Sometimes you do something and wonder: “what took me so long to do that?” Well, yesterday was one of those days for me in the workshop.
For years, I have been working with the standard table on my drill press. As you can see in the picture, I simply clamp a straight board to the table and use it to align the work piece that I needed to drill. However, the table is fairly small, and there is no zero-clearance support below the point where the bit exits the work piece – so, I always either have to put a piece of scrap below the work piece or I risk having tear-out on the exit side of any through-hole being drilled. On top of that, the board that I typically use for a fence is a piece of scrap 3/4″ stock so, it is low to the table and does not offer good support for pieces that are being drilled on edge. This setup is functional, but certainly not very efficient or convenient.
During my recent efforts to clean up the workshop, I came across some scrap stock from an old TV stand. It was melamine coated particle board. Rather than dispose of it to get it out of the way, I decided that I would finally make a simple drill press table and fence and I thought that this melamine piece would make a good table base. So, I grabbed a couple of other pieces from scrap bucket and set off to building.
Because the melamine had exposed particle board edges, I used some scrap Oak to trim the edges of the table base so that they could take some abuse from stock being loaded on and off the table during drilling operations. Nothing fancy here, I just attached the trim pieces with glue and some finish nails.
Next, I needed to determine how to attach the new table to the existing metal drill press table. I did not have any t-bolts or anything similar on hand so, I decided to dome something simple with wood. I created a simple bracket in an “L” shape that would allow me to attach the table to the drill press by attaching the lower part of the “L” with screws. To do this, I marked the size of the actual drill press table to the bottom of the base piece. Then, I cut some runners (the vertical part of the “L”) equal in size to the thickness of the metal drill press table. I attached them to the underside of the table base with CA glue to hold them in place temporarily and then shot some finish nails from the top. I probably should have used screws here because the melamine chipped out a bit from the nailer – but, it was no big deal I just filled the holes and moved on.
So, how is this thing going to stay on the drill press, you ask? Well, a couple of swipes from a block plane on the runners took off less than 1/32″. This is enough so that when the botoms of the “L” are screwed to the runners, the table base will tighten up and be very secure. The last step in preparing the table base was to create a mortise for the a zero-clearance insert that would be flush to the table and replaceable. With the router I created a mortise to allow for replaceable 1/4″ hardboard inserts. Next, it was time to move on to building the fence.
Again, I was off to the scrap bucket to find a couple of pieces to use to create a fence for the new table. I wanted a taller fence than before (again in the shape of an “L”). I found a piece of maple for the fence face and I had an off-cut of melamine that would suffice for the base of the fence. Last, I needed some pieces to support the vertical section of the fence and keep it square to base of the table. The fence supports came in the form of some scrap Oak cut to size to fit the fence. The fence face received a half circle cut-out to allow for the drill press chuck to have access to work pieces that need to be drilled close to the fence. Also, as you can see in the picture, I chamfered the inside corner of the fence supports so that they would not interfere with getting the fence face square with the table base when they were attached.
I used the new table base with the old fence clamped on to drill and countersink a series of holes in the fence face and fence base. I attached the fence face to the fence base with screws and then I chamfered the bottom of the fence face so that there would be some clearance for chips when it is used. Next, I attached each of four fence supports being sure that the fence face remained square to the base of the table all he way across its width. As you can see in the picture, I used some strips of paper to shim each support piece for a perfectly square result.
The last thing to do was a little sanding and to wipe on a little shellac to protect the fence and table trim pieces from moisture. You can see in the picture that the table insert is off center from the drill bit – this is to allow it to be rotated counter-clockwise as it gets perforated by the bit to expose a fresh zero-clearance surface as needed. Of course, it is also able to be replaced as needed.
So, this was by no means anything fancy. However, this simple upgrade provides a great deal more utility to me when using the drill press. I’m not sure why it took so long to get started, but completing the project only took a few hours once I got rolling. I may take a few additional steps to enhance this table even further but, for now this simple upgrade is a huge improvement. Of course, there are more opportunities out there in other corners of the workshop just waiting for action!
Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or leave comments here using the comments link at the end of the posts. I’d like to hear your thoughts!