Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ray Iles Drawbore Pins

I am currently working on a coat tree that will have the legs mortised to a central post.  I decided that the best way to join the legs to the post was with a draw bored mortise and tenon.  I almost have the legs done and I'm getting ready to start on the mortises.  In the past I have always used a machinist drift pin as a draw bore pin.  For the most part it works ok.  Its lack of a handle (and my laziness to make one for it) has been a real draw back.  So it bit the bullet and bought a pair of Ray Iles Draw bore pins.

So why did I choose the Ray Iles version.  Mainly because they are the only current model that is turned eccentrically.  This means that the center line of the turning is slightly skewed.  I could see how this would be an advantage when trying to pull a joint together.  I also don't own any of they Ray's tools and wanted to give them shot.

My initial impressions of the tools as I unwrapped them was that I was less than impressed.  The tips of the pins were just roughly formed.  The handles had dents and dings in finish and there is just something people leaving tail stock holes in their handles that turns me off.  The pins seemed to be roughly turned.  I don't mean to be overly critical, maybe Lie-Nielsen & Lee Valley just have me spoiled.  When I buy a premium tool not only do I expect it to work great but look and feel great also.  I had even considered calling Tools For Working Wood and asking them about the pins.  In the end I decided I could fix the roughly formed tips of the pins and that was my major complaint.

I just felt like this tool was unfinished.  A few minutes at the grinder cleaned them up nicely.
 In use I have far fewer complaints.  The tool works exceptionally well.  You don't have to put any downward force on the pin.  I can remember watching one of Chris Schwarz's videos on using draw bore pins and I recall him talking about how important a good handle was because of all the tight turning and pressure you would use with it.  This tool didn't require all of that work.  Simply drop in the hole and with little effort it will pull your joint together tightly.  As a matter of fact you have to be very careful not to enlarge your hole by advancing the pin to far.  I do wish the pins had a more gradual taper to assist with this issue.

Over all the pins work great.  They are a huge advancement from the drift pin I was using.  I just wish a little more time had been spend on fit and finish.  I still plan on purchasing Ray's mortise chisels and look forward to giving them a try.

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