Comprehensive Guide to Drill Bushing Installation

Drill bushings are designed to locate, guide and support cutting tools but also work well in assembly, inspection, and other devices requiring precise cylindrical alignment. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standardizes both inch and metric bushings.

They are essential components in precision engineering and machining processes. Drill bushings are critical in ensuring accurate and repeatable hole drilling operations. Proper installation is essential to get the most out of drill bushings.


Purpose and Advantages of Drill Bushings

Drill bushings are important for many reasons:

Alignment and Positioning: Drill bushings provide precise alignment and positioning for drill bits or other cutting tools. By guiding the drill bit accurately, drill bushings help maintain the desired hole location and prevent errors caused by misalignment or deviation.

Improved Hole Quality: Drill bushings help improve hole quality by reducing or eliminating issues such as wandering, chatter, or excessive runout. The bushings ensure stability and rigidity during the drilling process, minimizing vibrations and improving the accuracy and surface finish of the holes.

Repeatability and Consistency: Drill bushings enable consistent and repeatable hole drilling operations. Once a bushing is positioned correctly in a drill jig or fixture, it is a reliable reference point for subsequent drilling operations.

Extended Tool Life: Drill bushings can help prolong the lifespan of cutting tools. By providing guidance and support, they minimize the risk of drill bit deflection, which can lead to premature wear and breakage.

Flexibility and Adaptability: Drill bushings come in various sizes, which allows for different hole sizes. They are easily replaceable or changed out.


ASME Standardization

ASME has developed a set of standards for drill bushings to ensure quality and interoperability in their design and use. These standards provide guidelines and specifications for various aspects of drill bushings, including dimensions, materials, tolerances, and performance requirements.

Generally, the length of a drill bushing should be approximately twice the diameter of the bush hole, ensuring a close diameter to the drill without dragging.


Determining the Optimal Length of Drill Bushings

Determining the proper length for drill bushings depends on various factors:

Material Thickness: The length of the drill bushing should be sufficient to accommodate the thickness of the drilled material. The thicker the material, the longer it should be.

Drill Bit or Tool Length: Consider the tool length used with the drill bushing. The length of the drill bushing should allow for the full insertion of the drill bit while still providing enough support and stability during the drilling process.

Drill Depth Requirement: The length of the drill bushing should work for your desired drilling depth. You may require more extended drill bushings to drill deeper holes.

Tool Clearance: Consider the clearance required for the drill bit and any associated tools or fixtures. The length of the drill bushing should allow for proper tool clearance. You must ensure that your tool can be inserted and operated without anything getting in the way.

Stability and Rigidity: Longer drill bushings generally provide better stability and rigidity during drilling operations. However, excessively long bushings may lead to increased deflection and reduced accuracy.


The Role of Chip Clearance in Drill Bushings

Chip clearance is the space or gap between the bushing and the surrounding components, typically the housing or shaft.

It’s crucial to mount drill bushings as close to the workpiece as possible to allow adequate chip clearance. Taking these steps minimizes drill bending and maximizes hole accuracy. Chip clearance depends on the workpiece material and chip stringiness.

For example, cast iron requires about 1/2 times the drill diameter for chip clearance with fine chips. Materials that produce long, stringy chips, such as cold-rolled steel and aluminum, require at least one drill-diameter clearance.

There are several reasons why chip clearance is essential:

  • Chip clearance is crucial in lubrication and debris management within the bushing assembly. Enough clearance allows lubricating fluids, such as oil or grease, to flow correctly.
  • During use, bushings can create heat because of friction and mechanical stress. If there is enough chip clearance, it helps reduce heat.
  • When used, bushings usually suffer from thermal expansion and contraction because of temperature changes. A lack of proper chip clearance can restrict the movement of the bushing.
  • Proper chip clearance helps minimize noise and vibration

Recommended Chip Clearance


Impact on Drill Bending and Hole Accuracy

Insufficient chip clearance can lead to drill bending and inaccurate holes. As the drill begins working, chips accumulate in the drill bit’s flutes. If there is limited space for the chips to escape, they can create resistance and force the drill to deviate from its path. This results in drill bending, which leads to inaccurately positioned or angled holes.

The most efficient way to avoid this is to give your tools the proper clearance based on the materials and tools.


Chip Clearance Variations Depending on Workpiece Material

Soft Materials (Aluminum, Copper):

Soft materials tend to produce long, continuous chips during machining. These materials can stick to the cutting tool, leading to built-up edge formation and poor chip evacuation.

