A Nicely Accurate PCB Drill Press You Can Build Yourself

Making PCBs isn’t always just about getting nice copper traces on a lovely fiberglass board. There’s often lots of drilling to be done! This PCB drill press from [w_k_fay] should help you do just that with the finesse and accuracy of a pro.

The design isn’t particularly fancy or pretty, but just simply focuses on doing a simple job well. There’s a basic DC motor, sitting on a linear rail so that it has minimal deflection in the X and Y axes as it moves up and down. Special care was taken to ensure the linear rail was mounted perfectly perpendicular to the base to ensure the drill doesn’t wander or splay off target.

A collet chuck is used to center the bit as well as possible for a good price. The build also includes a bright LED in order to give you the best possible view of your work. Power is via a variable bench supply which allows for variable speed as necessary. There’s a foot pedal to activate the drill which allows both hands to be used for positioning the work for added ease of use.

The total build came in at under $50 spend by the time [w_k_fay] was done. Alternatively, you could use this 3D printed design to build your own as well. If you’ve been whipping up your own useful tools for the home shop, though, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

An unfastened piece of pipe in a drill press, rotating away

Drill Press Piece Fastening 101

What are the options you have for securing your workpiece to the drill press table? [Rex Krueger] shows us that there’s plenty, and you ought to know about them. He goes through the disadvantages of the usual C-clamps, and shows options like the regular drill press vice and a heavy-duty version that even provides a workpiece tilting mechanism, and points out small niceties like the V-grooves on the clamps helping work with round stock. For larger pieces, he recommends an underappreciated option — woodworkers’ wooden handscrew clamps, which pair surprisingly well with a drill press. Then, he talks about the hold-down drill press clamps, a favourite of his, especially when it comes to flat sheets of stock like sheet metal or plastic.

As a bonus for those of us dealing with round stock, he shows a V-block he’s made for drilling into its side, and round stock clamp, made by carefully drilling a pair of wooden hand screw clamps, for when you need to drill into a dowel from its top. The ten-minute video is a must watch for anyone not up to speed on their drill press piece fastening knowledge, and helps you improve your drilling game without having skin in it.

We’ve covered a few ingenious and unconventional drill piece fastening options before, from this wise held down by repurposed bicycle quick-release parts, to an electromagnetic wise that left our readers with mixed opinions.

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Drill press modded with a treadmill motor, speed controller, lights, and a tachometer.

Drill Press Runs Faster On A Treadmill Motor

Are you tired of the same old video style from your favorite content creators? We can’t say that we were, exactly. But nevertheless, we appreciate this creative departure from [Eric Strebel]’s regular fare as he soups up his drill press with an old treadmill motor and a few extra features.

First off, that commentator in the video is right — 2.6 horsepower is a crazy amount for a drill press. Fortunately, [Eric] also added a variable speed controller and a digital tachometer to keep things in check. As an added bonus, he no longer has to get under the hood and mess with the belts.

We like what [Eric] brings to the drill press motor mod, which is already well-documented on YouTube. We love the re-use of an office chair bracket as a new motor mount. It’s probably our favorite bit aside from the 2-color forward/reverse switch plate idea: print it in whatever letter color you want with proud lettering, paint the whole thing black, and sand off the letters so the color shows. Check it out after the break.

There are many ways to make your own drill press, and one of the easiest is to mount a hand drill.

Did you miss the Industrial Design Hack Chat with [Eric]? It’s okay, you can read the transcript over on IO.

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Portable Drill Press

We aren’t sure that [John Heisz’s] build is really what we think of as a drill press, but it is a very portable way to convert a regular drill into something like a drill press. Your drill will probably be different, but you can follow along with his build in the video below.

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like this would be very hard, but there are a few tricks. Finding the exact center of the drill axis on the back of the drill takes a bit of effort.

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Machining Without Machines

It’s a luxury to be able to access a modern machine shop, complete with its array of lathes, mills, and presses. These tools are expensive though, and take up a lot of space, so if you want to be able to machine hard or thick metals without an incredible amount of overhead you’ll need a different solution. Luckily you can bypass the machines in some situations and use electricity to do the machining directly.

This project makes use of a process known as electrochemical machining and works on the principle that electricity passed through an electrolyte solution will erode the metal that it comes in contact with. With a well-designed setup, this can be used to precisely machine metal in various ways. For [bob]’s use this was pretty straightforward, since he needed to enlarge an existing hole in a piece of plate steel, so he forced electrolyte through this hole while applying around half an amp of current in order to make this precise “cut” in the metal, avoiding the use of an expensive drill press.

There are some downsides to the use of this process as [bob] notes in his build, namely that any piece of the working material that comes in contact with the electrolyte will be eroded to some extent. This can be mitigated with good design but can easily become impractical. It’s still a good way to avoid the expense of some expensive machining equipment, though, and similar processes can be used for other types of machine work as well.

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.

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Salvaged Drill Gets A Magnetic Upgrade

For most people, a broken tool is at the end of its useful life. But rather than toss a heavy-duty drill that had its handle broken off, [Workshop From Scratch] thought it was a perfect opportunity to create something new. In his latest video, he shows how he converted this old hand tool into a magnetic drill press with predictably impressive results.

Despite being assembled largely from pieces of scrap metal cut into shape with an angle grinder, we wouldn’t blame you for believing the end result was a commercial product. From the handles salvaged from chewed up old screwdrivers to the scratch-built rack and pinion assembly, the attention to detail here is really fantastic.

Removing what was left of the broken handle.

It’s difficult to pick a favorite detail, but the reinvented enclosure for the drill certainly ranks up there. [Workshop From Scratch] could have simply bolted on the tool as-is, but instead he surgically removed the vestigial handle to make it look as though the drill was always meant for this application. After cutting, it was finished off with some body filler, a bit of sanding, and a coat of his signature orange spray paint.

When he built his magnetic vise, [Workshop From Scratch] used magnets pulled from automotive air conditioning systems. They got the job done, but were somewhat annoying to work with given their round shape. This time around, he’s used off-the-shelf magnetic locks intended for steel doors. When energized with a 19 V laptop power supply, he says the three rectangular electromagnets have a combined pull of 540 kilograms.

If you don’t have a broken drill to use as a donor for this type of project, don’t worry. You could always use a salvaged hoverboard motor instead.

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