The built-in tables that come on most drill presses are a bit undersized for woodworking and they lack a fence to help with drilling repetitive holes down a piece of wood. So since I had several piece of scrap MDF and a good bit of T-Molding left over from my previous workbench build, I thought now would be a good time to make a nicer table and a fence for my drill press.
Step 1: Cutting Parts for the Top and Inserts
The top started similar to the workbench top using a piece of 3/4” MDF for the bottom. But to avoid having to route the grooves for the T-track and the inserts, I instead cut individual pieces of 1/2” MDF to build up the top around the track and inserts.
Once I had all the pieces for the top cut to size, I went ahead and cut the three replaceable inserts as well. These are 5” x 5” pieces and are offset 1” to the left of the drill bit. They can be slid, rotated, and flipped around to get as much use as possible out of them before they have to be replaced.
Step 2: Preparing Center T-Track
Before the 1/2" pieces could be glued, I needed to cut a notch in one of the pieces to accept a short piece of T-track that would be used with a hold-down. I started by cutting the piece of the aluminum T-track to length with a hacksaw and used it as a guide to mark where to cut the notch. I then headed over to the band saw to make the cut.
Step 3: Gluing the Top Parts
Next, I started gluing and clamping the individual 1/2" thick top pieces. I used the T-track and inserts as spacers and to help align all the pieces. Once everything was glued down, I made sure to remove the track and inserts to prevent any squeeze-out from gluing them into place as well. Then I added a little more weight to the top and waited for the glue to dry.
Step 4: Quick Note on T-Track Brand Differences
One thing I did want to mention was the variety in height between different brands of T-track. The gold colored T-track that I used is by INCRA and is just under 1/2” high which makes it work well with 1/2” MDF. The blue track is by Rockler and is about 3/8” tall as is the gray track from Taylor Toolworks. It’s just something to keep in mind if you make the top using thinner plywood that isn’t exactly 1/2” thick.
Also, note that the hole spacing varies between brands. The INCRA track has holes spaced every 3”, while Rockler’s has holes every 4”, and the Taylor Toolworks’ holes are spaced every 6”.
Step 5: Rounding the Corners
Once the glue dried on the top pieces, I used a quart can to trace a curve on the front two corners. I then used a jigsaw to cut the corners off and sanded them down smooth making sure they were still square to the top surface.
Step 6: Installing the T-Molding
To install the 1.25” T-molding, I started at the back left corner and worked my way around the top using a bit of wood glue. To make it easier to bend the molding around the corners, I cut three or four small notches in the molding’s tongue. I then used small strips of painters tape as clamps to hold the molding tight against the edge while the glue dried.
To get the molding as tight as possible along the center, I clamped one of the inserts in place and then used tape to pull the molding tight against it.
The next day I came back and cut the excess T-molding off with a sharp knife.
Step 7: Applying a Coat of Boiled Linseed Oil
Once the T-Molding was finished I applied a quick coat of boiled linseed oil to the entire table (top and bottom). One coat won't do very much to protect it, but it does darken it a bit which makes it a little nicer to look at.
Step 8: Attaching the Table (Back and Left Cleats)
Next, it was time to secure the new table to the drill press table. I started by making two 1/2” thick cleats out of 1/2” thick MDF. I then glued and screwed one of the cleats along the back of the bottom of the new table.
After centering the table on the drill press, I marked the location of the left cleat and then glued and screwed it on as well.
Step 9: Attaching the Table (Front and Right Cleats)
For the front and right sides, I cut 1-1/4” tall cleats out of 3/4” MDF and counterbored and drilled a hole for a T-nut in the center of each. Then I marked the location of each cleat on the bottom of the table and predrilled holes in both the cleat and table bottom. Since the screws would be going into the edge of the MDF, I attached each cleat using two long cabinet screws (flat head screws) to keep the MDF from splitting. I also made sure that the T-nut was facing inwards so that it would not get pushed out later by the thumbscrew.
With that completed, the new table can be secured to the drill press using a pair of thumbscrews. This also makes it very easy to remove the table later if need be. Note that original drill press tables will vary by manufacturer, so a pair of toggle clamps may work better in some cases.
Step 10: Cutting Parts for the Fence
Next, up was the fence. I started by cutting a piece of 1/2” and 3/4” MDF to length at the miter saw and then ripped the 1/2” MDF into two pieces and the 3/4” into a single piece at the table saw.
To keep the drill press chuck bumping into the fence, I then cut a groove in the top center of the front 1/2” and 3/4” pieces at the band saw.
Step 11: Assembling the Fence
The idea for assembling the fence was to use a 1/2” piece for the bottom, and then a shorter 3/4” piece on top of that which would hold a piece of T-Track. The 2nd piece of 1/2” MDF would then be glued onto the front just to create a smooth surface. Once I had all the parts cut to size I just glued and clamped the 3/4” piece in place. Note that it is important that the surface the fence bottom is clamped to is flat so that it will not bow the fence.
While the glue was drying I measured and cut the T-track pieces for the fence. I then predrilled and screwed them into place. Once that was done, I glued the front piece of 1/2” MDF into place making sure the top was flush with the top of the T-track.
Step 12: Attaching the Fence
Once the glue dried on the fence, I then clamped it square across the table to locate holes that would be used to attach the fence to bolts in the T-track. After finding a good location where the knobs would be easy to turn, I drilled a hole on either side of the bottom of the fence.
Since the star knobs that I was using had plastic lock washers, I needed to ream the washer out with a flat-head screwdriver so that the bolt would thread easily.
Step 13: Applying Polyurethane Finish
Before installing the last of the T-track, I went ahead and applied a few coats of wipe-on polyurethane to the table and fence with a little light sanding between coats.
Step 14: Installing the T-Track
Finally, it was time to install the remaining T-track. I used a little super glue first and then tapped the track into place. I then predrilled and screwed the track down.
Step 15: Making a Stop Block
Since I had several small scraps left over I went ahead and made a movable stop for the fence using the band saw. For this, I just cut a 3/4” and 1/2” piece of MDF, clamped the two in an “L” shape and screwed the two pieces together. Then I drilled a hole for another bolt and star knob to finish everything up.
Step 16: Guideline for Repetitive Drilling, Hold Downs, and Dust Collection
After using it a few times already, I think the table and fence will come in very handy. And having a vertical line marked on the center of the fence definitely helps when making repetitive holes down the edge of a workpiece.
I did also order a hold down clamp to use in the T-track and it seems to work very well so far to secure pieces of wood to the table.
As far as dust collection goes, I decided to keep things simple for now. The hold-down can be used to easily secure the shop vac hose in place, so I’ll probably buy or build a dedicated hold-down for that soon.
Step 17: Finishing Up
Well, that wraps up this build! Be sure to check out our other Instructables and our website (AroundhomeDIY.com) as well. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please leave them below!
Step 18: Parts and Materials
Step 19: Tools Used
Step 20: Plans
Free SketchUp and PDF plans for this project can be found at our website: AroundHomeDIY.com