Blog: Drill Press Crank Extension By: John Heisz

One of the issues with adding a auxiliary table to the typical drill press is that it can interfere with the lift / lower crank. Usually, that crank is located close to the column and high enough that it will either hit or just clear the table. That leaves very little space for your hand to grip it.

One solution is to lift the wooden table higher by padding up the metal table. Usually two layers of 3/4″ plywood will give enough room to operate the crank, but I’m not crazy about that method.

Even before making the new drill press table I decided I would extend the crank out past the end of the table. And spent some time while working on it thinking about how to best do that. The solution I came up with is not the least complex, but it is reliable, robust and fairly easy to do.

I started by taking off the new table and metal table to size up the situation:

The biggest challenge is making the support structure for the crank extension. I figured the best way would be to make brackets that fit around the column, and these brackets would be the top and bottom of a box that has the lift gear inside.

I cut two strips of 1/2″ plywood (one for above and on for below the gear housing) and used the upper collar from the column to mark the hole:

And cut both parts at the same time. Here’s how they fit:

At this point I’ve also removed the head, the rack and the table support. One of these brackets needs to go below the cast iron table support.

Recycling the old drill press table for the 3/4″ plywood parts I need:

Those form the sides of the box and I fastened those to the bottom bracket with glue and screws. I could then put it on the column and reinstall the rack and table support:

That was easy enough. Next I need to work on extending the crank shaft over to the end of the box. I figured the easiest was would be to use a piece of 1″ steel pipe I have and couple that to the shaft. I used a piece of hardwood to make a bushing:

Then drilled a hole through the shaft:

And through the pipe / bushing for a #8 machine screw:

That produces a fairly flexible union and should hold up well.

I added some blocks on either side of the gear housing to lock the box in position and put a blob of glue on the nut to keep that from unscrewing:

The top bracket for the box was added next and the new table put on to check for clearance:

If you are going to make a handwheel, you may as well make it a nice one:

The new handwheel is fastened to the pipe with a long #10 wood screw through it:

Finished with clear polyurethane and ready to use:

The top of the box also provides a place to put something, like a drill bits. I don’t think I’ll use it, though, since the area gets covered with dust and chips from drilling.