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Centering a Cross Hole in a Shaft

Shaft Centers

If you repair Cub Cadets or “manufacture” custom Cub Cadets there’s a lot of occasions when you need to drill a centered hole through a shaft. If you can accurately create a hole centered in a shaft, you can manufacture your own drive shafts as well as make some custom clutch shafts, steering shafts, etc. The method described requires only a drill press, a v-block, a long center drill and sharp bits. The v-block pictured in the following discussion was purchased from Harbor Freight. I generally don’t recommend purchasing any discount power tools from Harbor Freight, but there are certain tools that work OK. The long center drill and bits (I use cobalt drills for this) were purchased from a local tool supply shop. A shorter center drill could be used along with some precision ¼” rod.

center-cross-1-centering quill


Begin by assuring the table on your drill press is perpendicular with the direction of quill travel. Machinist probably have a more precision way of doing this, but I use a combination square and the long center drill. The long center drill could be replaced with a section of ¼” rod. Once the table is squared with the quill travel it should be occasionally checked to make sure it remains perpendicular. This is especially important if you have to loosen and relocate the drill table.








Make sure you check square at two positions at right angles to the rod. If at all possible, position the table where there’s enough distance between the drill chuck and table that you can drill a hole in the shaft without repositioning the table. Once your drill press is “squared” and the table secured in position, the v-block needs to be properly located. I do this using a drive shaft that’s been removed from a narrow frame Cub Cadet. Place the shaft in the v-block and move the v-block around until the center drill or ¼” rod slides freely in and out of the hole in the shaft. The drive shaft works well for this as it contains factory centered ¼” holes.
Once the v-block is located so that the center drill or rod slides easily in and out of the hole in the shaft, c-clamp the v-block in position. It requires a little coordination to hold the shaft in the v-block while keeping everything aligned, but I’ve done it several times, and you get better with practice. I didn’t take a picture of just the v-block c-clamped in position, but I use 3 small c-clamps to hold it securely.


With the v-block in the correct position, c-clamp the new shaft in position. Use the center drill to start the new hole. This is where I find the long center drill to be very useful. It is close enough to the length of most drill bits that I don’t have to worry about the distance between the chuck and shaft.  Once I get it established for the center drill, it also works for the length of a standard bit.












With the hole started with the center drill, replace the center drill with a standard bit to finish the job. I always use cobalt bits for this, but just make sure you have properly sharpened bits so they don’t “wander” off center.










That’s the process. The only problem that I’ve encountered is when I didn’t properly square the quill travel with the drill press table. If it’s a really critical job, I always experiment with a scrap piece of material first. The only problem I’ve had with the v-block is that it won’t hold anything smaller then a 5/8” shaft. Since most of the shafting on a narrow frame Cub Cadet is 5/8” or larger, that generally hasn’t been a problem.

Last Modified On: 2014-03-15 11:23:21