Drill Press Laser Guide

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About: My hobbies are woodworking, electronics, programming, 3D printing and making sawdust with my CNC Router.

Battery operated 3D printed Drill Press Laser Guide for accurately locating the spot to drill.

Supplies:

Step 1: Parts

This project requires the following parts:

Step 2: 3D Printed Parts

I used Black PLA to print the parts. The total estimated print time on my Prusa Mk3 is 6 1/2 hours at 25% infill, and consumes about 34.5 meters of filament. The files for this project can be found at Drill Press Laser Guide at Thingiverse. I've included a Main Body model without holes on the front panel which will allow for more customization.

Step 3: Circuitry

The circuit, as seen above, centers around the Adafruit PowerBoost 500 Power Supply which boost the voltage of the Li-Ion battery from 3.7VDC to the desired 5VDC level for the Lasers.

This project would work fine with just the PowerBoost, Lasers, Switch and Battery, but I added circuitry to indicate a Low Battery via a Red LED. This circuit consist of the LED, A1015 Transistor and three resistors. Should the battery voltage drop below 3.2V the LB pin will drop to 0V and trigger the A1015 Transistor and light the LED. I built this circuit on a 25mm x 25mm proto circuit board, and used the circuit board to wire a common battery ground and positive voltage.

The PowerBoost board also has a pin labeled EN which provides an easy means of turning the Lasers ON and OFF. However, the Rocker Switch works the opposite of what would be expected. The Lasers are ON when the switch indicates OFF and vice versa.

An easier solution, as suggested by dumb_and_dumber, would be to use a 5 VDC cell phone charger and switch to power the lasers. Excellent suggestion!

Step 4: Assembly

Run the Laser wires through the Laser Holder lower front opening up through the center axial hole and out of the top of the threaded end of the Laser Holder as shown above. Use a 3mm screw to screw into hole located on the bottom of the Laser Holder to LIGHTLY secure the Laser. The red arrow points to the head of the screw LIGHTLY securing the Laser. Place the Laser Holder with Laser into the wide end of the tapered opening, and thread the wires through the Knurled Nut. Tighten the Nut to hold the Laser Holder. Run the wires in hole on top of the Main Body and into the Control Box area.

Connect the Laser wires to circuitry mentioned previously. The Lasers are wired in Parallel. Therefore, the two Red wires are connected together and to 5VDC of the PowerBoost, and the two Black wires are connected together and connected to ground.

Step 5: Calibration

Using a hose clamp, mount the Laser Guide to the column of the Drill Press. Be careful not to over tighten the Hose Clamp...it might crush the mounting supports. Visually center the guide with relation to the Quill of the Drill.

Turn the Laser Guide ON and adjust each Laser Holder toward the center work area of the Drill Press.

Take a piece of scrap wood with a straight square edge and draw a perpendicular line to the square edge with the aid of square. Stand the wood on the Drill Press table with the line facing the Lasers. Focus each Laser, and then rotate the body of each Laser until the line is parallel to the line drawn on the scrap wood. This may require you to loosen the screw on the bottom of each Laser Holder. Once the Laser lines align with the pencil line LIGHTLY tighten the screw.

Place a small drill into the chuck of the Drill Press. Secure a piece of wood to the table and mark the location of where the drill would penetrate the wood. Adjust each Laser Holder until the line intersects the mark you made. Now, tighten the Knurled Nuts on top of the Laser Holder and double check the alignment. You're finished.

Note:The cross-hairs will indicate where the drill bit will contact the work piece regardless of the table height. As seen in the illustration above, the laser lines form two vertically aligned intersecting planes where the intersection corresponds to the center line of the drill chuck.

2 People Made This Project!

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29 Discussions

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Louis1246

Question 4 months ago on Step 5

Could you please tell me where you got the rocker switch and laser? I've printed out everything and can't find a rocker switch to fit the 14.45 mm X 8.5 mm hole. Also the lasers I've looked at that are 12mm in diameter varying in length. I think this is a fantastic project and would love to be able to finish it. Thanks.

