s new spoon bits match those on the antiques to a T.

Lacking a lead screw, spoon bits can drill deeper without poking through. They cut steeply angled holes cleaner than other hand-powered bits. And while many bits remove their chips by endlessly twisting around themselves, the elegant spoon bit twists its shavings, which never jam.

The 7⁄8-in. bit has a healthy 3-1⁄2-in. cutting length, the 5⁄8-in. bit has 2-1⁄2 in., and the 3⁄8-in. bit has a tiny 1-3⁄4 in.

If I have one complaint, it’s in one way Gramercy’s bits vary from antiques. While vintage versions taper from tip to shank, Gramercy’s are parallel, which could wallow the hole as you cut deeper.

— Elia Bizzarri is a chairmaker in Hillsborough, N.C.

Photos: Barry NM Dima

From Fine Homebuilding #283

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