Saturday, January 20, 2018

Drill Press Table Counterweight

My drill press features the "lift it up and down with your hand" method for adjusting the table height.  This got old after a while, especially with a vise or a heavy workpiece on the table, so I started looking for a way to add a counterweight to make the process easier.

The best setup I found on the internet had a cable running up from the back of the table, over a pulley at the top of the column and then down inside the column to the counterweight itself.  Unfortunately, I couldn't make this work on my drill press because the motor mount was in the way of the cable.  There was also no really good way to attach a cable to the back of the table.

I eventually figured the next best thing would be to have pulleys just below the drill press head with the counterweight riding outside of the column.  The pictures show how I did it.

The bracket that holds the pulleys is made of red oak, and clamps to the drill press column with some long bolts.  The axles for the pulleys are 1/4-20 bolts that I just screwed into threaded holes tapped into the oak.

I machined the pulleys themselves from high density polyethylene (HDPE) scraps that I melted in an oven and then cast into a block under pressure in a wooden mold.  (That's another story altogether--this YouTube video and the very first part of this one show how to do it.) The HDPE plastic is kind of slippery, so I didn't need any fancy bearings or anything to make the pulleys work for this project.

The counterweights are simple wooden boxes with sand in them.  I adjusted the amount of sand in the boxes until the weight seemed about right.  In the end I think the whole assembly wound up about three pounds lighter than the table.

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