Accurized Craftsman Drill-Press




The shipped depth measurement on the current Craftsman Drill Presses are, well, coarse. For doing some precise depth work, I retrofitted my drill press by adding an inexpensive digital caliper from Harbor Freight. This gives two significant advantages over the built in dial in that it is A) zeroable, and B) accurate.

Adding an accurate depth meter for a Craftsman Drill Press.
Required parts:
-Harbor Freight 6" Plastic Caliper $6.99 (or $15+ for a metal version. )
-Aluminum L bracket, 3/4" x 1/2" x 1.5" long
-Jam nut matching the threads of the existing depth stop (Remove and use the bottom jam nut for reference. Mine was 5/8". )
-Two small screws, about 3/16"x 1/2" and matching tap. (It may be necessary to cut them down to the thickness of the caliper jaw + the collar wall.)

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Measure, Drill and Tap

The caliper will supplement the built-in depth measure.
To attach it, I mounted a small piece of angle bracket to the bottom of the depth measure, and fixed the jaws of the caliper to the two points.

The simple sequence is as follows:
- Cut Angle bracket to 1.5" length.
- Mark and Drill 5/8" hole centered in the larger flange of the angle bracket.
- Attach angle bracket to the bottom of the depth measure with the additional jam nut. (You may need to feed the depth measure down to make room.)
- Mark points to drill holes in:
A) The black collar on the motor casing, such that the screw/tap will pass between the depth measure and the left wall of the collar.
B) The Angle bracket, precisely below the hole in the collar. (If it is off to the left/right, there is little harm, but the caliper will shift every time you drop the spindle.)
C/D) Mark the caliper jaws for holes to match, such that it will be in the thick part of the jaw, but not so close that the tail of the caliper hits the belt casing on the top of the press (or the measure stops hit the case of the caliper

-Drill the holes in the caliper jaws so that the machine screws fit snugly.
-Drill the holes in the collar and angle bracket small enough for tapping, then tap to fit the machine screws.
-Assemble carefully. The brackets are aluminum, so avoid over tightening and stripping the threads.

Additional notes:
- Total cost: Roughly $10 or less if you can wait for a coupon for the caliper.
- Don't forget to turn it off. If you do, HF also sells the batteries for dirt cheap.
- Don't forget to move the drill's measure stops to the top.

- Zeroable
- 10x the granularity.
- Positive and negative travel measurements.
- Kind on the eyes and readable through trashed eye protection.

Be the First to Share


    • CNC Contest

      CNC Contest
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    17 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    another good idea from my american friends !…
    keep on feeding us : we need you over here…
    (PS. If you wanna trade with french cuisine … )


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea, and nice work on the Instructable. I did this for my Delta drill press. using a metal caliper. Think twice before going that route, mine was made from stainless steel, giving the drill press and bits quite a workout. I'm happy with the results, but two hours for two 3/16" holes was a bit more than I expected!

    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Looks great! I need to trim the inside measurement teeth off mine, as they catch on clothing, etc. One definite advantage of the stainless models is that they are usually accurate to the thousandth.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    ...My question is, if you're using a manual drill-press with no gear reduction on the z-axis's movement... would you want to drill something that needs the accuracy to the thousandth?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Want, need, try, succeed.. After I finish breaking this one off by accident, the accuracy upgrade when I switch to a metal one is just a plus.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Whaaaaa the Venereal Caliper on Pox Drill Press. Vernier Caliper... tho some of the digital ones, don't have the vernier scale... so I guess that makes them a digital caliper. That is a very clever idea. Must do.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    you forgot one advantage, instant conversion from English to Si (metric) units. nice mod, time to see if it will fit on my drill press.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    wow that is a great idea ill be add that onto my future drill press


    11 years ago on Introduction

    good idea... just a couple of points.

    This is not a micrometer... it is a caliper.
    If you are going to use it a lot, then you will find that the composite caliper does not last as long and for a little more you can get their metal one which has performed well with my setups.

    of course you dont have to worry about accuracy of the caliper much... most of the time your tool has more flex in it and will throw accuracy out more than a caliper will (unless you are putting this on a mill).

    for those who want fractional display options as well here is an excellent caliper:

    cheers :-)

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Good point on it being a caliper. As it sticks out a bit, I also preferred to break off the plastic $7 model instead of possibly stripping my threads or damaging the collar. With some recent use, I'm inclined to upgrade it to a fractional display, but the $24 tag to replace something that works is a bit high.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice mod ! Simple and easy to follow Instructable. This is a great idea for those of us that are getting on in years and have less acute eyesight and trouble seeing the numbers on the drills built in depth gauge.