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How to Drill a Hole without using a Drill Press

3377 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  ksidwy
I was duplicating a table leg that was broken. The resulting glued up work piece was too large to use on my drill press. My press is a bench top model (3/4hp) and it has a custom table I made a few years ago. That limited the total area under the chuck that I could use.

So, what should I do?

After thinking about it for a while, I decided to make a guide that could be used to drill the holes using a hand held drill.

Below is my workflow to achieve the desired results. Note: I need two holes on one side to mount the leg to the table and a third hole on the other side for a leg leveler.

1) Using the table saw, I cut the two ends of the glued work piece and checked to make sure I had two sides 90 deg. Check!

2) I drew the pattern of the leg on to the work piece and then ripped off the extra part giving me a block that was the same width and about 1 1/8 inch thick. This would become my drill bit guide.

3) In the pictures, you can see a couple of test holes drilled in the block. I was testing to make sure I had the right bits. As it turns out, I needed two different sizes.

4) I had transferred the hole locations from the broken piece to the new piece, so it was easy to set up the block. I made sure one end was flush with the end of the work piece, and the sides of the guide block were flush with the sides also. Then I transferred the markings on to the guide block.

5) Using the drill press, I drilled all three holes through the guide block. Note that I used both ends of the guide block, one for the leg leveler and the other end for the mounting bolts.

6) To drill the holes in the new leg, I clamped the block in place, measured the depth needed and marked the drill bit with a black marker. The mounting bolts holes are about 1 1/2 inches deep and the leg leveler was just a smidgen over 1 inch.

7) The guide made it easy to drill the holes. I have to admit, at my age, and a little bit of shakiness, and wearing glasses for close up work, this guide proved to be really helpful.

8) After that, it was easy. Cut the shape on the band saw, sand and route the edges with a round-over bit, and install the hardware. I am very happy with the results.

Hope you this info helpful. It really was easy to do.

The important points to remember, are:
  • Use a guide the same width as the work piece is thick.
  • Use a known reference (end of work piece) to locate the hole position.
  • Mark the precise location where the hole needs to be drilled.


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Good information in your post Mike. Also I like that you glued pieces together to change the grain in the wood so it would not split again. It will last forever.
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Sometimes the simple solutions are the best!

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Nice work, Mike. I'm not awake enough yet to absorb it all (not enough coffee), but I wanted to go ahead and commend you on the thorough tutorial. It takes some discipline to stop when you're on a roll and take pictures, but we appreciate that you do it. Thanks.
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The most modern and powerful tool, the brain !!! Congrats great work work! Sid.
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