Pro Drill Press Table (again)

A while ago I showed an upgrade I had done to my drill press- the addition of the Pro DrillPress table from Professional Woodworkers Supplies. As part of the upgrade, and because of the handle on the DP, I had added a drawer to act as a spacer and storage.

As some of you observed (can’t get anything by you), more recently I had removed all that and was using some cast iron tablesaw wings to provide a much larger, solid table that could also take MagSwitch technology.

That experiment has ended, more than anything else than because of the exceptional weight that table ended up being. Good for a router table, bad for the drill press.

So the Pro Table is returning, in this situation, its benefits outweight that of MagSwitch tech!

There are a couple of issues I need to address in this recommissioning. First, access to the height adjusting handle, and that is the subject of the photo here.

I’ve removed the original DP handle (secured with a grubscrew), and have replaced it with an extension from an old socketset (one I did try to sell at a garage sale a year or so ago- it plus a bunch of sockets and bits for $2 and still no takers!) Now it just adds extra weight to the mantra “never throw anything away”!

On the DP, I did have to create a square on the round shaft the handle came off, but that was seconds of work with an angle grinder. I want to secure it in place, and it will end up being supported along its length (and it needs a new handle- hmm sounds like a height winding wheel off a tablesaw would be PERFECT!)

I still need to do something about the tablelock for access, and also I have been finding the Pro Top does flex the way I have it, so will add some extra support for it in the form of a new top for the drawer unit.

So on with the recommissioning (and I’m positive that the DP height wheel rather than height handle will prove awesome. Just remember you read it here first!)

Bits n Pieces around the shed

Think I have found a good location in the shed for the drum sander.  It may not be the perfect solution for the machine in every workshop, but how I use the machine, this solution works for me, and saves the machine footprint as well.

Drum Sander & Thicknesser

Drum Sander & Thicknesser

This solution works on a number of levels.  Because my thicknesser has a fixed head, there is no load on the height mechanism having the sander on top, and the thicknesser is certainly strong enough to cope with this load.  It doesn’t interfere with any of the thicknesser mechanisms, and it means I use the same infeed and outfeed areas for two machines with similar requirements.

I’ve also been playing with the drill press, trying out different tabletop combinations.  This current look isn’t working too well – it weights way too much to be functional, so I imagine I will be restoring the Pro Drill Press table shortly.  Just wanted to give this a try anyway.

Trying a CI Drill Press Tabletop

Trying a CI Drill Press Tabletop

My ideal would be a CI top with the features and sizing of the Pro Drill Press Table.

It took me a long time to get around to it, but I’ve finally found a home for the Incra Mitre Express, and the coving jig.

Jig Storage

Jig Storage

I did drill a couple of holes in the mitre express to allow it to be hung.  So much better than having it kick around the shed floor.

I had a chance to have a quick look at the panel clamps I’m reviewing for the Australian Wood Review Article.  Clamping them overhead wasn’t really the plan, but once I started, I just kept going!

Some Panel Clamps

Some Panel Clamps

CompressX Panel Clamp

CompressX Panel Clamp

Not every clamp was able to clamp overhead of course!

Still hoping to have Frontline Engineering’s version included.  I’ve managed to get a bit of an extension on the article deadline, so that should help. Aussie products always especially welcome!

SW09 – Kickback

kick-1There are all sorts of risks in the workshop.  But the one that really seems to give woodworkers the willies is kickback.

When a kickback occurs, it is always pretty startling, you find yourself with the deer in the headlights look, and once your wits start returning, you start looking for claret.

I’ve had some pretty impressive kickbacks, and I can guarantee you something in every single case.  User error.  (Of course I do have that router bit that seems to kickback no matter what I try, but let’s ignore that here).

I’ve had kickbacks from tablesaws, routers (table mounted primarily), thicknessers, bandsaws, lathes, drill press…….  Pretty much anything with a blade can kickback.  That list isn’t a badge of honour.  What is then, is that I still have intact bodyparts.  One kickback I had from a tablesaw a few years ago gave me a bruise/mark that took a year to fade.

So just what is a kickback? I tend to think a kickback is when the cutting surface (be that a tooth, a blade or whatever) fails to do its intended task, and instead propels the work instead (which more often than not is back towards the operator!)

I’m not covering prevention here- that will be tomorrow’s article.  This is looking at causes of kickback.


