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anyone convert a drill press into an overhead router?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by darylcrisp, Nov 10, 2020.

  1. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Don't indeed.. the inertial forces in play when routing far exceeds the structural integrity if all but the moist robust ($$$$) Drill presses... you are begging for a catastrophe, both mechanical and possibly physiological when forcing a tool to do something for which is was not designed... while you can get away with using a screwdriver to open a can of paint, or a chisel as a scraper, but those puppies aren't rated in horsepower, or spinning at several hundred, at least, RPM..

    Don't, just plain don't..

    r
     
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  2. soundcloset

    soundcloset TDPRI Member

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    I've done all of this. I took a Forstner bit and ground off the locating pin in the center but then you also get a deeper ridge around the edge and a bit that wants to wander a little. In a control cavity it's no big deal on a personal guitar, or maybe you'll add shielding or foil that will hide it. A routing bit in a drill press will grab the guitar and wrench it here and there and you are wrestling with the wood and the feed handle. I got a used Safe-T-Planer (not the Stew-Mac version) and tried it with a bit of cutoff and I'm not so sure about it either. Eventually I got a real router with a new bit and got that a-ha! sense of finally doing something correctly. Sure, loud, sawdust everywhere, and realized now I need a proper dust collecting system and a real shop. Do what telepraise sez, I think.
     
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  3. koolaide

    koolaide Tele-Afflicted

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    I looked into this before I purchased a dedicated overarm (pin router). I came to the conclusion (as other note here) that this is not a safe option. Drill presses, even good ones are not designed for lateral forces. The chuck is usually held in by friction fit of a tapered surface and will come out if if too much side load is applied. (don't ask how I know) To me this is disaster waiting to happen. I know others do it and all works out. But... some folks play Russian Roulette and live and then there are the ones that ... well you get the idea.

    I find the odds of screwing up the project, or serious injury greatly increase when I don't use the correct tool for the job.
    YMMV

    Peace,
    Jim
     
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  4. Muadzin

    Muadzin Tele-Meister

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    The Safe-T-Planer does need a drill press with a certain RPM's. Too slow and it won't work right. Also most drill presses are not able to reach the center of the widest parts of a guitar body, as the width between the drill and the center coumn is often not wide enough. Drilling holes for tremelo studs or string through holes can be next to impossible on most drill presses because. I had to get a radial one just for that.
     
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  5. dreamsinger

    dreamsinger TDPRI Member

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    I had a swamp ash body that weighed a whopping 8.5lbs. The solution we came up with was to run the back through a thickness sander to remove 1/4" then rout chambers. I found another piece of swamp ash that had some interesting figure and bookmatched it to close the back. Chambered Tele.jpg Bookmatched Tele.jpg Tele 1.jpg
     
  6. Commander

    Commander NEW MEMBER!

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    While it is a tempting idea, most drill presses cannot handle the side load created by pushing the workpiece against the side of the bit. Some mill-drills can handle this load, but they don’t run at high enough speed to properly spin a router bit. Now, if you had a mill-drill running a spiral fluted end mill, you might be able to get away with it; but not on a regular drill press.
     
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  7. Bruss

    Bruss TDPRI Member

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    Ahoy Dreamsinger -- do you recall what the weight of that body ended up being after the chambering, etc.?

     
  8. BigToe

    BigToe TDPRI Member

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    If you took the tangential speed of a 1/2” router bit going at 20k rpm you would need slightly less than a 3” cutter on a drill press going 3500 rpm to have the equivalent cutting speed. If you used a 4 flute spiral endmill you would effectively double the cutting speed so maybe a 1-1.25” 4 flute endmill would give you a close enough effective cutting speed at 3500 rpm. Buying a quality solid carbide 4 flute spiral endmill in that size would probably cost more than your Home Depot drill press. That, and for other safety reasons it’s just not a good idea.
     
  9. Robert Graf

    Robert Graf Tele-Meister

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    I don't know what kind of drill press you have, but most drill presses aren't really made to run at high rpm. You'll probably watch the belts get chewed up. High RPM means very small tool size. Trying to guide the workpiece will require a template or guide. You'll get a lot of chatter and tearout. Milling cutters aren't designed for that speed and router bits are designed for higher speeds. Just because you can configure the pulleys for high speeds doesn't mean that you'll be able to close the cover without having to make some adjustments. When the Chinese make machinery, they just copy what they see. A motor is a motor, to them. It's not until they get enough product returned to be a problem that they fix things. The Chinese will sell you a set of drill bits where only the 3/8, 1/4 and 1/8" bits are of any quality, and the rest just get dyed black to match the finish. They 'know' that those are the only bits Americans actually use. And that they expect to get junk when they buy the cheapest option.
    As for routing, I prefer this one: IMG_1810.JPG
     
  10. Moldy Oldy

    Moldy Oldy Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    It wouldn’t be worth it for one guitar, but I built my own pin router. It’s essentially a heavy wooden frame. My hand-held router mounts in it and slides up and down on drawer slides. A small pneumatic cylinder raises and lowers it. It’s not perfect because I get a little bounce when it lowers. It’s just a few thousands, but it’s enough that you can’t achieve a perfectly flat bottom.

    1967EB50-E536-4EA4-B384-A6CE5EC84899.jpeg

    It has a course height adjustment in the back that raises and lowers the entire assembly. Then the fine depth adjustment is done on the router itself.
    36B8B750-FBE3-4ECE-80B8-689B68B97BBB.jpeg

    A foot pedal actuates the pneumatic cylinder. Foot off raises it, foot down lowers it.
    77FE3BC9-42C3-44C9-AA5F-64BEB99B6A28.jpeg

    Here it is when it’s down
    704D2C7C-5861-42A2-BB9A-517235265CA2.jpeg

    I clamp it onto my router table, which has it’s own router. I just clamp a piece of 1/2” dowel into the bottom router to serve as the pin.
    79773231-AE1D-49EB-A7B3-7F62EBE89806.jpeg
     
  11. Peltogyne

    Peltogyne Friend of Leo's

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    I have a Forstner that came with the parsons white stringbender kit that has the pilot point ground off. That's one way to do it.
     
  12. stepvan

    stepvan Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Older milling machines can be a good investment especially if you can find one from a tech/vocational school that is liquidating some shop equipment.
     
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  13. Don Rich Rules

    Don Rich Rules Tele-Meister

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    Simply stated don't do it!
    Buy a body at the depth you want
    What you really need is a plainer machine
    which will allow you to take wood off the body
    safely and quickly.
     
  14. Terrytown

    Terrytown TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    I'm with fasteddie42 "Don't". Routers spin at around 20,000 RPM that's why they sound like jet engines when you operate them. If you gear up your drill press by interchanging pulleys you will never achieve those kind of speeds. Even if you did you might not have enough horsepower left to do the job.

    Go down to harbor freight and buy a cheap router or a Dremel Tool if your just removing a small amount of material. You may also go to a trophy shop or a label shop where they have those small desk top size mills for etching or cutting plastic nameplates.

    Better yet, just buy a 4" inch wide strap and spread the weight across your shoulder relieving tension on your trapeze muscle and leave the guitar as is. Alder is a tone wood that has a great sound. Why remove it or change it.
     
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