Inexpensive Drill Stand Upgrade
This is an upgrade that kind of grew. It is based on an inexpensive Lidl Bench Drill and improves it enormously. People like Harbor Freight do similar ones. I've written this up for the newbies, who might find it useful. I've often found that cheap and cheerful equipment can be improved relatively simply to make it much more useful.
I'd noted that the small engineering table with the drill stand was too small for most work and I had seen various improved tables with fences on store websites, as well as one or two on here.
I'd been asking about the Katie Dovetail Jig and Bob had mentioned some aluminium extrusion that had T-Slots cast into it. I found some on a German eBay vendor's site. They have it regularly in different lengths. It is available in the US, too. Here, it is described as 90mm high x 45mm deep. The lot I got concisted of four 650mm lengths (around 2' each) for 40 bucks, so about 10 bucks each, and I'd now got three spare ones.
It occurred to me that one of them could make a nice drill press table fence. I'd already got a length of T-slot that, cut in two, would just cover the needs for mounting the fence.
The table is made from two thicknesses of ½" ply, laminated. It made fitting the T-slot very easy as for the top layer I just used up odd pieces of scrap around the T-slots, rather than routing them in, glueing them to a single bottom piece. It also meant that I could use a hole saw to cut out a sacrificial piece in the top layer, before laminating it all up. I also put in four captive carriage bolts into the bottom layer before laminating. The carriage bolts secure the new table to the old one. The sacrificial piece can be discarded for another when it gets chewed up too much. While I was at it, I cut four pieces that would drop into the same hole to match various drum sander sizes. These were all done with various sizes of hole saw.
Once it was all dry, I ran a pattern bit around the edges to get it all neat and used a pattern to round the front corners.
The fence is secured by two long T-bolts to the two T-tracks, but I could have used long carriage bolts. Carriage bolts are easily available and whilst it may be necessary to file flats on opposing sides on the heads to get them to fit, they are a useful cheap alternative, with a range of sizes.
I made an adjustable stop out of MDF and this does use a short carriage bolt.
Having done all this, I realised that the drill doesn't have a depth stop. There is not much point in having a fancy fence when the downward movement could not be similarly controlled.
I noticed that the red plastic safety guard on the drill had a hole moulded either side that was doing nothing, probably because the same guard is sold to other manufacturers who do use them. More important, it had a hex socket moulded underneath it it, that would capture a bolt head.
I realised that a 6mm x 100mm bolt fitted in it pointing upwards could make a depth stop, if I could fit a bracket with a hole in it to go through.
I was looking in the local builder's merchants when I spotted some constructional brackets with 70mm arms. 60mm wide, in 3mm steel. It was only a buck, so I got one to play with. While I was cutting a piece out of it, it occurred to me that instead of sawing off the remaining surplus, if I bent it downwards, it would make a mount for a light. I'd already got a cheap LED headlight and minus its elasticated headband, it could fit nicely.
The bracket already had some 6mm holes in it. I drilled two matching 5mm holes into the drill head casting and tapped them 6mm to take two M6 skt cap screws to secure the bracket, then removed the bracket again.. I then measured the offset from the hex bolt I'd fitted to the safety guard to the side of the drill head casting and drilled an 8mm hole (to give some play) a matching amount in on the new bracket. Once it was all reassembled, I fitted a nyloc nut above the safety guard to hold the bolt firmly in place.
I'd now got a depth stop and light bracket out of the one bit of bent steel and all for a buck and a bolt.
The lamp fits using a simple elastic band to hold it to the bracket.
The depth can be limited because the bolt slides up and down through the hole in the new bracket and two nuts, locking against each other, can be run up and down to stop movement at any preselected depth.
I next thought about a hold down. Holding small bits in your fingers is never a good idea, in case the drill snatches and whisks the job out of your hands. I'd bought a cheap locking clamp originally for the drill for about 8 bucks. It fixes with a captive bolt with a big ring nut. It had never been ideal, as it would only fit in one position and that didn't suit all job sizes. For the new table I decided to drill and fix a t-nut into which the captive bolt would screw and discard the original ring nut. I then remembered the hold down's previous limitation and drilled two more holes in the table, again fitting t-nuts, to give two alternative positions.
All in all, the drill stand is now much more useable. The overall cost was probably 25 bucks, including light, hold down, bracket and all the track and fence..
One limitation of these small drill stands is that there is not a lot of head clearance. A set of stub drills, which are shorter than regular jobber drills, available from places like MSC, will be a good investment, as they will overcome some of the problem. For UK members, try Tracey Tools, which is where mine came from.
Something else worth mentioning is that these drill stands, as supplied, are normally set to the highest speeds, which are much too fast for things like forstner bits, hole saws or larger bits. Getting the speed down is a case of opening the top, which is normally hinged, probably secured with a locking screw. You then need to take off the tension on the belts by undoing the locking screws on the motor mounting slides. Getting the speed down involves getting smaller pulleys feeding larger ones. You may need to remove one of the belts completely at first, in order to get the other one positioned suitably, before then putting it back on again. Finally, you need to retension the belts by pushing the motor back and nipping up the locking screws on the motor support slides.
Mine has a safety lock cutting off power when you open the lid, but if yours hasn't, unplug it before doing anything.
Whilst this will be teaching grandmother to suck eggs for the old hands, I've tried to explain it fully for anyone new.
Confession ! When I fitted the nyloc nut, I used a ring spanner. After running it up 100mm of thread, I suddenly realised the damned thing was now trapped, as, being a ring, it had no way of being removed. I then had to wind it back through another 100mm of thread. At least when I got it all back together, I had the sense to use a ¼ " hex to square adaptor and run a socket with a power drill against an OE!
Last edited by istracpsboss; 02-16-2010 at 11:10 AM.
Reason: Further information