Precision high speed micro drill press from 'Useful material'

Picture of Precision high speed micro drill press from 'Useful material'
Almost finished -1.JPG

Fabricated precision high speed micro drill press mainly from ‘useful material’ (someone else's ‘junk’ and scrap)

My first Instructable, try not to be too nasty .

Many thanks to Andrea Biffi for posting his cheap circuit board drill press and getting me interested in making one and for comments telling me I should document my building process for an Instructable

A little background.

I consider myself a motorcycle mechanic as I’ve been working on ‘bikes’ for over 40 yrs.including almost 12 years teaching at motorcycle school in Orlando Florida until 2011. I already own all the tools, taps, dies, drills, etc from years of working on motorcycles and realise most people won't be that 'lucky' (the downside of having a 'proper job')

For the last several years I’ve been ‘playing’ with 1970’s Honda’s and Yamaha’s, specifically XS650 and CB350/360. With the resurgence of ‘Cafe Culture’ and people going for a specific ‘look’ I’ve been having fun modifying carburettors to work with aftermarket air filters (‘pods’) It entails drilling new holes and making ‘precision’ pieces, some of the holes are only 0.035mm diameter and none are over 1.5mm diameter. I needed a high speed drill press to use the available carbide drill bits, they shatter if you try to use them by hand in pin vice or if they are run too slowly in a normal drill press

Anyway, on with the build, sorry to everyone if I've oversimplified everything or should have added more steps and pictures, you can always ask in comments section, I can take pictures of the finished piece

Tools required

Drill press

Hole saws, 1.5" & 1.75"

HSS Drill bit set; I have one in 1/64” increments from 1/16” to ½”

Tapping drills for 4mm, 5mm and 6mm taps

4mm, 5mm 6mm taps and tap handle

1/4x20 inch size tap (standard thread for camera mounts - another hobby)

Countersink bit

Assorted metric screws, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm countersunk/flat head

Divider for marking circles (compass would probably work just as well)


Bench Vice


Screwdrivers/Allen keys

Propane torch (or some way to melt lead for counterweight)

Assorted files, flat, round, etc

A lathe and milling machine would be nice but everything can be done with drill press and hand tools

Material required

1.5”x1” Aluminium box section, cut and welded at 90 degree angle – surplus store – I got lucky and the reason I decided to make 'drill press'. Steel could be used, would be easier to weld and hold threads better but more difficult to drill and tap

¾” square aluminium box section, about 1ft long

Small square piece to fit inside ¾” box section for mounting, roughly ½” x 1/2" x 1”, I had a scrap piece from some old frame (chair, window? no idea)

2 pieces aluminium 3/16” thick1-1/2 ~ 2” long, spacer/mountings - scrap offcuts, until I found a use for them

aluminium block 2.5" x 1" x 2" - off-cut I had after making a fork brace for CB360 - probably from eBay? (I forget)

Aluminium plate, about 3" square, 3/8" thick - had it in toolbox for last 20 yrs, always knew I would find a use for it

I used to get a lot of aluminium offcuts and odd bits from Skycraft ( so had almost everything laying around

Pulley, I used 2”x 1/4” with 1/16” wide groove, something I made several years ago when learning machining

‘Fotomate’ camera macro rack and pinion focusing device - eBay

3.5mm steel plates –free - front axle steady plate from a motorcycle transportation crate – ask your local motorcycle shop if they have any ‘useful material’ (scrap crate parts)

¾” x1/8" aluminium angle, about 14”~18” for cross piece, came off a bench edge -free

Old lead wheel and fishing weights – I used a little over 12oz

‘Dremel’ style rotary tool - eBay - the most expensive part

4x rubber feet

Old toothbrush to make lever

2x ‘Chocolate block’ electrical connectors

18" x 1/16” dia high tensile wire ‘rope’ – I had some from a project that ‘failed’- couldn’t solder Teflon coated stainless steel wire even after coating was removed

The 99% finished item so you can see what it looks like is at top

It’s probably best to get ‘Dremel’ clone and macro focusing rack before cutting anything

When you know length of rotary tool and ‘Fotomate’ macro focus rack, you can start making some measurements for cutting box section angle piece.

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crazypj (author) 9 months ago

Bit of an update.

Not the best pic but you can see the drilling guide I made and the brass emulsion tube before drilling.