A kickback on the tablesaw can be a frightening experience.  This can be a 3HP machine, with a large diameter cutter (10″+) and given the speed they run, the blade tip speed can easily exceed 200 km/hr.  If a piece of work doesn’t cut, and instead is propelled, then that is the sort of speed it is going to come flying out at.

There are  couple of places on the blade that are most likely to kickback – the side (which then lifts the work to the top of the blade where it gets propelled with a large degree of rotation), and the back edge (where you get massive acceleration of the workpiece).

Tablesaws have been known to propel a piece of timber so fast back towards the operator that it has punched right through the wall of the shed.  You don’t want to be standing in the line of fire.  Ever!

A rear kickback is when the workpiece is lifted by the rapidly rising teeth, and propelled over the top of the blade.  This can happen when an offcut works its way into the back of the blade, or when a workpiece is not adequately restrained and floats (lifts) because of those rapidly rising teeth.

A side kickback is often when a piece is not restrained properly as it passes the blade, and twists, (which obviously is then wider than the gap between blade and fence (measure across the diagonal).  The blade then chucks the piece.  It can also be when the fence is not parallel to the blade, and angles towards the rear of the blade.

It can also be caused when the operator pulls the material back towards him on completion of the cut (or when the piece becomes trapped because of the non-parallel fence), and is pulling it in the same direction as the blade is trying to throw it.

Router Table:

A kickback here is generally parallel to the fence, and to the right of the table.  Less likely to be directly at the operator (unless you happen to be standing down there).

Causes are many and varies again.  Incorrect feed direction is a biggie.  Feeding from the left, (or feeding in from the right but to the wrong side of the router bit), so the feed direction is in the same direction as the cutter is spinning.  A router loves to accelerate and propel pieces, like a small spinning wheel (but one that is going up to 20000 RPM!).  Tip speed of the router bit tends to be around the 150 km/hr.  Climb cutting is rarely a good idea.

I’ve had some other instances when a kickback has occurred, even though everything seems to be correct, and these are freaky, as they are completely unexpected.  Some I still haven’t been able to determine the cause, and have put them down to the router bit itself (one that I have chosen to retire).

Feeding too aggressively is also possible, or when starting a cut, engaging the router bit at the wrong angle can all be causes.

What is really scary about a router bit kickback, is its tendency to pull the operator’s hand towards the cutter.  A few kickbacks I’ve had on the router table, I’ve come away ashen faced, checking the hand to see if it is all still there. (The shock of the impact is quite explosive, and can leave the hand feeling numb, so you can’t actually tell if you’ve been cut or not).  I’ve not, but they have been very strong reminders that extreme care is definitely needed on these machines – the consequences of getting it wrong can be dramatic.


Not a common machine to kickback, but it is possible.  I’ve only managed it once – cutting a resawn piece of timber where I had gotten the resaw cut way to uneven, and the blade had managed to catch, rather than cut.  It is also possible when cutting something too thin, which can twist, and rise (especially the leading edge) into the cutter, hitting it at the wrong angle.

Thicknessers tend to be pretty good – some have antikickback fingers, and there is that leading roller that helps constrain the timber so it is cut rather than propelled.


Has teeth, can kickback.  However, the cutting direction is vertically downward, straight into the table so the result is pretty much a non-event (from a danger to operatior point-of-view).  The highest risk then is breaking the blade.


This is unusual, in that the workpiece is rotating, and the tool is not moving (the chisel).  It can still kickback though, particularly if you get the angle of attack wrong (or the one I had was……the skew chisel).  Instead of the workpiece flying at you, the lathe propels the cutting edge towards you (mainly down).  The main one I had was the skew, and it was like a firework going off with a loud bang.  Took me a few seconds to realise just what had happened, and I couldn’t feel a thing – my hand and arm were so numb from the shock it took quite a while to complete checking to see if I was in one piece.

Drill press:

Again, a bit unusual – the drill bit can grab the workpiece, so instead of cutting the workpiece becomes a helicopter.  As it rotates around rapidly, it will hit anything in its path, including the operator.

So that is just a brief overview of kickback, and some of the machines that can cause it.

One of the scariest events that can happen for a woodworker, because it is so fast, and dramatic (and there are definitely potential consequences!)

The next article will look at prevention.

Drill Press Portability Result

Here’s a 1000 words:

Portable Drill Press

Portable Drill Press

Drill Press Portability

With the exception of the lathe, every other major tool in my workshop is mounted on a wheeled stand of one form or another (mostly a Jet wheeled base).  The other exception is the drill press.  These are typically bolted to the ground (or the bench), and are obviously then not at all portable!

