The following is adapted from The Machinist's Third Bedside Reader, by Guy Lautard...

".... it would obsolete my drill press..."
from a letter from Kevin Kimball, Boise, ID

Dear Guy,
"I recently was shown a tool system which was so impressive that I have been anxious to tell someone who might have an interest in such things.

This info came to me via a traveling salesman. This gentleman, who is retired, and now just travels around the western US selling these tools, gave me quite a sales pitch. As I am a Project Engineer* for an industrial contractor, with offices and projects all over the continental US, I am constantly barraged by suppliers, vendors and peddlers attempting to sell me something. Consequently, I was somewhat skeptical of the claims made by this fellow, and found his product literature underwhelming. I must have looked unimpressed, because he told me, "Next to machinists*, engineers are the hardest to convince". I didn't have the heart to tell him he was really bucking a stacked deck with me! [* Mr. Kimball is both an engineer and an amateur machinist!]

Cole Drill

This tool system consisted of an anvil, a vise, a drill spindle, a cast "foot" and a V-block. The Drill's column is simply a length of 1-1/8"Ø CRS. The anvil and vise arrangement was very interesting since they could be used together (as a bench vise (4") with 360° rotation in the vertical plane) or the vise separately (as a massive clamp, hickey bar, pipe wrench etc.) However, all this was not nearly as exciting as the drilling set-up.

The salesman claimed that with this tool it was possible to drill holes up to ?"Ø through mild steel (MS) plate, by hand, without undue effort. Additionally, that with the use of a 3/8" low speed drill motor, holes (up to 2"Ø!) in hardened steel were no problem. He topped this off by saying that all this was possible with HSS bits bought at the local hardware or discount store. The thought of drilling a hole in steel plate with a hand cranked drill struck me as so absurd that I nearly told him we were not interested, but he seemed so sincere that I told him to set up a demo and I would watch.

The salesman placed a piece of 3/8" MS plate on the "foot", then slid the spindle down the column until his 1/2" drill bit came into contact with the plate. The spindle and the "foot" were clamped to the 1-1/8" CRS column via clamping screws and attached handles. The spindle crank was then turned at a leisurely pace, while torque was applied with the free hand to a hexagonal flange on a threaded sleeve through which the spindle passes. The sleeve rides on a thrust bearing atop a shoulder on the spindle, allowing a relentless pressure (the literature says up to 1000 lb..) to be applied to the bit. The hole was drilled through in approximately 30 seconds in this manner. I examined the bit - it was indeed a typical HSS bit, the same brand sold at the Ace Hardware Store here in town.

I was then invited to try it, and found that in seconds, without exerting myself in the least, I too could drill through this steel plate - there was no trick here.

The salesman then took the handle and its ratchet assembly off, and placed a three-sided drill adapter, and a 3/8" Sears drill motor on the spindle, and proceeded to drill holes in all manner of steel pieces, including a 1" square HSS lathe bit, a 1"Ø end mill (using the V-block), and a bearing race from a piece of construction equipment - a Caterpillar™ loader, I think. This last feat was accomplished using a masonry bit (price $1.96 at Ace) no less**. As a finale, he cut a 1-1/4"Ø hole through a truck frame (very hard, in my experience) with a hole saw. This cut was lubricated with a constant flood of WD-40.  [Several drops of GIBBS would have been far more effective...Guy]

The package price of this set-up, complete with all components save the 1-1/8" CRS bar, was $495. This strikes me as a little severe, but I have to say the tools did appear very well made and were certainly effective..... The drill assembly in particular was so convenient, versatile, and efficient that I think it would obsolete my drill press, especially since I do not use my drill press for any precision hole drilling. I can think of few applications where this device would not do as well, and many where it would work and my drill press would not."


** I understand that the trick to this (which in no way detracts from the efficacy of this equipment) is that the masonry drill must not have previously been used for drilling rock or concrete. A new drill is not required for every hole, but one previously used for drilling masonry won't do. GBL

I was very much intrigued by the above letter, plus the leaflet that accompanied it. According to the latter, the Cole drill could be used to drill out broken studs in vehicle wheels or engine blocks, among other things. I couldn't help but think how often we could have used such a tool on my uncle's ranch when I used to work for him as a kid.

