Build Your Own Drill Press for FREE!




About: -----------------------------------------------------------------16 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!-----------------------------------------------------------------Hi FTC! My I'bles con...

BEFORE you read this I'ble on how to make the drill press shown above, I want to UPDATE that:

I ended up retiring the drill press I made in this instructable, and now, 2 years later, I bought a mini compact variable speed drill press on eBay. If you might be interested in a drill press like this one, I highly recommend you watch my detailed review video on it, highlighting its most valuable pros & cons - which there are many!

You can click here to watch the video, or watch the embedded version in the last step of this Instructable, including explanations on why I chose to purchase a drill press after building this one.


I've come to the point where can't build more advanced woodworking projects, due to the lack of a drill press*. I have a list of tons of projects that I want to attempt, yet am unable to complete them due to the lack of a proper drill press - one that can drill at a 90 degree angle.

I am unable to find a used drill press in my area, and with the amount of money that I'm willing to spend on a new one, I would get nothing - they are way too expensive!

I thought of asking for one as a birthday present, but the amount of money that would be needed for buying a drill press that isn't flimsy and would last long just isn't worth it - they are just way too expensive, and I don't even plan on using it so much. Even if a drill press was a tool that I would use every day, I still wouldn't feel comfortable spending a couple hundred dollars on one (way-too-frugal!).

So I need one. I really do need a drill press. I don't want to invest in one, as I think it's not worth it, enough. I try thinking of a plan for building one, but all of my designs require a drill press for building the drill press.

To build a drill press, I need to buy a drill press, but if I already have a drill press, why would I build a drill press? That's the problem with (many, if not most) homemade drill presses. You either need a drill press for making it, or you spend many, many hours working on one, but it turns out inaccurate. I practically gave up. Impossible, or not?

Well, in my case, many months later, all I had to do was well, nothing to get the problem solved. Out of nowhere, all I had to do was draw a quick sketch of the idea that randomly came to my head. This idea will be shown in the video below, and will be explained in the next step.


(Watch the YouTube video: LINK FOR MOBILE VIEWERS!)

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Special features:

  • You DO NOT need a drill press to build this drill press!
  • Can be taken apart, and used as a regular drill for drilling. This drill press is powered by (hammer) drill whose intended use is for drilling into walls, which we do several times a year for all sorts of home improvement projects. Whenever that's needed, I can take it apart, and quickly re-assemble the drill press to its original state once I'm done.
  • You can feel exactly how much pressure you're applying, which poses as a big advantage over store bought drill presses, where delicate work is hard to achieve because of the lack of control.
  • The column does not need to be thick to resist bending- I used a standard table leg, and thanks to the design of this drill press, there will be a very minimal load on the column (unlike regular drill presses).
  • You can use forstner drill bits, and other types of drill bits that require for a lot of force to be applied during the drilling process. You are unable to do this with most homemade drill presses, as they usually aren't meant for heavy work.
  • Can be built with a drill that doesn't have a "handle thingy". I designed it this way since I think the "handle thingy" on my drill isn't at 90 degrees, and has a bit of movement too, since clamping tightly onto it is pretty difficult.
  • Don't have all of the necessary parts and material for building one? Haven't found them all for free (like me :)? No worries, since as long as you already own a drill and a table leg, pretty much all you need is some spare change :)

Technical Specs that can be modified easily to fit your needs:

  • 15.5" (40cm) Drilling capacity
  • Lightweight (7kg/15lbs - compare that to a regular drill press! This will make it easy to carry from my room to outside, where I use it.)
  • Can fit conveniently under a desk for easy storage. (If it's too tall, just shorten it with a hacksaw - simple!)
  • Big table - really useful for all sorts of jigs and extra accessories! (You could even replace the whole table with a pipe clamp for additional portability, put a scale for measuring the weight of your drill task, or anything else. The possibilities are endless!)

*(Well, I actually do own a drill press. Unfortunately, it takes FOREVER to align it to a point where it looks like it's close to square, and even then the angle changes as soon as I apply a little too much pressure. It's just too flimsy overall. Perhaps useless is the correct definition ;)

Step 1: The Basic Plan

^^^This is the plan that I made^^^. (A quick edit in Pixlr improved it by about 10000%.)

The reason for why I called it "basic" is because I wasn't sure if what I planned out would actually work as planned (this step was typed out before I even started building the drill press). If everything actually would work out as planned, I would add the extra gadgets that I planned on adding in the first place...

