Woodworking Projects

Drill-press table with dust collection


Tearout-free drilling on a self-cleaning surface

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Synopsis: This shopmade drill-press table has a built-in dust box below the work surface. Slots in the surface allow dust to get sucked down into the box and out the dust-collection hose. Workpieces larger than the table benefit from the suction, too, as it holds them in place, and then easily collects the chips afterward.

A few years ago, after years of working wood without dust collection, I finally hooked up all my stationary machines to a dust collector—all except my drill press. I searched online but couldn’t find products or articles that addressed drill press dust collection. I’d seen some plastic fittings that people use on the end of their 4-in. flex hose to try to catch some chips, but that didn’t seem like a great solution.

I decided to make my own drill-press table, one with a built-in dust box below the work surface. I designed it with two slots through the work surface, so chips get sucked down into the dust box and out the dust-collection hose. When I drill narrower workpieces, the chips go right down the slots as I’m drilling. When I drill plywood and other large pieces that cover the slots, the vacuum force acts like a clamp, helping hold the workpiece in place while I drill. (It was a happy accident—I wish I could say I intended it.) In that case the chips stay on the panel, and when I’m done drilling I just slide the workpiece out from under the bit, tilt it up, and the mess disappears down the slots.

Dry assembly. He screws on the top without glue so he’ll be able to remove it in the future to access the dust box and dust hose if need be.

As I thought about my drilling process, I remembered that I almost always have a sacrificial backer board beneath the workpiece to ensure a clean, splinter-free exit on the holes I bore. That works well, but I realized that on my new table the backer board would cover the vacuum slots. To address that issue, I decided to build a narrow sacrificial backer strip into the top of my new table. I cut a shallow dovetailed keyway down the center of the top from front to back, and I fitted it with a dovetailed hardwood strip. Now when one section of the backer strip has been drilled too many times, I slide the strip partway in or out—or pull it out and turn it end for end—to present a fresh section.

In addition to cutting the vacuum slots and the dovetailed keyway in the top, I dadoed it for T-tracks to accept my drill-press fence. 

Drill Press Table with Dust sprd image From Fine woodworking #293

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