Shop Made Bench-top Drill Press Task Light

I enjoy using my Skil drill press and find it an indispensable tool for woodworking and metalworking fabrication. While the Skil drill press has one of those laser drill positioning lights, it doesn’t light up the table itself at all and I desperately needed more light shining on the table, even if just for more safety while drilling. I looked into those flexible goose neck, magnetic base tool task lights and found a couple, one of which Delta makes, costing around $35. Then I realized there was no place on the drill press to mount the magnetic base at all like I mounted a task light on my Craftsman 10 inch band saw. Here is a shot of the band saw task light solution I came up with:

I purchased the light off ebay. Someone put it up for sale as a desk lamp. Here is a picture taken from the auction:

I removed the lamp base and fashioned a wood base with Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets epoxied them into shallow mortises. It’s perfect for lighting up the band saw table.

The base of the desk lamp didn’t go to waste. It worked out beautifully for a paper towel stand that I now have in the shop….

The “pipes” were taken from an adjustable shoe rack someone was throwing out in the trash (lots of that pipe left over too). Yeah, I’m a dumster diver… you wouldn’t believe the treasures I’ve found in the dumster where I live.

The base is weighted and holds the paper towel upright nicely.

Now onto my solution for a task light to mount on the Skil drill press…

Rummaging through a box of electrical parts I’ve collected, I found a ceramic light bulb receptacle I must have removed from an old lamp, it even had a chord with an inline switch attached. Yeah!… there I go… a seed for a drill press task light! I knew I had a lot of 1/2″ plywood and some 1/4″ x 20 threaded rod and a jar full of matching nuts so I was ready to design a task light. I figured that the light shroud should be metal and pondered that a while, finally deciding on using a tomato juice can as the shroud.

In designing the light I wanted it to perform a few things, it had to be adjustable, strong enough to not deteriorate over time and ultimately provide the light needed when using the drill press. Working through the design in my head and in Illustrator to draw a dimensional plan I finally came up with a design that works, it lights up the drill press table perfectly and is adjustable for other drill press situations. I would appreciate it if you would leave a comment and let me know you’re thoughts on this project.

Juice Can Preparation

Here are the main light parts including the “found” light/cord receptacle, tomato juice can cut to a smaller depth. Once the can was cut I sanded the edge with 220 grit sandpaper to eliminate the sharp edge. The cut-off is discarded.

The template for the top of the can is mounted in place ready to be drilled out.

Holes have been drilled out. I used a 1/2″ counter sink bit to smooth out the hole diameters. The outer holes are for heat dissipation.

Here I am going to make a suggestion. There is no need to use the “spray mount” glue in a can to mount templates. Think about it… the stuff is atomized glue, floats in the air and you breathe that when you use it. These glue sticks work just as well and are non toxic. I plan on putting together a post on how to use these glue sticks effectively… they are totally environmentally friendly.

Next I measured the diameter of the drill press column using a dial caliper. The measurement was 2.540″. I added .180″ for the thickness of two washers I’ll use on the outside of the can (light shroud).

One of the ink jet printed templates mounted to 1/2″ plywood ready to be cut out with the band saw. I wouldn’t recommend printing out any plan templates using a laser printer because the heat that is generated by the laser shrinks the paper a bit and therefore you won’t get accurate templates. Always print out using an ink jet printer because the ink jet nozzles are more accurately positioned and no heat is used during printing.

As seen in the photo I didn’t use Baltic birch plywood as I felt that the parts didn’t require the added strength Baltic birch was required. I did use the flattest pieces of plywood I could find though.

A few parts are quite small and pose a dangerous operation when cutting out with the band saw. I used a vise grip pliers to hold them while cutting. It’s up to you to use your discretion when cutting  wood on your band saw. Use your tools in the safest manner possible! I have since constructed a special vise to hold small parts while cutting on the band saw, you can view it here.

Following the template, the 8 sided mortise is chopped out with a 1/4″ chisel. Take your time here so you don’t split the plywood.

All the parts cut, drilled, threaded rods installed/epoxied and sanded smooth, ready to be painted.

Here is the drill press task light finished and ready to be installed onto the drill press column.

I was pleased with the drill press task light outcome. It will swivel into any position for adequate lighting that I would need (I’m using a 60 watt bulb but probably could use up to a 100 watt bulb if desired) and can also be pushed back out of the way if drilling something large or awkwardly shaped. I will be offering plans for the task light… check back often for when the plan is available.


6 thoughts on “Shop Made Bench-top Drill Press Task Light

  1. Mike Gray

    Are the plans available yet?

    • Robert Tutsky

      Mike, I won’t be offering a plan for that particular project. Sorry.

  2. Phol Lowman

    I like it. Looks likd me old fasion but plenty work left in it. Was just thinking about putting a light on the chainsaw sharpener. Will most likely use a magnetic base for a couple and on drill press copy yours. Thanks.

  3. Phil Lowman

    Just one more thought on your master light. You may wanna put a screen like 1/4 inch hardware cloth of (chicken wire) for us common folks. Or possibly some Lexan. Many times I’ve bumped bulbs with metal and broke them. 9 out of 10 times its a job getting the broken bulb out of the socket.

    • Robert Tutsky

      Good idea Phil. I wouldn’t recommend a plastic covering because it would inhibit air flow and heat build up could be a problem. Chicken wire would work though.

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