Time to Build a Drill Press Table
When I first began my journey into working, it took me a while before I realized that the stock metal tables that come standard with just about any drill press aren’t adequate. That’s why most folks build their own auxiliary tables and attach them to the stock tables. This allows a woodworker to add hold-downs, fences, stop blocks-basically just a wide variety of accessories.
After having recently acquired a new (used) drill press from a friend (thanks Matt Kenney), I went to work building a simple table for more accurate drilling. With any luck, these humble ramblings will help those of you on the start of your woodworking journey.
Keep in mind that I’m not a fan of removable inserts through which the drill bit passes after it exits the workpiece. Too often, the thickness of plywood varies from sheet to sheet–and that can lead to an insert that doesn’t quite come up flush with the work surface–and that leads to blowout. Instead, I prefer laying a scrap sheet of hardboard down on the table to absorb the bit–and prevent blowout–as it passes through the workpiece you happen to be drilling.
Elements of a Basic Drill Press Table
Build a Better Base-The metal table that came with my drill press measures in at a puny 8-3/4-in. x 8-3/4-in. That’s just not enough room to handle most furniture components easily. I sourced a larger 16-1/2-in. x 14-in. scrap of 3/4-in. plywood to serve as my new base, giving me lots more real estate to set workpieces on. A couple of star knobs and washers secure the plywood to the metal table from below. I cut two small square mortises in the base and used two-part epoxy to glue in some nuts. You could also use threaded sleeves for this (a better solution) but these simple nuts were all I had on-hand. The plywood was radiused at each corner to keep me from getting jabbed by sharp edges. A bit of iron-on edging was applied for no other reason than to make it look spiffy.
T-Track Comes Next-Next, I cut two dadoes into the plywood’s top, and screwed in some lengths of T-Track to house a fence (that comes next). Truth-be-told, this step really isn’t totally necessary. A straight, square piece of stock clamped to the plywood top would serve just as well for a fence. The T-Track, coupled with two knobs, just makes fence adjustments a bit easier.
No-Frills Fence-My fence was made by gluing and screwing a piece of quartersawn oak to the edge of some 1/2-in. plywood. I chose a quartersawn scrap for its ability to resist movement, since a dead square fence is always the goal. Two holes drilled into the plywood portion allow the T-Track nuts to pass through, and two knobs make adjustments a cinch. I also chose to cut a half-circle in the fence’s back edge. This allows me to get the fence further away (nestled against the drill press’ post) from the bit. In the rare cases where I need to push the fence even closer to the post, I can always detach the fence and clamp on a scrap block for a fence-the old-fashioned way.
The last step in the process was to add a few coats of polyurethane-again, not necessary but hey, it looks nice!
What About Inserts?
Sharp-eyed readers will notice I didn’t add removable plywood inserts for directly beneath the drill bit’s path of travel. I tend to juse slap a piece of scrap 1/4-in. plywood on my table to prevent blowout on the underside of holes. I’ve always found that due to the fact that the specific thickness of sheet goods varies ever so slightly from sheet to sheet, that removable inserts either end up causing my workpiece to rock (too thick) or not provide enough blowout protection (too thin).
Got a Cool Drill Press Table?
If you’ve built a clever table for your drill press, we’d love to see it. Post your shopmade tables in our Jigs Gallery and tag them with the phrase “drill press table.”
T-Track is used for maneuvering of the fence assembly. Two star knobs are used to secure the plywood table to the drill press' steel table from down below.
The star knobs fit into a couple of nuts I epoxied into mortises cut into the underside of the table. That strip of oak is their to register the table squarely against the front edge of the drill press' stock metal table.
The fence in-situ.
My simple drill press table all set up.
I cut a half-circle into the back edge of the fence to get more clearance around the drilling area. The half-circle fits around the drill press' post.