IPE and Purple Heart Deck

roby12345

New User
Rob
Finishing up a 1300 sq ft deck build with PH decking and IPE posts and top rails. Went through a half dozen drill bits on the PH, so I'm now nervous on drilling my IPE posts for cable railing. I have a couple of choices. I can go with a through cable system which runs the 1/8 SS cable through the post so I have to drill a straight 3/16 to 1/4 hole through 3.5" (4x4 post). Or I can go with a surface mount system that uses #10 2.5" stainless screws. The through hole looks better IMO, but I'm having nightmares snapping off bits and screws in the IPE posts either way I go. Drill press isn't an option as the posts are mounted and lagged already to the deck. Needed to do this as matching up with pre-drilled aluminum intermediate support posts, so couldn't risk drilling all the holes in the IPE posts wrong.

I did buy one of those portable presses that converts a hand drill into a press, specifically made to clamp on posts, so hopefully that would help with the straightness.

Anyway, my question revolves around the risk, and any specific recommendations on drill bits. I've read contradictory blogs on using standard HSS bits vs Carbide tipped. What will give me the best probability of NOT snapping off bits inside the IPE? Brad point vs tapered vs ?

Also, I'll have ALOT of Purple Heart pieces left over 1" x 6" (3/4 x 5.5) from a foot to 3 feet long, and a few IPE 4"x4" (3.5) from a foot to 3 feet. Would these be of use to woodworkers?
 

Alan in Little Washington

Alan Schaffter
Corporate Member
If you are snapping bits you are drilling too aggressively, allowing the bits to get hot, and not clearing waste from the hole and drill's flutes often enough. IYou have a similar issue if you are snapping screws- you are drilling your pilot holes too small and over-torquing the screws. I don't know about PH but Ipe has a lot of silica and will dull tooling and drill bits quickly. You should practice your technique on some of your scraps.
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
I will happily take some of that left over purple heart and Ipe off your hands, they would definately be of use for general woodworking. PM sent concerning that.

The Ipe is harder than the purple heart, substantially more. In addition, drilling through the boards entirely creates another potential point for bug entry and rot to begin. I would suggest the surface mount system as opposed to the drill through based on the struggles you mentioned. It will probably be easier to put together the surface mounted system and you won't have to worry so much about breaking off bits in the wood. Which looks better is purely up to you as it is your deck.

The bits could be snapping due from too high of a drilling speed, not keeping a strait line drilling causing stress, or overheating of the bits. While drilling pull the bit out of the wood periodically to help clear out the hold to prevent clogging and the tension it generates. Those are maybe the main culprits. Use the convertible press you mentioned, it should reduce the chance of breaking bits because it will keep a steady position and angle. As far as the bits, carbide should hold an edge longer and give a cleaner all around cut. Ipe is notoriously hard and will dull everything you use on it faster that most other woods.
 

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
Slow and steady, let the bit do the work, don't force it, and pull out often to clear the bit of waste.
 

roby12345

New User
Rob
Thanks for the responses! Much appreciated. To be clear, I haven't snapped any screws "yet", just the pre-drill bits that came with the CAMO hidden deck screw system. Don't know what material those bits were. Of course I went through about 5000 screws (pre-drills), so I'm sure it was just using the bits beyond their life.

Good point by the poster about through hole introducing possible element intrusion. Hadn't considered that, but since IPE is touted for it's moisture and insect resistance, I'm not sure if that will be an issue. I do know that part of this project was due to the Carpenter Bees that ate our previous treated pine deck. They love that stuff. But can't imagine them boring into IPE...it feels like concrete.

I responded to PMs about scraps. It will be a few weeks until I'm entirely finished and know what I have, but wanted to gauge interest so I wasn't just tossing the scraps into the dumpster.
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
Slow and steady, let the bit do the work, don't force it, and pull out often to clear the bit of waste.
No experience with IPE here, but Daniel's comment made me think...
I wonder if you treat it like steel if your results would be better?

When you drill a hole in steel you typically use a center drill this is to remove the "center" of the hole for the larger bit because the surface feed at the drill tip is low and is simply creating friction.

