Aligning Misaligned Holes

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, holes you drill for a project don’t quite align with those in the mating parts.  It’s maddening, and sometimes you feel dumb because it’s messed up, but there are ways to fix misaligned holes.  Here are a few.

The Misaligned Holes To StartThis story and these images are illustrations of my own little mess.  Yeah, it’s a little embarrassing, but fiddly mistakes happen.  Such is life in the shop, and so goes some DIY projects.  But, enough lamenting.  The fix is actually pretty easy.

The Silly Misaligned Holes

This project is a custom carrier for my truck using a standard 2″ drawbar and receiver.  With the parts fabricated, and the hole drilled for the pin (in the drawbar), it was just a matter of hooking it up.  But, the pin for the drawbar would not go in the hole.  Almost.  It went in one side, but not all the way through as in the photo.  Twisting the pin and the fixture still did not make it to fit.  And, you can see in the photo, the misaligned holes are are just slightly off.  Bummer.

Well, somehow I always feel a little stupid when something does not fit.  I thought I measured carefully, and I thought it would go right together.  Yet, , I do like a close fit, so even a little off and . . . well, you can see, they don’t quite align.

We can have another discussion sometime about tolerance with less than super accurate machinery.  In the meantime, let’s fix these misaligned holes.

Possible Solutions

The Pin Won't Quite Go Through The HolesSo, here are three ways to solve the problem.  And, a bonus 4th way for a super quick fix.

  1. Re-Drill the new hole slightly oversize with a larger drill bit.  That’s pretty easy, and it’s clean and professional.  Yet, it makes for a looser-ish fit.
  2. Use a rat-tail file or a rotary file, or a grinding tool to enlarge the hole only in the area needed.  I could just mark the area with a Sharpie while it’s in the receiver, then pull it out and file some on that side.  This method is also a great solution that’s pretty easy and straightforward.
  3. Then there’s the fun one . . . Run the same drill bit through the assembly.  That will assure the pin fits by forcing alignment of the misaligned holes.  This method is a little dangerous because it will cut portions of both parts (not just the new part with the new hole).  However, if the new material is reasonably thin, it will cut more from the thinner piece.  Also, this does not work well for thick parts.
  4. If you’re really in a hurry, just use a smaller pin or a bolt with a little smaller diameter.  This is a 5/8″ pin, and the loads are pretty light, so why not just toss in a 1/2″ pin?  Or use a 9/16″ bolt?  Just make sure you choose an appropriately strong bolt or pin.

Solving the Misaligned Holes

It would be great to just use the simple techniques for matching bolt holes in the first place.  But, the hitch is on the vehicle already, so that is out of the question.  In this case, since there is only a small misalignment, and the new material is thin compared to the receiver, I choose option 3 — run a chase drill through.  OK, I’ll admit it . . . I like using power tools, so just blasting through it is also some of the motivation.

Fixing the Misaligned Holes by Drilling

Method 3 works pretty fast, usually.  However, the drill needs to be sharp, and the drill motor (for a hole this large) must be quite strong because the drill bit will catch the one edge then suddenly yank to stop the drill.  Just be aware that this technique is a hack job, not precision work.  And, there is a risk of buggering up a drill bit — not to mention bloody knuckles — so control the process.

For this job, I chose a stout pneumatic drill with a relatively slow spindle speed and tons of torque.  Just gotta be careful with fingers, because if the drill bit jams, it will twist violently and potentially smash fingers.  Remember, this method is fast and straightforward, but it’s still a hack.

Job Done.

In the end, it worked out well for this quick project.  With the holes aligned, the pin goes right in and there is not much play in the attachment.  Nice.  Maybe next time I can do a better job marking and drilling to avoid the misaligned holes.  🙂

Finished. The Holes Now Align.

For the record, even though it’s a hack, it’s a good hack.  We recommend this technique for aligning holes in parts such as the telescoping legs of our Gantry Crane, because proper fitting pins are critical to Safety.  If they are not drilled perfect, sometimes the misaligned holes need just a little help getting there.  Method 3, as in these photos, is pretty easy and does the job.

Good luck in all your DIY Project Drilling !!

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

We Found These For You . . .

Article
Folding Trailer Tongue Finished
Intrigued by the cool potential of saving storage space, increased security, and removal of a shin knocker to step over, this new folding trailer tongue adds greater utility to a trailer.

