Drill a Deep Hole on a Benchtop Drill Press

Q:

I have a benchtop drill press that lacks enough stroke to drill through a blank for making pens. I have to flip the pen blank over to complete the hole, and that causes alignment problems. What drill presses will give me enough drilling depth that I don’t have to do this two-step process?
—Naomi L. Kocean, Madera, Calif.

A:

Many stationary drill presses have more than a 412 " stroke, enough to drill either half of an average 5" pen blank, Naomi. But don’t rule out your benchtop drill press just yet. First, cut the pen blank into two pieces, both about 18 " longer than the two brass tubes you’ll later insert into the holes to be drilled. That should reduce your drill’s required stroke to less than 3" for most pen styles.

If that’s still longer than your benchtop press can handle, give the blank a boost using a simple jig. The jig’s base thickness raises the longest piece of this blank to just below the tip of the brad-point bit. (Use a drill bit long enough to bore through the longest piece of the blank.) An L-shaped brace no longer than your pen blanks attaches at 90° to the base. Then cut spacer blocks to stack beneath the blank.

Mark a center point on the blank end, and clamp the blank into place directly beneath a brad-point drill bit, as shown above left. Begin slowly drilling into the end and withdraw the bit frequently to eject the chips. When the drill press reaches its maximum depth, withdraw the bit and stop the motor. Raise the blank and support it with the spacer blocks, as shown above right. Clamp the blank back on the jig and resume drilling, again periodically backing off the bit to eject chips. Repeat the process until the bit cuts the complete aligned hole.

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