Print Your Own Drill Guide Without A Linear Bearing

Typically we often don’t cover paid products here on Hackaday, but we couldn’t help but be impressed with this 3D printed drill guide from [USSA]. While you’ll need to pay the toll to access the STL files and plans, there’s an excellent video showing a bit of magic behind the curtain that you can check out free of charge. There are several interesting insights and some great techniques put into this design that anyone could take and apply to their own project.

First, what is a drill guide? Many of us don’t have the luxury of a full-sized drill press, so we have to make do with a hand drill. There are various jigs and tricks to get straighter holes, but it can be frustrating to mark out threaded screw inserts with great precision only to discover all the inserts are at an angle and the circuit board won’t fit. A drill guide ensures holes are plunged straight up and down and at a reliable depth.

[USSA] starts by showing the node-based CAD that makes up the design (a program called Grasshopper). As he assembled it, simple nuts and screws held it together. But rather than clamp two separate pieces together, the screws compress the single plastic with a clever slot in the side to allow the plastic to flex. Several 3D printed jigs were used for assembling the bearing shaft. Ultimately the results look quite impressive, and it’s an inspiration for our own printed projects.

15 thoughts on “Print Your Own Drill Guide Without A Linear Bearing

  1. Wonder how much the harbor freight workbench drill press is these days? Mine was less than $90 when I got it. Holds up okay. The trick with them is that their quality control is inconsistent, so often I’ll return a couple bunk ones until I find one that isn’t messed up. I will say that if I had to choose between a 3d printer and a drill press, I’d go with the press. But luckily I can have both :)

    1. Probably your drill press won’t hold an accu drill so i can see this being useful in mobile applications, but there are simpler drilling aids with metal guide bushes for the various diameters; still, nice build.

  2. It’s a nice tool to have when the occasion requires it, good job.
    I have a cheap Taiwan portable mini electric hand drill press (more of a plunger really) that has the two guide rods arranged across the diameter of a cast aluminium ring, with the drillbit at the centre so that downward pressure on the drill works directly on the metal drill-holding carriage and compressing the return springs on the rods. It’s a reasonably good design that doesn’t bind up from off-centre forces.

    1. Hah! I was reading yours and thought it was going to end like mine: the torque on the sliding bearings is so bad that they bind and the whole thing is freaking useless! :) Plus it has so much slop, well, I just freehand it.

      Drillpress FTW, when you can.

      1. Oh absolutely. I use a drill press whenever I can (I have two) but sometimes there is a need to put accurate holes to a specific depth in a large piece of timber, a door or some outside location where one can’t be used. Also walls and ceilings as Charles mentioned below.

      2. My Taiwanese one would be 40 to 50 years old and it needed a bit of servicing before I had it operating nicely. I cleaned the spots of rust off the rods, put some Teflon grease (I love that stuff) on them, made sure they were properly seated in the base and so on.

    1. Well, it is a good product (I got one) but it is quite bulky for people living in a flat.
      Such a small thing can also be of interest if working on an already installed equipment that you doesn’t want to (or can’t) disassemble.

  3. It might be worth printing a version of this, but modified to take a soldering iron, so that the threaded inserts mentioned in the article DO go in straight.

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