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x-y Table for Drill Press

Walt

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#1
I've been building my own bicycle lights using high power LEDs for several years, and the case is always the most difficult part, by far!

My shop is stuffed pretty full of wood working equipment, and my metal working power tools consist of a floor standing Delta drill press equipped with a Harbor Freight cross vise, a Makita miter saw, and my Craftsman table saw with a fine tooth blade. I work with aluminum only. My case design is put together to work around the limitations of my shop. I'd love to have a milling machine and lathe, but I can't justify the investment at this time.

The case I'm working on is constructed using 1" square aluminum tubing and various bits of flat aluminum plate joined with small machine screws. The screws need to be located to ~+- 0.002" or so for everything to go together well.

In the course of generating lots of scrap pieces, I've come to the conclusion that my next tool investment should be a better x-y table. The main failings of the Harbor Freight table I'm looking to replace are:

-Lots of lash in the screw drive mechanism.
-The cinching (not sure of the correct term) screws that hold the table in place (needed due to screw lash) are too small to crank down hard, and are in spots that can be difficult to reach.
-The vise is inconvenient and will be replaced with something like a Wilton cam-lock model.

My question to the folks here at Hobby Machinist is, what is the best x-y table I can get in the $200-$300 range that will address these issues? I've looked at models from Grizzly, Enco, Proxxon, and The Little Machine Shop. They all look OK, but don't list in their on-line specs what I'm interested in.

Walt
 

Walt

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#4
That's an impressive looking table. It would appear to be a superior tool around my price range. Thanks for the link to Plaza machinery. The table appears to have a readily accessible lock handle (over the crank at the bottom of the picture). Is that correct?

Walt
 

geckocycles

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Could you post pictures of what you have and the setup of your operation?.
There may be another solution to your issues. I would bet that a dedicated fixture/jig could be made that would be good enough and take allot of the skill out of the picture. Still I am not knowing what exactly you are making. Learning the tool and it's habits is key. You can also adjust and or make things that will make a tool work better too. A simple drill guide in a jig may be what you need. Now if parts are constantly changing then that is another story.
I would get a small mill to start with but that may be hard to find for $300 but a investment now will benefit greatly in the future. A drill press without a draw bar should never be used for milling or hole sawing unless it is a square face bore. Also drill press tables can swivel very easy and not produce a perpendicular hole in your part. Constantly check that to the the spindle. Put an indicator on your part and see where it moves when you lock the table. Sometimes you have to take out the backlash before tightening the table so it won't move as you lock it down.
I bought a bench top Knee mill with a head riser for $300. They are around.
 

Walt

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Could you post pictures of what you have and the setup of your operation?.
>>Certainly, see attached pictures.
Hand Tools Jigs.jpg Drill Press.jpg Drilling Jig.jpg XPGLight.jpg

>>Left to right: Some of the hand tools I use, my drill press and cross-slide vise, a drilling jig in the layout process, a completed light.
There may be another solution to your issues. I would bet that a dedicated fixture/jig could be made that would be good enough and take allot of the skill out of the picture.
>>I'm doing something like that, see the 3rd picture above. I have lots to learn about doing accurate layout!
Still I am not knowing what exactly you are making. Learning the tool and it's habits is key. You can also adjust and or make things that will make a tool work better too. A simple drill guide in a jig may be what you need. Now if parts are constantly changing then that is another story.
I would get a small mill to start with but that may be hard to find for $300 but a investment now will benefit greatly in the future. A drill press without a draw bar should never be used for milling or hole sawing unless it is a square face bore. Also drill press tables can swivel very easy and not produce a perpendicular hole in your part. Constantly check that to the the spindle. Put an indicator on your part and see where it moves when you lock the table. Sometimes you have to take out the backlash before tightening the table so it won't move as you lock it down.
I bought a bench top Knee mill with a head riser for $300. They are around.
>> I'd rather not invest in a mill at this time, it's mostly a matter of lack of money, and lack of shop space. This may change in another year or two. I appreciate >>the comments about the limitations of using a drill press as a mill, I've already satisfied myself this is a bad idea.
>>I'm have a lot of fun figuring out how to do accurate layout work, I think I'll stay on this path for the time being.
>>Thanks for your comments!
>>Walt

Hand Tools Jigs.jpg Drill Press.jpg Drilling Jig.jpg XPGLight.jpg
 

geckocycles

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#7
I don't want to be a stick in the mud but there is no way you are holding or going to hold +/- .002" with that type of jig, layout or machine.
You could maybe do it if you had an accurate drill jig made with drill guides installed. You will have to mill those plates square though. You will never hold those tolerances with a hole saw no mater what machine you use.
I also don't see the need for that tight of tolerance for what you are making either so you may be over estimating the need for .002". Squaring those plates will be your hardest thing. Now if you are pinning them together that is different.
 

