DIY Drill Press With Rubber Band Suspension




Introduction: DIY Drill Press With Rubber Band Suspension

EDIT: I have added the Sketchup model I used for download if you want; but keep in mind that if you want to build this it has to be customized for your drill; though the carriage and track can remain basically the same. Also check the comments out for some great tips and comments from others.

I do woodworking as a hobby, not as a business, so I'm always looking for fun & creative ways to improvise. I don't have a drill press, but lately every project I've been working on would benefit from the precision of a drill press: both the depth of the hole and the vertical axis. So: I decided to convert a corded drill that I have into a drill press.

This entire project was made with materials I already had, including four super heavy duty awesome rubber bands, which is why I entered this project in the Rubber Band contest.

The other materials I used, besides the Rubber Bands, were:

- Two spare full extension drawer slides (from a keyboard drawer)
- A corded drill (that I didn't use very often)
- Scrap plywood, 3/4" and 1/2"
- 1/2" wood dowel
- A 6" (diameter) steel band clamp
- Miscellaneous screws and fasteners
- Wood glue, Spray adhesive, Epoxy
- 3/16" threaded rod & two nuts
- Clear wood sealer, Black rubberized spray paint

I used the following tools during the build:

- Tablesaw
- Scroll Saw (You could use a jigsaw, bandsaw or coping saw for this)
- Cordless Drill
- Belt Sander
- Mitre saw (Everything could be done with just a table saw)
- Printer (for printing the templates and grid guide)
- Level, Adjustable Square, Calipers - Lots of precision is needed during the build to make sure you get a straight vertical result

This took a full day to build, lots of that time was in trying to get the two pieces of plywood that hold the drill to be straight and level. If you need a drill press and have a limited budget, this one is an option, but you might also be able to find a used one that will meet your needs.

The best part of this drill press is the suspension system: The rubber bands are used to counteract the weight of the drill and allow it to 'bounce back' after each hole. It's easy to control the drill with its handle and trigger without having to support its weight. I used rubber bands because I needed something that stretched out to 3x its original length. It was hard to find a metal spring that stretched to even 1.5x; and coil springs would have been too complicated; so keeping it simple was the way to go.

Step 1: Measure, Model, Plan!

My drill has a handle that can be attached just behind the chuck, and the handle clamps around a nice circular portion of the drill body. This was perfect for mounting the drill to ensure the base was stable.

I clamped the drill to a work surface, checked to make sure it was level and plumb, then measured up to another point on the body that I could brace to.

I modeled the entire drill press in Sketchup, to make sure everything fit together. I did not model the drawer slides themselves, I just measured the required distance between the slide mounting point and the drawer mounting point, which told me how far the offset between the drill carriage (the part attached to the drill) and the track (the non-moving part) needed to be.

The handle for the depth stop adjustment is from Matthias Wandel's Wood Gear Generator, check his website out for some amazing wood tools and machinery built entirely from wood. I have attached a sample PDF for a five pointed handle: what I built has six points but I find the points are a bit too close together, five would work better.

This model does not show the base of the drill press; I just used another piece of 3/4" plywood and clamped this into my workmate when I want to use the drill press. The base for anything you build would depend on what you want to attach the drill press to.

Step 2: Cut Parts, Check Fit

After I modeled everything in Sketchup, I printed out templates for the smaller pieces full size. I used spray adhesive to attach these to plywood, then cut them out with my mitre saw and my scroll saw.

After cutting the parts out, test fit them on your drill to ensure that the drill will be level and plumb. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be as close to perfectly vertical as possible.

Some parts (ie, rectangular parts) didn't need a printed template, just dimensions. I made a cut list of the required parts and cut them on my tablesaw and mitre saw.The cut list is below, but keep in mind that this was sized based on my drill and the length of threaded rod that I already had:

Qty - Item - Size

1 - Carriage Back - 6" X 10" X 3/4" Plywood

2 - Track Sides - 2" X 25" X 1/2" Plywood

1 - Track Back - 6" X 28" X 3/4" Plywood

1 - Track top / Adjustment Knob support - 2 3/4" X 6" X 3/4" Plywood

1 - Track Base Stop - 8" X 6" X 3/4" Plywood, this needs 2" wide X 5" high cutouts on both sides

1 - Stop Block - 1" X 1 3/4" X 3/4" Plywood - With nut epoxied in at centre

1 - Band Clamp Spacer - 3/4" X 1 3/4" X 3/4" Plywood - The band clamp tightens around this and this is also what hits the stop block.

2 - Carriage side brace - 4 1/4" X 1 1/2" X 3/4" Plywood - This braces between the two 'hands' that hold onto the drill

4 - Rubber Band Peg - 1/2" dowel, 1 1/4" long, sanded down a bit so this it will fit into a 1/2" diameter hole

Step 3: Assemble

I glued all the parts together and also used screws to assemble components of the carriage (the part the drill atatches to). Some parts of the carriage I did not glue, as I wanted to be able to remove the drill at some point in the future without having to destroy the drill press.

