Fix for Dremel Workstation Drill Press When Using Carbide Drill Bits

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
Hello there,

I am hoping this helps the users of this nasty nasty drill press which many others have complained about. The complaint is that when using small carbide bits they break too easy using this machine. The reason is the movement is not precise enough for use with carbide bits that are small, on the order of #66 which is used for dip packages.

As many here probably already know, the Dremel Drill press is not the best tool for use when drilling PCB copper clad boards with carbide drill bits. It MAY work with high speed steel regular drill bits, but with carbide bits the motion has to be more precise. If there is any wobble the bit will break and then the next bit will break too, etc., so you would end up going through a lot of bits.

The problem i had was that the basket that holds the Dremel drill motor moves left and right by a good 1/16 of an inch or more, and that's not good when drilling because the bit then has the chore of keeping the whole movement in line with the hole. Since the bits can be very tiny like #75, that doesn't work and the bits break right off.

That was the problem i had and this is a fix for that problem. If you have a worn bearing or something else you would have to address that issue separately.

For this problem the solution was to first find a nut that would fit on the small shaft just to the right of the movement. It's about 6 inches long and about 1/4 inch in diameter or so. I got my drill press used so it looked like it was missing the nut on the bottom of that shaft. Yours may still have that nut, but if not, the first thing to do is find a nut that will fit and tighten it up snug. I would not go too tight though. This nut helps to keep that small shaft ridged on the side, so it does not sway at the bottom or top. It stays parallel to the downward travel axis. Without that nut the next fix will not work.

The next fix is to get a small wooden wedge about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide, and the wedge incline starts at about 3/16 inch and ends at about 1/8 inch. That means if you jam it between two objects it will wedge in there and stay put.
The idea is to jam this wedge at the bottom of that small shaft, just above the nut, between the shaft and the body of the part of the press that moves downward when you pull on the handle. It's the main part of the movement.
Once that is done, when you pull on the handle the small shaft now slides on the wedge and since it is tight in there it has very little wiggle room. As the sliding mechanism moves down, the small shaft keeps it from moving back and forth. That keeps the motion of the bit in a downward direction and no left to right swaying.

After i did this fix i had drilled several holes using some very small carbide drill bits. #66 which is good for dip packages, and #75 which has a really tiny diameter you may not even need that small of a bit. There was no indication at all that the bit would break, and after about 10 holes it was still working fine.

You may find some mods for this also like perhaps putting a little wax on the wedge after it is installed. I liked the slightly stiffened movement though it felt better that way when drilling.

The test is to try to drill some cardboard. If you drill a hole in a piece of cardboard that has a good, finished surface, you can look at the hole and make sure it is not bigger than the drill bit diameter, and make sure it is not oblong. If it is distorted then that means the dill bit is moving from side to side, front to back, or both which would mean it had some precession, which would enlarge the hole. Any of that would mean the bit could break when drilling. If that is still the case, you have to find out why. Sometimes it is due to the bit not being fit into the chuck properly when the chuck is tightened. This is especially true if you use a three-jaw chuck instead of a collet. A collet is probably a better option but i used a three-jaw chuck and i just had to make sure it was inserted and tightened properly and checked with the cardboard test.

To recap, the most important parts where the nut and the wedge. The nut was needed to tighten the shaft, and the wedge stopped the side-to-side motion. This meant that when the bit came down to the surface and through the board it stayed very much vertical and did not sway in any direction.

Another tip is to lower the bit slowly until it just gently touches the surface of the board, then proceed to gently drill through the board. It becomes easier as you do a few holes.

I also used a 1.6mm bit but those are so big in diameter it's much harder to break them. If you want to you can start with a larger bit like that and work your way down to the smallest you will need. The smallest you usually need for dip packages is the #66 bit.

Good luck with it.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
8,945
Been using a Dremel drill press for years for drilling PCBs and it has never broken a drill bit when drilling. I have broken several by accidentally hitting them when putting the PCB in place or removing it, but that is just carelessness on my part.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
Been using a Dremel drill press for years for drilling PCBs and it has never broken a drill bit when drilling. I have broken several by accidentally hitting them when putting the PCB in place or removing it, but that is just carelessness on my part.
Hi,

Do you use carbide bits that is the kind that break easy, but usually smaller sizes like #66 and especially #75. HSS don't usually break.
Also, what size carbide bits do you use.

Also, when did you purchase your Dremel drill press? It may only be a problem with the older units.
In any case, the one i got the movement was very loose and would rock back and forth, and a lot of people complained about that so maybe they did an upgrade to the thing for units after that.

