Introduction: MK: DIY Milling Table for Drill Press

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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!


explosivemaker (author)2017-02-28

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

tsallgood (author)2017-02-12

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.

MK DIY (author)tsallgood2017-02-12

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 :-)

ECMcintyre (author)MK DIY2017-02-13

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.

ECMcintyre (author)tsallgood2017-02-13

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.

BeachsideHank (author)tsallgood2017-02-12

Not to be argumentative, but many milling machines have/ had nothing more sophisticated than a Morse Taper #2 as a spindle end, most import drill presses now have a B16 taper, which is the same taper per foot as MT 2.

This fellow gives some very good tips on how to proceed with such an arrangement.

tsallgood (author)BeachsideHank2017-02-12

It's not about the taper of the spindle. It's about whether the system has a draw bar (bolt) threaded into the top of the spindle. Milling machines have them, drill presses don't. And they are there to account for the lateral pressure and keep it from working the spindle loose.

BeachsideHank (author)tsallgood2017-02-12

I'm not disagreeing with you about the drawbar aspect, my milling machine has an R8 system, the point made is that within limits (as previously explained) a drill press can be used for some milling and has done this type of duty going back at least to WWII when home shop enthusiasts by the thousands worked on similar projects since it was the only resource they had.

In conclusion then, the prime directive is, as always, do not attempt this if you are uncomfortable with it.

MK DIY (author)BeachsideHank2017-02-12

I haven´t taken my drill press apart yet, so I´m not sure what´s inside, but when I was doing test to see how it works, I could tell it doesn´t like it. It´s like the cheapest drill press you can get so I´m rather cautios.

FrancescoK2 (author)tsallgood2017-02-12

My thoughts exactly.

TedRobotBuilder (author)2017-02-12

Step one should read: Replace the drill with a router. You need a router for higher speeds and side-loading. Otherwise, nice instructable! :)

MK DIY (author)TedRobotBuilder2017-02-13

I couldn´t agree more! However, I don´t have one ( time to build one). Thank you :-)

blkadder (author)2017-02-12

I love this idea. I have a bench sizes drill press that I am going to give this a try on. I wonder if a pair of drawer glides might help with movement on the table section.

MK DIY (author)blkadder2017-02-13

That´s very interesting idea! If you´re able to fix them to both the tables securely, I think it might be enough for this application. I would love to hear from you, if you were to try it!

ve6cmm (author)2017-02-12

Brilliant! I have been milling on my drill press for a while, but nothing that wasn't round. I have made shafts for radio's and other items. I wave always wanted one but can't afford it for what I do. This is a great way to get more use out of a drill press. I am going to give it a try and maybe will be able to use it with metal.

MK DIY (author)ve6cmm2017-02-13

Thank you! It´s nice supplement if you don´t have a proper mill, however I would be very careful using this on metal. The drill press isn´t really designed for such use. I think aluminum or something similar would be fine with slow feed but I think that that is the limit. Check out other comments here, there are some very productive debates here about this. Good luc with your projects!

UncleEd (author)2017-02-12

I was wishing for something like this yesterday, when I had about 50 holes to drill in four rows. I used a framing square and a pencil and got the job done, but if I had very many of those parts to make, I'd use your idea.

If I understand correctly, you are using plywood (looks like the spruce, pine, or fir we get in the USA) for all the parts. As soft as woods those are and with their coarse grain, I would expect the parts rubbing together will wear rather quickly. You might think of replacing one side with a very hard wood (maple comes to mind) and providing some sort of lubrication. Easiest lubrication might be to rub a cheap candle on the surface. The candle wax won't get as dirty as some other lubricants might. Another option would be to lay a strip of sheet metal, maybe aluminum, on one side for the wood to rub against. Use the candle wax or something on this, too. Should help with the sticking that is probably making the table move unevenly. . .

MK DIY (author)UncleEd2017-02-13

Yes, this is other great use for this! This was more or less just a prototype, that´s why I used "lower" material. If I were to do it again, I would definitely use niver materials and less of trial and error approach :-)

absolutekold (author)2017-02-13

As pointed out below a drill press isn't designed for milling work. Even if you locktite everything down to keep it from dangerously coming apart, and throw up a guard to be safe, the bearings on the shaft aren't rated for anything but the lightest side load. The only quasi-beefy bearing is the thrust bearing for the longitudinal loading it expects to see when you lean on the handle, because we never forget to sharpen our drill bits... right??

Will this work. Sure. If you play nice you might also get by without hurting anything. You can almost always tell when someone tried a little too hard by grabing the chuck and the pulley and shaking it. If it is loose there is a high likeliness it has been abused in this manner. I have a 100yo metal drill press and a 150-200yo wood self feeding drill press (we're talking belt drive off line shaft goodness here) that came out of an old machine shop both of which are absolutely solid in that regard. Now a little wiggle isn't a deal breaker with most woodwork but if you ever need to do a detailed metal layout that wobble will give you no end of problems notably when you have to drill on anything that is not a flat surface.

If you are looking for something to do milling applications and not wrecking your drill press I've seen mods for routers that work rather well. With the advent of the big box import store they are easy to come by without breaking the bank. The easiest is to recreate the horizontal mills of the early days although it takes a minute to get used to thinking about all your movements rotated 90deg.

The drill press is one of the cornerstones of a shop and causing it undue distress can have unexpected consequences on your work for years to come. On the other hand if you're just "looking" for a reason to upgrade after your current drill press comes apart then have at it and post your results. I'd be interested in watching that video.

CPUDOCTHE1. (author)2017-02-12

I have a big expensive (for home shop standards) drill press. I bought a 5" milling vice from HD for less than $100. Obviously it is not good enough to mill with (and I wouldn't want to destroy my drill press milling steel) but the vise it good enough to position the material to drill or tap holes. All milling is done on the mill. You should probably use a hard wood for the parts that slide and put paste wax or burnish the wood where it slides and the most precision is needed.

BeachsideHank (author)2017-02-09

You can make this work somewhat better if you limit the work to plastic, wood, or aluminum, steel would really be less than satisfactory for this arrangement. A two- flute milling bit with a cutting tip works best for the above materials, using a method of "chain drilling" a pathway through the project first, then returning to start and making the slotting pass to final dimension and depth, possibly in several shallow passes. By pre- drilling, you remove most of the waste using the drill press as is designed for, lessening the radial burden on the tool- actually it is the chuck which is the weakest link with this approach, not so much the bearings. Many have used their drill press with a great deal of success as a substitute for a milling machine, it's all about technique and proper tool selection. ☺

MK DIY (author)BeachsideHank2017-02-10

Thanks man! I´ll keep your tips in mind. It´s apparent you are experienced in this stuff :-)

BeachsideHank (author)MK DIY2017-02-11

I think you'll be able to do what you want with this setup, most home shops don't need a 2200 pound Bridgeport mill just to graze a few furrows in a project; think of the Zero in WWII, it dominated the skies early on, but was no match for a head- on slugfest with an allied fighter, yet nimbleness and it's lightweight carried the day on many occasions.

Good luck on your future projects too!

picposter (author)2017-02-09

nice idea :)

MK DIY (author)picposter2017-02-10

Thank you :-)

About This Instructable




Bio: Whats up! My name is Michal and I love to work with all kinds of materials and to create awesome things. I usually work with ... More »
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