View Full Version : Cutting Limber Holes late in game

Clinton B Chase
03-31-2010, 10:21 AM
Let's just say, hypothetically, that someone forgets to cut the limbers in a bulkhead and happens --- and I'm not saying that this could possibly happen but you never know, there is always a chance -- to glue the hull together without any limbers cut. And let's say that he has to now cut those, and make them look nice, with the bottom in place. Now, I don't know anyone who has done this -- can't imagine it happening to me -- but what tricks have people employed to make their limbers?

I OK, I did it, again. Have done it before, too. And on the boats I built with kids it happened a lot too! Usually we just used a spade bit and got as close to the bottom of the boat as possible to make the hole flush.

I'm imagining a flexible, flush cutting drill bit and then finishing of the hole with a rasp.

Thanks for ideas.


03-31-2010, 10:25 AM
Have done this task with drill/chisel/sureform, followed by sanding.
Kinda made me want to try one of those vibrating multi-tool things, but sweat was cheaper...
I guess if you have enough space, could use a bit extension to get a lower angle, for less work after drilling.
Or maybe you might benefit from a right angle drill (try your friendliest electrician (?)).

03-31-2010, 10:27 AM
90 air die grinder with an aggressive carbide bit (you know there is a fastener exactly there, right?)
A couple of pieces of sheet metal to protect the planking.

$29.95 (http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200305413_200305413)


03-31-2010, 10:32 AM
Ahh, I like canoeyawl's answer better than mine.

Uncle Duke
03-31-2010, 10:40 AM
I've done that.
Drill from each side at the smallest angle you can such that the bit just barely exits the other side of the floor right at the bottom, without hitting it.
Those holes should cross, giving you a funny looking hole from side to side.
Take the blade off a coping saw (remember those?), put it through, then reattach to the saw itself. Use that to trim out the hole nicely - take it apart and remove it.
Little clean-up and you're done. It's actually faster than it sounds, and uses stuff you already have around.

Ah - sorry. "Bulkhead" - yeah, a coping saw won't work. Good for floors, though.

03-31-2010, 10:41 AM
Hole saw will work finish with a rasp. work from both sides.

03-31-2010, 11:05 AM
It is truly gratifying to know that other people miss this kind of stuff too.:D



03-31-2010, 11:18 AM
Buy a 1 inch or so sized one of these forstner bits and then cut straight down from the widest diameter of the hole to the bottom with something sharp! It's easier to see what you're doing with one of these than a hole saw and also works better at a slight angle if necessary. Good Luck!


Ron Williamson
03-31-2010, 11:38 AM
Someone here put a bit into a ratchet handle and wound it in a 1/2 turn at a time.
IIRC he said that the discussion took far longer than the reality.

03-31-2010, 12:02 PM
Fein Multimaster?

03-31-2010, 12:16 PM
Ah - sorry. "Bulkhead" - yeah, a coping saw won't work. Good for floors, though.

Maybe not a coping saw, but perhaps drilling a hole to admit a small keyhole type saw like this one would be fine:


It would let you get down to the hull bottom or very close to it.

03-31-2010, 12:19 PM
Off topic, but... This is pretty cool, too - I hadn't seen a little pocket saw like this before 3 and some inch blade - at the Japan Woodworker:


03-31-2010, 12:21 PM
Clinton, I have used a (oscillating) Multimaster with the E-Cut blade for this kind of thing. It allows cutting a straight line flush with the keel/deadwood, then the other 3 sides can be cut with the same blade. Or after that first flush cut, you can bore a round hole and chisel down to the flush cut. You can push this blade right through wood.

Here's that tool with that blade, used for mowing off bungs on a deck in this case. You can see by the shape of the blade that it can cut flush with the deck here, without the tool itself having clearance problems.