If you do a search you will find sites where this is talked about in detail. That's how i found out what people might be doing to fix this. I found one site where they used a rubber band, but that did not seem like a very good fix to me i wanted something more exacting.
 

bassbindevil

Joined Jan 23, 2014
828
I've used various hobby drill presses with carbide bits, mainly with #68, but I've used smaller. My Sterling/Stichling was a bit sloppy, but I just held it steady while drilling. Currently I use one of the older rack-and-pinion Dremel drill presses which I've persuaded to work with newer Dremels by cutting a mounting plate out of 3/4" baltic birch plywood (one hole for the shaft, one for the Dremel, bolts and thumbnuts to tighten it).

I learned to be very careful with carbide bits after paying about $25 each for them back in the '80s. Later, I discovered a vendor who sold refurbished bits, then ebay.
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
9,803
I have had two Dremels which I used for pcb drilling. The first one (12V DC motor) was perfect - never broke a drill bit - and the second one (230V AC motor) got through carbide drills like they were going out of fashion.
My favourite pcb drill was an 1/8" collet die-grinder that worked off compressed air. Drilled pcbs beautifully, but the noise upset my colleagues as they thought it sounded too much like being at the dentist.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
I've used various hobby drill presses with carbide bits, mainly with #68, but I've used smaller. My Sterling/Stichling was a bit sloppy, but I just held it steady while drilling. Currently I use one of the older rack-and-pinion Dremel drill presses which I've persuaded to work with newer Dremels by cutting a mounting plate out of 3/4" baltic birch plywood (one hole for the shaft, one for the Dremel, bolts and thumbnuts to tighten it).

I learned to be very careful with carbide bits after paying about $25 each for them back in the '80s. Later, I discovered a vendor who sold refurbished bits, then ebay.

Hi,

Oh that's interesting too, i guess we have to come up with the fixes sometimes to get things to work right. I never thought about holding it steady i guess because i needed one hand on the lever and used the other hand to hold down the board and move it around for different hole locations.

I learned about the same way. One of my first carbide bits long ago, i dropped on a marble slab before i even got to use it. Broke the fluted part right off the shank. Man was i pissed. At the time i had no idea they could break so easy, and i didn't drop it from very high maybe just 2 inches if that. It was probably either #66 or #75, two of the sizes i used a lot back then.
One of the ones i broke off i used again after sharpening the stub that had remained. It was only about 4mm long but it could still go through a PCB board.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
I have had two Dremels which I used for pcb drilling. The first one (12V DC motor) was perfect - never broke a drill bit - and the second one (230V AC motor) got through carbide drills like they were going out of fashion.
My favourite pcb drill was an 1/8" collet die-grinder that worked off compressed air. Drilled pcbs beautifully, but the noise upset my colleagues as they thought it sounded too much like being at the dentist.
Hi,

Was that with a drill press or drilling by hand by simply holding the Dremel in hand while drilling?
I found it hard to drill by hand but i did it many times in the distant past. Have to be ultra careful with those bits doing it that way.
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
9,803
Hi,

Was that with a drill press or drilling by hand by simply holding the Dremel in hand while drilling?
I found it hard to drill by hand but i did it many times in the distant past. Have to be ultra careful with those bits doing it that way.
All in Dremel drill presses (even the die grinder). It was adapted to fit by wrapping a few layers on insulating tape around it to make up the difference in diameter. I think that the earlier Dremel drill presses were much better made.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,040
Don't know why Dremel doesn't make one but there are quite a few different designs and new ones all the time. Some are quite pricey and shabby as well. This is what I bought and have been happy with it. The geared handle allows easy and fluid operation and is adjustable for depth of stroke. Got it off eBay years ago for ~50USD. Nose piece unscrews from the Dremel tool. Slide Dremel through mount hole and use a threaded piece the press came with to tighten down and lock the Dremel in. I use a cordless model. Even drill glass with it (requires cooling water and diamond bit for glass). Got tired of using pin vise to drill with. I also have a plastic jawed table vise that I use to hold parts while I drill them.
1687239663487.png
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
9,803
Seeing that photo reminded me of how the two drill presses differed.
#1 (that worked very well) fixed the body of the dremel to the press with two metal loops.
#2 (that worked badly) only fixed the Demel with a big plastic nut above the chuck. The body of the motor was free to move.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,145
Don't know why Dremel doesn't make one...
That’s a clone of the venerable Dremel #212 Drill Press. I have the Dremel version and while I haven’t put a dial indicator on it, the play in the quill can’t be more than a few 1/100s of a mm. Unfortunately, the stand is specific to a tool generation and while I have older and newer tools, the right one for this became missing when we moved. I will have to replace it.

