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Workshop Projects

October 13, 2012


Making A Drill Press Leveling Base Pages: 1 , 2

A drill press is very nearly a mandatory tool for a reasonably well equipped wood shop. The better ones are floor standing models, and although there are some decent quality bench mount units available, these are typically not very powerful and are limited in their capacity under the chuck.
With the upsides to having a floor stander, there are some downsides as well. If your floor is rough and uneven you'll need to shim the base to make the drill press fairly level. Also, depending on the weight and size of the base, the unit can be quite tippy, as most are top-heavy. From my own experience, I can say that the ideal is to shim the base, then bolt it down to the floor - indeed, it is recommended by the manufacturer that you do this. This is not always feasible, and may not be an option if you live in a rented property or lack the space for a permanent setup. If not bolted down, putting extra weigh on the base works well too, but can get in the way for some operations.
I haven't bolted mine down, since I will be moving from my current shop location (eventually). My floor is also quite unlevel and uneven, making the drill press wobble slightly when I use it. Having it dead level is usually not terribly important, but having it fairly close would be nice. I have also found that it is a bit lower than I'd like, and having it 2" to 3" higher would make it more comfortable for me to work at.
With these basic criteria in mind, I set out to build a base that was easy to make, inexpensive, but still gave me the functionality and durability I was looking for.
Here's a short video showing what I came up with:

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The first step was to cut some regular framing lumber down to size and plane it flat. The lumber had been drying for quite some time, which is important for a finished project like this.
With the stock cut to size, I laid out the radius using my beam compass:

Stock prepared and laid out. Stock cut and sanded to the line.

The semicircle is then cut with the band saw and smoothed to the line with the disk sander.

The frame of the stand is made with two members, joined to form a "T". The second member is marked out and cut in the same way:

Other leg laid out.


The joint is secured using #20 biscuits and glue. The locations for the biscuits are laid out on the members:

Biscuits used to join the parts. Slots cut for the biscuits.

The slots are cut.

Often biscuits are used for alignment, here they are used as reinforcement also. I'm using polyurethane construction adhesive to glue the joint:

Biscuits glued in. Parts are clamped together.

It is clamped and left overnight to cure. An alternative way of making this frame is shown in the SketchUp model.

The feet of the stand are made from two layers of 1/2" thick plywood. The centre is marked and the outer diameter is drawn on all six pieces:

Feet parts are cut and marked.


The inside of the lower part of the foot is drilled out with a 2-1/2" hole saw:

Centre is drilled out. Parts are glued together.

The upper and lower parts are glued and clamped.

Three 3/8" threaded rods are cut and a nut is tightened onto the ends. For this, I used an interference fit, similar to how I did it on the edge clamp. A lock nut would work also:

Threaded rod with nut. Assembled foot.

This is inserted into the foot from the bottom and a pair of washers and two jam nuts are tightened on from the top. Enough space is left for the rod to move freely.

Three feet finished.
The top end of the threaded rods is slotted for a standard screwdriver. This makes it possible to adjust each foot from above. I did this with a zipcut blade in the grinder, but it can also be done with a hacksaw.
When the glue has dried, the feet are sanded to the mark and rounded slightly. The feet are now finished, ready to thread into t-nuts installed in the frame.


Pages: 1 , 2

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