I hope you'll forgive me if I use an incorrect term for a part that I don't think exists :)

The special plan was to make a cube out of wood. Or a box - I'm not sure what it should be called, but I wanted to make a 4 sided piece of wood that would slide up and down on the column. Pretty simple idea, right? I planned on making it out of plywood, with the pieces connected together with butt joints (screws). I'm sure better joinery methods do exist, but this is the only type of joint that I know I can make with a circular saw, and without too many difficulties. It's also easy to tighten, and easy to disassemble in case something needs to be modified. Any accidental inaccuracies would be corrected with the spacers, anyway.

The pieces of wood that are between the cube and the drill are spacers which increase the space between the chuck and the column, allowing for me to drill in the middle of a big board, using a big holesaw, or anything else like that.

If I don't saw the parts of the cube perfectly, which will probably happen, or don't attach the drill to the spacers perfectly, which will probably also happen, I will need to re-adjust the parts so the drill press will be able to drill perfect 90 degree holes. To do that, all I have to do is loosen the bolt that connects the column to the table, and stick a spacer between them. I don't think my cuts will be off by a lot, so to know where to add them, I'll use this GENIUS tip by Wood Magazine. This video explains it pretty well too.

Not very special, yet might be the best tip you've heard all day: My original thought was to drill a hole in my plywood table which stays outside, and connect the column straight to it, so my table acts as the drill press table. I would only take only the drill outside when I needed to use the drill press. The problem with that is that the column will rust from the humidity. I thought I'd take also the column inside too, but then it would be hard to store in vertically, since there wouldn't be a base. I would also have to adjust the squareness of the drill press before every use. That was enough for me to understand that I should drop the idea... Perhaps you could do that in your workshop?

Step 2: ​What You'll Need:

Want to make this project? Here's a list of what you'll need. You should be able to find the parts in a hardware store, on eBay, or maybe outside, on the sidewalk that's near your house! If you don't see something that you think should be here, or would like to know more about a specific tool/part that I used, feel free to ask in the comments.

I made it for FREE since I already everything that was needed on hand.


Hardware, Materials, Consumables:

  • Table Leg - 68cm tall, 6cm diameter, 1.25mm thick (there are many different types, but mine has a 3/8" threaded part at one end, which makes it easy to use. If you're unable to find a leg like this, a threaded pipe might work too...
  • 45X42X2.5cm Piece of particle-board (for the base table)
  • 8mm Plywood (Birch, I think. It was salvaged out of a chair)
  • 3 3/8" Bolts
  • Washers
  • Screws
  • Beech & Maple wood
  • Wood glue
  • CA glue
  • Silicone sheet
  • Tension spring
  • A small hook


Tools (+Attachments):

Subjects: Woodworking, Metalworking, Making Your Own Tools.

Approximate Time: 15 Hours

Difficulty: Fairly Difficult...


Step 3: The Base/Table

I decided to start with the easiest part of the build: connecting the column to the base.

I measured to make sure I was in the middle of the particle-board board, and then drilled a 10mm hole, while doing my best to keep it at 90 degrees with my homemade 90-degree drill guide. I put an aluminum washer on the bolt before tightening it.


  • If you drill the hole a bit oversized, it won't matter if the hole isn't perfectly vertical. I did both...
  • When drilling, I took into account the fact that I might add some jigs in the future, so I left about 2cm away from the column.

Step 4: The Cube: Cutting the Pieces

Both of the internal sides of the cube have to be 60mm, since that's the diameter of the column.

They will be 80mm tall since that's the biggest part of my drill that I can attach stuff to. That means that I will be cutting a rectangle that's 60X80mm. I clamped the plywood tightly onto the table, marked the dimensions, and used a speed square to guide the cut. The two others will be 80X80mm, because of 60+8+8: the column + both pieces of plywood. Having them oversized is better, just to be safe...

Even though I had practiced a lot (my first time using a big circular saw), the cuts didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. With a table saw, they could have turned out perfect, but I obviously don't have one. To be honest, the cut quality doesn't even matter that much. Why?

Marking the pieces oversized, and cutting them out undersized and out of square was actually better than cutting them to the 100% correct size. Hooray!

Sorry for the lack of pictures, my attention had to be on the f̶i̶n̶g̶e̶r̶ ̶e̶a̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶ circular saw 100% of the time...

Step 5: The Cube: Assembling the Pieces on the Column

I aligned the pieces together in the shape of a cube on the column, and clamped them together using the help of another person, as I needed another pair of hands.

The last thing I wanted to have is the wood splitting, so I made a WORST WORST WORST case scenario, testing both the plywood, the screw, and the pilot hole. See a picture of this here, where nothing went wrong (to my surprise). I drilled a pilot hole in both butt jointed pieces and screwed in the screw halfway. After all of the screws were tightened halfway in, I enlarged the pilot hole of the (first) outside piece, tightened on a teeny tiny clamp, and screwed in the screws with a screwdriver. Be gentle and don't force them in!