We recommend you increase chip clearance to ensure chip flow and prevent chip-tool adhesion.

Hard and Brittle Materials (Steel, Ceramic):

Hard and brittle materials typically produce short, segmented chips or no chips.

We recommend you keep an adequate chip clearance to prevent chip interference and clogging.

Fibrous and Stringy Materials (Titanium, Stainless Steel):

These materials produce continuous chips that can become entangled around the cutting tool.

We recommend you increase chip clearance to avoid chip wrapping and improve chip evacuation.

Heat-Sensitive Materials (Plastic Materials):

Heat-sensitive materials can deform when exposed to excessive heat generated during machining.

We recommend reducing chip clearance to minimize heat buildup and potential thermal damage.


Techniques for Installing Bushings on Sloped Workpiece Surfaces

Whenever the drilling axis is not perpendicular to the workpiece surface, locate the exit end as close to the part as possible.

For maximum drill guiding, we recommend specifying bushings with an angle milled on the exit end, tangent to the workpiece surface at the entry point.


Tips for Ensuring Drilling Axis Alignment on Sloped Surfaces

Proper Workpiece Orientation: Ensure that the sloped surface of the workpiece allows easy access for bushing installation. The workpiece should be securely clamped or supported.

Mark and Align: Use a scribe or a marker to make reference marks on the workpiece and the bushing. These marks will help you align the bushing correctly with the sloped surface.

Get the Workpiece Ready: Before installing the bushing, ensure the sloped surface is clean and free from debris or contaminants.

Lubrication: Apply a suitable lubricant, such as a light oil or a dry lubricant, to the sloped surface and the inside of the bushing.

Checking Alignment: After installing the bushing, use measuring tools to verify the alignment and concentricity of the bushing with the sloped surface.


Strategies for Managing Close Hole Spacing During Bushing Installation

When holes are close together, special bushings are sometimes required. Close-hole spacing presents several challenges during bushing installation, but there are also solutions.


Challenges of Extremely Close Hole Spacing

Accessibility: Close-hole spacing limits the access for inserting and positioning the bushings. It becomes challenging to reach the desired location because of the limited space.

Alignment: Precise alignment of the bushings becomes more complex in close-hole spacing. Even a slight misalignment can lead to problems such as increased friction, premature wear, or compromised functionality.

Interference: Close-hole spacing can increase the likelihood of interference between adjacent bushings or other components.

Improper Heat Dissipation: Close-hole spacing can prevent heat from dissipating correctly due to limited airflow. This can lead to elevated temperatures, reduced efficiency, and even thermal damage.

Maintenance and Repair: Routine maintenance and repairs become more complex with closely spaced bushings.

Solutions for Extremely Close Hole Spacing

  • Utilize specialized tools or equipment designed for installation in tight spaces.
  • Modify or adapt existing tools to reach the desired location.
  • Consider alternative installation techniques that allow for easier access, such as installing bushings before assembling other components.
  • Use precision measuring tools to ensure accurate alignment during installation.
  • Consider pre-aligning the bushings before installation to minimize alignment errors.
  • If possible, modify the design or hole spacing to provide adequate clearance between bushings or other components.
  • Utilize low-profile or custom-designed bushings tailored to the close-hole spacing requirements.
  • Enhance cooling measures, such as incorporating additional ventilation or installing heat sinks near the bushings.
  • Implement maintenance procedures that account for the challenges posed by close-hole spacing.
  • Consider incorporating access panels or removable sections to facilitate easier maintenance and repair tasks.


Essential Steps for Preparing Holes for Bushing Installation

Do not use excessive interference fits on press-fit bushings to avoid jig-plate or bushing distortion. Always prepare installation holes using a jig borer or reamer. Standard chucking reamers (with a plus tolerance) usually produce installation holes to the tolerances shown in the table.

Other factors to consider are: (1) headed bushings require less interference to resist drilling thrust; (2) longer bushings in thick plates require less interference; (3) bushings with thinner walls are more prone to distortion; (4) less-ductile jig-plate materials require less interference.

The following steps should help you prepare holes:

  • Measuring and marking
  • Drilling
  • Cleaning
  • Deburring
  • Test fitting

See the table below for recommended hole sizes in unhardened steel or cast-iron jig plates.



