5 Drill Press Hacks You Should Know

A drill press is a useful and simple tool.
The motor operates a belt that spins the chuck. This allows you to drill exact holes in theory.
However, there are always helpful tips that might make using a power tool easier or more efficient. It’s the same with the drill press.
That is why you’ll need to know the following DIY drill press hacks to get the most out of your drill press:

  • Adjust the drill press table for perfect perpendicularity
  • Install a magnetic bar to stick your chuck key on
  • A drill press hack to use a hole saw more efficiently
  • Adjust belt tension for best performance
  • Make an improvised drill press vise with a clamp

If you follow the drill press tips and tricks in this article, you’ll be able to get the most out of your drill press.
They’re simple drill press techniques that can be completed quickly with tools or supplies you probably already own. In the sections below, you can learn more about them.

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

Drill press hacks #1: Adjust the drill press table for perfect perpendicularity

The first one of the drill press tips you need to know is the perpendicularity of the drill press table.
Only if the table is absolutely perpendicular to the spindle can a drill press drill perfectly straight holes. You can use a digital gauge for this, although it may not be accurate enough in some circumstances.

You may, however, make the drill press table perfect with a simple trick.
All you’ll need is a piece of metal wire for this. I use an old file for this. Because of its stiffness, this gives me the most reliable results.

5 drill press hacks you should know
5 drill press hacks you should knowOld file to measure the squareness of the drill press table

Make a 30-degree bend in this metal wire about 2 inches (about 5 cm) from the end. Tension the wire’s short end into the chuck and rotate it so that the wire’s end faces one side of the table.

Cut the metal wire to a length that reaches the table’s exterior edges.

5 drill press hacks you should know
5 drill press hacks you should know – 1st step in measuring the squareness of the drill press table

Raise the table till the wire just contacts the drill press table’s surface, then lock it.

5 drill press hacks you should know
5 drill press hacks you should know – 2nd step in measuring the squareness of the drill press table

Now manually rotate the chuck to the opposite edge of the table. When the wire comes up to the table, it is perfectly level. If not, adjust the tilt of the table until the rod touches both edges evenly.

Ebook part 1 woodworking basics

Drill press hacks #2: Install a magnetic bar

If you always lose the chuck key, then this tip is definitely for you.
In the beginning, when I had my drill press, I sometimes spent minutes looking for this chuck key, which resulted in a lot of wasted time.

Then my solution was to make a small hook with metal wire on this key and to hook it to the drill press. This was a better solution, but certainly not perfect. Unhooking and hooking up this chuck key is sometimes quite a hassle, and I have often hurt myself to the homemade hook.

The ideal solution for this is a magnetic rod that you can mount on top of the drill press. This is a great upgrade as you can just grab the chuck key from the magnet and stick it back on without any hassle. By mounting the magnet on top of the drill press, the key is never in the way when you want to drill. Maybe this one will be one of the most simple drill press tips, but useful for many people.

However, make sure that you always use strong magnets so that the key does not come loose due to the vibrations.

MIKEDE Neodymium Bar Magnets, Strong Permanent Rare Earth Magnets with Double-Sided Adhesive

Check out more details and prices of this product by clicking the link below.

Drill press hacks #3: Reposition the hole saw to drill faster

The hole saw is one of the most often used drills in my drill press machine. This drill is ideal for drilling large holes as well as producing little discs.

This type of drill, however, has a disadvantage.
When you drill in the middle of a piece of wood, sawdust clogs the hole saw, the drill bit heats up and becomes dull more quickly, and the wood burns.

5 drill press hacks you should know
5 drill press hacks you should know Reposition the hole saw to drill faster

This is a suggestion that may not be applicable in all situations, but when possible, set the hole saw right on the wood’s edge. The sawdust has an escape channel since the side of the hole saw extends just outside the wood. As a result, the risk of clogging is greatly reduced, as is the risk of burning the wood, and you can work much more quickly.

The only disadvantage associated with this is that the sawdust flies off at a high speed and makes a mess. So, be sure to install a dust extraction system and always wear a mask.

More on how to control dust in your workshop can be found in my article, “How To Deal With Dust In A Woodworking Workshop | 5 Effective Ways

Drill press hacks #4: Adjust belt tension for best performance

Check the belt tension after changing the speed or if your drill press has excessive vibration.

When you press the center of the belt with your finger, the belt should not deflect more than 1/2 inch (12 mm).

To adjust the tension, loosen the motor lock, move the motor forward or backward, and retighten the lock. Some drill presses have a tension adjustment lever to move the motor.

In addition to avoiding vibrations, the correct tension of the belt is also important to prevent slipping or combustion of the engine and to always be able to provide the drill with the set speed.

You change the speed by changing the belt position on the pulleys under the top cover. To change the belt positions, you must first unlock the motor lock to take the tension off the belts.

After adjusting the correct speed, it is therefore always important to check the tension on the belt with the above tip.
To set the correct speed for the type of drill you are using, be sure to check out my article, “what drill press speed should I use”.

Drill press hacks #5: No drill vise? No problem!

The final drill press hack on this list has to do with your safety. Many accidents happen with a drill press every year. This is something I discussed earlier in this article: “Drill Press Accidents Happen Every Day: 9 Tips To Stay Safe”. Make sure you read it to avoid any accidents.

The drill grabbing the workpiece and spinning with it is one of the most typical accidents. Because of the speed and force with which the workpiece rotates, significant injuries such as broken fingers or worse might occur.

A drill press vise can be used to avoid this. However, this isn’t something that everyone has. If this is not the case, there is a very simple solution.

5 drill press hacks you should know
5 drill press hacks you should knowUse a clamp as an alternative to a drill press vise

Clamp the workpiece between the jaws of a woodworking clamp you have in your workshop.

The bar of the clamp can be used as a handle and because of its length you have perfect control over the workpiece, even if the drill grabs the workpiece.

If you don’t have a drill press vise, you can make your own. Take a look at this article, “How To Make An Easy DIY Tilting Angle Drill Press Vise”. In that article, I explain step by step how to make a drill press vise, and you can download free plans that can help you build.
Be sure to watch this video where you can see how to build a drill press vise.

If you don’t have the time or materials to build your own drill press vise, you can always buy one. To find the perfect drill press vise, go to my comparison article Best Drill Press Vise For Woodworking (My Honest Opinion).

Drill press hacks conclusion

A drill press is a must-have tool in every woodworking shop, and I strongly advise every new woodworker to invest in one. They are a significant investment, but if properly cared for, they will last many years, if not a lifetime.

The more you utilize a drill press, the more you’ll appreciate its versatility. With the drill press hacks in this article, you can get more out of your drill press. If you employ them, you might uncover new drill press tips. If this is the case, please contact me using the contact page of my website and let me know. I keep track of everything, and if it applies to one of my videos or articles, I’ll make sure to mention it.

If you want to know more about drill press uses next to these drill press tips, then you should check out this article: What is a drill press used for? (7 steps to better results)

The Ultimate workshop free e book

Building your workshop can be daunting, filled with trial and error. Believe me, I’ve been there too.
But it was “The Ultimate Small Workshop” course, a gem I discovered and now endorse on Christofix.com, that provided insights unparalleled to any other. This expertise empowered me to invest wisely and save substantially.

I really suggest it to all of my fellow DIYers and creators!

I hope these drill press hacks were helpful, and that this blog inspires you.

Feel free to share this blog on Facebook, Pinterest, or other social media.
You can do this by using the buttons below or at the top of the blog.
It will be much appreciated.

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon in another blog or video.

Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration

Logo on bottom of blogpost