Drill Press Tips and Tricks
Do more with this tool by improving your basic setup and adding a few simple accessories
Synopsis: Get the most out of your drill press with expert advice from Michael Fortune. From proper setup to inventive jigs, this longtime professional furniture maker knows how to turn this boring tool into a shop staple. Find tips on making an auxiliary table, supporting large workpieces, bringing the work closer to your eyes for greater accuracy, using stop blocks, holding work securely for drilling end grain and small workpieces, cutting circles, and more. You’ll also learn the value of using your drill press as a sander.
Set up properly, any drill press can create clean, accurate holes, small and large, in workpieces of all shapes and sizes. armed with a few accessories, though, it can do much more. Over my 40 years of woodworking, I’ve developed a series of tips and jigs that will make the drill press one of your favorite shop companions. They will work with any drill press, big or small, fancy or basic.
Success starts with your setup. a lot of woodworkers buy or make a big auxiliary table to support large workpieces. But these offer false security. They are rarely flat, and they obstruct your ability to get in close and see where you want to drill a hole. They include a replaceable insert in the middle, sitting in a rabbet that needs frequent cleaning. These big tables also make it hard to get clamps close to the bit, so they need T-tracks and awkward hold-downs.
The solution is elegantly simple. I use sacrificial 12-in. squares of MDF as backer boards. Like table inserts, they prevent blowout on the back of the hole. The difference is that they can simply be shifted to expose a fresh surface and discarded when they look like Swiss cheese. Workpieces always lie flat on this small work…