Read The Article

Article
Spring Foot for Gantry Crane Safety
Nothing ruins a pleasant day quite like a goose egg on your head, or a throbbing finger pinch.  Avoiding those things (and, of course, the much more disastrous potential events) is the context of this gantry crane safety article. 

Read The Article

Product
Stereo Speaker Plans

Form follows function in this attractive, modern speaker cabinet.  Yes, it looks cool, but more importantly, all the non-parallel internal surfaces resist resonances for a beautiful and dynamic sound.

Article
Winner of the Visa Gift Card
We have a winner of the $100 Visa Gift Card!  We sent out the Photo request, and you responded.  Now the drawing, and the winner.

Read The Article

Article
Common DIY Material and Beam Shapes
Whether you’re an experienced DIY builder or brand new to the party, there are often quandry’s about beam shapes.  Well, I need to do this, but I only have material like that.  I’ll just use it 

Read The Article

Article
DIY Legacy Tools
Who influenced your creativity and Do-it-Yourself enthusiasm?  Was it your dad?  A shop teacher?  Or a neighbor that was into cool projects?

Read The Article

Article
Cool Air Chuck Tool
Ever find something that wasn’t really a big deal, but you got pretty excited about it anyway?  Me too.  Found this fun tire inflation air chuck kind of by accident

Read The Article

Product
4' x 8' - 3500# Torsion Axle Trailer

Fully Engineered Blueprints are just the start with these Torsion Axle Utility Trailer Plans.  With the deck a little larger than tradition, you can put true 4' x 8' cargo inside!  Up to 3500 lbs.

Article
Example of DIY Trailer Construction Mistake
Learning good trailer construction by examining bad is a great way to focus on details.  This photo shows 4 points of “less that careful thought” in the way the trailer is built.  Can you pick them out?

Read The Article

Article
Small Trailer with Big Benefits
Caught on the streets, this small trailer provides big benefits.  It’s an excellent example of using a trailer instead of a truck, and this business owner understands efficiency.

Read The Article

Article
Bend A Metal Bracket
There are a bunch of ways to bend metal for a bracket.  Do a search on YouTube and you’ll likely find several techniques.  Well, we don’t want to dis any of those because

Read The Article

Article
There's More To Just Mounting Trailer Axle Springs
As with many things, there’s a lot more to mounting trailer axle springs than first meets the eye.  Here are 2 tips to make your trailer frame stronger.

Read The Article

Article
The Car Parking Stop Solution!
Yeah, I know, most of the world doesn’t like or use the parking brake any more.  Yet, some of us still prefer a manual transmission for the driving experience — and rely on the parking brake.  So, what happens

Read The Article

Product
20ft Tiny House Trailer

Since a great house starts with a solid foundation, these Tiny House Trailer plans focus on that goal.  Low 8.5’ x 20’ top deck height.  Up to 14,000 lbs total capacity.  Fully Engineered.

Article
Spiraling the DIY Project Plans Back Online
January 7, 2016.  Mechanical Elements is back online with a new look, a new logo, new functionality, and a better shopping experience. — With — an expanded offering of the Same Great DIY Project Plans and so much more.

Read The Article

Article
What Are Your Essential Tools
We’ve been asked many times about “What are the most essential tools for your shop?” Well, that’s a hard question, because frustration and wailing are the result when the right tools are not available.

Read The Article

Product
24' Tiny Home Trailer Plans

Build on a solid foundation starting with plans specifically designed for the unique needs of a Tiny House Trailer. Low 8.5’ x 24’ top deck. Up to 14,000 lbs total capacity. Fully Engineered.

Product
4x6 Utility Trailer Plans - View 1

Smaller size Trailer Plans for the DIY Builder.  This 4x6 Utility Trailer has a 2000# axle capacity and lots of options for customizing.  While it may be smallish, it’s tough and capable just the same.

Article
Solution! for Air Tools
A simple Solutions! reader submission for easy access and organization of his common Air Tools.  Simple enough to build in an hour, and great enough to keep  . . .  forever.  Try this.

Read The Article

Article
Wide and Wider Tiny House Trailer Plans
What if . . . You want to live Tiny, but not “that” tiny?  Sure, there are a lot of attractive elements with living Tiny, but to some, the 8 foot width is just too tight.  If that’s you, go…

Read The Article