My beloved drill press is a Craftsman from the early 90s (I think) that I snagged on craigslist. It has served me well, but is very difficult to move. Top heavy and with a small base; even small shifts in position are precarious. I am going to need to move it a lot soon, so when woot had a Bora Portamate mobile base on sale I snatched it up. I was walking the drill press out of its corner to get the base installed when disaster struck.
I tried to control it on the way down, but once it got going there was no stopping it. I didn’t get hurt but the arm that holds the table broke off. I still had a drill bit installed in the chuck, and that is what kept the table from sliding further. It bent the drill bit, but the quill appears true. I stood it up and started it spinning. No wobble of any sort that I could see. With that established I gathered up the broken parts.
Maybe a quick visit to the local welding shop would have me set right? Apparently cast iron is very difficult to weld. They were not wild about trying, and wouldn’t guarantee me any of their work. Whelp…forget that. After being really bummed for a day or two, I decided I could build up my own top table top out of the scraps I had around. I gained enough confidence to install that mobile base. It floats like a dream now!
I started with a stout piece of oak drilled to match the table arm attachment point. A drill press would have been really useful there, but I managed without. From there I built out ribs that hold the top. I made sure everything was square with respect to the drill bit before screwing them in completely.
The table top will be done with two layers. The top will have a square cutout that holds a sacrificial drill insert, and the bottom has a hole so you can push up from the bottom to remove the insert. I printed a square guide to let me cut out a 2.75×2.75 inch hole for the insert. That new plunge router lets me do all sorts of cool things.
I routed some slots for a set of aluminum t-slot guides that hold the fence in place. The fence is just two pieces of the same plywood glued back to back. I cut a dozen of the center inserts. They all got an undercut chamfer to help keep dust from letting them sit level. This table is smaller than my last, but I feel it is more functional by far. It was a good recovery, and ultimately led me to making a better drill press table.