.1578 - .1575
.1565 - .1570
.1891 - .1888
.1880 - .1883
.2046 - .2043
.2037 - .2040
.2516 - .2513
.2507 - .2510
.3141 - .3138
.3132 - .3135
.3766 - .3763
.3757 - .3760
.4078 - .4075
.4069 - .4072
.4392 - .4389
.4382 - .4385
.501 7- .5014
.5007 - .5010
.5642 - .5639
.5632 - .5635
.6267 - .6264
.6257 - .6260
.7518 - .7515
.7507 - .7510
.8768 - .8765
.8757 - .8760
1.0018 - 1.0015
1.0007 - 1.0010
1.1270 - 1.1267
1.1257 - 1.1260
1.2520 - 1.2517
1.2507 - 1.2510
1.3772 - 1.3768
1.3757 - 1.3760
1.5021 - 1.5018
1.5007 - 1.5010
1.7523 - 1.7519
1.7507 - 1.7510
2.2525 - 2.2521
2.2507 - 2.2510
2.7526- 2.7522
2.7507 - 2.7510



3.020 - 3.014
3.000 - 3.010
4.027 - 4.019
4.000 - 4.012
5.027 - 5.019
5.000 - 5.012
6.027 - 6.019
6.000 - 6.012
7.032 - 7.023
7.000 - 7.015
8.032 - 8.023
8.000 - 8.015
10.032 - 10.023
10.000 - 10.015
12.039 - 12.028
12.000 - 12.018
15.039 - 15.028
15.000 - 15.018
18.039 - 18.028
18.000 - 18.018
22.048 - 22.025
22.000 - 22.021
26.048 - 26.035
26.000 - 26.021
30.048 - 30.035
30.000 - 30.021
35.059 - 35.043
35.000 - 35.025
42.059 - 42.043
42.000 - 42.025
48.059 - 48.043
48.000 - 48.025
55.072 - 55.053
55.000 - 55.030
62.072 - 62.053
62.000 - 62.030
70.078 - 70.059
70.000 - 70.030
78.078 -78.059
85.093 - 85.071
85.000 - 85.035
95.093 - 95.071
95.000 - 95.035
105.101 - 105.079
105.000 - 105.035
115.101 - 115.079
115.000 - 115.035
125.117 - 125.092
125.000 - 125.040


Recommended Tools for Bushing Installation

Bushing Press: Designed to press bushings into place. It typically consists of a frame, a hydraulic or mechanical press mechanism, and various adapters to accommodate different bushing sizes.

Bushing Driver Set: A collection of cylindrical drivers in various sizes that match the outer diameter of the bushings. They are used with a hammer or mallet to tap the bushing into position.

Bushing Installation Kit: Some bushings may require additional tools for installation, such as bearing or seal drivers. A bushing installation kit usually includes drivers, sleeves, or adapters to accommodate different bushing sizes.

Bench Vise: It can help hold the bushing in place during installation. It provides stability and allows for controlled force when tapping the bushing into position.

Measuring Tools: Measuring tools such as calipers or micrometers are helpful for accurately determining the dimensions of the bushing and its housing.


Importance of Pre-Installation Lubrication

Applying a suitable lubricant to the bushing and mating surface can ease installation. It reduces friction and helps the bushing slide to place smoothly. Use a lubricant compatible with the specific bushing material and the application requirements.

Greases, oil, and dry lubricants make suitable lubricants, such as graphite or molybdenum disulfide. With automated systems, they can be applied manually in an oil bath or mist, and some bushings have lubricant inserts.


Bushing Features that Aid Installation

We recommend installing bushings with an arbor press whenever possible. If the bushing’s OD is large enough, you can use a drawbolt with two washers. If a hammer is the only tool available, do not strike the bushing directly, or it could fracture.

Utilize a soft-metal punch to cushion the blows. Before installing a press-fit bushing, lubricate the inside of the mounting hole and outside of the bushing with a lubricant such as lithium grease. Otherwise, the bushing may score the mounting hole and be difficult to replace later.

The Drill Entrance Radius Feature in Bushings

Bushings feature a blended and polished radius at the drill-entrance end for smooth drill entry and proper alignment, preventing drill wear and breakage. Radius size varies in proportion to drill size.


Importance of Maintaining Bushing Concentricity for Efficient Installation

Bushing concentricity refers to the alignment and centering of a bushing within its intended housing or bore. It is a critical factor in ensuring efficient installation and optimal bushing performance. Concentricity is typically measured by assessing the deviation of the bushing’s centerline from the centerline of the housing or bore.

