A Simple Drill Press Tray

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Introduction: A Simple Drill Press Tray

About: For work I am a scientific instrumentation consultant and my hobbies are woodworking, electronics, gardening, etc ... anything that serves as a creative outlet.

I have a bench top drill press for which I built my own mobile stand/cabinet many years ago, but I still wanted more space to put bits and parts I work with a bit closer by. I’ve seen several different trays (magnetic and otherwise), but could not find one that I liked until I saw one that could clamp onto the column itself. It had plenty of blind holes though and I didn't want those. I decided I could just make a similar one myself out of plywood with a tray/dish only.

Step 1: Design Details

My drill press had one hinderance to attaching a tray to the column. The rack was quite long and the top portion (not usable as it had no teeth) would block any effort to clamp a tray in place. The first thing I did was remove the rack and cut off a section of the top (untoothed) part of the rack. You can see the piece I had to cut off in the photo. That portion of the rack also extended up well past the chuck, so it would never be used even if it were toothed.

The column on this drill press (a 12” Delta) is 2.35” in diameter (about 60mm). I designed the tray with that in mind as I made a 3D model. I did not need any holes for bits (for now!), as I keep those in cabinet drawers below the press. I just wanted a simple dish small parts could not roll off of and still be easily accessible. I made the tray only ¼” deep, this would leave me some material in case I decided in the future to have some blind holes after all.

Step 2: Parts Needed

I used the following parts to make this clamp-on tray:

  • Some ¾” thick plywood. Try to find something without too many defects.
  • ¼”-20 female threaded knobs and some ¼”-20 threaded rod.
  • Two ¼”-20 cross dowels (3/8” diameter, 16mm long is what I used)
  • Wood glue, 5 min epoxy and perhaps some wood filler if the plywood had defects
  • Spray paint (I used clear semi-gloss Varathane) or other finish to protect the plywood.

If you make this yourself, you must adjust for the drill press column diameter, as they are not all the same. Also, you can make the tray larger or smaller and add other features to it as well (blind holes, more than one dish/well, etc).

Step 3: Making the Clamp

The clamp was cut out first. I printed out the tracing template at actual size and marked the inside curves with a ½” end mill shank. I then predrilled the inside curves with a ½” diameter Forstner bit and then cut out the rest on the band saw.

Step 4: Making the Tray Part

To cut out the dish (or well) in the tray part, I decided to attach a template to the plywood and rout it out using a template guide in my router table. I used strips of ¼” thick hardboard tacked in place with some small nails. I used an oversized piece of plywood and tried to place the nails where the holes would later be trimmed away. However, as can be seen later, one of those nail holes managed to make its way just inside the cut line. The strip you see inside the template was used as a spacer to help position the template strips while nailing them in place.

I routed the dish out in several passes until I reached the final depth. I started with a very shallow pass to try and have clean cut edges at the start and then at the end again to clean up the bottom. I also had to stop frequently to clean out the saw dust that managed to get stuck on the template corners. Once the dish was routed out, I trimmed the piece to its final size and then used the clamp to lay out the mating cut-out for the column. Again, I pre-drilled the inside curves and cut out the shape with the band saw. Right there in the middle of the curved cut-out in the tray part you can see the one nail hole that was asking for wood filler.

Step 5: Threaded Knobs and Assembly

The threaded knobs were made from 2-3/4” long pieces of ¼”-20 threaded rod that were epoxied into the female threaded knobs I had left over from an old drafting table I disassembled. At the bottom of the photo is a long-handled knob I considered using but found it might get in my way and decided on the compact ones instead. I then drilled the holes for the cross dowels with a 3/8” diameter Forstner bit and test fitted everything.

Finally, after all the edges rounded over, the parts were sanded and then sprayed with a few costs of semi-gloss clear finish.

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    25 Comments

    0
    drewscreen
    drewscreen

    11 months ago

    Nicely done and well photographed. One question: why did make the clamping faces faceted instead of round to conform to the circular cross-section of the drill column?

    0
    Kinnishian
    Kinnishian

    Reply 11 months ago

    To conform it would need to be round and have a gasket material that compresses between the clamp and the drill column. Or round and clamped enough to compress the wood enough. I am hand waving a little, but this is generally the reason why circular faces are clamped with "V-blocks" and not curved blocks.

    0
    drewscreen
    drewscreen

    Reply 11 months ago

    The "V" shape is used to accommodate a range of unknown specific diameters. I applaud your use of a variation of it in your 'ible, since it vastly simplifies the build.

    0
    Kinnishian
    Kinnishian

    Reply 11 months ago

    Ah, to be clear I am not the author, just giving an answer for them. I probably should have prefaced my answer more clearly indicating this (i certainly can't know for certain why they chose a V). I agree though, I like the use of it and it simplifies the build. Also, as you note, it accomodates a range of unknown specified diameters.

    0
    JohnJ194
    JohnJ194

    Question 11 months ago on Step 5

    The table looks great but how did you make the light ring?

    0
    MarcellS2
    MarcellS2

    Reply 11 months ago

    You'll have to make some adapter to fit the drill press you have for it, but that could work.

    0
    Waste Of Space
    Waste Of Space

    Reply 11 months ago

    I just used double sided tape.

    0
    MarcellS2
    MarcellS2

    Answer 11 months ago

    I bought a ring PCB off ebay along with some surface mount LEDs and put it together with a current limiting resistor and switch. The power supply is some old laptop supply if I recall correctly. Never made an instructable for it, sorry.

    0
    lorenkinzel
    lorenkinzel

    11 months ago

    That's nice. Pretty simple & the cover picture gives me nearly all the construction details.
    It's the concept that makes it stand out as special.
    If you need this sort of thing you love it.

    0
    MarcellS2
    MarcellS2

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks!

    0
    davidgoadby
    davidgoadby

    11 months ago on Step 5

    I should have made one of these many years ago. Your project inspired me
    to make one! I added a location for my stand of drills and a hole for
    the chuck key. I also made a support collar which allows me to swing the
    tray around.

    Thanks and seasons greeting to you.

    0
    MarcellS2
    MarcellS2

    Reply 11 months ago

    Very cool! Thanks and season's greetings to you also!

    0
    travlinjohn
    travlinjohn

    11 months ago

    Your rack is upside down. Flip it end for end and you gain teeth on the top end.

    0
    MarcellS2
    MarcellS2

    Reply 11 months ago

    Nope, bottom has even a longer section without teeth. Besides, having more teeth on top doesn't help, since the drill press table itself would hit the chuck long before you get to the top of the rack.

    0
    starguywisc
    starguywisc

    Question 11 months ago

    Instead of having two threaded rods with knobs, do you think using a strap hinge on the far side would work?

    0
    MarcellS2
    MarcellS2

    Answer 11 months ago

    Could work as well, as long as the edge of the plywood cutout for the column will clear the column as it swings past it. It might not clear it if the fit is too tight.

    0
    drbean1980
    drbean1980

    11 months ago on Step 5

    Your tray looks nice however i can not read the dimensions on the sketches. Could you provide them to me. Thanks in advance. Dennis

    0
    Waste Of Space
    Waste Of Space

    Reply 11 months ago

    Right click on the image you cannot read
    Click on 'view image'
    Press Ctrl + to enlarge image

    0
    jbtech2
    jbtech2

    11 months ago

    I see two metal round things on the upper face of the tray, but I don't get their function. What do the knobbed rods screw into? I'm not getting this part......