If the wood ever does split (I hope not!), I'll find a way to reinforce it... It should be too difficult. I recommend using thicker plywood.

Step 6: ​The Spacers

See step #1 for why these are needed.

I decided to use some pretty thick maple wood that I had salvaged from the same chair that I salvaged the plywood from. I cut two pieces of it to 80mm long, since it was already the correct width that was needed. I would have normally used the super sharp handsaw that I won in the Instructables Shelving Contest, but I didn't, because I wasn't sure if I had removed all of the staples, which could ruin the whole saw. I used the circular saw instead, since if there were any left, they probably wouldn't have done any damage to the carbide tipped teeth of the blade.

I then glued both pieces together with wood glue, added a few drops of CA glue, and clamped them together. I came back the next day to glue the spacers onto the cube. I wish CA glue would cure just a bit slower so I would have just a bit more time to move it around!

Step 7: Feet!

The bolt that tightens the column onto the table sticks out a little over a centimeter below the table. I needed to add some legs to make sure it was the drill press was stable, and could be clamped to my workbench.

I cut four pieces of beech wood to a length of 4.5cm. After that, I drilled pilot holes, and drove in 1 screw for each piece of wood, in each corner. To make sure the screw sat under the surface, I used an 8mm drill bit to counterbore (I believe that's not a countersink) a hole.

Now I can also put the clamp between my workbench and drill press table, allowing for easy clamping while drilling. Here's a picture of that.

Step 8: Try Twice, FAIL Twice! (̶C̶o̶n̶n̶e̶c̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶D̶r̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶C̶u̶b̶e̶)̶

First, I started by clamping the drill onto the spacers, as shown in the picture. I locked the trigger at "full speed", so I could push the clamp another centimeter up. I cut an inner bike tube in half, wrapped it, tightened it as tightly as I could, and then tied it.

I cut another piece of maple, the same type of wood that I used for the spacers, this time with my handsaw, to the length of 8cm, and then glued it to the back of the cube. What a nice surface finish!

I also cut a thin, yet extremely strong piece of beech plywood to 15 cm long, and drilled a 12mm hole in each end. I then cut a piece of regular beech wood, and repeated the same process. Both of the pieces were so hard that I didn't even think using my Japanese saw to cut them!

I used some really big bolts and hex nuts to tighten both pieces together, clamping everything in between.

The problem? When clamping hard enough for the drill not to move, the cube wouldn't be able to slide up and down, since it was also being clamped. The inner tube was a great rubber band, but it didn't really do anything :(

Didn't work, didn't work, didn't work. Argh!

A nice trick I've learned is when I'm stuck on something for a really long time, to leave it. I stopped and went to do something else, and as I was told that the idea would come out of nowhere, it did! The only issue was that I didn't understand how I didn't think of it earlier! ;)

Step 9: Success!: Connecting the Drill to the Cube (Spacers)

I cut two pieces of beech wood to 12cm long, used CA glue to glue them together, and drilled a 10mm hole in two sides, right on the line.

In the same length, I cut another piece of beech plywood (the same kind that was used before) and again, drilled a 10mm hole in two sides. I found two bolts and two washers, and then tightened both pieces together, so they sandwiched the drill in the middle, between them. To improve the grip on the drill, I put the back side of a silicone phone case that I had lying around between the wood and the drill, which increases the friction.

I slid the cube off the column, clamped it to my table, smeared a generous amount of glue onto the spacer, and then clamped it all everything together. I wanted to add screws which would connect the drill holder to the spacers with more strength, but didn't because I already tightened the bolts that held the drill, which blocked the way. I didn't feel like doing everything for the second time, but if I ever do need to remove the drill for some reason, I might screw in a few screws, though I don't think they're even needed. I came back an hour later, slid the cube onto the column, and added some more clamps.

Now, while typing up the Instructable, I realize that the drill holder is pretty much like Izzy Swan's $2 clamps.

Step 10: A Bungee Cord?

The drill obviously isn't going to spring back up like a store bought drill press because of a thing called gravity. Ever heard of that annoying thing? I can improve that a bit, pretty easily though.

My intention was to use a bungee cord that I had laying around. It was pretty long, so in its full length, it didn't do much, and when folded in half, if was way too strong. Luckily, the bungee cord wasn't my only option.

