MK: DIY Milling Table for Drill Press

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Introduction: MK: DIY Milling Table for Drill Press

Build a Tool Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Build a Tool Contest 2017

I´m very frustrated that I don´t have a milling machine in my shop. But my credo is get inspired, use what you have and make the best out of it, so naturally I tried to make my own milling machine (kind of).

Tools: drill press (obviously), table saw, miter saw, M5(1/8") and M8(5/16") taps, file, chisel.

Materials: 10mm(3/8") plywood, small woodscrews with washers, M8(5/16") threaded rod, two coupling and five regular nuts, two M3 bolts, two T-bolts with nuts

Step 1: Tracks

I started by cutting the plywood on my table saw. I cut a strip 5cm(2") thick with one side cut to 90° and the other to 45°. I made four pieces like this. Then I cut rectangle from the same plywood for a base. I´m not stating dimensions here, because you really need to adjust them according to your drill press, but it´s roughly 40x20cm(16x8"). Next I joined the base with the track using wood screws. I put small washers between the pieces for a little clearance to allow the sliding.

Step 2: Motion Mechanism

The movement is provided by the threaded rod, but let´s not get ahead of ourselves. I started with a simple nut. I drilled and tapped M3(1/8") hole in one side and filed down the opposite side as much as I could. Then I cut a smal recess using a chisel in the base for the nut to go in. Then I run M3(1/8") bolt through the base in the nut to secure it in it´s place.

Next I drilled two coupling nuts axially with 8mm(5/16") drill as a bushings for the threaded rod. Then I attached them to base using piece of sheath metal and four bolts with nuts.

Later I made the handle from scrap piece of aluminum. I first filed it to nice shape, then I drilled and tapped 8mm(5/16") hole in the middle and 5mm(3/16") holes on the very ends. I ran the threaded rod thorugh the middle hole and secured it in place using nyloc counter nut. Then I mounted two bolts with coupling nuts as handles in the end holes.

Step 3: Drill Press Attachment & Assembly

I used rather large, M10(3/8") T-bolts to attach the base to the drill press table. I started by marking the locations and drilling holes for them. Then I used my chisel to create recesses for their heads. This ensured, that they won´t turn while fastening, since they will be hidden under the table.

Later I attached my vice to the top of the table using large, 6mm(1/4") wood screws and big washers. Again, you want to adjust these dimensions to fit your vice.

I think the assembly is very clearly axplained in the video, but I basically started with one track dismounted from the top. I layed it on the table, put on the top and used small drill bit to locate the holes. Then I screwed the track to the top.
Then I screwed in the threaded rod and secured it in place using two nuts.

Step 4: Milling

For the test I did I used 8mm(5/16") single flute milling bit for plastic, but any router bit would work very well. I simply mounted it in a chuck of my drillpress, secured a small piece of wood in my vice and started milling. It went well, the cuts were surprisingly straight. I was, however, getting a lot of vibrations. These were in my opinion caused by significant play in the tracks and the fact that drill press is made to withstand axial, not radial forces. Thus you might want to be careful with feed speed and go rather slow to prevent greater damage to your equipment. Later I used a drill as kind of power feed.

I would like to hear from you, If you have any adjustments of your drill press. I think it´s very versatile and easy to improve machine so I would love some inspiration for future projects.

As always thank you very much for reading, please subscribe to my YouTube channel for projects like this every week and don´t forget: get inspired, use what you have and make the best out of it!

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28 Comments

Hello Michal, I was wondering, You probably already have some experience and opinion on the milling using a drill press. Does the drill press require a powerful motor (e.g. >1000 W) in order to be able to mill soft materials like wood efficiently?

Drill I used in this video is something like 0.3kw so no you dont need super powerfull motor. Just like in router is a "weak" and small motor but it does the job quite efficiently. Speaking of routers I strongly advice everyone to use a router with somr slides or something, rather than your drill press, since it's not really designed for radial forces. Hope that helped

Thank you :-)

Hello MK Great Web site and ideas.

After reading through every post here im NO longer thinking of converting my trusty drill press and will continue to shop for a used MillDrill.

Local Craigs list has many and i have the wifes blessing to spend a grand.

Someone talked about the chuck/taper/draw bolt, never thought about it till i read it, hell yes that chuck has every reason to come off and attack me.

MillDrill here i come!

Well, I like the idea apart from the tool choice. I'd be neat to see how it does with a router instead.

This is the sort of thing that should be done with extreme caution. Milling machines have a draw bolt at the top of the spindle that holds it in place, most drill presses however don't. Side loading the chuck like this can loosen the spindle causing it to drop which in turn flings the spinning spindle, chuck and bit assembly randomly off the drill press.

I speak from experience. Fortunately I never got tagged but did ruin both work and bits. I have since quit pressing my luck.

Yes, I agree. This was more concept and I´m going to use it only for soft wood. Safety first, I always wear my goggles :-)

Googles will work against a small chip of wood or metal but not against a chuck and/or bit planted in the middle of your forehead or that of a child across the room. The bit, while turning, is not only applying a side load but is actively trying to pull the bit downward out of the press due to the angles at the cutting edges. When the bit and holder come loose, metal will bend and break, wood will splinter, and the rotating parts will be thrown with incredible force and velocity in some unknowable direction. Using a X-Y table for positioning holes in a drill press is a good idea. For milling, use a router with a router table if required, or a milling machine.

I have to agree with tsallgood. A draw bar or bolt through the column is absolutely required to hold the chuck and bit in place. I also speak from experience with trying to use a drill press for a mill. Such use is very dangerous. Perhaps using a drill press stand for strapping a reversing drill motor in would be better than an actual drill press. A reversing drill chuck is threaded to the shaft with a reverse thread screw internally to hold it in place. Milling machines always have a draw bar to retain the collets or chucks in place. A drill press with a taper alone will not be enough. Someone may know of a modification for taper shanks to use some sort of retaining pin or bolt in the quill. Also, some quill bearings are better than others for radial loads.