Concentricity is crucial because it directly affects the bushing assembly’s functionality, reliability, and longevity. It helps in many ways:

Load Distribution: When a bushing is installed concentrically, it helps distribute the load evenly across its entire surface area.

Smooth Operation: Concentricity ensures the bushing rotates or slides smoothly within its housing. Misalignment can result in binding, excessive friction, or jamming, impairing the intended movement of the shaft or component.

Alignment Accuracy: In applications where a bushing supports or guides a shaft or spindle, concentricity plays a critical role in maintaining alignment accuracy.

Reduced Wear and Friction: Concentric bushing installation ensures uniform contact between the bushing and its mating surface, minimizing localized wear and friction.

Sealing and Leakage Prevention: In applications where the bushing acts as a seal or provides a barrier against fluid leakage, concentricity becomes even more critical. Proper alignment ensures an effective seal and prevents bushing and housing leakage.


Tolerances for Bushing Concentricity

Bushing OD is ground concentric to the ID to within.0003 TIR for ID sizes from 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch (3mm to 12mm) unless otherwise indicated.

For larger or smaller sizes, concentricity is within.0005 TIR. Unground bushings are concentric within.006 TIR. On counterbored bushings, concentricity applies only over the drill-bearing length.

Any dimensions without explicitly listed tolerances are held to +/-.015 inches on standard ANSI sizes. Special tolerances for any dimension are available on request as specials.


Key Tolerances to Consider for Bushing Installation

Press-fit Tolerance: Determines the interference or clearance between the bushing and its housing. Achieving the right press fit is crucial to ensure proper load distribution and prevent unwanted movement.

Clearance Tolerance: As mentioned earlier, this refers to the gap between the inner diameter of the bushing and the shaft or pin it accommodates.

Concentricity Tolerance: As mentioned earlier, this refers to the alignment of the bushing’s inner and outer diameters concerning each other. It ensures the bushing is centered within its housing and properly aligns with the shaft.

Surface Finish Tolerance: Determines the roughness or smoothness of the bushing’s inner and outer surfaces. A smooth surface finish reduces friction and wear while also facilitating proper lubrication.

Length Tolerance: This specifies the allowable deviation in the length of the bushing. It ensures the bushing fits properly within its housing without interference or gaps.

Material Thickness Tolerance: If the bushing has any flanges or other features with specific thickness requirements, the material thickness tolerance is the allowable deviation in those dimensions.


Selecting the Appropriate Material for Your Bushing

Drill bushings can come in different materials depending on their application:

Steel: This is a popular choice for drill bushings due to its strength, durability, and resistance to wear. It can withstand high drilling forces and is suitable for various materials.

Bronze: Bronze drill bushings offer good wear resistance and lubricity. They are commonly used in applications requiring low friction and high heat dissipation. Bronze bushings are particularly suitable for drilling materials like aluminum or brass.

Brass is used primarily in applications involving delicate workpieces or materials requiring minimal marring or scratching. Brass bushings offer good corrosion resistance and have low friction properties.

Carbide: Carbide drill bushings are made from tungsten carbide or a similar hard, wear-resistant material. They are ideal for high-speed drilling operations and drilling abrasive or rigid materials such as composites, hardened steels, or ceramics.

Plastic: Plastic drill bushings, often made from materials like nylon or Delrin, are lightweight and offer good resistance to corrosion and chemicals. They are commonly used in applications where weight reduction is essential or when drilling softer materials.

Oil-Impregnated Bronze: Oil-impregnated bronze drill bushings provide self-lubrication during drilling operations. These bushings have tiny pores filled with lubricating oil, reducing friction and extending tool life. They are suitable for high-speed drilling.

Standard drill bushings from Carr Lane Mfg. are made from 1144 Stressproof steel. This material is heat treated to achieve RC 62-64 ID hardness and other high-carbon steels.

Optional materials such as tungsten carbide (Grade C2 carbide with steelhead), 52100 steel, A2 tool steel, D2 tool steel, M2 tool steel, 416 stainless, 440C stainless, 17-4PH stainless, 303 stainless, 660 bronze, Ampco 18 bronze, Ampco 21 bronze, Oilite, and brass are available as specials.


Using a Press Fit Bushings Hole Size Calculator

Use this calculator to determine the proper installation hole size for standard press-fit bushings.

View Calculator