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Drill Guide Observations and Review

While building my SCAMP dingy sailboat I ran into some difficulties. I needed to make a quite accurate hole on a vertical surface.

This hole was to support the centerboard pivot. The centerboard lives in a case roughtly 4 inches thick and I needed to drill across quite accurately.

Any discrepancy, either up and down or sideways would cause the centerboard to be crooked.


Luckily for me, I had just received Lee Valley Christmas Catalogue and had read each and every page with large lust filled eyes. They describe this guide as a "Portable Drill Stand".

Milescraft 1318 AccuDrill Mate is designed as a portable drill stand. It is not intended as a replacement for a drill press. The link is to Amazon.com.

Ordering the Drill Guide

I ordered my drill guide from Lee Valley in the morning and got a delivery schedule by evening. They had already shipped and it arrived the next day. Pretty good service.

True to their word, the drill guide arrived and was immediately opened and assembled.

Ridgeway / Fort Erie is not a big place and none of the local shops had any. I can go to "town" but that's a couple of hours drive round trip.

Does this Drill Guide Work?

It comes with "some assembly required" but it's pretty basic. Just as well, the instructions are also very basic.

The base and top pliece are cast metal. Various handles and stops are plastic. The whole thing feels well made.

There is some play in the bearings and the whole structure is not absolutely rigid.

This is not a particularly expensive tool but it was well finished and reasonably sturdy. After drilling a couple of test holes working on the bench, just to figure out how it worked, I went on to my boat to actually make a real life hole.


Drilling on the Boat

The reason I bought this tool is to make reasonably accurate holes on the centreboard case. These holes will support the pivot on which the centreboard drops and lifts. The holes have to be lined up very square to the side of the case.

The drill attaches to the top spindle of the drill guide with the drill's chuck. The bit attaches to the drill guide's chuck. The chuck is not huge and the chuck key is also quite small. It would have been nice to have a hole or spot to put the key in when not in use. I'll have to tie it onto something so it doesn't get lost. The top assembly including the drill, jig holding the chuck and bit slides down the 2 pipes on the side. The spring pushes the drill assembly back after drilling. There is a stop screw visible on the left pipe that allows you to control the depth of cut. The base can be tilted so that the hole is at an angle.

There are a few fixed angles that can be set by unscrewing the 2 vertical pipes and rotating the base, then re tightening the 2 red buttons/handles at the top.

When I assembled my centreboard case I had made some small guide holes to keep the parts aligned so I knew that the 2 sides were well aligned. I put a screwdriver (which was exactly the same diametre as the holes I had drilled for the assembly) in the hole and used the other side of the screwdriver, which was protruding from the other side of the case, to line up the guide. I closed the drill-guide chuck onto the scredriver tip and screwed the guide to the side of the case. The base has little holes that can be used to screw the drill guide down. It could also be clamped but I did not have any easy thing to clamp onto so I used screws.

I then removed the drill guide and went to the other side, without actually drilling, I just wanted the screw holes there so I could put the guide back in the exact position. I moved the screwdriver so it protruded from the other side and attached the guide to the other side. This convoluted procedure meant that I was lining up the guide to the same angle as the 2 holes I already had.

If I had planned my work better I might have been able to actually drill the guide holes to proper size before assembly of the centreboard case. I was not confident that they would line up perfectly though so I did not.

guide in place drilling

I used a forstner bit and worked slowly. The guide wobbled some but this did not seem to matter much because it wobbled evenly and my hole turned out to perfectly perpendicular. The wobble was more pronounced if the drill went slowly and less so if I went faster. Because the guide was attached to the substrate it stayed in place even with a slight wobble.

Once the holes on one side had been drilled, I went to the other side and screwed my guide into the screw pilot holes I had made earlier, but not drilled yet. I could no longer use the screwdriver to align the guide because the other side was drilled larger and I had lost my alignment hole. The second hole went very well. I put a pipe of the right diametre in the holes and checked the alignment and square, and they were almost perfectly perpendicular and well lined up. The little drill guide had done it's job surprisingly well.

I could not drill a hole all the way through because the case was too thick, over 4 inches. My bit was not long enough, That's why I had to drill from both sides.

To get extra depth, I had removed the spring and this gave me a fat inch extra depth. I could also have used a spade bit but I wanted a very neat hole with no tear out. Working nearer the base also meant that there was less wobble.


Conclusion. Would I recommend this drill guide?

drilled holes

For my purpose this guide worked very well. There is some play in the various elements so it's not as accurate as a drill press, but it's a useful and usable tool at a fraction of the cost. I would recommend it with some caution.

It will come very useful to install the rudder hardware.

The guide has dowel/pipe v cut out in the base to allow the drilling of round stock. I think that would be useful too.

I'm happy with my purchase and I would buy it again.



I try to be accurate and check my information, but mistakes happen.

email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine

Small Print

This information is for general knowledge. It's not intended to replace plans or proper instructions. If you are not comfortable using powertools get help cutting and drilling. This is my opinion only. Be safe and have fun. This tool is not intended to replace a drill press, it cannot be as accurate.