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Can a drill press be used as a mill

Can a Drill Press Be Used as a Mill? Explained

In the world of machining and metalworking, versatility and adaptability are highly prized attributes. DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike are always in search of tools that can perform multiple functions, saving both time and money. One question that often arises is whether a drill press can be used as a mill. In this article, we will explore this query and provide insights into the possibilities and limitations of using a drill press as a milling machine for metal projects.

Can a Drill Press Be Used as a Mill? Explained

Key Takeaways:

  • Converting a drill press into a mill is possible with the right modifications and precautions.
  • A drill press can be used for basic milling operations, but it has limitations in terms of project size and complexity.
  • Using a drill press for milling metal requires proper setup, cutting tools, and attention to safety measures.
  • Accuracy and precision in milling can be achieved with careful adjustments and practice.
  • Understanding the capabilities and limitations of a drill press as a mill is crucial for optimal results and project success.

Transforming Your Drill Press into a Mill

In this section, we will explore the step-by-step process of converting a drill press into a mill. Many DIY enthusiasts and metalworkers have wondered if it is possible to repurpose their trusty drill press for milling operations. The good news is, with the right tools and modifications, it can be done.

Converting a drill press to a mill requires careful planning and attention to detail. Before embarking on this project, gather the following tools and materials:

  1. A drill press
  2. A milling vice
  3. A milling table
  4. A set of milling cutters
  5. Clamps and fixtures
  6. Eye protection
  7. Ear protection
  8. High-quality cutting fluid

Once you have all the necessary components, it's time to make the required modifications to your drill press. Here are the key steps:

  1. Secure the milling table: Remove the standard table from your drill press and install the milling table. Ensure it is securely fastened and level.
  2. Install the milling vice: Attach the milling vice to the milling table, making sure it is properly aligned and tightened.
  3. Adjust the spindle speed: Check the maximum RPM of your drill press and adjust it to the appropriate speed for milling operations.
  4. Select the right milling cutter: Choose a milling cutter suitable for the material you plan to mill.
  5. Secure the workpiece: Use clamps or fixtures to firmly hold the workpiece in place on the milling table.
  6. Apply cutting fluid: Apply a suitable cutting fluid to lubricate and cool the milling cutter during the operation.
Can a Drill Press Be Used as a Mill? Explained

Safety is paramount when using a drill press as a milling machine. Always wear proper eye and ear protection, and follow safe operating practices. Remember that a drill press converted into a mill will have limitations in terms of rigidity and precision compared to a dedicated milling machine. With careful setup and appropriate adjustments, however, you can achieve satisfactory results for many DIY projects.

Milling Operations on a Drill Press

In this section, we will explore the various milling operations that can be performed using a drill press. While a drill press is primarily designed for drilling holes, with some modifications, it can also be used for milling tasks. Let's delve into the capabilities and limitations of using a drill press as a mill.

Capabilities of a Drill Press as a Mill

A drill press can be utilized for a range of milling operations, including:

  1. Milling flat surfaces
  2. Milling slots
  3. Milling gears
  4. Milling keyways
  5. Milling splines

By using different cutting tools and milling techniques, it is possible to achieve accurate and precise results with a drill press.

Limits of Using a Drill Press as a Mill

While a drill press can accommodate some milling tasks, it is important to note its limitations. The size and complexity of milling projects that can be undertaken on a drill press are generally more limited compared to dedicated milling machines. Additionally, the rigidity and power of a drill press may not be sufficient for heavy-duty milling operations.

Materials Suitable for Milling on a Drill Press

A drill press can effectively mill various materials, including:

  • Soft metals like aluminium and brass
  • Wood
  • Plastics
  • Composite materials

However, it may not be the ideal choice for milling extremely hard or heat-sensitive materials.

Materials Suitability for Milling on a Drill Press
Soft metals (aluminium, brass) Good
Wood Good
Plastics Fair
Composite materials Fair
Hard metals (steel, stainless steel) Poor


When milling different materials, it is crucial to select the appropriate cutting tools and speeds to achieve optimal results.

Now that we have discussed the milling operations possible with a drill press, let's move on to the conclusion of this article where we will summarize the key points and offer our final thoughts on using a drill press as a mill.

Can a Drill Press Be Used as a Mill? Explained


In conclusion, while it is possible to convert a drill press into a mill, there are certain limitations and safety considerations that need to be taken into account. Converting a drill press to a mill requires specific modifications and adjustments to ensure its functionality and accuracy.

One of the key benefits of using a drill press as a mill is its cost-effectiveness compared to purchasing a dedicated milling machine. This can be particularly appealing to DIY enthusiasts and hobbyists who want to explore basic milling operations without investing in additional equipment.

However, it's important to note that a drill press has limitations in terms of power, precision, and the complexity of projects it can handle. While it can be suitable for small-scale milling tasks on softer materials, it may struggle with more demanding projects involving harder metals or intricate designs.

Therefore, before deciding to use a drill press as a mill, it is crucial to thoroughly understand its capabilities and limitations and ensure that safety precautions are taken. Always follow proper machining techniques, wear appropriate personal protective equipment, and consult reliable resources for guidance to achieve optimal results.

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