Making a hole in a shaft without a lathe

Is there any decent way to this without a lathe? Want to make a hole that I can tap so I can use a bolt and washer to retain stuff but I don’t have any thunderhex.

If it’s just for retention eye-ball it (or scribe in 1/4in from two sides of the hex) and call it a day.

If it needs to be any sort of concentric you can make a jig on a drill press. Thru-drill a block with the tap drill size you want, half-drill with a 37/64ths bit (fits a 1/2in hex shaft just barely), and now you have a guide that will center the tap drill on the end of a hex shaft.


Before thunderhex, and before we had a lathe, we did what James said. Just clamp the shaft vertically in a drill press and eyeball it. If it is just for a retaining bold and washer it does not need to be centered… straight would be best though.

Another trick to find the center of the shaft is to mount it in a bearing and spin it, then apply some moderately coarse sandpaper to the end. Where the circles get down to a point, there you center punch and drill. If the shaft is short enough, you can do the sandpaper part on a drill press.

You can even take this farther:


If it’s not under a heavy load you could try using some churro tube instead of a regular hex axle.

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If this is 1/2in hex you are talking about then you could always cut a small (think 1in long) piece of churro and clamp it end on end on top of your 1/2in hex in the vice. The hole in the churro would serve as a guide for your drill bit going into the end of the hex shaft perfectly centered.

We did this in a pinch once because the mill/lathe we have was broken at the time, and it worked great.


Seems like if you’re doing that it’d be a fine use of a transfer punch.

Tweaking @tomithy’s, just use a 1/2" deep socket to keep the churro in place and drill through the driver hole.

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I highly highly recommend that until you can buy a lathe your team buy some of these Center Finder / Punch

It can easily help you center punch a shaft by finding the center. After that it is up to you to carefully drill out the center.

This has worked for me in the past.

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From my experience, the hole in the center of 1/2" hex, churro, and round is usually not centered (visible w/o measuring), but its closer than just freehanding.

Do you guys have a cnc? We are going to use ours for getting holes in shaft.

No cnc:(