Free drill holders


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Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 11, 2013 - 09:51pm PT
As a few of you know, I've been fooling around with some drill holder ideas for awhile. I think I have some that are useable but I would like some more field testing. I am looking for some climbers who actually drill by hand and would be willing to try one out and let me know what happens. It isn't testing if you don't drill holes. No guarantee they will not fall apart or otherwise fail to be useful. You might want to have a backup holder until you are comfortable with it. I don't really like giving them away to just anybody so it would be nice if someone I know or recognize would try them. I'd like them back for postmortem exam.

You'll have to provide your own bits.

So, who, other than yourself, do you nominate to try one out? The nominee should second his own nomination.

Earlier prototypes pretty much the same as the SDS large and medium I am offering:

High tech hardening of an A-Taper holder:

More info in PDF's:

These holders are all made by me using the junk machines in my garage.

Clockwise from top in the photo found below:
SDS Medium size with no longer used retainer ring slot (#3)
SDS large size with no longer used retainer ring slot (#2)
A-Taper (#7)
A-Taper (#6)
SDS large size with no longer used retainer ring slot (#1)

#1 has seen some use and has drilled perhaps 10 or more holes either by me or Bob (Cragnshag on ST). Clint has been around these too but I don't recall if he has actually used one. Three other climber friends have versions as well.

Clockwise from top 3, 2, 7, 6, 1
Clockwise from top 3, 2, 7, 6, 1
Credit: Banquo
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jul 12, 2013 - 12:01am PT
I bought one of Dan's current design SDS holders (the "Bayonet") from him, and look forward to using it.
I've broken 2 of the Petzl RockPecker holders - the spring just does not last.
I have a Hurricane also, but Dan's design uses the SDS slot and pocket, so the bit will not loosen up and spin or fall out.
Plus no tool needed to change bits.
And the bit goes deep inside the older, so you can drill on steeper stances without having to swing the hammer back as far.

These free earlier SDS prototypes are the same except they use the retainer ring slot.
Greg Barnes

Jul 12, 2013 - 12:23am PT
How well does this design work for rotating hard (since a lot of the time when you expand a 1/4" hole the bit binds and you really crank on the handle to rotate)? Often you seem to spend more time rotating than hitting, particularly when the old 1/4" was a long one. With Hurricanes the grip sometimes got loose and rotated, the Petzls are better for this in my experience.

On the spring breaking - I've only had one spring break on a Petzl but I hit a lot lighter than most folks.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Jul 12, 2013 - 12:24am PT
pretty cool.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jul 12, 2013 - 08:34am PT
426 nominates me and i second me!
Check your email

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jul 12, 2013 - 11:20am PT

I would like a A taper drill.

Nice of you to offer your work up like this.

PM to follow.


Topic Author's Reply - Jul 12, 2013 - 11:31am PT
The main difference between these prototype SDS holders and the final design is that they are made from a softer, low carbon steel. The final versions are made from chromoly steel. They also have the remnants of the old system of retainer ring and washer that used to keep a hot red vinyl grip in place.

what kind of bits fit in each holder. please explain

The three with foam handles hold SDS Plus bits. These are the most common bits and you can find them at the local hardware store.

The longer SDS holder has a deep socket and is intended for 3/8" bits which are typically 6 inches long overall. It will drill a 2.75 or 3 inch deep hole with the typical 3/8" bit. To use a 1/4" bit you will have to buy one that is long enough. A 1/2" bit will not work in this holder.

The medium SDS holder will work with any 3/8" or 1/4" bit. It can be altered to work with a 1/2" bit by drilling out the hole to 1/2" diameter to a depth of about 1/4". I can make this modification pretty easily.

The two little holders use A-Taper bits. I like A-Taper bits because they fit solid and don't wiggle around in the holder. It also results in a holder with no moving parts so failure is pretty unlikely. There is a list of A-Taper bit suppliers in one of the downloads.

How well does this design work for rotating hard

I think you could shear off the torque screws if you put a wrench on it and tried to. So far I haven't had any trouble twisting by hand but I've been drilling new bolts not replacing bolts.

Gym climber
Jul 12, 2013 - 11:32am PT
Banquo, TD and I used to use the hex-shaped RAWL holders and loved them because you could slip a ratchet-wrench over the holder and crank that thing around with the ratchet as you were drilling. Man, you can drill fast with the mechanical advantage.

Here's the wrench I'm talking about:

Would this work with your holders?

Oh, and I nominate Clint and klaus ;-)
goatboy smellz

Jul 12, 2013 - 11:34am PT
I second mucci.

