Router Woodworking

Drill press holding jig

Accurate drilling requires the work to be isolated, indexed to the quill, and immobilized. This is just about pinning the work to the table and keeping it there whilst being drilled. An accurate press, sharp drills, a flat table, precise fixturing and well prepared stock are your minimum openers.
There are 12 directions of freedom for any work piece. We have to account for all of them. The work can move left/right, up/down, in/out, and it can rotate, CC/CCW, about its 3 axes. This holds true for its fixturing too! So, in spite of locking the work up, it can still move if its fixturing slips. Moreover, shapes other than solid rectangles, have additional & special holding issues. Here, I address holding a solid cylinder and drilling through its diameter. Indexing and material prep are left to the reader, just as the many criticalities on how to use Windows & Photoshop are.

The numbered photo will guide us through the procedure. If you want the hyper detail and practice of the entire process consider signing up for some one-on-one instruction.

The work holder (4) has been carefully milled and drilled to accept .50" round stock. The work (5) is inserted in the holder and pinned with 2 set screws; it won't rotate. The holder (now a secondary reference) is placed against the fence (6) and slid against the left hand adjustable stop (1). Its work edges are squared for left or right handed apps. At this point the hold-in (2) is pressed against the work and locked. Next, the right end stop (3) is slid against the work and fixed. At last, the 200 pound toggle (7) clamps the work down. These toggles have a tendency to pull the work away from its nest, so we apply it last, whence the work is locked up.

Now we've got the work held fast for moderate, small hole drilling. Poke a 1" hole though a small workpiece and better restraint may be called for. Yes, a hell of a lot of work went into the fixturing and the process but it is very likely the hole will be drilled well and the work won't spin away. Moreover, it takes only seconds to un-set the toggle, hold-in and right end stop, load the next part and immobilize it. Not a production setting, mind you, but acceptable for short run or experimental work, (model making, e.g.).
Items 8,9, & 10 (unlike the 36 color options for your task bars) make life at the drill press a little more fun/easy. The walnut drill caddy (8) also has a 4" steel disc screwed to it to accept the magnetic base of a 75W halogen lamp. And the precision pin (9) in the Albrecht Keyless chuck (10) aid & abet the quick and accurate indexing of the work, fence and stops; what could be more practical?


  1. All of the aluminum fixturing was routed to size with ordinary household routers and semi-ordinary fixturing and cutters. You don't necessarily need a metal machine shop to arrive at the drill scene and drill well.
  2. For Drill press repair or rebuilt presses contact: Jon Chandler at

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Copyright © 2010 Pat Warner
Last modified: Fri Jul 23 16:14:03 PDT 2010