Tool Review: Wood Owl Tri-Augers – Nail Chipper vs. Ultra Smooth

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 in Reviews | 0 comments

Freshly Sharpened Nail Chipper (left) vs. Fresh-out-of-the-tube Ultra Smooth (right)

Freshly Sharpened Nail Chipper (left) vs. Fresh-out-of-the-tube Ultra Smooth (right)

Several weeks ago my friends over at Time Warp Tool Works asked me to write up a comparison of the two Wood Owl Augers I use when I build workbenches for my customers. I’ve been working my way through a backlog that built up while I was hauling benches all around the midwest to Lie-Nielson’s Hand Tool Events, so it’s taken way too long to get it done (sorry Garth).

I build my benches out of 16/4 Silver maple, so that’s what I used for this review. I suspect the performance of the bits in harder woods like Hard Maple, Ash or Oak would pretty much be the same.

Let’s start with the similarities…

Both bits hog through material like butter, provided your drill is big enough. The lead screw does an excellent job of pulling the auger through the work. In fact, the first time I used one, I made the mistake of stopping the bit to clear chips. The lead screw was so securely anchored, the drill was yanked from my hands. Since then I’ve found the 7-1/2″ auger clears chips pretty effectively in material up to 5″  thick, but if you have to stop, hold on tight! If you let either bit pull itself through the work, they’ll both stop cutting when the lead screw clears the exit face of your material. If you’re in the habit of backing the bit out and finishing the hole from the other side you’ll be able to do so.

Using the right method, both bits will make a pretty clean exit from the work. On the right side of each photo above you can see the blowout caused by pushing the bit all the way through the cut until it cleared the back of the work. The left side of each photo shows the result when I let the lead screw pull the bit till it stopped and applied light pressure to finish the cut.

The entry face and inside of the holes illustrate the biggest differences between the bits. The spurs on the Ultra-Smooth bored a cleaner entry and a much smoother hole. If you’re only going to use one of these bits to hog waste out of really big mortises, you could save a few bucks and go with the Nail Chipper, but I find myself leaving the Ultra Smooth bit chucked into the drill from mortise hogging to dog hole drilling.

If you’re thinking of drilling dog holes, or any 3/4″ hole that needs to be dead square to the face, I recommend getting the Ultra Smooth Auger Bit as part of the EasyDog Hole Kit for thick benches. This kit, made by Time Warp Tool Works, includes a companion 3/4″ plunge router bit to start the hole straight and square, instructions on making an alignment jig for your router, and a dozen of their incredible Ash Bench Dogs. We sell them on our Accessories page. If all you want is the auger bit, I recommend buying them from  Traditional Woodworker.


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