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Here is another cheapo idea.  Is it possible to turn a reel seat with a drill press to any degree of accuracy?  Was thinking about turning a sliding ring seat on my press.

Here is the idea I had:

  • Drill the turning stock
  • Insert a mandrel of some type then chuck it in the drill press
  • Now what in the world do I use to cut the wood with?

Will this work at all?

If you can't tell, I haven't done much detailed wood work.  (Joe West)

    You could use various grades of cloth-backed sandpaper to do the shaping, much as you would on a grip.  I'd want to knock the corners off first with a saw, chisel or router.  Might take some practice to get what you want.  I suspect you will get some deflection at the lower end, I'd keep the wood as near the chuck as possible.

    On the other hand, if you have a router and a router table, you could use a round over bit and do it that way in 4 passes, or use a bullnose bit and just make 2 passes.  (Neil Savage)

    I did several that way before the lathe came along.   The trick is to support the bottom end to prevent flexing of the shaft.  I took a piece of  5/16 all-thread, filed one end down to an oval point.  Drilled a smaller hole in a piece of solid nylon for the pointed end to rest in, epoxied that to a piece of wood clamped to the table, centered under the chuck.  Locked 2 nuts and washer smaller than seat on one end. slipped the drilled blank over it and tightened with another set on top.

    Chucked in press with pointed end fitted tightly in hole in nylon.  Set at low speed, used rough file, rasp, etc. to get it round.  Speeded up and used sandpaper in decreasing grits to get it smooth.


    • Control the urge to work too fast, the all-thread will bend a bit if you're not careful. 
    • Naturally, the National Safety Council would not like this, so use safety glasses.
    • None were perfectly round, I think the softer spots worked down faster.
    • Even with this crude method, the birch burl yielded some of the prettiest results I have ever seen.  (Carey Mitchell)

    Penn State Industries has just the thing for you.  I can't remember the name of the contraption, but call them and tell them what you want to do and they can direct you.  (Joe Byrd)

      Drill Press Lathe -  #DPLATHE $19.95 and Long Pen Mandrel  Set #PKM-DL $10.45

      The drill press lathe is a metal rod that attaches to the drill press table and serves as a vertical tool rest, includes spur center and spur chuck.  The long pen mandrel set would hold the wood blanks.

      Penn State Industries 1-800-377-7297 FREE  (Bob Williams)

    It is easier if you use a cork insert; I turn all my cork reel seats on a drill press. Handles too!!  (Geert Poorteman)


Haven't seen this on site so I will add my 2 cents.  I'm new to all this and needed to get the pen blank round in order to chuck it in the lathe (no four jaw chuck or star bit)  Made a jig to hold the blank vertical in the drill press and used a 3/4 inch hole saw from the local hardware to drill down about an inch.  Sawed off what was left on the outside and had a nice round section to chuck, about 5/8"x 1".  Seems like it might work well for raw stock too. (Ray Wright)

    Now that's smart, you know what they say "necessity is the mother of invention" good job.  (Joe Arguello)

      I always thought it was "necessity is an inventive mother".  I could be wrong.  (Ed Berg)


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