So, if this logic is valid and you are drilling a 3/16 clearance hole, perhaps put a 1/16" or 1/8" hole in the wood first.
Another solution to this is a "relief-web" or "Split point" (drill on the left in the picture below)
1621521685377.png


Finally, a 135 degree point will work better in harder materials than 118 (most drills)

I think the idea of carbide is good, but I think you owe yourself some testing time with options where you get the best and quickest hole while not breaking the bank!

Again, just some things to think about to make the job easier...
 

SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
Thanks for the responses! Much appreciated. To be clear, I haven't snapped any screws "yet", just the pre-drill bits that came with the CAMO hidden deck screw system. Don't know what material those bits were. Of course I went through about 5000 screws (pre-drills), so I'm sure it was just using the bits beyond their life.

Good point by the poster about through hole introducing possible element intrusion. Hadn't considered that, but since IPE is touted for it's moisture and insect resistance, I'm not sure if that will be an issue. I do know that part of this project was due to the Carpenter Bees that ate our previous treated pine deck. They love that stuff. But can't imagine them boring into IPE...it feels like concrete.

I responded to PMs about scraps. It will be a few weeks until I'm entirely finished and know what I have, but wanted to gauge interest so I wasn't just tossing the scraps into the dumpster.

Don't underestimate carpenter bees. A older gentlemen at my church gave me a stack of air dried black walnut he had in a barn to make a coffee table set for our church. It had a carpenter bee colony in it that was not happy when I started processing the wood. I've used a fair amount of black dyed epoxy to fill holes. Ipe should hopefully keep the bees away but I would suggest treating for them just in case.
 

Skymaster

Jack
Senior User
Use aircraft drill bits, they are about 7" long,split tip,designed for this. Actually found them in HD, sometimes blowes.Since you have a setup that clamps to post,CUT BLOCKS TO REST dp on then clamp,guarantees lineup.
 

kserdar

Ken
Senior User
I have used the 1/8" drill bit that came with my Kreg jig to pre-drill IPE. It was only for about 2" in depth.

As everyone has stated - let the bit do the work and clear the bit often.
 

creasman

Board of Directors, Development Director
Jim
Staff member
Corporate Member
I'm interested in some of the purple heart scraps if they are not all claimed.
 

Oka

Board of Directors, Vice President
Casey
Staff member
Corporate Member
I have done a lot of work with IPE and out here we also have Balau, a softer version of IPE not the same tree but almost as hard and redder.

When we do the cable we use a 6"or 8" bit 1/16th larger than the cable, So 1/8"cable =3/16" hole. Drill your entry holes on both sides but the backside or second hole drill about 1- 1.5" deep , then go back and complete the drill through. Take a 2x2x4" block of the IPE and bore a 1/8" hole on a drill press and then use it as your guide to keep it perpendicular. I use a longer bit because it is easier to see you are not leaning up / down or sideways when drilling.
 
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Fred J

Fred
User
Good point by the poster about through hole introducing possible element intrusion. Hadn't considered that, but since IPE is touted for it's moisture and insect resistance, I'm not sure if that will be an issue. I do know that part of this project was due to the Carpenter Bees that ate our previous treated pine deck. They love that stuff. But can't imagine them boring into IPE...it feels like concrete.
I had carpenter bees start nesting in my screened in porch. I followed everything the extermination company told me to do to keep them from coming back to no avail. Last winter I added some deck skirting to discourage the carpenter bees which sort of worked. Some came back but some moved to neighbor’s beautiful deck with pergola next door.

I turned to my new “go to” resource, YouTube. I watched a 15 minute video on carpenter bee traps and thought what have I got to lose. I didn’t have a 4x4 block so I screwed a 2x4 together. I drilled a 90 and 3-45 degree holes as suggested. Added the jar and hung it up on a Sunday afternoon.

I didn’t catch a single bee all week. I wasted 30 minutes of my time making that contraption. I checked it Thursday morning it was empty. On Saturday afternoon I had trapped 3 carpenter bees. I emptied those and the next weekend I trapped 5 carpenter bees. It wasn’t a waste of time but I needed patience.

