Drilling paper, but not with a paper drill bit

Hi all-
I’m trying to enlist some advice about drilling paper.
I have an upcoming stab binding project that I’m looking into.

Paper drill bits- the hollow kind- seem to come down to 1/8” (.125”) in size. That’s a little bigger than I was looking to use for these holes, but it could work. I just don’t want the thread wandering too much and it’s not what I’ve used before, though I might mock it up.

Anyhow, I have used regular drill-bits to drill through stock before without too much issue, to make smaller holes. It’s usually marked up the top sheet, so I line the book with a couple extra pieces on top and bottom, which are removed after drilling to make the neat ‘inner’ sheets the top edge.

But, I don’t want to line and unlike 700 books (!), I’d rather drill through the project without if possible.

My question is, does anyone have a particular drill bit or setup that is not the traditional hole style bit, which results in less snarling? Or any comment as to what angles might work better than others, for the head of the bit?

Thanks in advance!

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(I’m also aware I could Knock an Awl through, but am more interested in a powered method.)

I have done several Editions of an Artist Book, drilled with a 1/16 th regular drill bit, but you have to have a chipboard or such on top of your stock, so the paper drills cleaner and have a chip board at the bottom and drill into a piece of wood. But anything larger in drill size makes a mess.

You can try the setup in this illustration. If you pre-drill the top piece of wood it will help with aligning the holes.

image: drill-paper.jpg


HavenP- I do a LOT of Japanese binding, and I gave up on drilling entirely. Nowadays I pierce the paper using a cheap ($40) Arbor Press, with a home-made “needle” attachment on the ram ….and a wooden “backstop” set so the needle falls the correct depth from the edge. It’s a home-made version of the old Rossback Piercer machine.
(I would post a picture, but i’m travelling and not near my shop)

With such a set-up you can pierce maybe 1 1/2 to 2 inches of material per stroke, and a stroke only takes a second or two. It’s pretty fast…. it’s a lot faster than drilling.

The only thing you have to worry about is piercing your fingertip. It hurts like a….. um….. something terrible. Or so I heard.


I considered an arbor press/needle. It may be the route I go.

The rest of you-
Thanks for your kind responses.
However… If you read my request carefully you’ll see that I am aware I can line the top and bottom with chipboard, but that I am uninterested in doing so 700+ times for an edition, and that I am asking if anyone has experience with a workaround that involves a specific type of drill bit.

I’ve already designed a template similar to the board shown, only mine is going to involve a layup board with some toggle clamps and a custom board with guide holes pre-drilled rather than C-clamps and a couple planks. http://images1.mcmaster.com/Contents/gfx/large/5128a65p2-a06al.png?ver=3...

The goal here is to make this go as efficiently as possible and eliminate handling/fumbling from the process as much as possible without actually automating it.

Winking Cat’s suggestion about the piercing machine was the magic ticket in our case of needing to handbind 60+ pages of prose.

I recently did a blog post in which I discuss our chapbook process, including construction of the piercing machine with pictures.


Hope it helps someone! Thanks again Winking Cat!

NewF…. what a GREAT write-up about your binding! I thoroughly enjoyed your blog, and your books look really good.

I’m glad that one of my home-made equipment ideas was able to help out.