Light Your Drill / Mill




About: The creation process is almost more rewarding than the finished product.

Good lighting is important to doing good work. This is a simple project to help get your drill press or milling machine out of the dark. You will be installing an LED ring around your spindle. What I like about this mod is that its cheap, quick and illuminates your spindle from all sides.

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: Parts

All you need is an LED ring, some wire, some double sided tape and a power source. You can try to find the right voltage (most likely 12v) in your machine in which case you will need a volt meter. Otherwise any external power source rated for your LED ring will be fine.

I used the 12cm 12v LED ring below:

12cm ring with 36 LEDs
8cm ring with 24 LEDs

Step 2: Prep the Ring

The ring looked great from the front, but there was one issue. The back of my ring had exposed contacts. In order to prevent these contacts from shorting out on the metal of the mill, I put my double sided tape over each exposed junction. It was a bit excessive from a taping perspective, but it prevents shorts.

Step 3: Install the Ring

You may need to remove DROs or other things attached to your spindle in order to get the ring to pass up to the mill body. Do what you need to get access to where you are going to be sticking the ring. Before installing the ring, clean the machine with alcohol where you are going to stick it. Stick your ring in place. Don't worry about wiring anything up yet. Once the ring is installed, the wiring should be self explanitory.

Step 4: Route Your Wire

Depending on where you found your power source, you will need to run wire from the power source to the spindle. I found a twelve volt transformer in my machine so tapped into the power there. You can absolutely use an external power source as well. From the transformer I ran the wire through a conduit to the mill head. It was a lot more involved than I had anticipated, but it kept the wire routing super clean. Keep in mind that when you run your wire, make sure its clear of any moving parts. Also make sure your wires have a little slack. Once your wire is in place, connect your wires and test to be sure the ring lights up.

Step 5: Thats It!

In addition to the ring, I added a switch so I can turn the light on and off. Above are my before and after images. The actual result is much more impressive than what the photos show. As you can see by the brightness of the wall in the background, the camera compensated for the brightness of the LEDs

Happy milling!



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Metal Contest

      Metal Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge

    7 Discussions


    3 years ago

    needs some kind of cover so that the coolant/mister/oil/chips dont destroy the leds and short the system


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Every tool seems to need more light. This would definately do the trick.


    4 years ago

    I'm taking this to My boss.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome idea! I would venture to say you could use the led strip lighting found at Radio Shack and glue to a pvc fitting that would fit around the quill. This is a must have for me. also gives ideas for the lathe


    Ohmygosh! What a beautiful idea, that I totally should have thought of. I can see this being a project of mine in the near future. Thanks for adding to my "To Do" list.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is a great idea. The little light on my drill press is pretty much worthless, so an upgrade like this would be excellent. Thanks for this!