8ntsane

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If your just looking at a X/Y table, I bought a 8X12 from the local Busy-Bee outlet. I think Grizzly and simular have it in the states.Bills X/Y rotary table sure is nice. Im not sure what that would weigh in at though.I would imagine , the size of a X/Y table, or X/Y rotary table would really depend on the size and weight of your drill press. I think another thing I would check out, is the tram of spindle to table. If it is off, can you correct this? The X/Y table mention above was aprox 100.00 dollars. Yes the table needed to have the gibs ajusted. The back lash in the screw was a little more than I liked. But on the drill press, I serves its purpose well.

Before Id do anything, Id get the dial indicator rigged up, and do a sweep around the table, just to see if its out, and by how much? The added weight , can cause the table on some drill presses to sag. I have also seen over the yrs, that some of the drill press tables are not flat. That doesnt help acheiving accurate work either! A straight edge would tell you how flat , or not it is.

Check these things out first, or you could buy a real nice Table, either X/Y, or X/Y rotary, and still not produce the kind of work your looking for. Make sure the drill press is up to the job before purchasing any acc for it.

Paul
 

Walt

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#9
I don't want to be a stick in the mud but there is no way you are holding or going to hold +/- .002" with that type of jig, layout or machine.
You could maybe do it if you had an accurate drill jig made with drill guides installed. You will have to mill those plates square though. You will never hold those tolerances with a hole saw no mater what machine you use.
I also don't see the need for that tight of tolerance for what you are making either so you may be over estimating the need for .002". Squaring those plates will be your hardest thing. Now if you are pinning them together that is different.
You are probably right about the +- 0.002" in general and definitely with regards to hole saws (the step drill is better). I don't have the experience or measuring equipment to say exactly what is or isn't going to work measured in a specific number of thousanths, I probably should have left my guestimate out of my post. Let me rephrase: based on my eyeballs and holding my parts together with my fingers, it looks to me like it the holes don't line up within a fat hair or so, it's not going to assemble well or look good when I'm done.

What I'm after at this point is to get the holes to line up between parts well enough to fasten them together with small screws. Having the edges line up nicely is an added bonus.

One thing I try to keep in mind is the light functions pretty well as a light even with my mediocre machining skills and is worthwhile at least to me! Thanks for your help in trying to make it a little nicer object.

Walt
 

geckocycles

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#10
If you are off on your hole placement and can feel the misalignment you may try to bolt the unit together and then sand it on a belt sander. You can also try enlarging the through holes slightly so you have some adjustment. Assemble it so the edges meet well and then stick it back in the drill press an drill holes to put pins in to locate the parts well for future reassembly.
 

geckocycles

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#11
X2
Most tables I have and have seen are not very perpendicular front to back. You adjust them right to left but you have to shim or take them apart and work the top and bottom of the rotational pivot which is what I do. Just lap it in the up and down axis if that all make any since.
If your just looking at a X/Y table, I bought a 8X12 from the local Busy-Bee outlet. I think Grizzly and simular have it in the states.Bills X/Y rotary table sure is nice. Im not sure what that would weigh in at though.I would imagine , the size of a X/Y table, or X/Y rotary table would really depend on the size and weight of your drill press. I think another thing I would check out, is the tram of spindle to table. If it is off, can you correct this? The X/Y table mention above was aprox 100.00 dollars. Yes the table needed to have the gibs ajusted. The back lash in the screw was a little more than I liked. But on the drill press, I serves its purpose well.

Before Id do anything, Id get the dial indicator rigged up, and do a sweep around the table, just to see if its out, and by how much? The added weight , can cause the table on some drill presses to sag. I have also seen over the yrs, that some of the drill press tables are not flat. That doesnt help acheiving accurate work either! A straight edge would tell you how flat , or not it is.

