How to convert your drill press into a woodworking tool

“Now what?”

That’s what I asked myself after buying a $25.00 drill press at an estate sale and tuning it up. You can read about that adventure here.

The “what” as it turns out, was to make it woodworking-friendly by building and affixing a drill press table. Let’s face it. While the metal circular shelf might be great for metal working, it’s crap for delivering the precision us woodworkers require.

So after some research I created a list of criterion that my table had to meet:

  • Hold stock securely for mortising and drilling
  • Able to angle with bed
  • Large enough to complete most tasks easily
  • Pleasing appearance
  • Replaceable insert
  • Adjustable fence with slotted grooves top and bottom to secure stops and holddowns

That said, I settled on this design…mostly. 

I tweaked the design by eschewing slot tracks that formed a square, and going with two tracks perpendicular to the front and back.

As an aside. Can I ask you a personal question? When was the last time you saw the word “eschewing” in a woodworking article?

The fence I made from a reclaimed oak 2″ x 4″ that I picked up for free at a Fort Collins, CO warehouse shipping dock advertised on Craig’s List. The base is ¾” plywood with oak banding around the edges. I eased the sharp edges with a roundover bit on the router table.

The t-slot hardware I got from Lee Valley because it was inexpensive. The hold-down hardware I got from Rockler on sale.

The stop blocks I made out of scraps.


The insert, I made out of 3/8″ plywood.


Using it
First things first. Here’s the final build.


As careful I was in my planing and squaring the fence, it still requires me to tweak it a bit when I put it under tension. Meaning that things can go slightly out of square. This is a case where working the fence on a power jointer would have paid dividends.

Still, the fence is functional and, so far, has met all my needs.

You’ll note that the top of my fence has a slot but no t-slot track. I cut the slot in anticipation of purchasing the t-slot track later (wanted to minimize costs on the initial build). Frankly, I haven’t felt a need for it so I’ll go without for now.

I also had to cut out a bit of table to allow the table adjustment handle to move freely.




About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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