This DIY Drill Press Is Very Well Executed

Plenty of projects we see here could easily be purchased in some form or other. Robot arms, home automation, drones, and even some software can all be had with a quick internet search, to be sure. But there’s no fun in simply buying something when it can be built instead. The same goes for tools as well, and this homemade drill press from [ericinventor] shows that it’s not only possible to build your own tools rather than buy them, but often it’s cheaper as well.

This mini drill press has every feature we could think of needing in a tool like this. It uses off-the-shelf components including the motor and linear bearing carriage (which was actually salvaged from the Z-axis of a CNC machine). The chassis was built from stock aluminum and bolted together, making sure to keep everything square so that the drill press is as precise as possible. The movement is controlled from a set of 3D printed gears which are turned by hand.

The drill press is capable of drilling holes in most materials, including metal, and although small it would be great for precision work. [ericinventor] notes that it’s not necessary to use a separate motor, and that it’s possible to use this build with a Dremel tool if one is already available to you. Either way, it’s a handy tool to have around the shop, and with only a few modifications it might be usable as a mill as well.

21 thoughts on “This DIY Drill Press Is Very Well Executed

  1. This would be great for drilling holes in home made PCBs. That DC motor with en er11 shank has just plain radial bearings though. Would not try to push a 3/8 drill through a metal with that.

    1. Never fails. You publish an article about someone making something that resembles a Machine Tool, andit just draws people out of the woodwork, eager to prove that it’s not the best machine tool ever made. You know what? Dremel makes a “drill press” attachment for their extremely popular tools, that is no better than this, and it’s a successful, commercial product. True, not going to punch 3/8″ holes through steel with it. Did he ever say it would? Would you try that with a Dremel “drill press”? Don’t think so.

  2. You are perhaps unaware that a real drill press costs less than the ER11 spindle motor used here? Yes, a slightly wobbly cheap import but nevertheless a real machine. Cast iron, 1/4 HP motor, half-inch chuck, etc.

    1. Aside from costs, feeds and speeds are vitally important if you want your drill bits to last..

      The belting in most bench drills, while maybe inconvenient, gives you the advantage of variable speed *and* added mechanical (torque) advantage.. something that a DC motor at low speed is likely unable to provide.

    2. Yes, but, conversely most of the class of drills you suggest do not run fast enough to drive PCB drills at the right speed. And have more runout than the diameter of a PCB drill.
      A lever action might be more conventional, but given that the rail already had the screw, the approach used here makes some sense.

      1. My horrid fart press has 2 thou run out directly from box and gets fsst enough for home one off’s

        I havent drilled many holes in boards for.a long time now just surface mount everything and whats left is a few “via’s”

      1. The Z axis acts as a pivot point with a length of about 30cm,.. 10Nm of force applied at the drilling contact point will multiply by the above factor

        It WILL flex, also actual the contact area between the base plate and the upright angle aluminum arm is about 10mm – which is ridiculous

        1. I was ignoring this, but as you decided to labour the point…
          The only force is straight up the Z axis. That is nothing like 30cm from the uprights. And that is the distance that determines the moment load.

          Everything flexes. But how much drilling pressure can the size of drill bit that this is meant to be used with withstand anyway?

          Is this the best drill press ever? No it is not.
          Is it how I would do it? Not at all.
          Is it bad enough that it is necessary to lambast it in this comments thread? My opinion is that it is not.

          1. Except the lateral forces from the drill bit that make it hunt around when you press it to something. When the structure is free to flex, the hole you drill doesn’t end up where you start it.

    1. While it is helpful to point out errors in mechanical design, because this informs the designer on what to pay attention to, I find “Very poor effort” to be unnecessarily judgmental, and therefore offensive. You are of course entitled to your opinion, but what do you think is gained by your judging the “effort”? You are also free to be a jerk, but keep in mind that this is how you are presenting yourself.

      1. I agree that was judgemental, and that criticizing someone’s effort is offensive. The commenter should have stuck to questioning the design, not the person.

        The right to apply judgement (not offense) was opened in the original article’s headline, “…very well executed.” though. The HaD editors should not have allowed that headline to stand because a cursory inspection shows otherwise

        At various points in the video you can see the whole Z carriage wobble under load. It appears to be coming from the linear rail system he used. The frame design is simply not rigid. Two screws holding the uprights into the side of the baseplate will not be rigid. That base itself needs to be a rigid box structure. Frankly, plastic gears, questionable bearings, an underpowered motor and a bad frame do not make for a “very well executed” “drill press”.

        Is it a good hack worthy of Hackaday? Without any shadow of a doubt. Is it as good as a Dremel press. Probably better in many ways. Was it a good use of a ballscrew? Not in my opinion.

        They weren’t the headline claim now being discussed though. Is it a good drill press? No. I’d laugh about discussing the $55 Harbor Freight drill press in those terms, yet i doubt this hack could touch even that. To add insult to injury, instead of investing in cheap ER collets he bought a cheap drill chuck. The collets would have much better run-out.

        Finally, I have extremely strong concerns about the electrical safety of this machine. An open frame PSU with exposed 120V wires held by screws, no fuse, and *no connected ground*. It has the very real potential to cause a life-ending event. Chips get everywhere, and should any fault cause the PSU case to become live, the whole press frame will too. Again, I have a real problem with HaD for not picking up on this before publishing – the lack of basic electrical safety precautions is staggering. A more accurate headline would have been “This DIY drill press could very well electrocute its operator”.

        The saddest thing is that quality old US-made drill presses aren’t that difficult to find. A little patience on Craigslist will find you a nice floor- or bench- standing drill press at a reasonable price. You might need to give it some tender care, but it’ll pay you back handsomely.

  3. Got to be better than one Horror Fright drill press I saw, It had too big of a hole machined in the head and the quill slopped a lot.
    Seems that the plethora of obsolete battery drills (nicad) would be a good start.

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