Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

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Small Upright Drill Press

From American Horologist magazine, December 1938


In making up small watch parts it is often quite necessary to drill small holes for the steady pins or screws. I have always found it an awkward job by doing it in the watchmaker's lathe. It is so hard to' see where one is drilling and also awkward to hold a small piece while drilling that I decided to make up a small drill press where the work could be laid flat on the plate and conveniently held down and holes drilled without getting out of upright or out of place.

The drill press itself was converted from a Swiss bow lathe. The spindle and chuck were made from a small Starrett pinvice which holds drills from 0 to 1 millimeter. The driving pulley is attached to the spindle and is easily driven by a light belt connected with the countershaft.

The work is fed up to the drill by means of a sliding spindle and the plate is attached to the top of the spindle to lay the work on. The lever feed is light and very sensitive so small holes may be drilled without danger of breaking the drills or the holes becoming out of upright.

The photograph is self-explanatory and I am sure many of my readers will appreciate the benefit of a small drill press and with a little ingenuity convert the old Swiss bow lathe into to something useful.

The diameter of the driving pulley is one inch and one-half inch, the overall length is six inches and the angle piece or shoe for clamping the press to the lathe bed is set up two inches from the lower end of the frame. Diameter of the drill plate is three-quarters inch.

Diameter of chuck for holding drill is three-eighths inch. The feed lever is two inches long with a fulcrum placed one half inch from end. The stroke of feed is three-quarters inch and the length of the spindle for holding drill plate is three inches. The top of the spindle is brought to a point and runs in a bearing similar to the balance staff in an alarm clock.

I believe, with these dimensions and suggestions our readers should have very little trouble in building up one of the most useful attachments for the watchmakers lathe. 

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