About: 1945 was a very good year. No, not for wine ... for me. I was born. Yes, I'm old, Father William, but brillig, and my slithy toves still gyre and gimble in the wabe. So let me welcome you to the Little Sho...

I was in need of doing some fine sanding and rounding and thought I'd make a spindle sander for my drill press.

Note: Before attempting this, please read all comments.


I used a 1 x 4 scrap piece of pallet wood, a 3/4" dowel, a metal rod and 60 grit sandpaper. I also used a small triangular piece of hardboard, painter's tape and glue.

Step 2: TOOLS

I only used a few tools to do this. But I did have to build two jigs. One for finding the exact center of the dowel and one to hold the dowel while a center hole was drilled.






I needed to find the exact center of the dowel so I made a jig. I cut and glued two pieces of scrap wood at 90 degrees and added a triangle of hardwood that bisected this right angle at 45 degrees. Laying the dowel in the jig and marking lines perpendicular to each other gave me the exact center of the dowel.


I was going to hold the dowel and drill into its center. I knew this was opening the door for a potentially serious accident. So I made another jig. One to hold the dowel. I cut a slot down the middle of scrap 1 x 4 then drilled a 3/4" hole which was the diameter of the dowel I was using. I centered the hole on the slot. When the dowel is slipped into the hole and a clamp squeezes the slot closed the dowel is held securely in place.

NOTE: I would've been better off using a taller 2 x 4 instead of the thinner 3/4" scrap. Using the thinner scrap meant I had to check plumb. The taller 2 x 4 would've held it perpendicular better.


I cut a piece of metal rod, drilled a center hole in the dowel and inserted the rod. I covered the dowel with sand paper glued in place, and taped it until it dried.


All in all, this worked out nicely. I am also going to make some more using different diameter dowels. But even if I don't use these in my drill press as a spindle sander they make great sanding aids by themselves.

Thanks for coming along on this journey. And as always, all comments are appreciated and all questions are answered.



There might be some safety issues following my instructable to the letter. Please read what others have come across building their drill press sanders.



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    22 Discussions

    To help keep the spindle running true, add a rod at the bottom and a piece of metal or wood bolted to the drill press base. This would help from wearing the hole in the dowel rod and bending the rod possibly. Great Idea!

    1 reply

    Thanks, but not so great when you read all the comments.


    4 weeks ago

    Nicely done! I did this many years ago using a much shorter spindle on my Shopsmith. As I recall, there was some noticeable side-flex in the spindle near the chuck, but because the spindle was only a few inches long it didn't seriously affect my projects. You could, however, reduce this flex, particularly with long spindles, by mounting a bearing at the far end of the spindle and anchoring the outer race in the hole in the middle of the drill table. This, of course, requires that the chuck's center be exactly lined up with the center of the hole to be certain the spindle runs true.

    1 reply

    The shorter spindle is probably the way to go, but with all the cautionary comments I decided to let this go by the wayside and stick to other sanding methods. I don't weant to ruin my new drill press.

    How did you glue the sandpaper to the dowel? what happens with the edges? do they tend to tear or rip while sanding?

    1 reply

    I used Elmer's Craft Bond Extra Strength Glue Stick. And after all the cautionary warnings I got from other DIYers, I have never used this drill press sander. I do occasionally use the dowel though and it works fine. I've had no peeling--YET.

    There is a possible solution to the problem with this. Add an extension rod or just use a long enough rod that extends below the ‘sanding dowel’. Add a bearing to the end of the extension rod and clamp it to the drill table during the sanding process. This will take the pressure off the drill press. Also don’t make the dowel so long that it will cause too much lateral pressure on the drill press.

    Looks like others have already beat up this topic pretty good, but I'll add my own two cents just because I've been tinkering with something similar recently. Someone gifted me a set of spindle sanders with a standard 1/4" hex bit on each one for use with a drill. I chucked it up in my hand-me-down & junky Harbor Freight drill press and was very disappointed with the material removal rate. I couldn't apply much pressure without the chuck deflecting against the piece, so I couldn't get a good & square sanding surface against the work. Add to the fact this junky drill press of mine already has what I would guess to be several thousandths worth of runout, I stopped before I really goobered it up.

    I'm still working out the plan, but mostly it involves attaching some kind of a thrust bearing to the end of these store bought spindles. The thrust bearing receives the downward force from the drill chuck would help keep the spindle from flexing when you push the material against the paper. I could either build a small table for the drill press with the bearing in it already and just firmly seat the spindle against it, or could attach bearings to each spindle and seat them in a jig with a hole drilled to match the OD of the thrust bearing.

    1 reply

    One great thing about Instructables is all the feedback on certain things like this. I've basically stopped using the spindle sander due to wobble. I just got this drill press last year and want to keep it for a bit. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Is it proper that instrucables choose to publish this article? From what I understand about drill presses, lateral forces damage and destabilize the arbor which relies on a conical friction fit. If the arbor and chuck were to take flight at 1,200 rpm, I'd want to be in a different room.

    Please, correct me if I'm incorrect.

    3 replies

    I honestly don't know the rules and regs for what gets or doesn't get published. But if something poses a danger to anyone, I think the admins should know about it. I'll mention this to an admin and see what she says. If injury is possible, I have absolutely no problem with deleting this Instructable.

    Mr. Jarold,

    Thank you for your kind response. Please be aware, the arbor is 3-4 inches long. Add that dimension to the chuck and the spindle/sander, and work is performed along a long lever. I suspect even soft pressure is likely magnified over the arbor. Combined with the spinning velocity, I feel there is risk.

    No, there are I'bles on pallet wood cutting boards that I've reported and I don't think they have been removed.

    But the force being magnified is a good point, maybe you shouldn't make a very long one. I thought the issue was with the bearings though. I just got a small drill press last week so I don't want to make any mistakes too!

    Nice centring of the drilling into the dowel. I recently failed to achieve that neatly :-). Thank you for sharing this :-)

    3 replies

    Well that is the wisdom that is repeated often. I think it's urban myth. Ball bearings won't last as long as sleeve bearings, but ordinary sleeve bearings have significant drag. (excepting the sleeve bearings in engines) Ball bearings are used daily where side loads are the prevalent loads. Those ball bearings in the drill presses are not going to fail because they are ball bearings. They might fail due to being very cheaply made. Let's see, wheel bearings, including cars, table saws, circular saws, Dremel tools, lawnmowers, trailers, routers, all have ball bearings and significant side loads. And that includes some quite cheaply made tools.

    Hi, Alex, I didn't tell in this Instructable how wobbly my first attempt was until I built the Holding Jig and the Centering Jig. Those two made a big difference.


    Welcome to.png

    Nicely done, but be carefull there ... the ball-bearing of your drill press is not designed to accept significant lateral effort, if you apply significant strength against the dowel the ball-bearing will be rapidly degraded and centricity lost - no longer usable to drill with any accuracy as a consequence ...