PCB Drill Press Using Salvaged Door Hinges




Introduction: PCB Drill Press Using Salvaged Door Hinges

After creating a PCB, I wanted to drill the holes without fear of breaking the fragile drill bits. This drill press consists of four door hinges and some lengths of wood. Attaching the drill to the drill press proved to be the biggest challenge!

I take no credit for the design - I am simply posting the information for others to share.

Note that the drill pivots slightly as it lowers, but this should not be a problem for thin material (such as PCB's).

And a big thank you to Ken for the original idea

Step 1: Gather Materials

The frame consists of
- base
- back support
- two arms
- front piece
- four hinges

The wood I chose was from an Ikea shelf system, approx 18mm (3/4") thick, and 90mm (3 1/2") wide. I had several candidates for the wood, but chose this because it was slightly wider than the hinges, and also sturdy.

I guessed the sizes, making the base longer than the arms. Approximate sizes are:
base - 450mm (18")
back - 270mm (10 1/2")
arms - 310mm (12")
front - 90mm (3 1/2")

Step 2: Basic Frame

I screwed the back to the base, although nails should provide sufficient support.

Simply connect the hinges to create the frame in the images.

Be careful to ensure there is a gap where the arms & back meet to ensure the arms can move freely.

Step 3: Mount Drill

This proved to be a minor hassle. I initially identified a P-clip with a butterfly screw, but was unsure of how steady it would be once drilled and mounted. In the end, I chose a clip that is used to hold kitchen kickboards in place!

Nicely finished off with some garden wire to hold the drill.

The drill does wobble because of the way the plastic clip works. Some glue should see to that.

Step 4: Next Steps

I couldn't find a spring strong enough to act as a return mechanism, and I don't have any bungee cord either! Something to get when the opportunity arises. Howver, in practise, I did not find it a problem.

I did find shadows made locating the drill points difficult, which was easily overcome by adding a reading lamp to the base.

I would like to adapt the press to support a foot switch to allow two handed operation of the material.

Overall, a big success. All the parts came from salvage in my garage, and I still have the original drill bit in one piece!



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    21 Discussions

    Just looking at your design... a short spring, of about 1 1/2 inch diameter, or so, between the base and the movable boards, would give the return in a "push" instead of "pull". As for the foot pedal... what about the brake cable mechanism from a bicycle? It would need to be a "levered" type thing... you'd step on the close side of the pedal, this would pull up on the far side, pulling the cable (attached to the stationary and movable pieces of the drill) taught, this pulling the drill down into your work. I think it makes sense enough.
    Myself, I'm looking for more of a "full-size" drill press. I'm thinking of making it from metal pipe, instead of wood; but this is causing some other headaches. Good luck with your project!

    great drill press!
    for those with issues with with attaching the drill to the wood, large diameter hose clamps (2) work a treat =)
    I personally used longer pieces of wood, and this definately helped reduce arc in the usable range of the press.
    Great, cheap build for students like myself.

    THANK YOU!!! I have a drill press for my PCBs!

    I used 1x6 board because that's what I had.

    There is almost NO ARC in the drill path (travels almost perfectly straight up and down). A few things to note here:
    1) I haven't done the geometry, but because I used 1x6, and therefore made the front piece 6 inches instead of 3.5" (to keep it a square) maybe I have much less arc than the original???
    2) make sure the hinges on the back are the same distance from each other as the hinges on the front -- this minimizes any arc!
    3) While there is no arc the dill still moves horizontally (towards/away from the back board), but in the short distance traveled during a PCB drilling this movement is so small you can't see it.

    I made the back shorter and installed a spring BETWEEN the arms (other end connects to bottom arm).

    About holding the drill straight -- I put four eye-bolts next to the drill (2 per side) -- wire goes across them much like your original.
    To keep it pointing straight down I did this:
    1) Wrap the drill in aluminum foil.
    2) Line up the drill and inject some hot glue on the left and right side of the drill (so the glue is touching both the drill-foil and the board).
    3) Once the hot glue cools enough to keep it's shape I remove any foil that isn't stuck to glue.
    4) Oh yeah -- I also put some glue at the top and bottom so the drill can't slide up or down.

    The foam-instead-of-spring idea sounds good -- I had to put extra tension on my spring because the arm was slamming down once it went through the PCB.

    Once again -- thanks a million!!!

    1 reply

    many thanks for the feedback. I am extremely happy you have been successful in achieving what you want. All the best.

    Maybe it just needs some foam rubber underneath instead of the spring on top.

    Thanks to you and Ken I now have a working PCB drill press! Brilliant 'ible!

     pretty sweet, i'm thinking of making mine with linear guides from old printers

    Dont know if anyone has done it on this forum, but what is needed now, is a nice cheaply made machine for accurately cutting and squaring PCBs. I once used a cabinet from a 9" Ultrak CCTV monitor, cut a slit at the top front center, going about 2" towards the back and mounted a gigsaw up side down in the cabinet with the bit protruding upwards. This worked well for a short time till the bit started cutting away at the metal slit, making the machine very userunfriendly.  I subsequently abandoned it. This is just an idea for anyone who can come up with something more practical than mine. 

     Very good innovation Great project!many thank you.

    In keeping with the salvaged door parts, you could get an old spring from a screen door. Those usually have a good bit of pull and you could add a stop piece to keep it from pulling back too hard if need be. You also might use a piece of foam under the arm to push it up rather than pulling it with a spring. Considering the short height needed to get clearance for a PCB even a kitchen sponge would probably be good enough.

    2 replies

    thanks for the idea, i might try that. It just needs something to stop the drill bit hitting the base to prevent damage. At the moment, I simply wedge some offcuts underneath when not in use.

    I am not risking being insulting because it is not your design, right? I have to ask if the goal is to avoid breaking bits, then why choose a design that does not let the bit travel in a perfectly vertical path AND has some instability in the drill mounting?

    Just saw your device on hack a day... could one use an office lamp holder? It is a parallelagram, which would eliminate the arc of travel in your construction. Then, motors, lasers, GPS??? Lights and sirens! Muuuhaaaa (rub hands together...)

    Cheap and efficient, nice.

    I made this one last year:

    but I got a little out of control -- modeled it in a CAM program (CATIA, at work), did it in 80-20, etc.... so it was kinda spendy. I think I just did it for the fun of it. Truthfully, I mostly just use my Dremel Drill Press, it's "good enough for government work" and it's extremely portable & easy to set up & tear down.

    The nice high-speed pneumatic 80-20 press is professional, but it's overkill for my needs & the wife doesn't like the (relatively quiet) compressor running in the family room!

    I love the design - one thing it could use would be if you oriented all the hinges/boards in the same direction (you have them one top, one bottom) it could fold up *almost* flat...if that matters.

    Great project!

    ah, havent ever saw it done like that. now thats cool. does the drill bit travel in an arc, rather than a straight vertical line?

    2 replies

    Yes indeed, the drill does travel in an arc, but for thin material like PCB's this should not be an issue. It was simple and quick (and cheap) to build, and can easily be extended to add a foot pedal to allow two handed operation of the material.

    yeah, thats a good idea. the foot pedal would be great. and you could get one of those bigger dremel like things that take a <1/4" bit, and use it for drilling small holes in sheet metal and stuff.