However, in a small workshop particularly, it would be rather useful if the typically top-heavy drill press could be moved about the shop as necessary.  Like any of the other main tools, I don’t expect it to need to be moved often.

I haven’t spent a lot of time this evening looking at the situation, but from what I trialed, it seems to be feasible.

I have a spare wheeled base (left over from the old thicknesser), and on that I’ve placed a heavy 1.5″ thick slab of particleboard, which is about as long as the drilpress base, and around 700mm wide.  The drill press is pretty stable front-to-back, but given the very narrow base, is unstable side-to-side. By increasing this width to around 800mm (including the base wheels), it becomes significantly more stable, and I’m hoping enough for the wheeled base drill press to work.


When I was doing a shed organisation after the ebay sales, I left the space that the Triton thicknesser came out of free for the intended new thicknesser purchase.

We finally got it (the 15″ 381) home, using a friend’s trailer, and proceeded to work out how to get a 290kg machine off the back.  Opening the container in-situ was the best option, so some weight could be removed (such as the solid in and out-feed wings).  The unit was also physically bolted down to the container.  You know when it is a serious (and seriously large) tool when there is no polystyrene, and its container has been built around it.

In the end, with care, 3 of us where able to gently slide the unit down to ground level.  If we had less than 3 (or I’d gone for the 20″ unit), we would have been in serious trouble.

Once in the shed, I quickly concluded that due to the side the controls are on, and the direction needed for dust extraction, meant the thicknesser needed to be on the other side of the shed.  And thus a complete reorganisation of the shed was on the cards to fit the new tool in.

A relatively simple task suddenly became bigger than Ben Hur.

I’ve tried to leave the tablesaw and router tables in their current positions, but everything else had its position reevaluated.  And most are now in new locations!

Lathe Reposition

Lathe Reposition

I originally had a stereo on a wheeled table in the top shed corner, and alongside that a table with sharpening gear, then the Triton thicknesser.

The lathe was alongside the tablesaw, and that has now been moved right up into this corner.  I now have a good position for the grinder stand (near the lathe as it should be), and a much smaller unit for the wetstone sharpener.

The drill press then was moved (again), and now has gone from one side of the doors to the other.  This seems to be a pretty good location, and I might finally be in a position to dynabolt it back to the floor.

Main Tool Placement

Main Tool Placement

The bandsaw is now moved to where the drill press was, and the corner table (with the various sanders) moved from one corner to the other, so there was space behind the thicknesser for good outfeed area.  The new router table stand is still waiting for commissioning.

New 15" Thicknesser

New 15" Thicknesser

The thicknesser is then placed over where the bandsaw used to live.  The lathe was moved to provide good infeed area, and the sanders for outfeed area.  This location has another benefit – given the amount of sawdust potentially generated, having it so close to the dust extractor.  Depending on how well the extractor works through the current trunking, I have the option of running a second hose directly to the dust extractor (with its own blast gate).

I still haven’t fired the machine up yet – there is still a bit of setting up I need to do, and I’d rather get it right than rushed.

Drum Sander

Drum Sander

I haven’t even begun looking at the drum sander!  I have one option of keeping it very low, and storing under the tablesaw wing, but if I can find a better location, that will be preferable.

So once again, chaos reins.  And a fullscale game of tetris progresses once again.

Drill Press Table Drawer

When I first added the Pro Drill Press Table, I found I had a (minor) issue with the height winding handle hitting the tabletop (or having to mount the top further out from the main upright than I wanted).  My solution was pretty simple – I placed some spacers under the table to raise it up above the handle.

Effective? Yes.  Elegant? No.

Michael (who is loosely affiliated with Professional Woodworkers Supplies (who supply the Pro Table)) saw my solution, and came up with one that was blindingly obvious – instead of boring (and useless) spacers, why not put a drawer in there?

Once I had finished kicking myself, there was no question but to do the same to my table.  After all, the extra storage for all the drill bits, clamps, keys etc was something I desperately needed.

I have documented the build in a video, but here are a couple of photos of the resulting unit, made from melamine, and pockethole joined together.

Drill Press Table Drawer

Drill Press Table Drawer

The video shows a 2 drawer unit, but once I had put it in place, I decided that it was just too high, and so cut it down to a single drawer.  One of the benefits of the pockethole joints is not only are they very strong, they are very easy to disassemble too.  You can’t actually see them in these photos – with the caps in place they have blended in a bit too well!

