"Upgrade" a benchtop drill press with a longer column?

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Forum topic by DonnyBahama posted 07-12-2011 03:46 AM 11431 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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215 posts in 2074 days

07-12-2011 03:46 AM

Topic tags/keywords: drill press

A floor-standing drill press won’t be in my budget any time soon, but benchtop drill presses are regularly available on craigslist for $50 or less. Problem is, they’re all so darned short. Many of them have just a couple inches of room for stock once a decent sized bit is chucked – even with the table lowered as much as possible.

I saw the post where someone extended their column and increased the swing at the same time. That’s far more elaborate than I’d want to go. I just want to extend the column – (dirt) cheaply if possible. Replacing the column with a big metal pipe would b fine with me. So would a shop-built wooden column (with a new table system). If I was going that route, I’d have to consider a design that extended the swing as well by turning it into a radial drill press.

Anyone know if this can be (has been) done?

-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society -

7 replies so far

View Tedstor's profile


1625 posts in 2176 days

#1 posted 07-12-2011 05:07 AM

I have a benchtop DP. Mine is mounted/bolted on the edge of the worktop. Whenever I need extra clearance, I just swivel the press to where the chuck is hanging over the edge of the worktop. Gives me about 5 1/2’ of clearance.

Depending on your model, you might be able to find a column from a floor model that will fit yours. Or maybe a generic steel pole (as you mentioned). I’d be hesitant to use wood.

View Arch_E's profile


47 posts in 2065 days

#2 posted 07-12-2011 05:46 AM

I had a bench top DP, too, and turned it whenever needed; but the table I made for it wasn’t as “moveable” and caused a lot of awkward problems. I finally bit the bullet and bought a dedicated floor model. Boy, was that a great step forward—I’ve never ever even looked back. the full column is SOOOOO MMUUUUCCCCHHHHH better!!

IMO, YMMV…yada, yada, yada,

View Bureaucrat's profile


18337 posts in 3195 days

#3 posted 07-12-2011 06:22 AM

I heard that you can buy exhaust pipe that the correct diameter and you specify the length. Never tried it but read it some where.

good luck

-- Gary D. Stoughton, WI

View chapito's profile


2 posts in 38 days

#4 posted 01-16-2017 11:54 PM

I heard that you can buy exhaust pipe that the correct diameter and you specify the length. Never tried it but read it some where.

good luck

- Bureaucrat

+1! (sorry old thread but for those still looking…)

The HF 8” desktop drill press column is 1.9” OD, 17Ga steel pipe.

I used a 1.75” ID x 24” exhaust extension pipe (same 17ga steel) as a riser post inserted inside of the HF column to add an additional 8” of height. The exhaust pipe has a built-in flare that is the same 1.9” OD at the top for easy mounting of the drill casing, the rest of the pipe is stabilized by the surrounding original HF column, and you can still use the HF adjustable support table.

Note: The HF column has an internal weld bead so you’ll need to file or grind down a flat edge along the side of the exhaust pipe if you want it to be removable later. The other option is to use a mallet and “set-it and forget-it”

Total cost of “upgrade” $11.98 from Pepboys, and about 15min of tinkering’

THANK YOU Bureaucrat for posting the idea!

View Mikemadeit's profile


1 post in 291 days

#5 posted 01-17-2017 12:15 AM

Why not something like this. The other version I saw somewhere had a sliding shelf at each position. Just requires you rotate the drill press head 180 from the base. Slide out the shelf you need. Most of the drilling won’t need a lot of depth, allowing the shelves to become storage until that occasional need for more depth.

View OSB's profile


147 posts in 69 days

#6 posted 01-18-2017 06:53 AM

Exhaust pipe is not as rigid as I would want for a drill press column.

I got a pretty nice floor standing Taiwanese drill press for $80 a few years ago. I found it on Craigslist and it was made in the 80s.

I suggest keeping an eye out for a deal.

One more thing, floor model drill presses usually have larger columns than bench models so a long column in a bench model is probably a lot more flexible than you would want.

View chapito's profile


2 posts in 38 days

#7 posted 01-18-2017 08:01 AM

Yes ultimately a floor model is preferred as the OP said, but he also mentioned merely extending his benchtop column height. An adjustable stand or table is great if you have the space, but sometimes all you need is alittle height.

Well, lets make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples”. The sorts of tasks you’ll be handling with a bench top is typically lighter/smaller than a floor model. And yes, a floor model is typically gonna have a 3+” column, while a bench top press has a 1 7/8 to 2 1/2 column. That being said, I wouldn’t go putting a floor model DP on a 1 7/8” column either.

But as far as the rigidity of exhaust pipe, it is the same 17ga steel pipe that the oem column is made from, and the column wall is now effectively twice as strong since the pipe is inserted flush into the existing column.

Having just installed an extension to my press I can definitively say that it is as solid as the oem column, if not more so, with the benifit of an additional 8” of clearance for my jigs.

While it is a humble solution, it’s practical and effective.

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