Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Using the Hollow Square Punches

Before starting give the punch a good sharpening. The sharpening cones available at Lee Valley are the correct angle for the inside surface.

Layout the location for the square hole.
Using a small square, center the punch on the layout.

Now lightly tap it in place to registers its position. Often the punch will stay put when you remove your hand - if not it is easy to relocate.

Now, using a bit that is 3/64" under the size of the square hole (3/8" square hole - use 21/64" bit), drill out the center. Use an ordinary twist bit for this and not a brad point. The leading sharp corners of the brad bit will catch on the inside of the chisel and damage themselves.

To finish off - strike the punch with the hammer to its final depth. Before removing the punch use the drill once again to remove most of the wood chips.

Remove the punch for a perfectly square crisp hole!

The Hollow Square Punches will be available from Lee Valley Tools very soon.
Use the product code 50K5920.
For more on the Hollow Square Punches see my previous blog.


  1. Darrell,

    It was interesting to read the technique you use to cut the mortises.

    One difference I see between these and hollow mortise chisels is the depth of cut they are able to take. A hollow mortise chisel can cut quite a deep mortise, not so with these. For decorative use, it's a non issue, but if you are cutting mortises to accept tenons, you still have to do more work in thicker stock.

  2. I went to a Greene and Greene exhibit in Jan of last year, at the Renwick Gallery in DC. I have wondered how to do square punches since then. Great post, thanks for explaining it.

  3. Chris,
    The punches are not meant to be used for joinery - only for installing decorative plugs. If you are working in the style of G&G or even A&C there can be lots of plugs to do.

  4. It's about time Lee Valley got their act together. ;)

    Just kidding, but I have been waiting for these ever since using yours in the G&G classes, Darrell.

    They look alot different than the prototypes. Do they center the drill bit as well as the prototypes do? That's the problem with using conventional mortiser bits - the outer edge of the drill bit sometimes "wanders" outside the boundaries of the square, ruining the hole for decorative purposes.

  5. Hi Darrell,
    If these are still in r&d, I think having center lines scribe in each face would be useful. I use centerlines and cross hairs a lot for layout and avoiding the additional step and its inherent inaccuracies.


  6. Hi Wes,
    Sorry, the chisels are past the R&D phase and are currently in production.


  7. I've heard back from Lee Valley re pricing and part numbers:

    3/16" Square Hole Punch (50K5903) $24.50 USD
    ¼" Square Hole Punch (50K5904) $24.50 USD
    5/16" Square Hole Punch (50K5905) $24.50 USD
    3/8" Square Hole Punch (50K5906) $26.50 USD
    7/16" Square Hole Punch (50K5907) $26.50 USD
    ½" Square Hole Punch (50K5908) $26.50 USD

    ***Set of Six***(50K5903-08) $129.00 USD

    They should be available on the website from next week but are available for phone order now.

  8. They're available on the Lee Valley site today (4/13). Set of 6 are on order!

  9. I am impressed and anxious, these little gems will make projects look even better. Thanks Darrell

  10. You certainly make it look easy, Darrell! It tool me a little practice but mine look good now too.

    I also do through mortises with a Minimax slot mortiser. These are great for squaring the rounded corners. Then I just chop it square inside, and since the inside doesn't show, it's pretty quick work.

    Bob Peticolas
    Lorien Woodwork

  11. Just got the square punches from LV after reading about it on this blog. They are everything you show them to be.