Check these things out first, or you could buy a real nice Table, either X/Y, or X/Y rotary, and still not produce the kind of work your looking for. Make sure the drill press is up to the job before purchasing any acc for it.

Paul
 

geckocycles

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#12
In geckocycles' last reply there was embedded an extremely important point that needs emphasizing:

Except for extremely high end equipment, all workholding devices have backlash. Therefore, any time you want any kind of accuracy with any movable clamp, you ALWAYS must approach the desired position from the same direction. And, if you religiously do this, the amount of slop in the lead screws ends up being almost irrelevant.
We must be talking different things.
In every machine shop I have worked in, the Bridgeport's all needed to have pressure relieved off the screw before tightening the table down if you want to maintain extreme accuracy. I have little experience to no in a X-Y table mounted drill press vice setup but I would think the same principles would apply. Al the Bridgeport's I have and have used were not new machines though but I learn each one's habits and work around them. I have done many parts maintaining .0002" tolerance and measured in controlled environments for medical, government and bearing manufacturing..
 

Walt

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If your just looking at a X/Y table, I bought a 8X12 from the local Busy-Bee outlet. I think Grizzly and simular have it in the states.Bills X/Y rotary table sure is nice. Im not sure what that would weigh in at though.I would imagine , the size of a X/Y table, or X/Y rotary table would really depend on the size and weight of your drill press. I think another thing I would check out, is the tram of spindle to table. If it is off, can you correct this? The X/Y table mention above was aprox 100.00 dollars. Yes the table needed to have the gibs ajusted. The back lash in the screw was a little more than I liked. But on the drill press, I serves its purpose well.

Before Id do anything, Id get the dial indicator rigged up, and do a sweep around the table, just to see if its out, and by how much? The added weight , can cause the table on some drill presses to sag. I have also seen over the yrs, that some of the drill press tables are not flat. That doesnt help acheiving accurate work either! A straight edge would tell you how flat , or not it is.

Check these things out first, or you could buy a real nice Table, either X/Y, or X/Y rotary, and still not produce the kind of work your looking for. Make sure the drill press is up to the job before purchasing any acc for it.

Paul
Thanks for the tips, I definitely need to check my drill press table for plumbness to the quill. Do you have any links showing how this should be done? I have a dial indicator but not much experience using it. I can rig something up using the mounting rods that came with the indicator, is the job any more involved than that?

I'm not currently using the gradation marks on the feed wheels on my xy table to locate anything, so the lash doesn't really bother me. I use the table as a way to move and hold my work in place under the center of the quill, and not have to re-clamp it for each and every hole. Edit/ Or are you pointing out that the lash in the screw feeds can allow the table to wander around during the drilling process? I have found this one out the hard way while making scrap! That's one of the main reasons I like the Palmgren. The clamps look like they are accessible and offer enough lever size to hold everything in place /Edit

I sent money to Plaza Machinery for a Palmgren 8" rotary xy table. It's more tool than I need right now, but I use the drill press a lot so I don't think I'll regret it. The shipping weight was listed at 27 lbs, and my drill press table seems sturdy enough to hold that kind of weight, but I'll find out for sure soon. If the worst comes to light and it turns out that my drill press just isn't up to the job, the xy-table would still work with a better drill press, I think.

Walt
 

george wilson

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Palmgren NEVER made real high class stuff. Sears used to sell those rotary tables re badged Craftsman. Their stuff is on about the same level as Atlas,which Sears also rebadged as Craftsman. I am not sure if they are really any better than HF. And,they charge way to much for their products.

If you can get one for $200.00,o.k.,but I'd never go $800.00.

Look at the aluminum handles,and the tiny little dials to try to read. Those were common maybe in the 1920's and 30's,but should be more like 2" in diameter,unless you are expected to read them with a magnifying glass.

The best ground surfaces on their stuff is Blanchard ground. A cheap way to grind. The dovetail,sliding surfaces are left as machined,no precision grinding. The high spots in the relatively rough sliding surfaces will wear off their peaks soon.

Hope I haven't upset anyone here,but if you want the opinion of a professional,here it is.
 
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Tom Griffin

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Agreed. I would never rely on anything like that for milling, but for locating holes in a drill press it's probably ok.

