Lathe Attachments for a Drill Press





Introduction: Lathe Attachments for a Drill Press

I was scratching my head about this concept for ages, but I'm pleased to see now that it works and share it with you all! Here's a way to make Lathe attachments for a drill stand. It's cheap, and you won't have to dismantle an old drill to do it.

One thing I should probably mention before we go on, is that this is essentially a mini lathe. It's certainly not cut out for tough jobs- like turning a quadrilateral form into something circular. This jig is more for adding details, making tool handles from old branches and broom handles etc. Tougher jobs would require tougher bearings, speed control, etc.

Cutting List
Base: 30 (TH) x 30 (W) x 321 (L)

Tools & Parts

22mm Broom Handle
50mm Coach Bolt x 3 (M6)
Pronged Tee nuts (M6)
Wing Nut x 2 (M6)
22mm Forstner Bit
22mm Washer x 2 (M6)
A Sacrificial Swivel Castor (With a matching Socket)
Basic Woodworking tools: Pencil, Try Square, Saw (Cross and Rip), Sandpaper, Centre punch, drill blade set etc.
Uber Basic Metalwork tools: Hacksaw, Rasp set, WD40.

Sharpening Jig
Centre Point Marking Jig (See Images 2 & 3)

Step 1: Materials

The first step is to cut and sand your material to an appropriate size. I find that if you use a bench hook you can rest your piece against the edge; which makes it easier to see and remove any discrepancies. The downside of a Verti lathe is that you're restricted to what you can fit between the drill press and your table. A good 6-12" works just fine for me.

Step 2: Marking the Centre Points

I find it helpful to mark the Centre points of your chosen material. This will give your lathe something to grip.

To mark the Centre point on a square, it's as simple as drawing straight lines from Corner to Corner on the end grain (See Image 1). To mark the Centre point of a Circle, it gets a little bit tricky. There's a number of theories in this Great 'iblebut I've found it easier to use a jig.

The Centre point Marking Jig (Image 2)
What you have here is a 22mm hole, to match the width of my chosen material (22mm Broom Handle). The large hole is around 14mm deep (roughly 3/4 of the Jigs thickness), with a 12mm screw inserted from below. If you used a Forstner or Spade bit, there should be a small pilot hole in the centre for you to refer to. You want the screw to fit tightly, and preferably countersunk so you can use the jig without damaging your workbench.
Load your piece into the jig and strike with a mallet. .

Step 3: Swivel Castors

What you want is the chunky pin, which may take a little brute force to extract.Keep hold of its insert too!

Step 4: The Base

This is a platform to support the 'Live Centre' (next step). A mere baton will do

Step 5: 'Live Centre'

Typically, the Live Centre of any Lathe will feature internal bearings; to minimise the friction between the components. My design doesn't have bearings because I felt inclined to use the 'Grip ring' system from Castors. These are cheap, relatively easy to get hold of, and you can turn them till the cows come home and they'll never come out. A little oil here and there will definitely improve their performance though.

Filing these with a drill press is surprisingly easy. My only advice is to keep a steady hand and wear eye protection throughout.

Step 6: The Spur Centre Pt.1

Cutting & Sharpening Jig
I've prepared a jig that'll make this easier (Image 1). No need to write an Instructable for this one, yup, it's simply a 300mm baton with a shorter piece screwed to its end. Take a Coach bolt, insert it into the jig (see picture), secure said bolt with a nut from the other side, then use a hack saw to remove the head.

Once done, you can rotate the jig 90°; which will allow you to file it smooth.

Step 7: The Spur Centre Pt.2

Now that you've removed the head from the Coach bolt, a Pronged Tee nut will be added to grip the work piece. You want to tighten this nut as much as you can, or at least, until it reaches the long smooth area of the shank. To finish, file the other end of the bolt to a point and use an oily rag to remove any residue.

