Have you ever had your workpiece suddenly begin spinning uncontrollably when your drill bit gets stuck in the hole you're drilling? If so, try these preventative tips.

Tip 1. Stop long pieces with the column
A long workpiece that quickly begins spinning will hit the column at the rear of the drill press table. You can stop that movement, and potential damage to the wood, before it starts. Just place the workpiece in contact with the column before drilling it, as shown in the photo above. Keep in mind, though, that the drill turns clockwise (viewed from above), so always put the work to the left side of the column.

Tip 2. Halt short pieces with a stop block
You can stop short pieces that don't reach the column before they spin, too. As in the photo below, simply clamp a scrapwood stop block to the drill-press table to prevent rotation.


Tip 3. Securely clamp down the workpiece
When you drill deep holes, chances are good that the bit will jam when you back it out of the workpiece, causing it to spin. This happens because as the bit backs out, it catches the side of the hole slightly and lifts the workpiece off the table, embedding the bit even more. However, if you clamp the workpiece down at both ends to the table, as shown in the photo below or use your mortising jig hold-down, that can't happen.


Spindle speed helps, too You also can combat a spinning workpiece by selecting the correct spindle speed for the type of wood and bit you're using. Although correct spindle speed won't prevent a spinning workpiece, following the guidelines won't unnecessarily contribute to it either. And drilling at the right speed for the bit and the stock solves several drill-press problems, including burning.

Some drill presses have a speed chart applied directly to the side of the spindle cover, inside the head, or printed in the owner's manual. If you can't find a chart to keep near the machine as a reference, download our comprehensive chart (below) that includes drill speeds for various bits and cutters, and for drilling in hard and soft woods.

"Where Safety Begins" is written by Mike Gililland, a lifelong woodworker and an engineer with 25 years' experience designing and working with power tools to make them safer. He owns and runs a safety consulting firm.

Have a safety question? Send it with an SASE to: The Safety Man, WOOD Magazine, 1716 Locust St., GA310, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023. Not all questions received will be published, but all will receive an answer from the Safety Man.