Milling with a drill press?

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
I need to mill a slot in a piece of 1" x 1/4" aluminum. I want a screw to be able to slide up and down in the slot with the head of the screw at or beneath the surface of the material with the slot.

This job is really beyond the capability of my little router but I got to thinking that I could use my bench top Ryobi drill press since it is a simple straight line mill.

Is it possible to use my press? If so, what type of bits would I use for this job? Just two metal cutting bits? One for the screw shank? One to "countersink" the head?
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
16,389
I've used a rotary rasp on wood on my drill press but I really can't recommend it. For one thing, it's super easy for it to grab and ruin your work. And a drill press isn't designed for a lateral force.

If you have a router, that's what I'd use. A sharp bit with slow advance would do a professional job. Maybe borrow a better one if you have doubts.
 

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
I have a router but not a table. I guess I could but one but....


I was planning on strapping a "rip fence" to the drill press table.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,646
Many have tried the drill press conversion to do milling, mostly unsuccessfully , the problem has generally been lack of rigidity.
Max.
 

Alec_t

Joined Sep 17, 2013
11,265
Using a suitable fence it is easy to drill a line of slightly-overlapping holes with a standard drill bit. The workpiece needs to be clamped for each hole. A file can then remove the metal jaggies between the holes.
 

nerdegutta

Joined Dec 15, 2009
2,676
You could try your theory with some Oak. Make a few lengths with this profile, and screw 2 and 2 together with the 10mm faced to each other.
aac_spinnaker_01.jpg
 

Thread Starter

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,835
I've used a rotary rasp on wood on my drill press but I really can't recommend it. For one thing, it's super easy for it to grab and ruin your work. And a drill press isn't designed for a lateral force.

If you have a router, that's what I'd use. A sharp bit with slow advance would do a professional job. Maybe borrow a better one if you have doubts.
That was my first idea. But I may have come up with an idea where I do not need to create a slot at all.
 

Robin Mitchell

Joined Oct 25, 2009
819
A drill press itself has the capability to drill and mill, the issue is keeping a proper Z height while feeding the material. My approach would be to build a 2 axis jig with handles that acts a bit like a CNC except you turn handles to move the work piece in the X and Y plane.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,210
Many have tried the drill press conversion to do milling, mostly unsuccessfully , the problem has generally been lack of rigidity.
That's what the man told me when he refused to sell me an X-Y table for my cast iron 1939 drill press which I had just redesigned to use modern bearings. I didn't believe him, but I still don't have an X-Y table.:(

Anyway, the secret word is, "X-Y table".
 

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MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,646
T
Anyway, the secret word is, "X-Y table".
Yes I am aware of X-Y tables, been retrofitting machine tools to CNC for ~35yrs now.;)

This is a quote from someone that has done it for a D.P.

"I have successfully converted multiple drill presses to mills. There are a few things that MUST be addressed.

• Replace the lower spindle bearing with a angular contact double row bearing. I use the 520x series is . This resolves the side thrust issue on the bearing.

• I go to a ER25 or 30 series collet system with the proper Morse taper and either use a draw bar or a lockpin to retain the taper. This resolves the issue of the drill chuck coming off and not holding the endmills.

• I have found that the table on the drill press isn't ridged enough for mill work, this won't be an issue if the table is rigidly mounted on ways. Most drill presses mount the table on the column and the end result isn't rigid enough. I cut the total height down, remount the head using a gib to make the head more rigid on the column I also gib the spindle to remove the excess slack in the spindle. I then mount the x y table directly to the base. If i can't find an older American cast 6x 12 or 18 x-y table i buy the asian ones and upgrade the bearings and modify the scroll nuts to remove as much backlash as possible from the lead screws.

• some method of locking the spindle, I use the center point setscrew on the added gib if there is room for it"

Max.
 
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ClassOfZero

Joined Dec 28, 2016
114
A drill press itself has the capability to drill and mill, the issue is keeping a proper Z height while feeding the material. My approach would be to build a 2 axis jig with handles that acts a bit like a CNC except you turn handles to move the work piece in the X and Y plane.

Ummmm no, not at all, for so many reasons. At best most drill presses that you'd find at a local hardware store are barely capable as acting as a drill press. The average Jacobs chuck's run out is quite poor, not something I'd want to be holding a cutter with, even for mills holding a cutter with anything but a collet or holder is a no-no.

Drill press for drilling, mills for milling, drilling & turning.
 

ClassOfZero

Joined Dec 28, 2016
114
That's what the man told me when he refused to sell me an X-Y table for my cast iron 1939 drill press which I had just redesigned to use modern bearings. I didn't believe him, but I still don't have an X-Y table.:(

Anyway, the secret word is, "X-Y table".
The gentleman in question was giving good advice based on facts. Even in "milling circles" round column mills are inferior to square (rectangular) column mills. One thing to take note of is that mills wont have a cantilevered table as most drill presses have.
 

ClassOfZero

Joined Dec 28, 2016
114
There's more to milling than just spindle speed, width of cut, depth of cut, cutter size, number of flutes,cutter type HSS, carbide or ceramic conventional or climb milling and feed speed. Throw into the mix chip evacuation and lubricant type or lack of lubricant. Then there's roughing, finishing or spring cuts to take into account. Even a benchtop mill has many limitations, rigidity being the main one. Push it too hard and you'll get horrible surface finish and push it out of tram.
Operating mill is an art, one that takes a while to master.
 

ClassOfZero

Joined Dec 28, 2016
114
So you also believe you know what I want to mill and the accuracy I require.
Apparently people who work with machines can the read minds of people who make circuit boards and work with wood.
Don't take it as an insult when someone knocks you back on an idea, it's nothing personal. And I get the feeling you are well above getting butthurt by being told no. It's just the way things are.

Machinists have a good knowledge of cutting & materials, it's their bread & butter. Actually you'd be surprised what a machinist knows and what they are capable of.

I myself run a benchtop cnc mill, upgraded the spindle to R8 upgraded the bearings to taper roller bearings (bearing upgrade did wonders from the chinese rollerbearings) & produce PCB's for home use. As it stands without an auxiliary spindle the mill is not suitable for drilling or routing PCB materials, even for aluminum I'm at the very lower end for spindle speed. Even the dremel in a press, yeah I'm well aware of the run out, is almost just suitable for drilling PCB's. Once I finish the rebuild of my lathe, the engine swap on the fourby and finish the rebuild of the miniature table saw a high speed spindle is next project. Yeah I'm over extended ATM lol, but what is there to do if you don't drink.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,210
Actually you'd be surprised what a machinist knows and what they are capable of.
I don't think I would be surprised about what a machinist knows about machining. My sister has owned a machine shop for 30 years. I have worked there and I have read Machinery's Handbook (Industrial Press Inc.). The part that surprises me is that machinists who have never met me, or have only met me 5 minutes ago, can know that I have no business using an X-Y table on a cast iron, 1939 drill press which I just got done re-designing with double bearings on both ends of the spindle.
 

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ClassOfZero

Joined Dec 28, 2016
114
Are the double stacks matched angular contact bearings or you're just not showing the shims between ?

How'd you attack the lower bearing, just out of interest ?
 
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