Introduction: Drill Press Laser Alignment Tool

This will help you realign your drill press table if you have to change drill bits in the middle of a project, have a piece clamped down and need to move up a size, etc. If you adjust your table height, there is the risk of moving side to side and this tool will get you back on track.

Step 1: What You Will Need

This project doesn't take much in the way of supplies, and the tools I used aren't required by any means-there are lots of options. Make it yours!

Here is what I used:

-Wire Nails
-Magnets ($4)(craft store, home store, online, etc)
-Laser Pointer ($1)(Dollar Tree)
-Scrap Wood

Tools
-Drill Press
-Hot Glue Gun
-Band Saw
-Utility Knife
-Hammer

Step 2: Layout Your Dimensions

You want to hold your scrap wood or whatever you are going to use on the top of your drill press and mark on the wood the width of the part of the lid that comes in contact with the board. This will show where the bounds are for drilling for your magnets.

Make sure the end of the board sticks out slightly past the widest part of the lid, as shown in the picture.

Step 3: Drill for Magnets

I used a forstner bit to get a flat bottomed holes for the magnets. Use one of your magnets to check your depth-ideally the magnets will protrude ever so slightly from the board. Flush would work, too, but proud is best.

Technically you don't have to even drill holes for the magnets, you could probably just hot glue or epoxy them to the board, but I felt inspired (it being a drill press Instructable and all). So if you need this tool just as fast as possible, skip the drilling.

Step 4: Get Into the Groove

Cut a small groove in the direction as shown in relation to the holes for the magnets (or if you skipped the drilling, the face where the magnets will reside). The groove doesn't have to be very deep, maybe a 1/8-1/4". The groove is there to help keep the laser aligned on the block.

This is another step you could technically skip, but because the laser needs to be parallel to the drill press post, I recommend the groove to get the angle right.

Step 5: Secure the Magnets

I used hot glue, just a dab in each hole. Again, try to make sure and keep the magnets just slightly proud of the surface of the board.

You could, of course, use epoxy or something else instead here.

Step 6: Add the Frickin' Laser Beam!

Place your laser in the groove (if you cut one).

Attach the laser to the board with the wire nails. Make sure the laser is pointing as shown in the pictures, with the laser output end on the same side of the board as the magnets.

Just leave enough room around the switches so that they don't stay on and that you have room to operate the switch.

If your wire nails are not as tall as the laser is big around and they should hold very well.

Step 7: Target Practice

Stick the alignment tool to the top of your drill press. Turn on the laser and adjust its position until it is on the drill press table away from your setup.

Put a target on the table of the drill press where the laser is shining. Make a set of crosshairs where the laser beam is. The thinner the crosshairs, the more accurate you can make your setup and the more repeatable your results will be.

Photographing a laser turns out to be a little harder than I expected- you can see the pictures of the crosshairs, with the center missing from two pictures and the crosshairs are intact in one. The intact crosshair picture is with the laser off, the other two show the laser on and centered on the crosshairs.

Step 8: Wrap It Up

So now you can get your drill press set up, sight in your laser, and if you have to make any table movements to change drill bits or depth or whatever, you can get your table lined back up by just lining up your laser dot!

This particular build will officially be a (working) prototype for a couple of reasons:
-While the magnets I used are strong, I wouldn't mind getting stronger ones still, just to insure less chance of any movement
-My dollar store laser was cheap (literally a $1!!!), but it only stays on when you hold the button down. It would be much easier to find one (even if I have to pay a few more dollars) that switches on and off rather than holding the button while trying to align everything

There you have it!

I hope you enjoy your laser alignment tool

Comments

author
explorerboysJTG (author)2016-04-11

I used what I had and was done in minutes.

6" laser level with a flat beam

magnetic tape

stand made from a brake rotor

vinyl floor marking tape

With the flat beam it can also save depth

author
MikeM81 (author)2015-08-11

I love the simple but effective tool.

If you want to stay with the button type laser switch, simple screw a clipped off cloths pin to hold the switch and rotate it to release the switch. No picture needed.

author
wilwrk4tls (author)MikeM812015-08-12

Unfortunately rotating the barrel probably won't work so well with the $1 lasers- they aren't incredibly true within the barrel, which isn't unexpected for a $1.

author
buck2217 (author)2015-06-24

Good Idea well done

author
wilwrk4tls (author)buck22172015-06-25

Thank you

author
leftfootleashed (author)2015-05-28

Good idea. I think I might cheat and combine this idea and BeachsideHank's comment by attaching a laser pen somehow (magnets are the frontrunner for this, as per this instructable) to the front edge of my table and making a mark on the garage wall. Then rotation of the table around the column can be controlled, though it will need vertical line on the wall, parallel to the column (i.e. not necessarily truly vertical) to allow for changing height. Food for thought.

author

You could even mount it under the table and project the laser onto the base- it may reduce the chance of having something else block the beam shooting it to a wall, as well as keeping it true to the drill press so that if the drill press moves (mine is not anchored to the floor) it will still be aligned.

If your drill press is anchored, though, shooting a further distance would certainly increase your accuracy.

author
Elhadni (author)2015-04-28

Très bien et pratique

author
BeachsideHank (author)2015-04-26

This really is the Genesis of a very good idea: realigning a head assembly to a previous X/Y axis. Round column mill/ drill presses have a serious drawback in that any head movement, however slight, requires a tedious and prolonged adventure trying to recover 0/0 again. Lasers have been used to project a beam to a distant spot of the shop wall, a known calibration point, to allow repositioning. Simply put, the longer the focal length the greater the accuracy- some even employ mirrors to artificially add distance, bouncing the beam from one to the other.

Thanks for this idea as well.