Drill press table height mechanism

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Alan in Little Washington

Alan Schaffter
Corporate Member
I didn't want to hijack Rob's thread, but with the typically short quill travel of my DP I am always adjusting the table height. I dislike everything about the table height adjustment on my Delta 20-675 (?) drill press.

Here is what I observed:

  • The rack (tooth strip) can move around the column (designed that way?*) so after raising or lowering the table, the table/work are often no longer aligned with the bit.
  • The movement of the crank/pinion assembly is very sloppy, not smooth**, and it is not all that easy to raise the table, especially if you have the added weight of an accessory table.
  • The table/collar lock toggle bolt is at the back and not easy to reach. It can be hard to lock and unlock even if you lengthen the toggle with a large dowel like I did. It can be even more of a pain if DC hose is in the way.
* I rotate the head stock to change the relative position of the chuck and table- I replaced the set screws that lock the headstock to the column with lock knobs.
** the crank on the new 950 I saw at the WW show was much better.

I have been thinking of doing another one of my tool modifications- a counter-balanced, non-crank, easy-lift drill press table:

  • Put a spacer in the split collar so it is not loose but can't be clamped tightly on the column. Maybe even replace the big toggle bolt with a simple machine bolt.
  • Remove the rack from the column and replace it with a trapezoidal shaped guide. Firmly attach the guide to the column.
  • Remove the the crank and pinion assembly from the knuckle on the collar.
  • Manufacture a cam lever, follower/plunger, and a trapezoidal wedge assembly to fit inside the knuckle. Moving the lever will force the wedge against the matching guide. When the cam is fully "over center", the table will be centered and firmly locked at that height.
  • Put a counter-weight inside the column that is equal to the combined weight of the table, collar, and accessory table.
  • Attach a steel cable to the counter weight. Run it up over the pulley mount just below the headstock, and attach it to the table collar.
In operation, to change table height, you lift the cam lever unlocking the table. Lift up or push the table down to the desired position, then relock the lever. Hopefully this will be much easier than using using the current mechanism. Here are two SketchUp drawings of a notional mechanism:

Side view:

Top view:



Corporate Member
Ive had thoughts about this too but have not done anything yet. I have an old sat dish that is no longer usable because programing is not available in the new digital age. I was thinking of using the actuator arm and a 3 position switch to raise and lower the table. Problem is the table is designed to turn as well as lower and raise. I don't use this function so this may work for me.:widea: any thoughts? Allan? We all know you are the gadget guru so.......:gar-Bi I think the ball connectors are removable on the dish and the pole so they could maybe be used on the drill press post. prolly still have to lock the table down to drill but raising and lowering would be a breeze!

Mike Davis

Corporate Member
I have thought about the counterweight before and I think I can do that part. My drill doesn't have the pinion strip, no index of any kind on the post. I may be able to add something but would have to machine the collar. Will have to take a look and see if anything is possible there.

Also my table does not tilt. There is supposed to be an auxiliary tilting table. The collar has to rotate to set the tilting table into position. I think I can handle that part too but I don't have the other table. Something I need to locate.

Great idea on the cam-lock!


Senior User
It is a different idea but my old Craftsman drill press had no lift mechanism so I built one. I used a small boat trailer winch mounted to a plate attached where the motor mounts. I have a small rope going from the winch to a eyebolt on the table. The advantage of my setup is the boat winch is plenty strong enough to move the table with a rather large accessory table on it (it has drawers in addition of the wood top). The disadvantage is I have to unlock the clamp, crank the winch, and then wiggle to table to where I want it. The winch provides the lifting force but it will not move the table by itself - probably at least in part due to the way it is attached.



Corporate Member
My DP with the rack & gear rotates as well but I just used two large hose clamps to make the rack stabilize. Although it flexes some another clamp near the principal position on the column could eliminate most of that, and a set screw through the collar should do the rest.
As for counterweights, my other DP is an older model without the rack. On that version I've considered 2 plywood collars clamped to the column high & low with a piece of conduit attached parallel to it. The table would have a mating bracket threaded over the conduit that would slide up & down with the table. A counterweight could be added to that assembly with a pulley & old window weight.
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