I drill on the metal-working lathe after accurately squaring both ends of the blank (very important to square ends). . I always start the holes with a center drill. . Sometimes I follow that with a pilot drill. . If not, then drilling with the main bit starts VERY slowly until the drill bit has gone in about a half inch, then a little faster is OK, but not much faster. . Drill in a little over half the blank length, and then restart from the other end of the blank. . Overall blank length is up to about 5". . Sometimes I use a stubby drill to start the holes (after the center drill) ... stubbies help a lot in providing the initial steadiness but I don't have stubbies in all sizes.
I love buckeye. I’m waiting on my chamber and cactus juice to stabilize a bunch I have. As for long barrels... I have a harder time squaring than drilling but I only drill on the lathe. Blade Clicks are loooong!