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sbkirbyLouis1246

Answer 4 months ago

I purchased the lasers at Aliexpress:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Red-Line-Laser-Module-5mW-650nm-Focus-Adjustable-Laser-Head-5V-Industrial-Grade/32915484279.html

The rocker switch was purchased at Banggood:
https://www.banggood.com/20pcs-250V-3A-Mini-Boat-Rocker-Switch-2-Pin-Plastic-Button-ONOff-SPST-p-1044250.html

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ichfrissdich

4 months ago

Since I own the Bosch Pdb 40 I don't need this. However well done project and instructable. Such a laser is very handy.

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burzurk

4 months ago

Be wary when cutting REFLECTIVE materials! GOOD Instructable.

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Gofish

4 months ago on Step 5

Given failing optics I can see one of these on my small pedestal drill. Nicely done.

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dumb_and_dumber

4 months ago

Great! In my opinion its very useful thing. Thumb up!
Question - why need amplifier? Can I energize lasers from +5V DC power supply?

1 reply
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sbkirbydumb_and_dumber

Reply 4 months ago

Absolutely, you can use any circuitry you wish to supplying 5 VDC to the lasers. I used the PowerBoost voltage regulator to boost my 3.7 VDC Li-Ion rechargeable battery to a 5 VDC output. The PowerBoost also provided low battery protection for Li-Ion battery. Your suggestion a 5 VDC cell phone charger is a simple and great idea.

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sbkirby

4 months ago

I've added an image to Step #5 which illustrates the principle of operation. The cross-hairs will indicate where the drill bit will contact the work piece regardless of the table height. As seen in the illustration, the laser lines form two vertically aligned intersecting planes where the intersection corresponds to the center line of the drill chuck.

Screenshot 2019-01-15 14.20.37.png
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MarcelS9sbkirby

Reply 4 months ago

Clever, really nice! I guess it would help if you posted a short video documenting the calibration process.

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throbscottle

4 months ago

Very clever using 2 lasers so cross is correct position at any table height.
I tried to make one of these for my PCB drill using a crosshair laser but of course it suffered from the exact problem of work-piece height (also laser beam can't be focussed fine enough for sub 1mm drills!)
Hats off to you!

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markjfixit

4 months ago

The vibration in my drill press would kill the alignment after the first hole lol

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peter.kocsis.77964

4 months ago

This will need constant adjusting depending on the drill bit length and table height. I don’t see the purpose when you can just lower the bit into a point previously scribed. Ideally the laser would have to shoot out the center of the drill bit which is impossible. This idea could be implemented on a circular saw or a mitre saw however.

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sbkirbypeter.kocsis.77964

Reply 4 months ago

The first calibration of the lasers is to align each laser lines (planes) vertically. The next step is to intersect these lines (planes) to the center line of the drill tip. These vertical intersecting planes (lines) are in the same spot regardless of the table height or distance from the chuck.
It's hard to beat how well this makes drilling holes with Forstner Bits (or other large tool) when the bit obscures the spot to drill.

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Starkey0417

4 months ago

This is a very cool thing.

These rude comments are terrible. If you don't think something will work, SKIP BY IT. No need for this negative B.S.

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yrralguthrie

4 months ago on Introduction

Not sure I see any purpose in this. Why not just lower the bit to the mark on the part to be drilled? No worry about alignment. The dot is going to be larger than a small drill to spot drill anyway. Remember if you want a precise hole you need to mark the spot, then use a punch to physically mark, then predrill and then drill. No purpose for the laser. The hole should already be marked with a punch before doing any drilling. Looks like a solution to a problem that wasn't a problem.

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sbkirbyyrralguthrie

Reply 4 months ago

The real advantage of the Laser Guides is when you're using a Forstner Bit, or Large Tool which obscures the spot you're drilling. If you're clamping something to the Drill Press table, this would help in the alignment of the work piece to drilling location.

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Looks to me like its only going to be calibrated for drilling surfaces that only have the same surface height as the piece that the lasers were calibrated with.