Introduction: Drill Press or Band Saw Light

I found that I was drilling in the dark with my old Craftsman 150 cast-iron drill press, despite having a magnetic light on the side - which had a tendency to fall off or get in the way of clamps, or the clamps would cast a shadow precisely where I needed light....

A thought, 3 months after publishing - now I have to make another for my band saw.

I figured a bright LED light, mounted under the drill press head, small and up out of the way, would be just the ticket.

Some considerations:

  • It had to be bright. Lights need to be brighter in direct proportion to the age of the eyes.
  • It needed to be re-positionable so I could eliminate shadows.
  • It needed to be re-deployable - use off the drill press would be nice. Maybe for photographing future Instructables.
  • Since cast iron isn't easy to drill for mounting accessories (especially on the underside of a DP head), and trying to drill a cast iron drill press head without using a drill press would rate right up there with sticking your elbow in your ear, I decided a magnetic mount would be easiest and most adaptable..
  • Batteries are always dead when needed (especially when you forget & leave the light on for 3 days), so it had to run off the mains.


2) 3.5cm x 4cm COB Chip 48 SMD LED Panels - Sold as interior car light replacements, these run on 12VDC.

I found them on eBay for something just over a dollar each, here's a typical one: They come with little plugs, I had cut them off by the time I took the picture.

You can certainly get a different size if it suits you.

2) 3.5cm x 4cm Double-Sided adhesive mounting tape - mine came with the lights, any double-stick tape will do, or you can use hot glue.

1)Enclosure of suitable size - I used a mint tin.

1)12V 'Wall Wart' power supply. You may have one hanging about in your junk drawer like I did.

1)Switch - Miniature toggle/rocker/pushbutton - whatever floats your boat, or have hanging around. As long as it fits in the enclosure.

Though a SPST (single pole/single throw) is all that's needed, I had a DPDT hanging about, so that's what I used. You can probably find them online cheaply enough if you don't have one.

Grommets: any size & count to suit.

I used (2) 1/8" grommets for the LED leads, and (1) 3/16" grommet for the power supply wire.

2) Neodymium (Rare-Earth) ring magnets. 1/2"D x 1/8"Th. These are countersunk for flat-head screws.

I got mine at Magcraft but they're also available through Home Depot for a bit more. Go ahead & get a dozen. You'll find uses for them.

2)6-32 x 1/2" Flat Head Machine Screws with nuts.

Materials not shown:

1) piece of 'Fish Paper' (optional), an insulating paper (available on Amazon) needed only of your enclosure is metal and your switch terminals might contact the back side) - any plastic will do but fish paper is very tough).

1) #6 x 1/2" sheet metal screw to keep the top from popping open due to gravity & vibration.

1) Small zip-tie.

Liquid electrical tape, and/or heat shrink tubing, hot glue, solder.

Step 1: Layout and Holes and Magnets, Oh, My!

Decide where your light panels & switch will mount, and where the LED panel and power supply wires will enter the enclosure. You can see some of my layout marks on the mint tin in the first picture. Decide what spacing is needed on the bottom for the magnets to best connect with your drill press - my spacing was about 3.75", but your mileage may vary. Switch and LED lead holes go on the top, magnet mounting holes go on the bottom.

Centerpunch & drill appropriate size holes for the grommets (3/16" for the 1/8" grommets, 1/4" for the 3/16" size, or as appropriate), the switch, and the 6-32 screws for the magnets. De-bur the holes!

Picture shows holes drilled & grommets mounted. In retrospect, I should have put the grommets for the LED wires on the 'opening' side of the top, not the hinge side. More a matter of convenience than anything.

Magnets: Mount the magnets to the back/bottom using the screws and nuts. This step can be saved for later if you wish, but this is when I did it.

Step 2: Begin Wiring

Start by cutting off any plug your power supply may have, stripping the wires & making sure of their polarity with a multimeter - mine was red - positive, white - negative. Your mileage may vary.

Mount the switch.

Run the power supply wire through the appropriate grommet & secure with a zip-tie as shown (bit of paper is there only for contrast). Solder the positive lead to the switch.

Step 3: LEDs and More Wiring

Mount the LED Panels to the top and run the wires through the grommets.

Bring all the grounds (negatives) together & solder.

Run a wire from the other switch terminal to the positive leads from the LEDs and solder.

Make sure none of the wires are touching except where soldered. Plug it in & test it. OOOh!! Shiney!!

If not "oooh shiney", check the switch position, or unplug it & correct any wiring faults.

Step 4: Insulate

Insulate the connections with liquid electrical tape and/or heat-shrink tubing... I used both.

Insulate the bottom of the enclosure (if needed) with fish paper or plastic, using hot glue, contact cement, ShoeGoo, double-sided tape, whatever. Or just cut it to a friction fit.

Step 5: Pot the External Wires, Further Secure the LED Panels

Cover the wires that come from the LED panels and through the grommets with hot glue - this will help prevent damage due to vibration or accidental snagging.

Note 3 months later: I found that the foam adhesive would let go, leaving the LED panels dangling from the wires. This can be prevented by putting a dollop of hot glue on the ends of the LED panels opposite the wires.

Optional: Drill a hole for the #6 sheet metal screw & insert the screw if needed to hold the enclosure closed.

Step 6: Done!

Mount the assembly to your drill press, plug it in & light it up!

In the first picture, you can see how it looks from underneath - compact and convenient! It's located right up near the quill here, but can easily be slid back if I need to change the angle of the light.

Second picture is how it looks (on my work-in-progress drill press table) with all other shop lights off - the "S" on the Sharpie is right where the drill bit would hit. Plenty of light, shadow-free!

According to the light meter on my phone, light level at the table is a bit more than 1000 lux.

Hope you find this a handy idea - Enjoy!