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What is a Horizontal Boring Machine?

Patrick Roland
Patrick Roland

A horizontal boring machine offers many options for woodworkers and metal workers for drilling horizontal and angled holes into their work. This machine is preferred over other drilling tools because of its precision and ability to drill deep holes. Its unique construction sets it apart from most shop tools in its appearance and in its service. The doweling process is made simple because of this machine and its abilities.

On first glance, a horizontal boring machine looks a lot like a drill press turned on its side. There are many differences, but both tools serve the same primary function of boring out holes in metal and wood through the use of a movable drill that bores directly into the material. A drill press is quite limited in its abilities because it creates only vertical holes. Horizontal boring machines offer many more drilling options.


The horizontal boring machine primarily is a large drilling motor attached to casters that helps it to move from right to left horizontally at the operator's command. The machine also features a table-like clamping system that allows users to place small or large pieces of material securely in place. This table is on movable casters and provides better accuracy because the user can bore one hole and move the table to make another incision, instead of unclamping the material and manually moving it. An advanced horizontal boring machine also can be adjusted to make angled holes by swinging the drill portion on an adjustable axis.

A horizontal boring machine is adjustable in many other ways. The biggest interchangeable aspect is its head or drill bit. Users can change the bit size quickly, much like with a hand drill, to create larger or smaller bores to meet any need. Every machine has an adjustable RPM speed that makes the bit spin faster or slower to accommodate various materials' sensitivity.

The primary use for horizontal boring machines is in the doweling process. A dowel is a wooden, metal or plastic peg that is inserted into a hole, most often connecting two pieces of material. A good example would be a wooden dowel used to connect a chair leg and base. A horizontal boring machine can repeatedly make a hole to fit a specific dowel's girth and depth to ensure a perfect fit every time. This helpful machine erases the guesswork and constant measurement that are necessary when trying to do the job with inaccurate hand tools.

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