Construction of a Vertical Milling Machine from a 12" Drill Press

Latest Update: 11-19-2012

The construction of  a Vertical Milling machine from a 12" Drill Press is a project that I have undertaken because of a video that I purchased from the Little Machine Shop in California.   Jose Rodriguez's video show you how to convert a Drill Press into a vertical milling machine. The video is named "Milling on the Drill Press" and is 4 hours long.  In this he shows the steps that he undertook to do the modification.   I purchased a 12 Speed Drill Press from Harbor Freight (Part # 60237) and have proceeded to do the same types of changes.  Here are some photos of what I have done.

Picture of Drill Press

After making some of my changes you will notice that there is a threaded rod sticking out of the top of the front pulley assembly.  This is part of the modification so that you can with precision move the drill bit down a precise amount.
I then removed that top cover from where the pulleys were to eliminate the possibility  of the top falling down on the shaft while the machine is running.

Removed machine top

Here is a detail picture of the top of the machine.
top of machine


The next thing done was to cut down the vertical tube as it was about 3" to high.

Cut down Vertical tube

The next thing needed is to make the vertical tube stiffer as there is some flex in these small tubes.
So to add anything to the tube the bottom must be sealed up temporally with a freezer bag put between the tube and the base.  It was bolted back into place to seal the end.
bag sealing bottom of tube
Then I added your local post concrete to stiffen the tube.
Concrete bag
   Open bag and mix with water and fill tube.  Please notice the custom funnel.
Filling tube
 If your careful you may not make a mess.
top of tube pictuer

I did this to both my new vertical mill and my old drill press as all it can do is help with the flex when drilling.  Also it did not take much concrete from the bag and why waste all of it.
used material

Here is a picture of the tube completely filled with concrete.
picture of top of tube filled up

Next step is to modify the quill assembly to allow the use of a milling bit arbor safely.......

Here are the quill parts from the Drill.
picture of quill parts

I have done the mods and here is where we start

Quill picture

The qull unit above was drilled out to clear a 1/4-20 threaded rod to create a place so that the milling bit arbor could be retained
in the machine even if to broke loose from it mechanical hold in the quill.

1/4-20 threaded rod in quill

I then needed to modify the milling bit arbors that I got from The Little Machine Shop  part number is 2394
Which is a MT 2  Arbor Blank with a 3/8-16 NC drawbar.  This drawbar size is what I needed to reduce to
1/4-20 for the rod that I am using for a drawbar to fit in the quill assembly that I have.
Blank Arbor

I needed to plug the drawbar end so that it could be redrilled and tapped for the 1/4-20 that I needed.
I cutoff some 3/8-16 rod about 1 1/4 inches in length and treaded it into the drawbar end with some Loctite 609
for a never to be removed plug.  We then machined the top flat and drilled out a hole and tapped it for 1/4-20.

This is my friend Al that owns a Machine Shop.  And this is the machine that we used to modify the arbors so that I
could use them for this conversion.

Als picture

open machine picture

left end of machine

top of machine 

The result allows this to be used as follows:
drawbar thru quill

The arbors that I got (6 ea) were then drilled out to hold 3 different sizes of milling bits, 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 inch tools.
I also drilled an tapped a set screw into each arbor to hold the milling bit in place.

end of arbor bit

The came the fun part.  Putting everything back together and making it work again.

I had to reassemble the quill for the drill
reassembled quill

alt view of quill

And I test fitted again a 3/8 mill in the arbor.
test fit mill in arbor

assembled quill and arbor

Then I started the reassembly of the parts back into a working machine.  After putzzing around with the parts they finally
went together with the asseembed parts looking like this.

assembled quill and arbor

I then added the modified pully back on the top of the quill assembly.  Notice that I have machined the top of the pully
and scribed a index line on it for exact depth setting on the mill.

top of pulley

I then test fitted the arbor into place to make sure that I had the correct clearance for the retention nut.  And yes there is
enough room in the top of the quill assembly to use a 1/4-20 nut to lock the arbor into place.

top of quill

After installing the pulley I put the index disk that I had made before which is drilled and tapped for 1/4-20 and has
50 index marks around it so that each mark is 0.001 of an inch and it does work.  THANK YOU Jose!!!!!!

index disk

I then reassembled the belts that drive the drill.

belts on top

I now have a complete drill/vertical milling machine.

picture of complete milling machine

And it will do things like this.

machined part

and this

another shot

Notice the fine chips that are created.  This is the first part milled on the machine and it is a learning process.
I first tried a speed of about 200 rpms and that did not work well so I changed the speed to 3200 and it works
much better.

another picture

And so now that I know how to make a mess.  On to the next item.

last picture

Now to finish the parts for my Horizontal Milling machine all from Aluminum cast parts.

Bob Teeter