Doesn't work quite as well as expected (or maybe it's just me?) broke several drills, I think the bearings are going to need adjusting (probably make new bronze bushings or fit precision bearings)

The emulsion tubes do change the fuel supply curve to where I expected though so it's all good, experimenting is never easy :)

Lever down 1.JPG
Bill WW11 months ago

Great project and great idea. So much better to use your setup for small precise drilling rather than use a big drill press like I try to do.

I like your sandals in step #1 - my feet always show up in my Instructable photos also, but unfortunately not as many opportunities for sandals where I am.

Thank you. This is great.
Please. What heat source did you use to melt the lead in the stainless container?

crazypj (author)  Ricardo Furioso11 months ago

I used an ordinary propane torch/blowlamp but a barbecue or similar could also be used. It could be melted on a hotplate (stove top) but the lead may be giving off poisonous fumes so I wouldn't do that

sguthula11 months ago

I always thought of making one. A small drilling/milling/lathe machine build with a Power drill. Would work for most home projects. Will definitely build this. There are many thing we can do with a power drill. I had earlier made a micro drill bit out of a paper pin for drilling tiny holes on balsa wood.

crazypj (author) 11 months ago

I finished it off with 'toothbrush handle' operating lever, 180 degree rotation is 10mm travel on Fotomate (just in case anyone needed to know)

Some pictures showing lever up and rotated 180 degrees with the amount of travel. Lever makes feeding much more controllable. Last pic is the new VM emulsion tube that needs air bleed holes drilled

I'm going to have to make a micro angle vice next (after lacing some motorcycle wheels)

Lever down 1.JPGLever down 2.JPGLever up 1.JPGLever up 2.JPGDSCN6006.JPG
legamin11 months ago

I used all my skills and tools and even one of my six Dremmel tools to try for cheap... But the machining part kept 'getting' me. Oh well, went to Sears and bought a decent mini Dremel press for $20.00. Got home and realized it was fit for Sears brand rotary tools and NOT Dremmel! Doh! So some sleeve making, remaking and, yes, machining later... I can proudly say I have a modified overpriced but acceptable precision press drill. It has been accurate enough to retrofit a balance staff from a '$2.00 watch pocket watch' to a big old Timex wristwatch that I could no longer find the piece for... So long live enginuity and the cost of failure...

snoopindaweb11 months ago

I have a Craftsman drill press made for their old metal bodied hand drills. It can be "adjusted" without needing any cutting, etc. I seen some on ebay, some even with the old hand drills to boot. I rigged Mine for a dremil. :- }

KROKKENOSTER11 months ago

Fantastic instructable we have here! Pity I did get it a wee bit late for me. I had to supply my own tools when I was still working and NEVER pass a pawn shop A wrench that did work but was not abused is better than a new one as any fault by now is worked out and reliable proven even if it is a cheap tool when made

Wazzupdoc11 months ago

Great job! Using tools to make tools. I relaced the front wheel of my XS650. Sadly, that is that is left. :( I miss her.

bob303011 months ago
Good job repurposing the "fotomate" as a rack and pinion mount. Thanks for sharing. How about sharing some of your bike projects too? Maybe just portions of the bike builds?
crazypj (author)  bob303011 months ago

I'll take some pictures of re-lacing rear wheel with new rim and spokes

crazypj (author) 11 months ago

Hi Costarus,

I used counterweight specifically to avoid increased resistance from a spring stretching. I'll get a video of it in use making new emulsion tubes for Mikuni VM carburettors. Drilling through 8~10mm round brass is a lot deeper than majority of people will want to do (which is why I put this in motorcycle section rather than electronics where I found the original)

bob3030, I'm working on a 1968 Suzuki T305 at present, doing a 'resto-mod'. Already made a few parts but didn't think to take pictures

Costarus made it!11 months ago

I did a similar instrument. From wood. Used relse for furniture. Instead of spring, it is better to use the goods. Spring increases the resistance from stretching. Cargo works evenly.

andrea biffi11 months ago

hey thanks for linking to my ible :)

awesome work!

crazypj (author) 11 months ago

I remember what the 'wire rope' was, bicycle brake inner wire.

Almost any 90 degree angle frame can be easily adapted to hold macro rail, I've recently been looking at old aluminium window frames

Great idea, thanks for sharing!