You might even have and use a Multimaster tool for similar things. But I often find that I don't imagine some of it's related uses. Then I have a moment when I say 'Duh. Multimaster.' I'm learning that whenever something is a real pain with any normal tool, to imagine using the Multimaster with an off-the-shelf or homemade attachment. It can even play a stringed instrument :).



03-31-2010, 12:22 PM
Right-angle drill attachment might do it if the clearances are OK -


03-31-2010, 12:26 PM
I've heard that eyeballing it with a wormdrive works too.

Uncle Duke
03-31-2010, 12:27 PM
I've heard that eyeballing it with a wormdrive works tooSpew! :D

Eric D
03-31-2010, 12:29 PM
I can see none of you carve decoys or other such items. Chuck up your cone bit on the FLEX SHAFT of the FOREDOM after you have drilled as large of hole as you can and quickly grind away the hole. You will be flush in no time and work very neat. Suggest a sabbur tooth bit for the most aggressive/rapid stock removal.

Or just rasp it like Clint said...

03-31-2010, 12:48 PM
I think I know someone who's had that problem. His solution was a holesaw on an extension.
He'd like to have an excuse to buy some rifflers for finishing up.

03-31-2010, 12:58 PM
Multimaster would work in my boat that has the limber holes to each side of the keelson. A picture might help

03-31-2010, 01:14 PM
Question: How many WoodenBoat forumites does it take to cut a hole in a bulkhead?
Answer: Sixteen and counting...

03-31-2010, 01:21 PM
Question: How many WoodenBoat forumites does it take to cut a hole in a bulkhead?
Answer: Sixteen and counting...


Good thing we don't need to install lightbulbs... :rolleyes:

03-31-2010, 01:21 PM
....Ah - sorry. "Bulkhead" - yeah, a coping saw won't work. Good for floors, though.

If it's the boat I think it is there are large openings in the bulkheads above the scuppers so your very good method should work just fine.

03-31-2010, 01:30 PM
Make it 17. I need to do this on the Elver. After reading all the suggested ideas I'll take a 5/8" forstner bit and drill in each face of a 3/4" floor in the cockpit. Then clean up with a small wood file. In my case I can use a coping saw because the floor is about 3 1/2" high. I'll make one hole each side of the keelson.

Todd D
03-31-2010, 10:03 PM
I third the suggestion of the Fein Multimaster or one of its much cheaper clones such as the Rockwell Sonicrafter ($125) or Dremel Multimate ($99). Any of those tools will make short work of cutting limber holes flush with the planking.

03-31-2010, 10:12 PM
Drill/Bore a round hole as close as you can with tool of choice. Then Fein tool either side of the hole to make clean, inverted U-shaped limbers.

Paul Scheuer
03-31-2010, 10:37 PM
Nothing wrong with old school.
This one has a ratchet.


For tight places


03-31-2010, 10:54 PM
This is the perfect excuse to buy a Fein Multimaster. arguably one of the most useful tools ever. Not THE, but one of. if at all possible, don't bother with the imitations, the Fein will outlast them all.

Flex shaft on a Dremel would work too, as previously mentioned.

Clinton B Chase
04-01-2010, 09:34 PM
Thanks for all the ideas. I have a dremel and a bit brace. Will try those. Maybe I'll try the spade bit on the other two and see what comes out best/takes least time. If folks hound me I'll post results.


john welsford
04-01-2010, 09:44 PM
Poke a holesaw through as close to the hull as possible, then use a keyhole saw to cut that out to the skin. Tidy up with the Dremel with the tiny sanding drum on it.

Mind you, I once forgot to put the centerboard pivot pin hole in a centercase, and the only way I could get in there was to grind a hex on the end of an engineering twist drill bit and use a socket and rachet to turn it. Took about 4 hours!

John Welsford

Clinton B Chase
04-01-2010, 09:47 PM
This happens to the best of us....and more than once.

People say you make a mistake and learn from it. Doesn't mean you don't make the same mistake again....and again...

Though, John, I hope you don't make that one again!!!!