The design is ancient, going back to Roman times. Spoon bits have even been found in Viking excavations. Spoon bits are the traditional boring tools used with a brace for making chairs - never use them with a power drill of any kind. Their two key advantages over regular brace bits and power drill bits is that you can adjust the angle of the hole as you drill, and that that they allow you to drill nearly to the thickness of the material with no issues of going through. (A benefit of not having a spur.) You can also rough out waste and not have to leave material for the spur.
The ability to work at an angle is very important in chairmaking, because all the angles are usually eyeballed. Without a lead screw, you can drill successfully a chair leg nearly all the way without having the lead screw peek out the other side.
The Gramercy Tools Spoon Bits are designed and made entirely in our Brooklyn workshop (just behind the showroom). We know that that there is a demand for this type of bit, especially from chairmakers, spoon makers and wood artists, but unless the bits are made properly and arrive sharp they won't work well. A great spoon bit cuts a tight spiral shavings. We wanted to make something that would compete with the best of the ones of the past. In order to do that, we had to figure out how to machine some very complex geometry, learn how to harden the bits without warping, and finally sharpen them. This is one of most technically challenging projects we have ever done.
If you purchase four or more of the spoon bits on this page, you are entitled to a 10% discount. The discount is automatic and will show up as an entry in your basket.
The smaller sized bits are now available. We are almost ready with the first of the larger sizes. As we get further along we will add more information, including a handout on use and sharpening.
Completely made in our workshop in Brooklyn, New York.
STARTING A HOLE: Since the spoon bit enters the wood like a carving tool, you have to compensate by
starting the bit at a position radially offset from the center of your intended hole. Roughly, you want to offset
your starting point 1/4 of the radius for hardwoods, and 1/2 of the radius for softwoods, adjusting as you
become more familiar with the cutting action.
Crank the bit back and
forth with gentle pressure,
increasing your arc each
time until you feel the bit
has established a central dimple,
coincident with the desired hole location.
At this point you can increase pressure and
begin to cut in full clockwise or counterclockwise circles, whichever the grain seems to prefer.