Table and fence for drilling with the drill press

How to make a drill press table with pivoting fence

I didn’t plan to make a table for the drill press because, like many other things that later surprised me in my small woodworking shop, I never thought that a drill press table could be much more useful than the metal table that already has the drill press.

But as I just said, once I had the drill press table installed I was surprised at how much easier it is to drill on it. A larger table provides much better support for the workpieces to be drilled. And a side fence that pivots in one end is very easy to adjust it in the exact position for each drill hole.

Cut a piece of plywood to make the drill press table.

To make this drill press table I am going to use a piece of plywood board, that is a little more than 15mm thick, which I am going to cut with the jigsaw (1).

Center the plywood on the metallic table and mark the width.

I have to put this piece of plywood board centered (2) on the drill press metallic table and against the column of the drill press. And with the pencil I mark under the plywood board the position of one side of the metal table.

Screw the first guide strip underneath the plywood

Now I use the square to draw a perpendicular line (3) from the straightest edge of the plywood table starting at the mark I made. And I will put a small wooden strip attached to the line (4) so that the strip is on what would be the outside of the metal table. After drilling a pilot hole (5), I insert a screw (6). With the square, I make sure that the strip is perfectly at 90 degrees to the edge of the plywood table (7), and I put in a couple more screws (8).

Press the guide strip against the metal drill press table

Then, I put the plywood board on the metal table of the drill press, and I have to press the strip I just screwed against the side of the metallic table (9).

How to put the second guide strip under the drill press table

And I clamp the plywood table with a metallic clamp. I also need to put another strip underneath the plywood board. Then, I press that second strip tightly against the other side of the metal table, and I clamp it with another metallic clamp (10). I mark where to put the first screw (11), drill a guide hole (12) and I can insert the first screw (13). And in the same way I put in a couple more screws.

Slots to pass through the plywood table anchor bolts

In order to be able to use the plywood table in the drill press, I need to attach the plywood board to the metal table with bolts. So, it will be easy to attach the plywood table on the metallic table or take it away. Also, I don’t want this drill press table to stay fixed in the same position on the metal table, but I want to be able to easily move the plywood table back and forth. The parallel slots in the metal table (14) help for this purpose.

How to attach the drill press table with bolts

With the wooden table fitted on the metal table and against the drill press column, I draw the shape of the grooves on the underside of the wooden table (15). I move the wooden table forward and redraw the shape of the grooves. This leaves me with an area on each side where both drawings coincide.

Now I have to drill a hole in the center of the areas where the drawings coincide (16), and carve the hex head shape of the bolts into the holes in the top of the wooden drill press table (17). Then, with a narrow chisel I have to carve the holes until the head of the bolts fit completely. And I make sure they don’t stick out by rubbing a washer on the table surface (18).

How to make a jig for routing a very wide but shallow dado with the plunge router machine

I could leave the drill press table like this, but with time drill after drill will gradually damage the surface. That’s why I’m going to put a piece of thin plywood that will serve as a sacrificial piece and that I can easily change when it is very damaged. For this I draw two parallel lines centered on the plywood table (19). I install a straight router bit on the plunge router. I put the router on the drill press plywood table so that the two cutting edges of the router bit are at 90 degrees to one of the lines, with one of the cutting edges of the router bit right on the line (20).

Now, being careful not to move the router, I place a wooden strip against the base of the router, using the square to place the strip at 90 degrees to the front of the wooden table (21). And I hold the strip with an F clamp. I move the router to the other line, and with the cutter edges of the router bit at 90 degrees to the line and one of the edges right on the line, I have to put another strip against the other side of the base of the router (22). With the square I put it at 90 degrees to the front of the table and clamp it with another F clamp. I make sure that both wood strips are parallel (23) before putting a screw in the other end of these strips so that they won’t move (24).

If you look at the clamps, I put them in such a way that, in addition to holding these strips, they also clamp the plywood drill press table to my workbench.

Route a wide shallow dado on the table

In this way I can route, without anything moving, a wide shallow dado with a depth equal to the thickness of the thin sacrificial plywood piece I will use (25).

Cut a piece of thin plywood and fit it into the dado.

With the jigsaw I have to cut the piece of thin plywood a few millimeters larger than necessary (26). And now I can sand the edges until the piece of thin plywood fits perfectly into the wide dado I routed (27).

Install drill press table with bolts and wing nuts.

I can now install the plywood table on the drill press metallic table. I insert the bolts (28), and insert from the bottom of the table a pair of washers and a wing nut on each bolt (29).

Install the pivoting fence with a single screw

I place on the drill press table the strip that will serve as a pivoting fence to support the workpieces for drilling, and I attach it at one end, from the bottom of the table (30), with a single screw (31). This fence pivots on the table, which makes it very easy to adjust the position of the workpiece to be drilled.

Drill press table with pivoting fence

And when necessary I can clamp the other end of the fence with a clamp (32). This way I now have my drill press table ready.

Drilling in-line holes on the drill press

Then, by placing my workpiece on the drill press table and against the fence, and moving the workpiece along the fence, and/or pivoting it along with the fence, I can drill accurately at any point on the workpiece (33) making it very easy to move from one point that I want to drill to the next.

Test drilling holes on the drill press table

If I want to, I can clamp the other end of the fence to drill holes aligned along the workpiece (34). And if I drill holes that go all the way through the workpiece, if I make sure that the drill bit always goes into a clean hole in the thin sacrificial piece of plywood (35), I will avoid chipping when the drill bit comes out of the bottom of the workpiece I am drilling. Like this I can drill clean holes.

As you can see, a drill press table is a very easy to make woodworking project. And it will be very useful to make many of our woodworking projects.

Scroll to Top