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Using a Drill press as a router?

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  • Using a Drill press as a router?

    I've got a 10" Ryobi drill press but not a router. (the ryobi plunge router is next on my list) I want to use a 1" roundnose router bit to rout some half sphere's into a piece of hardwood plywood. They will actually be used to hold marbles on a game board i'm making. My question is will my drill press take the wood off (granted a lot slower and not as nice of cut) even though it only spins at 3000 rpms as opposed to a router capable to 10-25K rpm. Am able to do it or just put off putting the holes in until after i've purchased the router?


  • #2
    For your task it should work pretty good since you are applying thrust in the direction that the drill is designed for. If you were trying to cut grooves you would likely wear out the bearing with the side thrust component of the cut.


    • #3
      just my opinion as a plumber with both drill presses and routers. the speed is too slow to do a good job. a larger bit might work as the cutting feet per minute would increase, but with a small bit it will grab and tear.

      try it on scrap and let us know


      after rereading your question, i now think that if all you're doing is drilling rounded holes, it will work. if you try to use it as an edge router, that's where i would feel the problems would be.
      Last edited by PLUMBER RICK; 06-07-2006, 10:00 PM.
      phoebe it is


      • #4
        You can do it that way, but the DP isn't designed to handle the side thrust that you are going to have to subject it to. I'm not sure how the Ryobi DP chuck is mounted, but many presses use a taper fit which means the chuck is pressed into position. My concern would be that any excessive side pressure on the chuck may cause some loosening of this fit, which would prove dangerous.

        As previously mentioned, you are also subjecting the bearings to wear and the maximum speed of the DP is significantly less than a router... which could result in burning the router bit, not to mention the poor cut you are likely to get.

        Plywood would not give you the best interior edge to your game either and I'd be concerned that your marble pocket would be rather rough around the edges. Not knowing the details of your game board design, I might suggest you use a solid wood and a forstner bit to give you a flat bottom pocket hole. Two of these bored next to each other would provide a longer container, with the aid of a wood chisel. You could then use a drum sander on the drill press to smooth the sides.

        I hope this helps,

        Last edited by CWSmith; 06-07-2006, 11:37 PM.


        • #5
          This is what i have at home but am looking to make my own boards. (This is becoming a popular game amung my grandparents and parents and thier friends and has been suggested that making them would make excellent gifts and the such for them)

          Also i've never really done any woodworking but am wanting to get into it as soon as i have, time, money, space. This i thought would be a good starting project for me. My grandfather has made them using hardwood plywood and a forsner bit before but i didn't like the way the marbles sat on the flat bottomed holes so i'm gong to use a round over. As for my wood type i was going to use hardwood plywood because thats what my father has laying around the garage but i can see where i'd get a better finish off a solid piece of wood.

          Any suggestions of wood type then? I think i want to stain the hole using something like a minwax accents or other colored stain to match the color of the marbles and then poly it all a couple of times.

          I think i'm going to wait til i get a router too. I kind of want to get this project going and see if i have any type of skills at all. And of course i'll post pics no matter how it turns out.


          • #6
            Glad you posted a pic. Here is the same game that my grandfather made for my mother and uncle which dates it around 65 years old.
            It is 18" across and examining the holes shows that they appear to be made by using drill bits. I tried this on my general DP and it works nicely, basically start with a small bit like 1/16" and make a hole about 0.20" deep
            then using larger bits (don't need to make small steps like in metal) drill the hole wider until you 'erase' the outer edge of the smaller hole ending with the 1/2" bit (maybe 5 steps). I set my DP at 2800 rpm but slower would have worked fine.
            Just for interest sake i tried using a bull-nose router bit that I had and it worked great at 2800 rpm. It was a 5/16", a 3/8" or 1/2" might do the hole in one step you would have to try, I think your 1" bull-nose may be a bit too big to make proper size holes


            • #7
              Aaah, a picture makes all the difference in the world! When you mentioned "holding marbles" I was picturing an rounded corned retangular pocket to hold several marbles that were not "in play". (Don't know why, you really did make your intentions clear... I just need to read more carefully.)

              The Drill Press would be the the tool that I would use. Rockler ( has a "marble drill bit" (item #41463) that sells for $19.99. You can probably find a similar product from others.



              • #8
                As for the wood, realize that veneered hardwood plywood has a very thin layer of hardwood on the top, and has softer wood underneath. It may work okay because the core woods will pick up the stain differently, but I would try a test piece first. Large width hardwood is hard to find and expensive, and edge gluing smaller boards is not as easy as it would appear. For an economical solution for solid wood, I would suggest looking at the shelving lumber near the hardwoods at HD or Lowes. THey have wider shelves of pieced-together smaller boards (pine) that are already glued up and sanded flat. After you cut the shape of your board, spray the top with a coat of clear spray-bomb lacquer BEFORE you drill the holes. This will allow you to stain the holes without staining the top at the same time. If you don't like the natural wood color of the board, sand off the lacquer after staining the holes and restain the board as you like. Note that by drilling the holes with a rounded bit, you will expose end grain, so if you stain the whole piece, the holes will probably come out quit a bit darker. The key is to try a couple test pieces first before you go for the fiinal project.
                Sounds fun. Good Luck!!
                Practicing at practical wood working