Smoke and Mirrors

Anyone who has attempted to bore an angled hole with a brace and bit or a drill motor, knows that it can be very difficult to maintain even the lowest level of accuracy.  Some (including myself) have even asked the assistance of family members, friends, co-workers or passers-by to “sight the line.”  Of course when boring angles there are two planes to contend with.  Ergo, two assistants are required, which can be difficult if you, like most of us, work in some degree of isolation.

But chairmakers have had a solution to this problem for as long as there have been mirrors (or some type of highly reflective, portable surface).  By simply placing two mirrors and angle indicating devices (squares, bevels, etc.) in positions that allow the craftsman to view the two axes while boring, the tool can be held in perfect alignment.


While it may seem counter-intuitive, it works!  The only thing to keep in mind is that the angle indicating devices must be positioned parallel and perpendicular to the axis of the work, not the mirrors. The positioning of the mirrors is dictated by the viewing needs of the “borer”.

You can purchase a box of six (6) mirror “tiles” at any of the “big box” stores for around $10.00.  For my money, that’s a small price to pay for improved and consistent accuracy without the aid (and limitations) of a drill press.

As far as the “smoke” part of the title.  Well, I confess, that was just to get your attention.


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4 Comments on “Smoke and Mirrors”

  1. mrbuddha1950 Says:

    When I was first exposed to this, it was a real “Doh!” moment. And it works so well……

    Nice vice, I must say.


  2. Karl F. Newman Says:

    I use 2 pieces of mirror wall tile put in wood frame holders/supports.
    they came with self adehisive backs

  3. I can vouch for this. It’s impossible to do this with any level of accuracy without the mirrors.

  4. Sylvain Says:

    For the same price you will get only one acrylic mirror, but you can drop it without much damage; which is nice for a mobile mirror in a workshop.

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