Spindle Holes

I'm noticing with a lot of new vinyl that the spindle hole is too snug, not only on my turntable but also on my RCM. I had a bit of a mishap earlier this week, and I was wondering what people are doing to counteract this problem. I don't recall it being the case 30-40 years ago when I started in vinyl, so I wonder why is it happening now. Why can't the vinyl producers get the spindle holes slightly wider?

Sometimes the holes are big enough but there can be some loose "swarf" present that needs to be dislodged.

If the hole genuinely is too small I use a small penknife with a straight sharp-edged blade to ream out the hole. It only takes a few seconds and you only need to skim it. The "scrapings" are usually statically charged and tend to stick to whatever they touch so every trace should be carefully removed before playing (being careful not to drop them on the grooves) so that you have nice clean surfaces. I don't think that loose core on the grooves will damage them other than causing mechanical interference at the interface of LP and a solid platter/mat. My only concern would be that the stylus might react when it hits the debris.

FWIW, I think the problem is also related to the turntable's spindle tolerance as well. I've noticed that discs which fitted easily on some turntables required to be reamed out on others.

There is also the issue of mis-registered holes but that might be a meaty subject for another thread ;^)

Here is a tool to enlarge that small spindle hole:

Anybody know what the diameter of the Clearaudio LP Drill is? I'm not paying $50 for a $2 bit!
Pretty sure the standard spindle diameter is 9/32". You can get a 9/32" bit at most any hardware store.
Yes, but the $50 one will add pace, soundstage depth, and the kind of tonal purity that result in that elusive "OMG" moment.  You can even send it out to be cryogenically treated so the molecular structure of the bit are aligned more precisely.  Your system will be transformed in ways you could never have imagined  <:^)
es, but the $50 one will add pace, soundstage depth, and the kind of tonal purity that result in that elusive "OMG" moment.  You can even send it out to be cryogenically treated so the molecular structure of the bit are aligned more precisely.  Your system will be transformed in ways you could never have imagined  <:^)
Laughing here!
The descriptive text states that the bit is 7.33mm.  Hope this helps...
A spindle hole is 7.33 mm, (which is .2885 inches) as rlwainwright states above.
Sometimes spindle hole has trims. Indeed no need to pay $50 for drill bit, but it's easier to get drill tip separated and simply clamp the bit and use it as similar to needledoctor tool.
There are actually three slightly different spindle hole sizes that are "standard" sizes.  I saw an alignment protractor made by Axiom that has attachments for the three different spindle sizes.  How crazy can an industry be that cannot get even this uniform?

I rarely encounter a record that is way too tight to fit on my turntable's spindle.  That can easily be fixed as moonglum suggested above.  I would never get a drill bit and go the route of using a power drill--it is way too easy to overdo things and end up with a bigger hole than desired or one that is not perfectly centered.  I have used a sharp Exacto knife that that works perfectly fine.  I have also used a round rat-tail file (even easier); all it takes is something like a quarter turn, a flip of the record and another quarter turn or so to shave off enough to make the record fit.  The key is to go very slow with the process because it really does not take much to get the right fit and not much more to have gone too far.
I've had quite a few new LPs with spindle holes that were a very tight fit and would bind on my VPI HW-17 RCM.  The $12 answer was in my shop, a T handle reamer. You can pick one up on Amazon, see the link below. In almost ever case I think it was not a matter of the hole itself being too small, but just some residual flashing. This tool will take it out in no time. A word of caution.....apply virtually no pressure when reaming as the tool will cut vinyl like it's not even there and you'll end up with an oversized spindle hole. A very light touch is all you'll need, just let the weight of the tool do the work. Great tool with plenty of other uses.
The RIAA specification is .284 to .287 (technically, specified as .286 +.001/-.002).

Whether manufacturers hold to this, as well as of course the need for cleaning out the hole, is a case by case situation.

As ttweights said, a .286 drill bit will work.

As an aside, you'll find many turntable manufacturers exercising a bit too much faith in record companies holding to this tolerance.  Thorens comes to mind as a manufacturer whose spindle tolerance nudges up against the minimum RIAA spec and many records bind against the spindle.

Most manufacturers realize that this is unnecessary and only serves to create usability problems like the ones reported here (whether it be for turntables or cleaners).  They'll spec their spindles in the.281-.283 range which is a nice balance between precision and usability.

As an aside, this variance is why our good friend at MintLP asks you your turntable brand, in order to specify a precision fit for his arc protractors.  This is a place where precision makes a difference.  We want our pivot-spindle setting to get within .001" (at least those of us on the lunatic fringe)..

Thom @ Galibier Design
I'm with jerroot.

Do not use a drill bit, use a reamer, by hand. A drill bit can hop out of the hole and skip across your record, destroying it. Or, the flutes can bite into the wall of the hole and gouge the hole, rapidly pulling the record toward the chuck. Since you cannot clamp down a record to a work surface easily, stay away from drill bits.