Walt:

How many of these bicycle lights are you making? If it's a good number of them and they are all the same, then you should consider as geckocycles suggested, making up some drill jigs and assembly fixtures. It won't take much more effort than a couple of the lights and then everything would be easier to make and be identical. The fixtures could even be made of wood (hardwood) which is what you seem to be set up to work with. Make up a jig to drill the holes in the end plates using drill bushings to locate the holes and toggle clamps to hold the parts in the jig, and a fixture to hold the end plates in position on the tube so you can locate the tapped holes in the tube with a drill or transfer punch. Once that is accomplished you could drill them free hand in the drill press. Believe me, life would be a lot easier with a few simple fixtures.

Tom
 

geckocycles

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Walt
Search for "tramming an head" or sweeping it is sometimes called. I can't view this vid for the slow connection I have here at the motel in Steamboat Springs but I bet it will be nearly the same as you would do on a drill press except you will be doing the adjustment on the table. You will be able to check it anyway even though you don't have the X adjustment. You best to load the table with the same weight as you will have on it. Don't chuck an indicator in the chuck but on the spindle itself as you will have errors on the chuck clamping that you don't want. They make clamps that hold indicators on the spindle for little money.
Like I said earlier you will have to lap in the X axis after you get the Y set and try to figure out how much material to remove on X.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfANyiS8Hs4

On my way for a soak at Strawberry hot springs LOL
 

8ntsane

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Walt

I think Geckocycles vid has the general concept. Though a drill press is not a mill, it should give you a faily good idea of whats needed. The only thing you might like to know. Is you really dont need to worry about using your drill chuck to hold your indicater rod. The chuck may have run out, and it will.
But, your sweeping the table surface, so unless your quill bearings are loose, and the drill chuck is bobbing up and down, its not going to show a differance. Also the clamping fixture for the mills spindle wont work on a drill press,s small OD spindle. The mill boys usually use that method, and sometimes I do as well. If I have a cutter in a collet, and dont want to dissturb it, I do. Other wise I just mount the indicater in the collet, quill locked, and sweep the table.

Should be able to purchase one of those elcheapo 1-inch travel indicators, and quickly find out if your table needs work, or she is good enough for the work your doing.

Good Luck
Paul

I for got to mention
Most of those import tables can be modded for a lock ,so your table isnt walking around on you. Simple to do on both axis. But thats another issue, Im not sure your having. For drilling, snug gib ajustment should do the trick.
 

CharlieW

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You could improve the setup by doing several things but I probably would not bother. Since you are making a specific part, over and over, I would suggest making a drilling fixture that has drill guide bushings. A fixture does need to be precision made but once made, it will be fast and the hole locations will be very repeatable. The other advantage is that it is a fairly cheap way to go and much faster than cranking in positions and an X/Y table and having to contend with it's limitations. Good way to go with a drill press.

Charlie.
 

Walt

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Palmgren NEVER made real high class stuff. Sears used to sell those rotary tables re badged Craftsman. Their stuff is on about the same level as Atlas,which Sears also rebadged as Craftsman. I am not sure if they are really any better than HF. And,they charge way to much for their products.

If you can get one for $200.00,o.k.,but I'd never go $800.00.

Look at the aluminum handles,and the tiny little dials to try to read. Those were common maybe in the 1920's and 30's,but should be more like 2" in diameter,unless you are expected to read them with a magnifying glass.

The best ground surfaces on their stuff is Blanchard ground. A cheap way to grind. The dovetail,sliding surfaces are left as machined,no precision grinding. The high spots in the relatively rough sliding surfaces will wear off their peaks soon.

Hope I haven't upset anyone here,but if you want the opinion of a professional,here it is.
Thanks George,

I already pulled the trigger on this purchase. I respect your opinion on the quality of the machining, but it's for moving parts around on the table of a drill press and is a lot better than what I'm using. Perhaps the lack of smoothness in the sliding surfaces won't be a big drawback in this application.

The question I was trying to get an answer for is, that is a good value xy-table for a drill press in the $200-$300 range. Hopefully I didn't go too far wrong.

I was never going to spend $800 on this.

Walt
 

george wilson

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I think you are o.k. for $200.00. You could re sell it for that. I have half of one of those Palmgren tables laying around myself: The rotary table part. I machined the male dovetail off of it and have used it clamped in a chuck in the lathe for indexing degrees.
 
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