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Wooden Drill Press

I love to creating wooden objects. Why?

Well, wood can be found all over the place where I live. And it is soft and very much easier to shape than steel. And it is tough and if maintained well can last for a long time.

For a wood-worker, the drill is one of the most important power tool he can have. I have a portable drill, which I had used for many years. It’s pretty handy for most jobs, but when you want to do precise drilling, on thick objects, it had its limitations. For one, no matter how much I tried to drill squarely, usually the holes landed up becoming slanted to one side, and most of the time it depends on how good my judgement was at the time of the drilling.

Portable drill press holder

Portable drill press holder

So, I decided to make a drill press using some pieces of wood which was left behind by the former tenant of my house.

The Design

Vertical sliding structure

Vertical sliding structure. It was secured to the wall by rawl bolts. Notice the power socket. The wiring went through the brick wall.

The design was decided based on the wood I had available. I had a some pieces of wood, 100 mm x 1000 mm x 20 mm thk, from an old bed frame structure. That became my vertical sliding structure.

Details of the securing assembly for the portable drill

Details of the securing assembly for the portable drill. Notice the 4-inch nail sticking out to prevent the drill from dropping.

I fixed it to a wall at the outside of my house by rawl bolts. This picture was an earlier one. The width of the guides had been modified to be wider later to lessen the radial movement of the drill press.

Original portable drill holder with narrow slide

Box casting in epoxy resin. The bolts, wing nuts and steel bar clamps the portable drill to the epoxy casting. This was an old photo. The base was widened later to reduce the swaying movement of the assembly.

The portable drill was secured to a box-like assembly using bolts and wing nuts. Initially, a mold of the shape of the portable drill was casted in the box-like assembly using epoxy resin – the portable drill being separated and protected from the glue by using shrink-wrap plastic film.


Drill press slide alignment with a long rod

Drill press slide alignment with a long rod

The alignment of the portable drill with the sliding piece surface was achieved by clamping a long iron rod, which was known to be straight, at the chuck of the portable drill, and visually align it to a line drawn along the axis of the sliding surface.

Wooden drill press completed

Horizontal table with supporting struts. Notice that the sliding guide had been widen to prevent swaying movement of the drill assembly.

The horizontal table where any work piece was to be placed was also an important part of the drill press. All the alignment of the vertical assembly was directed to making the drill bit move vertically in relation to the horizontal table. This was supported by struts designed to take the force applied in a downward movement.


One difficulty that I faced was how to make the clearances as small as possible so as to give less play to the movements of the drill, while at the same time making it loose enough for free movement. I did not have any machinery to cut the pieces of wood to precise dimensions, only relying all the time on my own manual carpentry skill.

So it turned out to be not entirely as precise as I wanted it to be. Anyway, I had found it useful for my other projects.

I also did not have any vise to secure the objects to be drill. I am making do with C-clamps to ensure the objects do not move during drilling. For thicker materials which was wider than the clamping jaws of C-clamps, I would improvise by using raffia string to tie them flush against the horizontal table.

The sliding surfaces were lubricated with petroleum grease. It served two purposes: As a lubricant to reduce the friction of the sliding parts, and as a coating to penetrate the spores of the wood to prevent wood rot.

My next project is a wooden vise, which will complement the usage of the drill press.

I had improved on the design of the drill press by putting in a handle, machining the sliding surfaces using my home-made cnc milling machine and some other improvements. The improved drill press can be found here.

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