I suggest checking out some of the carpenter bee traps. They are going to return next year to find something to nest in. The trap didn’t cost me a dime. I already had the 2x4 cutoff, screws, empty jar.
 

mkepke

Mark
Senior User
<snip>

I didn’t catch a single bee all week. I wasted 30 minutes of my time making that contraption. I checked it Thursday morning it was empty. On Saturday afternoon I had trapped 3 carpenter bees. I emptied those and the next weekend I trapped 5 carpenter bees. It wasn’t a waste of time but I needed patience.
<snip>
Good tip about being patient, Fred. We all need to remember bees don't have social media like Facebuzz ..er, book yet. ;-)

-Mark
 

Hjanes

Harlan
User
I had carpenter bees start nesting in my screened in porch. I followed everything the extermination company told me to do to keep them from coming back to no avail. Last winter I added some deck skirting to discourage the carpenter bees which sort of worked. Some came back but some moved to neighbor’s beautiful deck with pergola next door.

I turned to my new “go to” resource, YouTube. I watched a 15 minute video on carpenter bee traps and thought what have I got to lose. I didn’t have a 4x4 block so I screwed a 2x4 together. I drilled a 90 and 3-45 degree holes as suggested. Added the jar and hung it up on a Sunday afternoon.

I didn’t catch a single bee all week. I wasted 30 minutes of my time making that contraption. I checked it Thursday morning it was empty. On Saturday afternoon I had trapped 3 carpenter bees. I emptied those and the next weekend I trapped 5 carpenter bees. It wasn’t a waste of time but I needed patience.

I suggest checking out some of the carpenter bee traps. They are going to return next year to find something to nest in. The trap didn’t cost me a dime. I already had the 2x4 cutoff, screws, empty jar.
I have used that same carpenter bee trap design for several years now. It does take patience for them to be found by the bees. But given some time, they will attract some critters for their one-way trip into the jar.
 

roby12345

New User
Rob
Quick update. The heat has been brutal and I'm only able to put in about 6 hours in the morning before I'm spent. Attached are a few pics showing the overall deck (Purple Heart), the IPE posts, the aluminum intermediate posts and top rail support, and finally today, my first stainless cable install.

So, I took to heart everyone's suggestion and ended up using:

Standard Dewalt 1/4" x 6" black and gold bit. Not the best, but cheap enough I bought a bunch, and swap them out every three to four holes as they get hot. Using medium speed, and using the wolfcraft hand drill press adapter, clamped to the post to keep the holes straight (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JCIMEA?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details). On a 3.5" drill, I'm clearing chafe 6 to 8 times, and reducing speed and pressure near the end to avoid blow out. Bit still gets hot, but no smoking wood. Battery lasts about 1 post (10 holes), but a good excuse to take a break :)
 

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SabertoothBunny

SabertoothBunny
User
Quick update. The heat has been brutal and I'm only able to put in about 6 hours in the morning before I'm spent. Attached are a few pics showing the overall deck (Purple Heart), the IPE posts, the aluminum intermediate posts and top rail support, and finally today, my first stainless cable install.

So, I took to heart everyone's suggestion and ended up using:

Standard Dewalt 1/4" x 6" black and gold bit. Not the best, but cheap enough I bought a bunch, and swap them out every three to four holes as they get hot. Using medium speed, and using the wolfcraft hand drill press adapter, clamped to the post to keep the holes straight (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JCIMEA?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details). On a 3.5" drill, I'm clearing chafe 6 to 8 times, and reducing speed and pressure near the end to avoid blow out. Bit still gets hot, but no smoking wood. Battery lasts about 1 post (10 holes), but a good excuse to take a break :)


That is looking really, really nice.
 

Bill_L

Bill
Senior User
Beautiful. That deck must cost more than some homes!! Ipe is really toxic. But may be more applicable when sanding. Again, nice work. Hopefully, the break includes a dip in the pool.
 

Linc H

Linc
User
Recently my neighbor introduced me to IPE. All I can tell you is that stuff weighs a ton. Beautiful and heavy. I have seen Purple heart used in charcuterie boards, and other small projects, never something this large. Looks amazing!!! thanks for sharing.
 

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