Best method for drilling vertical holes in a benchtop?

I’m finally finishing my woodworking bench. All that is really left to do is to drill the 3/4" holes for dogs and other clamping tools. These need to be pretty much at a 90 degree angle to the bench top. I’ve looked on Amazon for a hand drill stand, but they get pretty crappy reviews, the most common being that they don’t hold the drill at 90 degrees, which is kinda the whole purpose of the thing. A standard drill press won’t work, of course, because the bench top is six feet long and three feet deep. So it needs to be something like this one, which has iffy reviews…

If anybody has a good method for doing this, or can recommend a good stand, I’d appreciate it.

Router? Clamp it in place with the bit flush or recessed to the base, then run it down.

Plunge router, 3/4" bit with a template. I took a scrap of plywood and drilled the pattern (two rows, roughly 9" apart and holes spaced 4" in each row) so there were 10 holes in the plywood. Add a lip to that template so it will register to the edge of the workbench. You’ll need one of these. It basically works like a bearing. The holes in the plywood are 3/4" plus the thickness of the brass guide. Then clamp the plywood to the bench and away you go.

Use your drill press to drill a hole in a piece of thick scrap, clamp it to the table and use it as a guide. It probably won’t last long, but it’s cheap. Maybe use a Forstner bit?

ETA: the router ideas are probably better.

ETA again: I know you can get a 3/4 (twist) bit in a router, but damn, that’s a big bit to be spinning so fast. Is that safe?

I did that, the forstner bit bit. I bought a $130 workbench from Harbor Freight which is ok, but the dog holes were too small for the regular stuff. I bought a forstner bit and drilled a couple more holes and it’s worked out just fine.

I think This would work great, particularly if you use a 3/4" up cutting spiral bit.

i’ve done the thick scrap as a drill guide.

those Drill Guide Attachment can work OK if you set them up well and keep the movement tight. good for doing things out of the shop or if very occasional.

bench top drill presses can be swung around with the drill away from the base and table. you will need to clamp the base.

Wolfcraft jigs and tools are generally pretty good - and they make some innovative products that are useful for the budget-strapped DIYer/craftsman - the problem is that you’ll often find yourself using such things at the very limit of their capability.

I’ve seen some drill stands (the kind intended for mounting a handheld drill for use as a small drill press) that have reversible footplates - so you can drill on the opposite side from the pillar, to a level below the footplate. But I can’t find a good example of these right now.

Hadn’t thought about a router, but then I’d have to buy one and some bits and the adapters. It would likely work fine, if I took small bites. I saw a 3/4" upcutting bit, but it’s $165! Perhaps I’ll try the thick stock method (since I already have a 3/4" Forstner), although I’ll need to find somebody with a drill press. :frowning:

If you’re going to use a “thick stock” method, you have a chance to just eyeball it, or use a couple of speed squares to get you lined up. If you miss, it’s no harm no foul, you can try again until you get it right.

It may take you a half dozen holes to get one that’s just right, but all you’re doing is using up some scrap.

I can go back to the woodworking studio where I made the bench. They’ll let me use their drill press for the holes, I’m sure.

I used a 7 or 8" long 3/4" auger bit with a 2" thick piece of scrap turned into 90 degree jig. A forstner bit doesn’t have a deep enough sidewall to make the jig useful. But the auger bit works great. It also has the benefit of stopping when the guide screw punches through the bottom, which can prevent blow out. However, my view was that was underneath so I just forced it through.

Let’s see pictures of your new bench!

Is there any way you can attach something like thisto the top of the drill casing?

You could calibrate it by placing a straight rod in a bench vice - get this truly vertical, then tighten the drill chuck onto it, then fix the level onto the drill casing - setting it in place on blobs of epoxy putty, which will then set solid.

Coming soon! I like the idea of an auger; it would prevent any side-to-side movement.

when i make scrap wood guides i blow a few holes in case you distort some. also get above it to sight and direct well with angling.

Depending how thick your bench top is (minimum 2"), I would hope a you have a pair of holdfasts in your future. I have a pair of Grammercy, which can be bought at Tools for Working Wood,or Lee Valley.

Here are some photos, mostly when the bench was inverted as I put it together. Shots of the wedged tenon joints and the attachment of the trestles. There’s one of its present stage, with the last coat of Danish oil on the top and the Jorgenson vice installed. Bonus cat photos!

Cute cat, looks very much like Benny the holy terror who lives in my house :slight_smile:

Nice looking bench! I like the detailing, pinned joints, through mortises with wedges… Yikes, well done!

I have had a PortAlign drill guide similar to the one in the OP link for over 25 years. Works great. eBay has them but I think the company is long gone.

Thanks! I just bid on a brand new one (as in ‘never been used’).