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 12, 2013 - 12:12pm PT
The wrench would work on the A-Taper holders. I think a wrench will work on the SDS holders if you can get the wrench past the cable. You could always just cut the cable off. I'm not really sure why I put the cable on since I never use it. The side springs will be in the way at the drill end but I could probably alter the design so it would work.

The A-Tapers have a home, I will send them off to Mucci and John.

I will send one to jaybro but I need to know what he wants.

Klaus can have one but I need to know which one and his address.

Assuming jaybro and klaus want SDS holders, that leaves one more. Clint can have if he wants another.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jul 12, 2013 - 12:44pm PT
Every time the Russians managed to get one of their high speed jets to set a new speed record we would wheel out the SR 71 Blackbird and snatch it back from them in a matter of hours.

When you have all the speed that you need you can keep some in reserve.
I got my Mercedes up to some pretty good velocities but never floored it.

My point?

Bosch rules.

Trad climber
Mountain View
Jul 12, 2013 - 01:47pm PT
I'd be happy to play around with one. I've got a bunch of SDS bits, so something SDS compatible would be great.

As Greg said the handle slippage is a big issue on the Hurricane when widening holes.

Would be nice if your designed worked well for cranking on the grip.


Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jul 12, 2013 - 02:22pm PT

None of those holders will accept the bit you are trying to use.

Hurricane is the only one.

A taper is good and you can sharpen the tip much better than an SDS carbide tip. Much shorter than any other rig out there.


Topic Author's Reply - Jul 12, 2013 - 03:08pm PT
I have tried and given up on standard HSS twist drill bits. They dull fast, they jam all the time, they are brittle and snap off. I know some swear by them but I've found them more trouble than they are worth.

There are two ways to hold a regular HSS bit. Get a Hurricane drill holder or grind the shank down to match an A-Taper. The Hurricane is a very fine holder but takes two wrenches to change bits. Grinding a drill shank to A-Taper is tricky but can be done if you set up a jig to get the angle right. I can do it fairly well on a benchtop belt sander.

Depending on who you ask, an A-Taper is between 1:20 and 1:20.8. Mine are an included angle of 2.75 degrees which is the 1:20.8. This is based on what the best manufacturers tell me. It's too bad there isn't a standard for A-Taper as the difference between 1:20 and 1:20.8 is enough to cause problems.

Carbide SDS or A-Taper bits usually last a long, long time. They can easily be sharpened with a diamond file. I sharpen new carbide bits and they drill seemingly twice as fast as unsharpened new ones. You can get a set of diamond files on Amazon for less than $10. I did get a batch of carbide bits that shattered after about one and a half holes. The steel at the carbide tip seemed to be too hard and shattered. Other than that they seem to hold up well and can be sharpened many times.

Social climber
san joser
Jul 12, 2013 - 04:22pm PT
Hey Clint I picked up your new drill from Dan and have it in my garage. You owe me 40 jr. frosties and 40 mcdoubles for it. It is a very nice drill- never hit and only dropped once.

This last weekend I drilled four holes in granite with Banquo's medium SDS holder. The drill feels solid and the size was just right. Bits go in and out with no tool and no hassle. No problems with the holder even though I hit very hard.

On a previous trip I used one of the A-taper holders with a carbide bit and had no issues.

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 13, 2013 - 11:37am PT

I'm curious what trouble you had with carbide bits. I know I got some bad ones that broke once. They didn't have a manufacturers name so I suspect they were junk I found on eBay. I don't like how long the 3/8" bits are but that is why I put a deep socket in the long version of my holder.

I'm not dissing the hurricane holder. I think it is very good. I've never used one but it seems like 2 wrenches could cause some fumbling when stance drilling.

As far as long SDS bits go, I am contacting manufacturers to see what it would cost to make a runof shorter bits. I may end up with 100 of them and hope other climbers will be interested in getting some.

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 15, 2013 - 03:52pm PT
I'm sending out four holders by USPS parcel mail today. I'm too cheap to pay priority postage so it wall take awhile for them to arrive.

Mucci is getting an A-Taper holder
John G. is getting an A-Taper holder
Jaybro is getting a medium size SDS holder
Levy is getting a large type SDS holder

I am hoping they use them and post their impressions. I would like to get any comments and any suggestions for improvements.

I still haven't found anyone for one of the large type holders.

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 15, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
Found a home for the last one.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jul 15, 2013 - 09:07pm PT
Thanks a lot Dan, looking forward to wreaking more havoc on my already thrashed elbow!


Trad climber
Jul 15, 2013 - 09:10pm PT
This is a really cool idea.
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