Step 8: Load Up

1) First and foremost, a hole will be needed to take the Spur bit. This will be a breeze, because you should have a notch in both ends of your work piece already. Hold your Spur bit next to it; to see how deep you need to go (Image 1) Remember that the 'prongs/spikes' of the Prong tee nut will be submerged into the wood.
2) Hammer the Spur bit into your piece, then insert it into the drill chuck.
3) Adjust the 'Base' so it's lined up and ready to take the piece from below.
4) To get a tight fit, loosen the head of your drill stand so its entire weight is on your work piece.
5) Tighten up and away you go!

Step 9: Complete

Health & Safety
For those who intend to make this I would strongly recommend taking a good look at your setup beforehand. The milling of metals (which I used to make the spur bit) is purely a cheap, temporary means of achieving a goal; certainly not something to make a habit of. As for the milling of wood, remember people that this is a 'mini lathe', so keep to small pieces of 6-12" softwood. I'd also advise keeping your chisels nice and sharp, to lessen that 'side thrust'. Last but not least, ensure that your drill has an inbuilt fan. If the drill feels hot, let it rest!

Final Note
Feel free to drop a comment if you're unsure of anything! Thanks

Ps. For further details on how to construct Drill Press Vices or Jigs, see:



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Please be positive and constructive.




Nothing wrong with the Instructable or the name,most people who are interested have enough common sense to take safety into mind,if not then they are likely the type who wouldnt no matter what.Nice jig and a good job.

Thank you :-)

I like this. I already own an actual lathe, so I don't need to build one, but here are some thoughts:

As long as everything is securely built (you may have to make some mods), there is no reason you can't turn a small table-top drill press on its side and add a tool rest.

Wear heavy clothing (a cheap leather welding apron would help ($10 at the you-know-who cheap tool store), and wear EYE PROTECTION. I hear glass eyes are less than fun. Oh, and when I said eye protection, I'm not talking about safety glasses. Get a face shield. Even with glasses or those cheap goggles, you can get crud in your eyes, and flushing wood dust out of your eyes isn't fun. I also wear a respirator when turning wood (not needed much with metal). Some woods have resins which are very unpleasant to breathe and can trigger allergic reactions, which can be VERY severe. At the very least: use a quality dust mask. Your lungs will thank you.

Keeping your cutting tools very sharp is excellent advice. A dull tool will turn into a weapon and you will be its target. Don't just grind them on a grinding wheel, hone them sharp on a fine sharpening stone. Your work will look a lot better, and you will need less sanding.

Pay close attention at all times to what you are doing. In the shop we have a saying: "It only take a second to turn a $20 piece of metal into worthless scrap." Start-overs are frustrating and less fun.

For a young person who really gets off on lathing: build good safety habits and learn all you can. It could turn into a rewarding career that pays well. (Wood or metal).

Geezus, loadsa notes on Health & Safety there! Buut, those are all very good points and well worth considering. The resin issue is an interesting one, I've heard of some lathe users avoiding certain types of wood altogether. At some stage, some day I'll modify this so it rests on its side; which will hopefully make it a little safer and easier to use :-) Thank you for the input there

You left out one important thing you need to have a variable speed drill press as a standard drill press will not turn fast enough for this to work. I am not sure if all variable speed drill press will work. As I stated in order to turn wood that has not been turned you will need something to generate speed.

Mmm, it's never been a problem for me but I understand that true lathing requires a bit of extra speed. As this is a mini lathe, it's certainly not cut out for tough jobs- like turning a quadrilateral form into something circular. Which is what attracted me to using broom handles as stock; this jig is more for adding details, making tool handles from old branches etc. Mayy' consider changing the name of this instructable

As long as you use rounded stock this should work great as you will not need that much speed. But others might get the wrong idea and think they can take a block of wood and make it round. Also being that the piece is vertical it would be hard to use any tool other than sand paper as there is no way to steady the tool.

I have a makeshift tool rest, but as I've mentioned in other comments I'd prefer to design a better one for use with this jig. Some great points there though, I'll update the 'ible description. Thank you for sharing :-)

I don't see anything like a tool rest (which I assume would be vertical as well). Do you have / can you describe a way to rig a tool rest? Or, have you found you are able to hold your chisels freehand? (That seems like it would be tough.)