Friday, March 20, 2015

The Drill press table

As you are no doubt aware,  a drill press may be a very useful machine to have in our woodworking, but they were more geared toward metal working than woodworking.

The big clue is the small metal table from which to work from. Always seems too small to support correctly our pieces and forced us to improvise with a jury rigged approach.

Temporary fence and special clamp hold down installed, which sometimes gets in the way and is a pain to remove/install

Solution is simple, built a proper support table for woodworking operations.
When I designed mine, a few years back, I decided to make it as big as I could, given, you guessed it the limitations of what I had on hands at the time. What can I say, I'm a frugal woodworker (translation I do not waste much wood) :-)

Starting to mock up and gathering my supplies

The final table ended up with 2 layers of 3/4 in plywood, topped with a thick plastic sheet for ease of sliding pieces across and durability.

All 3 layers glued, now trimming ends with maple hardwood. Not shown but in between both layers of plywood I added T nuts inserts in the lower sheet in order to fasten strongly table to DP. 

4 strong bolts/washers are used to secure the table to the DP. They thread into the buried T-nuts, so I can remove/replace numerous times without worrying about threads holding in plywood.

Fence details, super HD, no flex even if you use gorilla forces :-)

Finished table, with some of the add-on I made for it. Stop block, holding clamps, spare inserts.

Final dimension ended up being 28-1/2 in long X 19 in deep. In insight it is a tad big I rarely need that depth, The length on the other hand is very useful. My super HD table weigh quite a lot and tend to make the DP a tad tipsy, so I ended up bolting it down on its stand. My DP does not have a crank mechanism to raise/lower the table, so I had to resort to something to help me raise and lowering it when the table is loosen from its post to move it.

My $15 solution, a cheap hydraulic 4 tons jack. Works like a charm, but it limits how low I can go, so sometimes it must be removed (rarely).

In this recent picture, you can appreciate why I should rig up some sort of chips collection on it :-)

Final thoughts on it: I thought that it was clever of me to use the same T-tracks for both the fence and the clamps. Turns out, they are spaced too wide for the clamps to have an effective range, forcing me at time to do without clamps or coming up with complicated clamping arrangements. Could have been easily remedied by adding an additional T track or changing the fence tracks spacing.

I sure wish my DP had a rack and pinion table height adjustment :-(
Like I said, my table is a tad too big for most of the time, but it is a good size when drilling 35mm hinge cup size in cabinet doors.

The table could have easily shed pounds by using an aluminum angle instead of iron, and using something less than 2 layers of 3/4 plywood and thick maple trim, but as you may have surmised by now, I like to overbuilt most things :-).

All in all it has been a long overdue improvement to my small bench top DP. I highly recommend you make such a table for your DP, you will never regret it. You could also bought a ready made one, but where is the fun in that??

Bob, going out to clear the rear deck of $%*@# snow


  1. Hi Bob,
    where would you put the new track(s) for the hold downs? Would you put one in that is 90 degrees to the two already in place?
    I spied bessey corner clamps behind the drill press. Do you like them? I have 3 functional ones and one that didn't bounce all that well. I have a mostly hate 'em relationship with them.

  2. Good question Ralph, I don't know. That thought had cross my minds (both military and civilian :-) but I'm not sure having one at 90 would be that advantageous, depending on the width of the material being worked on. In the end, I think having spaced my fence tracks closer would have done the trick. That or adding a shorter track about smack in front, parallel to the fence ones?

  3. I like my Bessey, also have the small clamps to held them on the bench, they come in handy at time. In my shopping travel today I saw a cheaper clone copy made of plastic, other than that look just about the same. I think I'll stick to my original, much better made. I think I now have just about everything to finish my till.

  4. Looking at my pics, I just had a Senior moment (AKA another bright idea :-)
    What I should do, is simply make a piece long enough to reach both tracks and have a sliding clamp on it, problem solved Ta Da! Now, why didn't think of that earlier? Well I may have but may have had the other kind of Senior Moments :-)

    Bob, still refusing to grow up