With all the floorboards rounded over and sanded smooth it was time to make the lift out sections, which of course entails the nerve racking business of cutting full length floorboards into three pieces.
So I measured twice, and cut once. The results were excellent. I used the mitre saw to ensure that the cuts were accurate and clean , as below.
The pieces of the lift outs were then joined together by three cleats made from scrap Ash. Here they are, glued up and fastened with temporary dry wall screws.
It remained for me to drill the finger holes. These had to be quite large at 25mm and perfectly vertical, with a very clean cut and crisp edges.
I experimented with the router and a plunge cutter, but it was a failure. A hole saw would probably work but I could not be sure of drilling true vertical holes with a drill and I was not sure of the quality of the cut.
What was really needed was a Forstner bit, which is specifically intended for this sort of job. Forstner bits though are for use in pillar drills. In the sure knowledge that I would face this problem again in the build I decided to invest in one.
I looked at the pillar drills in my preferred tool store. The biggest craft and hobby model was too toy-like for the job, and their entry level trade model was enormous and immovable.
I needed something in between that would be good enough to drill stainless steel tubing when the time came, as well as hardwood floorboards now.
I found another tool store online which sells a vast range of pillar drills and called them to ask for advice. They were very helpful and recommended a model between their craft/hobby and trade ranges which can satisfy my requirements but is small and light enough to store in a corner when not in use.
So I visited the store and bought one. I also purchased a set of top quality Forstner bits by Fisk. Here are the bits.
And here is the drill, set up to drill the first finger hole with a 25mm bit.
Here is a close up showing the drill clamp which I purchased with the bits to hold work down firmly on the drill table.
It was set to a slow speed for drilling hard material, and after a few tests I drilled the finger holes. It worked brilliantly! Here is one of the holes after drilling.
The temporary screws were removed and replaced with silicon bronze wood screws, and the lift out sections were ready for finishing.
That was good fun! I love my new drill ...