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Steering the bit. The drilling industry is steeped in traditions most of which change slowly over time, if they ever change at all. For generations, drillers endeavored to drill straight, vertical holes. The tradition came from cable tool drilling, which required vertical holes for the system to work. Then, as technologies improved and the need for “slant” holes became apparent, drillers decided that they could drill directionally.
Thanks to Mr. Hughes, the rotary bit replaced cable tools, but holes were still drilled vertically. The inclination angle was measured with a “single shot” inclination tool that used gravity to mark a tin or brass sheet using a stylus. Unfortunately, Mr. Hughes’ original bit was a two-cone bit, which we now know is an excellent bit for building deviation angle. Upshot: some of the new rotary holes began drifting off vertical. To the surprise of many, drilling continued in these early crooked holes.
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