If you have a drill press or a drill press stand in your workshop a drill press vise (drill press vice) is almost a necessity. A drill press vise is a piece of equipment that holds and secures a workpiece tightly between its jaws so that the material remains in place and does not move during drilling.
A drill press vise is typically attached to a drill press table by using bolts or clamps. From an operational point of view, it is more convenient to use clamps since they provide more freedom when moving the vise unless a permanent fix is required which is secured by bolts.
In any case, it is important to securely mount the drill press vise to the drill press table to avoid and prevent any potential injury. A drill press vise finds its application mainly in drilling small workpieces and provides greater precision when drilling.
Drill press vices come in different sizes. Their use mainly depends on the size of the drill press table and the type of operation. In this blog post, I am building an 8-inch wooden drill press vice. This size is sufficient for general use and can be mounted to the majority of drill press tables.
When it comes to woodworking it is better to use a wooden drill press vise instead of a metal one. Accumulated dirt and other impurities from the metal vise tend to get into the wood and devaluate the workpiece. There are multiple different ways how to make a wooden drill press vise. I chose a fairly simple one that can be followed even by woodworking beginners.
The drill press vise is made of plywood, MDF, and the spindle from a threaded rod and a t-nut. All material is easily available in local stores.
RELATED: A drill press vise goes hand in hand with a drill press. Check this simple homemade drill press table for a drill press. It is really easy to make and quite a helper in the workshop. Or check out these simple woodworking projects for your inspiration.
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Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- General Questions
- How to attach a drill press vise to a drill press table?
- How does a drill press vise work?
- How to Make a Drill Press Vise
- Step 1: Make the vise base
- Step 2: Cut the vise jaws
- Step 3: Fix the jaws to the base
- Step 4: Make a handle
- Step 5: Assemble the moving jaw
- Step 6: Add a moving guide
- Step 7: Finished drill press vise
- How to Use a Drill Press Vise
- Drill Press Vise Video
- Woodworking jigs used
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool. Avoiding these circular saw mistakes will help you work with a circular saw more safely and effectively.
What you'll need to make a Wooden Drill Press Vise
Drill Press Vise:
Plywood – 20cm x 10cm x 1,2cm (7,8 x 3,93 x 0,47″)
MDF – 20cm x 14cm x 0,6cm (7,8 x 5,51 x 0,23″)
3x Plywood – 2,5cm x 10cm x 2,4cm (0,98 x 3,93 x 0,94″)
Drill Press Vise Spindle:
Threaded rod – ø6mm, 20cm
M6 T-nut, 2x M6 Nut
Washers – 1x ø20mm, 1x ø15mm
MDF – 2,7cm x 2,5 x 0,5mm
Plywood – 2cm x 2,5cm x 1,2cm
Drill bit – 2mm, 6mm, 7,5mm
Forstner bit – 20mm, 15mm
Hold down knob/bolt
Drill Press (hand drill)
How to attach a drill press vise to a drill press table?
When working with a drill press and a drill press vise it is essential to make sure that the vise doesn’t move during work and that it remains completely still. This is important not only in terms of work accuracy and precision but also in terms of safety. Safety comes first!
There are two ways how to attach a drill press vise to a drill press table. The first is to use hold-down clamps, and the second is to use bolts.
- Clamps – Attaching a drill press vise to a drill press table with clamps is quick and easy. They provide more freedom when moving and adjusting the vise compared to bolts. From an operational perspective, it is more convenient to use clamps.
- Bolts – Drill press vises come with predrilled slots that are used when attaching a vise with bolts. It is an ideal solution when a permanent fix is required. Operating with bolts is less convenient than using clamps, though quick-release bolts can be used allowing for quicker and easier manipulation.
How does a drill press vise work?
A drill press vise consists of two main parts.
- Jaws – Two straight blocks, one of which is fixed to the base and the other pushed by a guiding rod that presses against the fixed one. Both pieces sit on a base that provides support from below.
- Handle – Turns the guiding rod and pushes the moving block forward using a spindle. When moving the spindle, the vise jaws press against each other fixing the workpiece in position.
Both the blocks that form the vise jaws need to be high enough (thick) to ensure proper fixation.
The drill press vise is made of 12mm plywood, and 6mm MDF, and the spindle is from a 6mm threaded rod and a t-nut. All material is easily available in local stores.
The vise can be attached to a drill press table either with screws or with clamps. I used a wooden knob as a handle, though a handle with a swivel joint at the end could be used as well.
Drill press vise parameters:
- 20cm long drill press vice (8-inch drill press vise)
- 10cm (4 inches) jaw capacity that can accommodate workpieces up to 12cm (4,7 inches) in length
- MDF base with 2 slots for easy installation
To build the vise you will need a circular saw and a hand drill. Additionally, you could use a router (as shown in the video to route a slot in the base) but it is not necessary and you could easily make the base by gluing the wood pieces together.
How to Make a DIY Drill Press Vise
Step 1: Make the vise base
1. Cut the wooden pieces
For the base you will need an MDF piece (20cm x 14cm x 0,6cm) and a plywood piece (20cm x 10cm x 1,2cm).