You can see the drawer unit sits forward of the back of the Pro Table – this is to give the handle the space it needs.  At some stage, I’m very tempted to extend the handle to make for easier access.

Talking of handles, the drawer handle was chosen very specifically.  Because I work up against the unit occasionally, and especially when moving past the drill press, I wanted a handle that was unlikely to catch on clothing etc. And it looks the part. (And because it attaches with 2 screws, it is more able to cope with a heavy drawer).



No sooner had the drawer been built, than it started filling with drilling paraphernalia.

At least now it is all in one place, and easy to find.

(Yes, that is a set of Triton drill bits you can see.  Bit of a collector’s item these days, along with the Triton countersink.  What – never heard of a Triton countersink?  I have one.  And some Triton branded carpenter’s pencils!)

A Question on Drill Presses

It was a good question posed in a recent comment, so thought I’d post the response here.  The issue experienced (and I’ve had it as well, as have many others I’m sure), is the morse taper that holds the chuck of the drill press falling out. (The other benefit of posting the answer here, is it then is a post about drill presses that I’ve apparently been somewhat remiss in my coverage 😉 )

My first solution in this case, is to wind the jaws fully into the chuck (so they don’t get damaged), then tap the base of the chuck with a wooden mallet to drive the taper tight.

Over time, if there is any slippage, the taper can become rather polished, so rubbing a bit of chalk on it, then tapping the taper home can help dramatically.

Getting more involved, you can coat the taper with Engineering Blue, push the taper home, remove it and see where contact is being made.  If there are  few high spots, you can carefully polish them down with a bit of wet & dry sandpaper.

If the contact area is very poor (and that would be an obvious reason why a taper just won’t stay put), you can get a morse taper reamer for about $A40 or so.  Given it is pretty much a 1-use tool (you really are unlikely to ever need it again!), it is debatable whether it is worth going this far.

Finally, I’d recommend staying away from Loctite – it makes removal when required very nasty (needing heat etc).  I also would stay away from deliberately roughing up the surfaces.

I wouldn’t be against using a touch (as in a single small drop) of Cyanoacrylate (aka SuperGlue).  The reason is – it is a very brittle adhesive, so when the taper needs to be removed (assuming you have one with a slot higher up to use a wedge and hammer to remove the taper), the glue will fail under impact loading (hammer!), can be removed with a solvent, and does not permanently damage the metal surfaces.

So there are some options – hopefully one poses a good fit 🙂 (pun intended!)

Runnin’ Just to Stand Still

Lyrics by U2, reenactment by the entire planet these days it seems.  When did life get so busy?  Must be Christmas time again (and again and again – it’s almost like Groundhog Day).

Doing some rearrangement – trying out some different equipment layouts, primarily based around the new dust extractor.  Ran it for quite a while today (while it was still in the main shed), and although the noise is less than it seemed at midnight the other day, I still decided it would be better in the lower shed (the 3×3 that is next to the main workshop).  After clearing out all the pipework of the cholesterol that was building up (restricting the pipe diameter, and made up of heavy wood shavings, concrete dust, and who knows what else!), and particularly clearing some blockages where the original GMC dust extractor had not coped, and the pipe had blocked fully, I then got to try some different variations to see what worked better.

Firstly, different machines produce different types of dust & shavings (obviously). The jointer/planer and planer/thicknesser produces quite a long chip, that easily matts into a blockage, particularly given the rate that these machines shave the wood down.  Not sure what I will come up for these machines – difficult.  The shavings are also a problem even when they reach the dust extractor – more on that in a sec.

The tablesaw produces a much finer version, and a lot of dust, and given the much lower rate of production seems relatively easy to clear.  The bandsaw is even easier, primarily producing a fine dust.  The sanders are obvious, and easy.  The router table – finer than the tablesaw, coarser than the bandsaw, and although can produce a lot of particulate quickly (depending on how heavy a pass you are doing), a good flowrate will cope.

The real problem child, and who would have predicted this: the drill press.  Specifically when using a large diameter forstner bit.  The shavings are circular, and large (as large as the cutter’s internal diameter), and although they are pretty light and suck up ok, they are a distinct problem at the dust extractor.  Simply, they catch on the chip guards before the impellor, and almost immediately block the entire pipe.  Not dissimilar to one of the problems with the jointer, although that also has an issue with the shear quantity produced.