In due course I contacted the makers, and ordered one. It is well made. The whole outfit doesn't carry a fancy finish, just as-cast iron, painted a nice deep green. What it does carry is a lifetime guarantee, and they sure don't tell you to baby it, either. They say that if using the vise as a pipe wrench, to stick a 1-1/8" bar into the hole in the bottom end of the outboard jaw, and "... put 4 men on it if necessary - you won't break it."

I’d venture to say that a person could almost pay for a Cole Drill with bets won with unsuspecting friends who think it would be impossible to drill, for example, a ?"Ø hole through 2" plate glass, to say nothing of HSS end mills, lathe tool bits, and the like. The Cole drill will do these things. Which is why I decided to put it in my Catalog, and offer it to "my guys." And my price is considerably better than list, too.

The factory offers a drill motor adapter, but it is so simple to make that I feel a machinist would resent paying $12 or $15 for it (I forget what the factory price on it is, because we haven't ordered one for quite a while, but it is about that price.) Therefore, when we get your order, we send you a sheet showing how to make your own drill motor adapter.  The arrival of the sheet at your place lets you know we got your order, and gives you something to be making while you await the arrival of your Cole Drill,"  (In most cases the Drill is ordered the same day we send the sheet to you.)

I have now shipped Cole drills to almost every state in the U.S., several to Canada, one to a Russian in England, one to a plantation owner in Paupau/New Guinea, and several to Australia and New Zealand.

The COLE DRILL is supplied complete as shown in the above photograph, exceptfor the twist drill bit, which is shown for illustrative purposes only.

Cole Drill Pricing:
US Customers: US$230.00 (includes shipping by UPS to any address in theLower 48 states.)
Canadian Customers: C$397.00 (This item is airmailed to you from the U.S. You will be charged GST and Canada Post’s handling fee when they deliver your goods to you.) BC residents add $27.79 PST Customers outside US or Canada: C$415.00 (includes surface postage from theU.S.A.)
To See the Cole Drill Earning it's keep, in full color, click HERE....

A Cole Drill UPDATE as of November 1,1999:

In recent days I've been making a new set of legs and bed planks for my Conover wood lathe.  Each leg is built up from a standard 2x6 sandwiched in the middle of 4 layers of Douglas fir "microlam".

Microlam is like plywood, except that all the grain goes one way, instead of having alternate layers at 90 degrees to each other.  Microlam is about the ideal material for bed planks in a Conover lathe.  It comes in one standard thickness: 1-3/4".  I bought 2 pieces, one 14" wide and one 12" wide ... ran 'em through the table saw, and ........naw, you don't want all them details.

Anyway, each leg consists of 5 layers, all held together with 9 tie-bolts made from 1/2" redi rod.  All the holes in the leg pieces were drilled on the drill press.  Once the legs were done, the bed planks (which are, in this case 7' 9" long) drop into place in spaces left on either side of the central 2x6 piece, and then the bed planks are match drilled from the legs,
and then bolted into place.  All the holes are 9/16" diameter, drilled with a good quality HSS brad point drill.  I did 12 of the 16 holes with my 1/2" electric drill, and believe me, it has plenty of torque for the job.  But it is no piece of cake if your shoulders are in less than ideal shape.  After 12 holes, I was about whacked, so I decided to try doing the last 4 holes
with the Cole Drill.

What a difference!  The holes went in almost effortlessly, with no strain on yours truly, and when done, they all lined up much better than the ones done with the electric drill.  The only effort required was in screwing the hex nut under the ratchet handle in or out to advance or withdraw the drill, and that was no sweat.  Plus I had to crank the handle, of course - but it's got an 8" throw, so cranking the drill into the wood - even Douglas fir - was dead easy.  I wish I'd done all 16 holes with the Cole Drill - my shoulders would be feeling much better  tonight!   GBL


The Cole vise weighs about 60 lb.. It can be mounted to a bench, vehicle bed or bumper or other sturdy appurtenance by means of the anvil which comes with it. When so mounted, the vise can be swiveled 360° around a horizontal axis. The vise can be removed from the anvil/mounting unit and used by itself, as described above. It is sometimes convenient to grab the column of the Cole Drill in the vise as a means of immobilizing the Drill for use.
Current price on the vise, from us, is US$250.

Canadian customers: If you want a Cole Vise, please call us at 604-922-4909 for a quote.