1687260153906.png
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,040
So Dremel does/did actually put their name on some drill presses. Interesting... Some of the designs are pretty bad but I like mine and so far it has done what I need it to. I've also peeked at pictures of a Harbor Freight "real" benchtop drill press they sell for ~80USD but haven't examined one yet. But my Office/Lab is crowded enough already with all my "good stuff" and I've run out of shelf/storage space. Now if I needed to use one every month...
1687263647739.png
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
Don't know why Dremel doesn't make one but there are quite a few different designs and new ones all the time. Some are quite pricey and shabby as well. This is what I bought and have been happy with it. The geared handle allows easy and fluid operation and is adjustable for depth of stroke. Got it off eBay years ago for ~50USD. Nose piece unscrews from the Dremel tool. Slide Dremel through mount hole and use a threaded piece the press came with to tighten down and lock the Dremel in. I use a cordless model. Even drill glass with it (requires cooling water and diamond bit for glass). Got tired of using pin vise to drill with. I also have a plastic jawed table vise that I use to hold parts while I drill them.
View attachment 296733
Hi,

Do you know who makes that one?
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
All in Dremel drill presses (even the die grinder). It was adapted to fit by wrapping a few layers on insulating tape around it to make up the difference in diameter. I think that the earlier Dremel drill presses were much better made.
Hi,

What part did you wrap tape around?
Oh so maybe the later made units are the ones that are not as good for this.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
That’s a clone of the venerable Dremel #212 Drill Press. I have the Dremel version and while I haven’t put a dial indicator on it, the play in the quill can’t be more than a few 1/100s of a mm. Unfortunately, the stand is specific to a tool generation and while I have older and newer tools, the right one for this became missing when we moved. I will have to replace it.

Hi,

I didn't realize they had different model number drill presses. That would be a big factor in how they work, good or bad.
Some of the documentation on Dremels seems to be lacking. I tried to find out if the nut at the bottom of the Dremel was always 3/4 inch and 12 TPI thread pitch, but there was nothing definite on the web. There are several models of Dremel drills and not sure if they all have that thread at the nose part. The shaft part is different of course, a smaller diameter with fine threads, but i was looking for the nose part that clamps the drill onto the drill press and other attachments.

Oh, does that one allow the drill body to rotate, like to a horizontal position?
 
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Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
9,803
Hi,

What part did you wrap tape around?
Oh so maybe the later made units are the ones that are not as good for this.
The tape was wrapped around the die grinder (which was cylindrical).
When my 12V DC Dremel's brushgear finally died, I got a 1/8" collet compressed-air die grinder. It was about 3mm less in diameter than the Dremel, so I built it up with tape so that I could fit it to the same press using the original hoop clamps.
It was a temporary fix, with the intention of getting a clamp the right size, but it stayed like that.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
The tape was wrapped around the die grinder (which was cylindrical).
When my 12V DC Dremel's brushgear finally died, I got a 1/8" collet compressed-air die grinder. It was about 3mm less in diameter than the Dremel, so I built it up with tape so that I could fit it to the same press using the original hoop clamps.
It was a temporary fix, with the intention of getting a clamp the right size, but it stayed like that.
Hi,

Oh i see, yeah that makes sense to do that.

I also forgot to mention that a neighbor here just bought a drill press about a week ago. The amazing thing about it is the vertical shaft that guides the chuck down is about 1.5 inches in diameter! The vertical travel and stability is ultra precise. I never saw a drill press built do well so i looked it up, and i found that it doubles as a milling machine if you buy a milling table for it (around $40 USD) you can use it for manual milling (two turn handles, x and y).
It's an amazing machine and the cost was just around $80 USD.
There is one limitation that might be hard to deal with though. The travel is only 1 inch. Yeah, that's just around 25mm, which is not very good if you really want to use it as a general-purpose drill press. For PC boards though it would be ideal. Incredibly strong and solid build.
Continuously variable speed also.
They have a lot of these on Amazon, some have only three speeds, but they are built well.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
11,466
The model I have has a nut and it holds the tool rock-solid. I use a corded one.
Hi,

Yeah i was lucky with this one i got it used, and the drill does stay solid in the basket with that one nut. I was surprised about that. So i only had to add the nut and the wedge to get this to have a solid vertical movement. I've drilled many holes with it now and really like it now, but before i could almost chuck it in the garbage, or just use it as a hands-free tool holder. It does allow the drill to be rotated so the shaft sticks out the side horizontally, or any angle. That's one good thing about it, so maybe that is why they call it a "workstation" not just a "drill press".
It's hard to tell if the other drill presses here allow the body of the Dremel itself to rotate, and that could be why they work better for drilling. That extra movement probably costs some stability for drilling.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,040
Do you know who makes that one?
The short answer is china! The vendor I bought mine from on eBay is gone but here is the same model also on ebay. Drill Press Stand for Dremel Rotary Tool Woodworking and Jewelry Making Machine 7445005943984 | eBay
1687268361856.png
Probably ~6 vendors selling this model all within 5USD of each other.

You should also look at this. I haven't bolted mine to the base but simply use it loose with the part clamped in... Has nylon jaws for things like glass etc.
1687268677336.png
You might also look at the benchtop drill press that Harbor Freight sells with a 1/3hp motor and at least a 1/4" chuck (no specs.).

8 in. 5 Speed Bench Drill Press (harborfreight.com)
1687269328090.png
 
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