The drill press is one of the great woodworking tools for a woodworker to have in the woodworking shop. However, the small metal table that often comes with this tool is rather limiting for woodworking. So, the answer to this limitation is to either buy a drill press table or build a shop-made drill press table. If you choose to purchase the accessory you could have it that very day if you have a woodworking store like Woodcraft or Rockler close by. Then again you could find a drill press table that you like online or in a mail order catalog and have it delivered in a week or so. Prices for the drill press table will vary, but you can probably expect to pay $100 for the basic table and then shipping. Hardware can also cost you extra.
The other alternative a craftsman has is to build his own drill press table. What are the advantages of building your own drill press table? 1.) Obviously, you can save money. 2.) You can save time. 3.) You have the pride of using your skills and your own woodworking tools to create a table equally if not better than a store bought model. Plus, you can be enjoying the drill press and its new table within a few hours . It’s a good woodworking project and one you’ll be proud that you made with your own hands.
The nice thing about making your own table is that you can customize it to your drill press model and to your own personal needs. You can use scrap material for the project that you have in the shop. There is not much material required for this project. However, you’ll want material for the table that is flat and durable and for the fence you’ll want straight material. In my case I had 1/2” Baltic birch plywood available in the shop and that is what I chose.
My drill press table dimensions are 1” x 18” x 24”. I laminated the 1/2” Baltic birch for the 1” thickness to attain better ridigity. The table has two 3/4” x 3/8” x 18” dados to accept universal T-Track. On my table both tracks are centered 6” from the center of the table. These tracks work well and they accept 5/16" T-bolts, 1/4” T-bolts, and 1/4” hex bolts. The mounting holes of the track are pre-drilled and countersunk 4” on center.
Here’s how to attach the new table to the existing drill press table. Take a ripping of hardwood that is 3/4” x 2” x 19” and create a 3/8” x 3/8” rabbet along its length. Cut the ripping in half so the length is about 8 1/2”.
These two lengths will be used under the new table to secure it to the existing table. The rabbets of each block will allow for the new table to slide along and under the existing table. Then when the new table is postioned to your liking thru bolts and threaded knobs will secure the new table to the existing. Note: The heads of these bolts are countersunk into the surface of the table and the threaded knobs are tightened below the table. Also, notice the 3/4” x 1” x 22” stiffback in front of the metal table. This helps to keep the new table flat as well as position the new table against the existing metal table.
For the fence I used two layers of 1/2” Baltic birch plywood laminated together. The actual fence is 1” x 2 1/2” x 24”. There is also a 3/4” x 3/8” x 24” dado to accept a T-track that is centered at 1 3/8’” from the fence’s bottom.
In order to strengthen, straighten, and and keep the fence square to the table I added triangular 3/4” plywood gussets to two 3/4” x 3” x 9 1/4” rear bases. Keep these rear bases flush with the ends of the fence in order to allow for a 5 1/2” clearance of the drill press post. This will allow the fence to travel deeper on the table giving you more adjustment area when needed. Note: The bottom of the fence has a 1/8” x 1/8” rabbet along its length to allow for wood chips and debris clearance.
You’ll be ready to put your new drill press table to good use once it is completed and you’ll find much more versatility with your drill press than you previously had. Moreover, clamping objects to the drill press table will be much easier and safer than before because you can now simply adjust and tighten your hold down clamps. Now, the only question that remains is what do you do with the money you just saved?
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-- Bob Simmons, Las Vegas, NV, http://TheApprenticeandTheJourneyman.com