Have you ever wondered what the slots in the bench or pedestal drill’s base are for while using your drill press? You’re not alone, after all! Many people are unaware of these drill press slots’ functions! I assure you that they serve a useful role, but what are the slots in a drill press base for?
The slots that you find in the base of a drill press are called t-slots. These drill press slots are for your safety as well as for connecting longer workpieces that won’t fit between the table and the quill of connect your drill press vise to.
I’ll examine these drill press slots and what are the slots in a drill press base for in more detail in this article. Once you know why and how to utilize them, you can use your drill press in ways you probably never thought were possible.
Just to clarify what we are talking about
What are T-slots?
Let me explain what it’s about for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about. You may likely notice two or more slots on the drill press’s base if you stand in front of it and look down to your workstation. There should be a wider hole at the end of each of these slots to accommodate the T-bolts.
What are T-bolts?
A T-bolt is a bolt with a T-shaped head, made to fit in a T-shaped slot. Its T-shaped head prevents the bolt from spinning in the slot when tightened. A T-bolt usually also has a thinner head than regular bolts so that it can be easily and quickly installed in slots.
In the case of the drill press, the t-bolts go through the larger holes and slide them under the table or base. By attaching a nut to the screw thread you can secure your workpiece. These bolts can also be used on T-track rails on your workbench, table saw and so much more.
These slots are only for clamping items to the baseplate. DO NOT use these slots to screw the drill press to the floor or your workbench. Making a connection with a solid surface at this location can cause the base to crack.
What Are the Slots in a Drill Press Base For
T-slots are actually highly handy in drill presses, but many people have never utilized them. T-bolts fit into the cavity beneath these slots, but if used improperly, they risk cracking. Even though you might not utilize them frequently, being aware of these slots might lead to a wide range of opportunities. So, what are the slots in a drill press base for? You will discover it in detail below.
The use of the drill press slots in the base of a drill press is mainly to clamp heavy work or large parts so that you can secure the work in a very efficient way while drilling. If the workpiece is too large to fit between the table and the quill, you can swing the table away and use the base as a table. However, make sure that the drill point is perfectly centered with the center of the foot.
Personally, I’ve used this several times while working in my workshop, but I’ll be honest, for the type of work I do, however, this is a small percentage of all the drilling jobs I do.
I myself have a smaller model of a drill press. So the times that I have to swing the table away will be greater than if you have a larger model, where the base is just too far from the drill. The larger the drill press model you have in your workshop, the less likely it will be that you will need the drill press slots in the foot.
The idea is that if you need to drill into the end of a very tall or long object, you can clamp this part to the machined base of the drill thanks to the t-slots, allowing for drilling. The drill press table is pivoted out of the way, providing the maximum possible clearance between the shank and mounting surface.
Holding your drill press vise
To be able to drill large pieces, you can clamp them in the t-slots. But what if the object is shaped in such a way that you cannot clamp it, for example, if you want to drill a hole in the front side of a table leg, what then?
Well, then you can use your drill press vise and fix it in the t-slots. That way you can still clamp the object and because the drill press vise is clamped to the base, the object in which you have to drill cannot move. Handy, isn’t it?
To secure your drill press vise to the base, and proceed in the same manner as if you were clamping the table. Did you know it’s easy to construct your own drill press vise? You can see how I built my own drill press vise in the video down below. I can tilt this vise up to 45 degrees, which makes it advantageous for drilling slanted holes. For FREE PLANS, see my article How To Make A Simple DIY Tilting Angle Drill Press Vise.
T-slots are there to clamp things and drill perfect holes, but they’re more than that. T-slots are also a common safety feature on the base of drill presses.
T-slots are also used on drill presses to securely hold large workpieces that may not fit between the table and shank. This allows you to drill without worrying that your workpiece will accidentally fall or slip and hurt you.
A drill press can reach great speeds and is therefore quite a dangerous machine. Proper clamping of workpieces is one of the basic requirements for safe work. Also, read my article, Drill Press Accidents Happen Every Day: 9 Tips To Stay Safe, and learn the safest way to get started with this tool.
What are the slots in a drill press base for – final toughts
T-slots in the base of your drill press are not only there to secure your workpiece or drill press vise when you want to machine larger pieces, it is also an important safety feature. Even though you may use these slots to a lesser extent, understanding their purpose opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
But be careful and use these slots for what they are really intended for. So NEVER use them to fix the drill press to the floor or workbench. The holes in these slots can crack or peel if misused.
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