Turn Your Drill Press Into A Bobbin/Spindle Sander

drill press ander

Drill presses are a staple tool of the typical garage — they aren’t too expensive and are indispensably useful — but have you ever thought of turning it into a spindle sander?

You can buy drum sander kits fairly cheap, but the problem is they’re really difficult to use and really messy too — you’ll have sawdust everywhere in no time. What [Carl’s] done here is created a wood box for his drill press with different size holes for each drum sander bit. By attaching a vacuum cleaner to the box, you can clean up your mess while you’re still doing the work.

Just a note — drill presses aren’t designed to take radial loads like a mill is. If you’re planning on doing some really heavy sanding, adding a bolt through the entire drum sander bit and then coupling it with a fixed bearing inside of your box might be a good idea.

It’s a pretty simple hack, but could save you an additional power tool, and space on your work bench! Have a drill but no drill press? No problem.


18 thoughts on “Turn Your Drill Press Into A Bobbin/Spindle Sander

      1. The spindle falling out is not really a big concern. The main issue is that side loading the spindle can result in more runout. It only takes runout of a few thousandths to have a visual wobble at the tip of the drill bit.

        1. Someone once told me something in relation to this mod, “the bearing aren’t made of marshmellow, if you are putting on enough pressure to damage the bearings you’re not letting the sandpaper do its job”.

          10 years and my hobby drillpress is still as accurate as ever.

  1. What I can’t believe is that they think that little pile of sawdust is, “really messy”. If you want to see really messy then you need to watch my thickness planer when it is going.


    You can sing Jingle Bells while it is running. Because it’ll leave an eight inch high chip drift on the floor!


    You probably thought I was joking. This is why these sorts of activities are done in a garage though. I just turned my milling machine into a disc sander over here too.


    No real worries side loading its bearings I don’t think. I made a small concession to dust with the piece of flashing under my homemade disc sander as can be seen here


    Believe it, or not I cleaned it up before I took that picture. heh Laugh it up, but before I put that flashing under there that sander really shot dust around. I’m OK with it how it is now.

    1. The thing about woodworking on or around metal working tools is that the fine sawdust tends to accumulate in the crevices of the machine. Once stuck there it tends to soak up moisture out of the air and hold it against the surface, causing rust.

      The sliding surfaces of a mill tend to need oil to reduce wear.

      The sawdust is a huge hassle.

      1. I use chainsaw bar lube on my mill. Oddly enough it holds up pretty good in the face of sawdust too. My mill had a bit of rust on it when I bought it and it is 22 years older now. I don’t know, I suppose it is still OK. I use it a lot.

  2. Use only aggressive grit and gentle pressure. Something I always have to tell newbie’s is, on any wearable sacrificial surface spread the wear around the full surface. Do not wear a groove down the middle and make a burning stink as the core does “the work”. You can move the spindle up and down as you sand. It heats up locally. Keep it moving on an any belt, grinder, or drum. If you’re spindle hasn’t been out in a dog’s age don’t worry. At least move it every pass. Drum sanders are poor at sanding smooth straight edges. A belt sander or a trusty 50 grit hand block is faster.

    1. Drum sanders can do smooth and straight if you set it up right. Do an image search for drum thickness sander for a few examples. I’d post links but I don’t feel like getting moderated today.

  3. BTW, this vac-in-the-box trick works great for drilling masonry and stuff, too. We used to cut three holes in a scrap box: One on the side for the vacuum, and two directly across from each other for the bit and the workpiece. Tape the box to the floor or wall, and make holes in concrete all day.

    Without the box, the vacuum’s airflow would happily grab the light powder, but the heavier dust and chips would fly all over the room. The box physically contains them, plus it focuses the airflow so they’d have to overcome a higher velocity flow to escape.

    For two minutes’ work, it saves 20 minutes of sweeping and cleanup. Worth it every time!

  4. I have a side facing drill chub for using to drill to one side (making your drill ‘L’ shaped. I put it in my post drill today and wondered could I make a horizontal drum sander rather than a vertical one, with a box and small table under it? would this cure the side pressure problem?

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