I drilled a hole in the top of the big plastic bolt thing that's on the top on the column (this bolt is used for adjusting the height of the leg +/- a few centimeters), and inserted one hook side of a pretty big tension spring into the hole. I then drilled another hole in the piece of the drill holder that was glued to the spacer, screwed in a small hook, and inserted the other side of the spring, making sure that it was being held properly.

Step 11: Fixing Some Play in the Cube

Play: Able to wiggle from side to side - not a perfect fit.

I noticed it earlier, yet waited until now. There was some play between both of the side (the smaller ones, tightening the screws doesn't change it) pieces of wood of the cube, since they weren't perfectly parallel. I made a plywood wedge, which fixes that perfectly.

I also made a video on how to make one:

Click here to watch it if you're on mobile

I had to repeat the process because my first one fell, and disappeared somehow, and unlike what I showed in the video, I used CA glue to glue the wedge to the cube.

Step 12: DONE! | UPDATE 2019!

As I mentioned earlier, I ended up retiring this homemade drill press. I instead opted for this compact drill press that I bought on eBay. As promised, here is the detailed, action-packed review video!:

I ended up retiring the drill press I made in this Instructable for several reasons, some of which were design mistakes on my part. To summarize, the corded drill was always challenging to hard to mount precisely in its "clamp" and was physically uncomfortable to use overall. I had a bunch of ideas for fixing these issues, but unfortunately, this isn't my drill and I wasn't allowed to modify and mount it more permanently...

I do hope to see a lot of use from it in the future - As Theodore Levitt once said, people don't buy the drill press, they buy the holes with the additional benefits of a drill press! Ok, he didn't say that.


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60 Discussions


1 year ago

This is an excellent instructable in all ways but one. I know everyone does it on instructables but I wish you hadn't called it free. That is misleading and basically dishonest. I guess everything is free if you already own everything needed. In your sense I could make a free diamond ring in a gold band if I already had a $10,000 diamond and a $600 gold band to start with but to call that free is a lie. It would still be a $10600 diamond ring. The honest cost is the cost someone reading your instructable would need to spend acquiring needed parts if they don't already have them. This is a good low cost design but it isn't free.

1 reply

Reply 1 year ago

Thanks. This type of stuff is always an issue. I write how much parts and materials cost for me. There no end to counting up how much every single tiny little thing costs...

I spent a few months gathering the parts that I needed for the build. If you don't have the parts necessary for building the drill press, it should cost you only $25. Depending if you actually have a drill. Or if you're able to find wood for the base. Or where you live. Or if you own a few tools to make it. Or if you pay for your own electricity bill.........

If you mine with tools that you bought previously a diamond that's worth $10K, then yes, you got it for free. That doesn't mean that everyone can get it for free, but it does mean some can.

I understand what you mean :)


2 years ago

Please for the love of wood, take this 'ible down.

these things are good for nothing, not just this one... all of them.

don't drill accurate holes, perpendicular straight holes, or even holes the
SAME SIZE as the drillbit you are using.

Please trust me when I say "been there, done that,
pulled my hair out trying to make it do what I want, then going out and
buying a proper drillpress"

These things are an abomination, sent to test the patience of Job (the man).

you are at the stage where "more advanced" woodworking is your norm, I
must assume that equals "more accurate", and every. single. one. of this
style of "drillpress with a handheld drill attached" either homemade or
store bought are...

utter utter utter trash.

they have waaay
too much slop in them, from the cheap bearings in the drill that move off axis as you apply pressure, to how the
stands are made,and how the mechanism works; every hole you drill will
be different.

A drillpress is designed to give you the SAME
hole, over and over and over again, awake, half asleep, with your eyes
closed; the SAME HOLE, same as the last and the next.

yourself a favor, spend the money on a bench sized drillpress, they
don't have to be $$$$$, but don't buy the cheapest one either, the first
time you use it, it's a revelation.

lol with all the bible references and I'm not even religeous!

11 replies

Reply 1 year ago

Hey overreaction! Even high quality commercial tools aren't perfect. Every tool has errors. There are things it won't do but unless you have amazingly steady hands this tool is much better than freehanding with a power drill. How good a tool you need depends on the application. If you want to make professional quality furniture you probably need a commercial drill press. But there lots of less critical projects this tool will do quite well.


Reply 2 years ago

Hey Austin,

I appreciate the time you took into writing your comment. Anything that doesn't work can be upgraded, right? This was a great project, and is better than what I had before. If I ever find a drill press for cheap, I will be very happy to buy it. I wish I had a "real" one! :)

I still haven't had the chance to use it enough to say what works well, and what doesn't. Are there any obvious tips for improving the drill press?



Reply 2 years ago

OK now I've got that out of my system, how can this be improved?

look at the design of all drillpresses, they all have a solid collar at the bottom of the tube, doing it in wood make it twice as thick and twice as high.

