Canadian Woodworking

AutoAngle drill guide

The quickest and easiest way to drill precise straight or angled holes without a drill press.

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The quickest and easiest way to drill precise straight or angled holes without a drill press.

Author: Carl Duguay

Drilling accuracy is crucial when building furniture and cabinetry. Which is why you’ll find a drill press in virtually every woodworking shop. But what if the size or location of you workshop precludes using a drill press? While you could resort to drilling freehand with a drill/driver you won’t necessarily get the level of precision you need, particularly when drilling angled holes.

With the Woodpeckers AutoAngle Drill Guide, a drill/driver and the right drill bits you can drill precisely positioned straight or angled holes on just about any surface.

ManufacturerWoodpeckers
Model: AADG-DEL-22 (deluxe set); AADG-22 (standard set)
Price: $664.99 US (deluxe set); $569.99 (standard set)
Warranty: Limited lifetime; 30-day money back
Made in: USA
Sourceshopwoodpeckers.ca (may require special order)

 

Features (standard version):

  • 1/2″ chuck capacity
  • Precision machined anodized aluminum and stainless steel construction
  • 1/2″ stainless steel guide rods
  • Laser engraved angle scale
  • Large 6-3/8″ by 8-3/4″ footprint
  • Drill holes from 90° to 40°
  • Drill bit enters material at the same point regardless of drilling angle
  • 12″ extension rods and flip stops available separately
  • Includes: fence, multi-knob, two centering buttons, depth stop, chuck key, wrench, two extension rod adapters  and two 6-1/2″ extension rods

The AutoAngle Drill Guide is basically a mini drill press without the motor. The power comes from a user-supplied drill/driver (you can’t use an impact driver with this drill guide). The drill guide consists of a top mounted carrier with an integrated drill chuck, a base that incorporates angle plates and locking handles, and two guide rods that connect the carrier to the base (one with a depth stop collar and the other with a spring).

Woodpeckers Auto Angle Drill Guide
The AutoAngle and its components

The drill chuck has a 1/2″ diameter shank capacity. Atop the drill chuck carrier is a standard 1/4″ hex shank fitting. The chuck spins super smoothly on enclosed ball bearings that help reduce friction and provide a better grip on drill bits. On either side of the hex shank are knurled lock knobs with 5mm Allen wrench tips that you use to attach the centering buttons to the base (for drilling into round stock).

The drill chuck carrier
The drill chuck carrier.  Allen wrench tips are used to remove the centering buttons.

The drill chuck carrier rides on two hefty 1/2″ diameter stainless steel guide rods. The carrier moves smoothly without any wobble or resistance when plunging. A compression spring quickly returns the carrier. I find that it really helps to speed up repetitive drilling. Even though there is a spring on only one guide rod, I didn’t experience any binding when moving the chuck carrier up and down. A convenient depth stop limits the depth of the hole you’re drilling.

Woodpeckers Auto Angle Drill Guide
Depth stop and compression spring

The 6-3/8″ by 8-3/4″ base provides a lot of stability and the rubbery pad on the bottom of the base does a good job of keeping the drill guide from skirting around on most surfaces. On very smooth surfaces there is a tendency for the drill guide to move about – fortunately there is amply space on the base to clamp the drill guide to a work surface.

The opening in the base (the base plate window) is a large 3″ by 4-5/8″, which affords a good view of where you’re drilling and enables you to use bits up to 2-1/4″ diameter.

The centering buttons are quick to install on the base when you want to drill into round stock. The buttons store on the back side of the base.

Base showing the centering buttons installed. The buttons store conveniently on the base.

The fence rides on two stainless steel rods that can be installed on any of the four sides of the base. The fence itself can be installed on the rods in one of four different configurations (as shown in the illo below – taken from the AutoAngle manual).

woodpecker auto angle drill guide
The AutoAngle fence can be installed in any of these four ways.

There are four etched alignment marks on the base that you use to center the bit on registration lines you mark out on your stock. In the photo below you can see all four alignment marks. However, when the drill chuck carrier is installed the back mark is difficult to see – especially so when drilling holes in narrow stock. Fortunately, it’s just as easy to use the two side and front alignment marks. 

woodpecker auto angle drill guide
The four alignment marks (drill chuck carrier is removed for clarity).

In order to position the AutoAngle you need to lay out horizontal and vertical registration marks on your stock centered over the drill hole locations – you use these registration lines to align (position) the drill bit. It’s a fairly intuitive process.

woodpecker auto angle drill guide
Registration lines laid out on stock.

Another way that I’ve found to lay out hole locations is to place hash marks 1/1/2″ on either side of the drill hole. This ensures that the hole is centered in the 3″ wide base plate window.

woodpecker auto angle drill guide
An easy way to center holes in the base plate window.

On narrow stock you want to ensure that the AutoAngle doesn’t tilt forward or backward. I simply place a support block under the base of the AutoAngle to keep it from tipping.

woodpecker auto angle drill guide
A support block keeps the AutoAngle from tipping.

Likewise, when drilling near the edge of wide panels the AutoAngle is likely to tilt forward in use.  Fortunately there is ample space along the front and back edge of the base to clamp the AutoAngle and the panel to a work surface.

woodpecker auto angle drill guide
Clamping the AutoAngle and panel to a work surface keeps things from shifting around.

With the fence positioned as shown below, you can drill holes up to 10″ from the edge of a panel. Without the fence you can, of course, drill holes any distance from an edge.

woodpecker auto angle drill guide
With the fence you can dill holes up to 10″ from an edge.

There is an angle scale on the base of the drill guide, but I find it more convenient and accurate to use a digital angle finder. This is the only drill guide that will drill precise holes without having to realign the drill bit after you set the drilling angle.

woodpecker auto angle drill guide
Angle scale can be difficult to read in all but optimal lighting
woodpecker auto angle drill guide
A digital angle finder makes quick work of setting precise angles.

I’ve been using the AutoAngle Drill Guide for the better part of six weeks in my shop. It’s a solidly build tool that operates smoothly and is quite versatile. I can drill holes precisely and almost as quickly as I can on a drill press. The AutoAngle not only works well for edge drilling, but excels as angled drilling, drilling holes in round stock and, of course, drilling holes in wide panels that you can’t reach on a drill press.  It really is the quickest and easiest way to drill precise straight or angled holes without a drill press.

Published:
Last modified: September 29, 2023

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.


1 comment

  1. Phenom review! Just bought this myself and was wondering about angle calibration on it. Love the digital angle finder idea! Thanks a mil!

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