Maximize Your Drill Press

A drill press is adjustable in any shop, but there are many fixtures available commercially, or that can be shop built, that will improve production and accuracy. A cross feed table travels longitudinally and transversely on XY axes, and provides accuracy within a few thousandths of an inch, much like you would expect on a milling machine. While some milling operations can be performed on woods and plastics, do not try to mill metals in a drill press. Metal machining requires a machine with more inherent stability than you will find in most drill presses. Combination machines are available, however, that can be used both as a drill press and as a milling machine, and these can be used for metals.

A combination rotary table that can be used vertically or horizontally is a nice addition, especially if a lot of precise radial orientation is needed, and when used in conjunction with a cross feed table, an infinite number of hole patterns is available. Some rotary tables come with dividing plates that give unparallel accuracy.

If you have a three jaw lathe chuck, you can chuck a piece of round stock that will fit into your drill press chuck, and place it on your drill press table. With the drill press turned off, bring the chuck down over the round stock and tighten the drill press chuck. This will locate the center of the lathe chuck directly under the drill press chuck, and the lathe chuck may then be clamped to the drill press table. Any round stock placed in the lathe chuck will then be centered, and this will be true as long as the table is not swung out of location.

Many jigs and fixtures can be shop built to adapt your drill press to your individual needs, such as, locating fixtures for repeat or production applications, vee blocks for drilling round stock, and centering fixtures for drilling holes in the ends of round stock, just to name a few. For ease of machining, wood may be used for short run applications, but use aluminum or steel with hardened drill bushings, for longevity.

For illustrations and complete instructions for building a number of jigs and fixtures, I have written an ebook called Maximizing Your Drill Press, and it will be available soon at my eBay store, "Gazillion ebooks". Copy and paste this URL into your browser to see all of my books.