One small bolt into the underside of the metal rod is nowhere near solid enough. if it's hollow fill it with concrete and use the threaded stud at least 100mm long to attach it to the base, 2 would be better, mounted in line with the drill.

the wood base it's sitting on is too thin and will flex under tension, especially as it's on feet - if I were making it I'd use 2x 25mm thick plywood, when it comes to things like this overkill is the byword. I know you might not think it's flexing but it is because your motion of moving the drill will never be 100% vertical, making the base thicker and stronger means this linear (horizontal) application of force can be counteracted and thus not transpose it into your drill hole.

Not much you can do to alter the characteristics of the handheld drill and it's bearings, but what you CAN do is make up a double chuck system, salvage 1 preferably metal chuck and mount it to a separate sliding system, and the back rod then goes into the chuck of the drill. The metal chuck will have no bearings inside and thus no off axis travel when under load, and the drill itself with it's bearings will not be able to off axis travel as it's attached to the fixed point chuck.

That would also mean technically if you had one of those flexible drill extention snake things you could simply lie the drill on the bench, attach the snake to the mounted chuck on the pole and run that up and down, less weight / stress on the pole = less chance for off axis deflection.

(and if you win, I want credit! :) )


Reply 2 years ago

What's the solid collar at the bottom of the tube - the "handle thingy"?

The bolt that connects the column to the base? I can't add another one. I think it's strong enough.

WHAT? Okay. Is a 5 kilometer thick diamond plate good enough? What do you think I'm going to use this drill press for - drilling into a 2 and a half ton concrete slab?

Maybe I should leave my tools in a vacuum chamber so they don't rust.



PS - if you think your drillpress is accurate, I'll set you a challenge to replicate what I tried to do FOUR times before going out and buying a drillpress. If it can do it - it'll be something to prove how good your design is (and I'll retract my statement), but honestly? I have great doubts it can.


Reply 2 years ago

Where did I say that it had to be perfect?

Do you have any pictures of your failed drill presses? I'd be interested in seeing them.


Reply 2 years ago

Ok you are quiet correct, I have never made one - and I'm not trying to belittle or othewise insult you, but you have made an 'ible for others to follow based on something not tried, tested and proven to be accurate.

I realise my reaction may be a little OTT, but if you've had my experiences of one of these kinds of "drill press" you'd understand.

The other thing is the tolerances of woodworking you may work to, and find acceptable, are different from anothers.

The stark and unfortunate truth of woodworking, is that if you wish to work to any degree of accuracy = less headaches and problems, you must first start by using a tool that has THE BEST accuracy you can produce, and from then on any inaccuracies introduced from human interaction are thus smaller.

Have you ever used a straightedge level that ISN'T LEVEL, or a setsquare (engineering square) that isn't square? I have and this is the same, if you start out "not straight / square" anything after that will compound the issue further and further, the more you use it on the one project. I have been on the wrong end of this so often I'm paranoid about it now, and you know what? Since I upgraded my tools, and not with anything costing $$$$$ either, when I make a box now it's square, the sides all meet with minimal gaps and there's no time / money wasted making alterations.

Using a tool you KNOW isn't accurate is ensuring you'll have problems down the road.

At the very least add some sort of disclaimer that this is only meant for the most mundane of drilling tasks where perfect accuracy isn't required.


Reply 2 years ago

The other thing is the tolerances of woodworking you may work to, and find acceptable, are different from anothers.

If you make this and expect that it will not be off, and drill a 90.1° degree hole, the problem isn't with the Instructable. This drill press if for DIYers, not professionals - does that need a disclaimer too?!

People that do not understand that this drill press isn't perfect shouldn't use the power tools that were used for this project, sorry. This is not a project for beginners. This I'ble will be removed once my I'ble on my homemade wooden vise will be removed because it doesn't give 3 tons of clamping pressure.

Define perfect please.


Reply 2 years ago

Was thinking this too. I guess if you're on a deserted island, with power tools, and need to McGyver something this could work?


2 years ago

I'm quite aware that low-priced drill presses can be bad news, but the Skil 10" drill press has had some good reviews and tests on websites. It's also available for a wide range of prices, which I don't understand. If you'll do a web search for it and look at a building where cows live, the price there is quite a pleasant surprise. That's where I bought mine several months ago and I think it's pretty good, compared with the competition.

3 replies

Reply 2 years ago

$130 on the Home Depot website. That would probably be at least $150 where I live, but if I could find it used that would be great!

I think I'd be willing to pay $100 for a good one that would last a long time.