5 Drill Press Alignment Tips

The purpose of a drill press is to accurately drill different sized holes into work pieces. Depending on how much room you have in your workshop, you can choose from either benchtop or floor models. They both have their advantages with the benchtop drill presses having more horsepower while the floor models can easily drill holes in the endgrain of long boards.

1 - Secure Work Piece

Before you start drilling, make sure to stabilize your work piece by securing it against a fence and down to the table. You can do this by clamping down each piece. This is necessary because when the bits are retracted from a hole, they can pull the piece off the table, causing the board to spin in the circular motion of the bit.

2 - Test Table Level

To make sure that your drill bit will enter the wood vertically at a 90 degree angle to the table, mount a straight piece of steel rod in the chuck. Then place a small engineer's square on the table in different positions around it to read its accuracy.

Another way of getting an accurate reading is by bending a piece of a heavy metal coat hanger into a 'Z' shape. One end should be bent up at 90 degrees with a long straight section, and the other end will be bent down at 90 degrees. Put one end into the chuck, and place the other end onto the table. Finally, use one hand to turn the chuck. This will turn the bent wire in a broad circle which will help you determine how accurate the table is leveled.

3 - Large Holes

Your drill press should be set on slow speeds at about 200 to 400 rpm when cutting large holes. If it does not have that capability, then you should use a router or a saber saw.

4 - Test the Depth Stop

Before working on your good wood, you should first test out the depth on scrap pieces. You can do this by marking the edge of the wood with a pencil at the necessary depth. Next, put the wood by the drill bit, and then lower the bit until it intersects the pencil. At this point, you should lock the depth stop, and finally set the fence distance to align for the drilling.

5 - Bits

You can either use brad point bits or spade bits to drill holes. Brad point bits are the better option because of their distinct spur design on the outer cutting edges of the flutes, but they are hard to find. Spade bits do work but tends to result in a rougher hole. In either case, you should mark the location of the hole, and then use an awl to indent that point. This way there will be a starting point for the bit.