Drilling Pilot Holes on the back of a Pinball Playfield

I’ve started drilling pilot holes on the back of my Space Shuttle Pinball reproduction playfield. Great care must be taken on this task, as drilling these holes too deep can be disastrous – the drill bit could poke out on the artwork side, which would leave a permanent and unsightly hole where there shouldn’t be one. 

The playfield is about a half-inch thick (17/32″ according to Classic Playfield Reproductions). I’ve decided to drill my pilot holes to 3/8″. One could use drill stops which attach to regular drill bits, but you’d still have to be a bit careful when drilling… It turns out that I already had a tool that can do the job better – a microstop countersink cage. Rather than just type it out, here’s a video showing what it is and how it works.

They aren’t cheap, but I got mine used in an Ebay auction and it wasn’t too bad. If you decide to try this, keep in mind you’ll need the right length drill bit as the depth adjustment on the microstops isn’t huge. I’m using a #40 threaded bit, since they are readily available in different lengths – these are the drill bits used in aviation for installing 3/32″ rivets, a very common rivet size in small aircraft. They happen to make a good pilot hole for a #6 wood screw 🙂

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