The solution for the jointer is easy enough – get a spiral head.  Unfortunately, the cost involved is very high, as nice as the finish can be from this type of cutter. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to bring you some first hand experience, but until then we will all have to look at this gold-plated solution with envy.  Otherwise, there is little option but to slow down!

For the forstner bits, the solution may have to be to turn the dust extractor off, and resort to dust pan and brush.

The next thing I looked at was flow rate at each of the machines.  It isn’t overly high, but that was the compromise – I can’t afford a 3HP machine – both the cost of the machine itself, as well as the power supply requirement.  So the 2Hp machine will have to do, and just accept the lower flow rate.  I tried it with my original 1st stage collector (documented here a few months ago), as that would have been ideal for the shavings collection before clogging the infeed to the extractor, but the flow rate dropped off way too much with that inline.  I might work further on that problem – perhaps a form of mini cyclone for the heaviest chips or something.  Pity – would have been good on a number of levels.

I also tried leaving off the pleated filter, so relying purely on the 1st stage chip collector, but there was little perceived difference in flowrate.  I guess this is a good thing – shows the pleated filter does not have too much of a detrimental effect on the dust extractor’s performance.

So that is about as far as I got – the pipes are cleared, the new extractor is sitting where the old one had been, and the infeed is connected directly to it.  Now all I need to do is work out some form of remote starter, so I can start and stop the extractor from the main shed.  It isn’t a matter of simply turning the power on or off, as the switch on the motor does not reengage when power is restored.  I might have to resort to a mechanical solution- a couple of long sticks through the shed wall!

Tacking on a Laser

In recent times, it has become quite a fad to take a tool and whack a laser into it as if that will make it a better tool.  For some tools, this is just plain silly – a jigsaw with a laser for example makes a mockery of a potentially quality tool.  Some tools (like jigsaws, bandsaws etc) track (cut at an angle) – that is their nature, and there are a variety of reasons why that is so.  What it means though is they will never follow a laserline, so it is pointless having one.

However, and this is a big HOWEVER!, there are tools that can really benefit from the use of a laser to not so much improve their accuracy (although this can be the case) but to significantly improve their ease of use.  The drill press is definitely a tool that falls into this category.  Of course, you don’t need a laser to make accurate use of the tool – I’m certainly not claiming that, but I had a job just recently where I wished I had a laser positioner on the drill press.  I was using a forstner bit, and I wanted it to be precisely centred on a mark, and in the end I had to guess that I was close enough.  I’d rather not have to guess!

Now you don’t have to go out and buy a new drill press (and really, there are not many that come with a built-in laser).  Instead, there is a very easy retro-fit that takes a whole 15 minutes to accurately fit and align. The unit comes from Professional Woodworkers Supplies and costs $140.  It is powered by a single 9v battery.

Now I know that all sound like a typical sales review, but I do know there is a lot of resistance out there in certain corners to lasers in woodworking, and the inappropriate implementation in some instances has tainted the technology in other areas, so I wanted to justify the viewpoint.

Laser Kit Components

Laser Kit Components

The kit comes with the laser module, a couple of different size hose clamps (for different size drill press posts), a hex key, an alignment bar, and some easy-to-follow instructions.

Fitting the Hose Clamp

Fitting the Hose Clamp

The hose clamp feeds through a couple of slots in the back of the unit, the V shape of the unit means it centres on the drill press post when the clamp is tightened.

The two lasers are adjustable to ensure they are vertical, and also so they meet at a specific point.

Laser Mounted to Drill Press Post

Laser Mounted to Drill Press Post

Laser mounted.  It is completely out of the way, so will not interfere with drill press operation when the laser is not required, and the retro-fit is completely reversable.

Laser in Operation

Laser in Operation

It’s a bit hard to see in the photo (the camera doesn’t see the laser as easily as the eye), but the laser is now centred directly below the centrepoint of the drill chuck.  In this photo, you can also see the alignment bar mounted in the chuck.  It has a vertical slot cut for the first part of the laser alignment, and then the end point of the bar is used to mark a point that the lasers are aligned so they cross precisely at that point.

Total operation, including laser alignment was only 15 minutes (and that included following the laser alignment instructions and taking the photos!)

It is not something I will use for every hole, but it is going to be indespensible when I do need it and who know, I may find that I start using it every time I use the drill press!

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