A table saw is the best tool to make the cuts but a circular saw will do just fine. To have an accurate straight cut you can use a circular saw track or a circular saw guide for crosscuts that will help you make more accurate 90-degree angle cuts.
2. Measure and cut the slots
Draw the slots on both pieces of wood and make the cut. It is easy to make the cuts with a router dado guide.
- The MDF piece is the bottom piece that has 3 slots – 2 on the sides for attaching the vise to a drill press table and 1 in the middle for the runner that guides the moving jaw.
- The plywood piece has 1 slot in the middle for the runner.
The MDF together with the plywood piece creates a t-track for the runner.
NOTE: As an alternative to a router, you can create the base by gluing several pieces together without routing a slot.
3. Assemble the vise base
Glue the pieces together so that they overlap on the central slot. Additionally, you can secure the pieces with screws. Make sure the screws are flush with the bottom of the vise base.
Step 2: Cut the vise jaws
Glue 2 pieces of plywood (12mm) on top of each other and cut the pieces to size (2,5cm x 10cm x 2,4cm). You will need 3 identical pieces. 2 pieces for the vise jaws, and 1 piece for the screw housing.
Sand the sides and make sure there are no gaps between the pieces and that the pieces are adjacent.
Drill a 20mm and a 15mm hole in the center of one of the wood pieces using Forstner bits. The depth should accommodate 2 washers and a 6mm hex nut.
Drill a 20mm and a 7,5mm hole in the center of another wood piece for a 6mm t-nut. There are a few ways how to install a t-nut. I am using a hold-down clamp but there are other ways you might find better.
Step 3: Fix the jaws to the base
First, glue the fixed jaw on the base. Then glue the screw housing and make sure the t-nut points inside the vise. Both pieces need to be square to the body of the vise and parallel to each other.
Secure the pieces with screws and make sure they are flush with the bottom of the vise base.
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Step 4: Make a handle
A wooden knob is used for the handle which is attached to a 6mm threaded rod. It is actually very easy to make a star knob with this knob jig.
Cut the threaded rod to size (20cm) and carve a hexagon into the wooden knob. Screw the threaded rod in the t-nut on the vise and mount a 20mm washer and the star knob on the rod.
Fix a hex nut on both ends of the threaded rod with epoxy and finish the handle by sliding the hex nut into the carved star knob.
NOTE: There are a few options for the handle. A swivel joint at the end of the threaded rod could be used as well, or a longer piece of wood making the handle longer or an additional hex nut can be added to the end of the rod for a quick grip/release. I made a star knob since I like how they look and given how easy it is to make one with this knob jig.
Step 5: Assemble the moving jaw
Clamp the moving jaw to the fixed jaw. Insert a 15mm washer in the drilled hole, apply epoxy and fix the 20mm washer to the moving jaw sealing the hex nut between the 2 washers.
Make sure the epoxy is not spilled in the hole and fixes only the 20mm washer.
When moving the spindle, the hex nut presses against the washer pushing the jaw forward. When moving the spindle backward, the hex nut captured by the 20mm washer pulls the jaw away.
Step 6: Add a moving guide
Cut 2 pieces of wood (MDF 0,5; Ply 1,2) for the moving guide. Round the edges and make sure they slide freely in the cut slots.
First, glue the plywood piece to the moving jaw and then the MDF piece to the plywood piece. Once the glue dries, secure the pieces additionally with screws.
The moving guide stays locked in the slot. When pushing the moving jaw, the guide makes sure the jaw is pushed straight and presses on the body of the vise all the time. That ensures a tight jaw grip.
Step 7: Finished drill press vise
And this is what the finished drill press vise looks like.
Making such a drill press vise is fairly easy. It doesn’t cost much (a couple of dollars only), you can use scraps you find around the shop and you will see that it really comes in handy. You’ll be able to drill more precisely and securely. This is a great addon for your drill press you can finish during a weekend.
How to Use a Drill Press Vise
The following steps briefly describe how to mount a drill press vise on a drill press table and how to use a drill press vise. Take extra care when attaching the vise to the table. It is important to mount the vise securely to prevent any injury or damage to the material.
- Mark the location of the borehole
- Open the drill press jaws and place the workpiece in the desired position
- Close the jaws by rotating the handle
- Make sure the workpiece is firmly held without any possibility of movement
- Attach the drill press vise on the drill press table either with screws or with clamps
- Make sure the vise is securely fixed to the table to avoid any injuries
- Set the drill bit to position and drill
- Use the right drill bits for the job. For different materials, different drill bits are needed.
- Place a sacrificial piece of wood under the workpiece – the holes will be cleaner with sharper edges.
- Depending on the type of material you can add painter’s tape to the top of the piece where you will drill. This also helps to end up with sharper edges.
- Drill slowly with multiple passes on the workpiece. Let the drill bit remove sawdust from the hole.
DIY Drill Press Vise Video
Watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to make a drill press vise or use a drill press vise.
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