It isn't necessary to paint or finish the drill press, however I did spray paint the depth stop dial with some black rubberized rockerguard paint.

Follow the directions for whatever glue you are using. The epoxy I had was 1 hour epoxy but it didn't fully harden for 24 hours, so I left the handle overnight before trying to use it.

Pay careful attention to the sequence that things need to be assembled in: The depth stop block needs to be first, then the drill carriage, then the top piece (with "Lower / Raise" written on it).

Step 4: Finish & Test

I glued a sheet of paper with a 1/4" square grid onto the base; then I sealed the base with some clear coat polyurethane. This was glued on with wood glue that I spread out with a piece of scrap plywood as a squeegee. This has helped me align materials and ensure that I'm drilling in the correct spot.

I also tested the rubber band suspension: Normally the drill is fairly heavy, but with four rubber bands it will hover about an inch above the table surface. It can easily be pushed down or retracted. Success!

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First Prize in the
Rubber Bands Challenge



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    28 Discussions

    Awesome! Do you still have it? What changes have you made to it?

    all good but i have some strong doubts about the strength and tolerance of the rubbers...why you didn't use a couple of drawer brackets rail type???


    2 replies

    Hi Agis68, thank you for your comments;

    RE; The rubber bands, I was also concerned about breakage. To combat this I used four rubber bands instead of my original plan of two: This way if one breaks, then I know about it but it doesn't affect the stability too much (I have tried this by loading one band on one side and two on the other). I also used super heavy duty rubber bands, which hopefully will have a longer lifespan and generally be more durable than regular everyday bands. Also for safety: the drill carriage will stop at the depth stop, so even if the bands all break at once, the drill will not go below the originally intended depth.

    I am not sure what you meant by "Drawer Brackets Rail Type", when I google that it comes back with full extension drawer slides (Image below on the left). What I used was a keyboard drawer slide (Similar to the image on the right, but they don't seem to make this model any more). The only difference here is that the keyboard drawer slides have brackets that allow them to be secured to the underside of a desk instead of to the sides; or in my case, to the drill carriage.

    Thanks for your comments, let me know if you have any more questions!


    yes i meant the sliders like in the second pic.....thanks for replay

    please forgive my bad english

    Great job :)

    Can i borrow?, If i use your model, i will make some changes. For some time now I've been thinking about how i could make a Drill press.

    With two hinges, you can put the drilling horizontally, and then you can use the same drill to sand. Like the pictures below. Or you just need to lay down the machine, and make small modifications.

    3 replies

    That is a good idea; my machine might not work very well horizontally though because the depth stop only sets a maximum for the depth: If it was flat; there would be no resistance to 'push back' without clamping the drill / carriage in place. You could overcome this by adding some sort of a flip up detent stop or some kind of bolt that could be inserted, connecting the carriage to the track, that would 'lock' the two together.

    For getting it horizontal, I would actually not use hinges, again because of possible inaccuracy with the drilling; however you could overcome this probably by having some sort of clamp or clasp that locked the drill into the vertical position.

    What I did for this tool, and have done for a number of years now, is shown in the photos below. I have one B&D Workmate and two smaller similar-style work tables with 'jaws' that clamp together (See my photos below). With this system you could easily remove and switch the drill press to a horizontal application. You could add a cleat onto the back of the track then to lock the track horizontally onto the stand.

    I will post my sketchup model but have to say that it'll need customization for each particular drill, and constant measuring and shaving 1/32" off the mounting arms took quite a long time. Thanks for your comments & good luck!


    Maybe this is a cool and cheap idea for your machine, i do not know if it is strong enough. You can fix it to a wood box.


    Great job & thanks for your comment! Would love to see a video of your catapult in action too!


    3 years ago

    You get my vote ;)

    Really nice and creative idea. I have a couple of store bought drill press racks for normal drills but both of them have some slack and thus bad accuracy. Thinking making one after your instructable might result in a more accurate drill press.

    2 replies

    I think it depends on the drawer slides: my wood carriage and frame are very rigid but looking at some other drawer slides I have, poor quality slides would introduce inaccuracy.

    Good point!
    I think im gonna use parts from my two store bought drill press racks and add slides for additional stability.

    Very nice!! I was thinking of making something like this a few weeks ago, but I never hashed out the details. And I even have an old corded drill that should work perfectly. You've got my vote!

    Yes; have a look also at the links in cliveburdikin's comments here too. Similar design with a Dremel type tool and a different slide mechanism.

    I almost voted for a rubber band ible the other day. I hesitated, decided I needed to get busy & offline. Now I know why, you definitely have the most creative use of rubber bands, along with using what you already had on hand. "Necessity is the mother of invention" & you sir, prove that. You have my vote. Thank you for a well done ible, and a great idea!

    1 reply

    Wow... great idea... I really want to make a miniature drill press for PCBs but I never thought to use rubber band as suspension. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    2 replies

    Thanks! The drill press is very similar to mine. Depending on the steel rods and how they were fastened, you could get a very accurate machine.