How to Mill Small Parts with a Drill Press: A Beginner’s Guide to Precise Machining Techniques

Have you ever needed to mill small parts but don’t have a milling machine? If you have a drill press, you’re in luck! A drill press can be a useful tool for milling small parts right in your workshop. It may seem surprising that a drill press can be used for milling, but it’s true! With the right setup and technique, a drill press can be just as effective as a milling machine for small jobs. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to set up your drill press for milling small parts, the tools and accessories you’ll need, and some tips for getting the best results.

So get ready to learn how to turn your drill press into a mini-milling machine!


If you need to mill small parts and don’t have a milling machine, you might be surprised to learn that you can do it with a drill press. While a drill press is typically used for drilling holes, it can also be used as a makeshift milling machine to create shapes and contours on small metal parts. To do this, you’ll need a few special tools, including a milling vise, a milling bit, and a rotary table to hold the part at the correct angle.

With these tools in hand, you can transform your drill press into a versatile and cost-effective milling machine that can tackle all sorts of small projects. By following the right techniques and using the right tools, you can create precise cuts and shapes with ease, opening up new possibilities for your metalworking projects. So don’t be afraid to give it a try – you might be surprised at just how capable your drill press can be!

How a Drill Press Works

A drill press is a powerful tool that is used to drill holes through various materials. It consists of a base, a column, a drill head, and a spindle that holds the drill bit. The column is the vertical post that supports the drill head, and the base provides stability for the machine.

The drill head contains the drill bit and is attached to the spindle. When the machine is turned on, the spindle rotates at high speed, while the drill bit moves up and down, allowing it to penetrate the material being drilled. Using a drill press, you can easily and accurately drill holes of different sizes and depths in a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and plastics.

Overall, a drill press is a versatile tool that is indispensable for DIY enthusiasts, woodworkers, metalworkers, and other professionals who need to drill holes with precision and ease. So if you’re looking to upgrade your drilling game, investing in a drill press is a great idea!

how to mill small parts with a drill press

Advantages of Milling with a Drill Press

When it comes to milling, there are a variety of tools that you can use. And while many people opt for a milling machine, the truth is that a drill press can be just as effective for certain tasks. One of the main advantages of milling with a drill press is that it’s a versatile tool that you’re likely to have in your workshop already.

Rather than investing in a separate machine, you can modify your drill press to handle milling jobs as well. Plus, this approach also saves on space in your workspace. Overall, using a drill press for milling is a cost-effective way to get the job done, without sacrificing accuracy or efficiency.

Tools Needed for Milling Small Parts

If you’re looking to mill small parts with a drill press, you’ll need a few essential tools. First and foremost, a drill press vise is essential to hold your workpiece securely in place while milling. You’ll also need a set of milling cutters in various sizes, as well as a collet chuck to hold them.

A digital caliper is a must-have tool to ensure precision measurements, and a Dremel or other rotary tool can be helpful for intricate work. Additionally, a good selection of clamps and fixtures can make the milling process easier and more efficient. Don’t forget to wear eye and ear protection while milling to keep yourself safe.

With the right tools and precautions, milling small parts with a drill press can be a rewarding and satisfying endeavor.

Chuck and Collets

When it comes to milling small parts, there are a few essential tools that you will need. One of the most crucial is a chuck and collet system. A chuck is a device that holds the workpiece securely in place, while a collet is a specialized chuck that is designed for holding small, cylindrical objects.

Together, these tools allow you to precisely position and shape your workpiece as you mill it. One of the best things about using a chuck and collet system is that you can easily swap out different collets to accommodate a wide variety of workpiece sizes. This makes it much easier to work on a range of projects without having to invest in multiple chucks.

So, if you are serious about milling small parts, make sure you invest in a good quality chuck and collet system.

End Mills

End Mills When milling small parts, it’s crucial to have the right tools to ensure accuracy and precision. One indispensable tool is the end mill – a type of cutting tool that is used to create grooves, slots, and pockets in a workpiece. End mills come in various sizes and shapes and are made from different materials, including high-speed steel, carbide, and cobalt.

Choosing the right end mill for your project depends on various factors, including the material you’re working with, the depth of cut, and the surface finish desired. Some popular types of end mills include ball nose, square end, corner radius, and roughing end mills. It’s important to consider the geometry, coating, and flute design of the end mill to ensure optimal performance.

By selecting the appropriate end mill for your milling application, you’ll be able to achieve excellent results every time.


When it comes to milling small parts, having the right tools is crucial. One essential tool is a vise. A vise is used to securely hold the material being worked on in place, allowing for precise and accurate cuts to be made.

When choosing a vise, it’s important to consider the size of the parts being milled. For smaller parts, a smaller vise may be necessary to ensure a tight hold. Additionally, consider the material the vise is made from as it can affect its durability and ability to withstand the force of the milling process.

A high-quality steel vise is a good choice for milling small parts, as it can withstand wear and tear over time. Overall, having a reliable vise is key to successful and accurate milling of small parts.

Setting Up the Drill Press for Milling

If you’re looking to mill small parts with a drill press, it’s important to set up the machine properly. Firstly, make sure that you have a good quality cross slide vise with adjustable guides. This will allow you to move your workpiece in a controlled manner and ensure precise results.

Next, you’ll need to attach a small milling table or a machinist’s vise to your drill press table. It’s important to use the correct bolts and make sure your setup is secure and stable. Once you’ve got your setup in place, you can start milling.

It’s important to use a milling bit or end mill that’s appropriate for the material that you’re working with. You’ll also need to take your time and make sure that you’re applying even pressure throughout the milling process. With a little practice and patience, you’ll soon be able to mill small parts to a high degree of accuracy using just a drill press and some basic accessories.

Securing the Vise

When setting up a drill press for milling, one of the first steps is securing the vise. The vise is the tool that holds the material being worked on in place, so it’s essential to ensure it’s tight and stable. To do this, make sure the vise is clean and free of debris, and position it on the table so it’s square with the axis of the drill press.

Use bolts or clamps to secure it firmly to the table, and check that it’s level. Once the vise is secured, you can confidently begin milling your material. Remember, a loose or unstable vise can lead to inaccurate cuts or even dangerous accidents, so it’s crucial to take the time to properly set it up.

Adjusting the Depth and Speed of the Drill Press

Setting up the drill press for milling requires some adjustments to be made, including the depth and speed of the press. First, it’s important to secure the milling bit in the chuck and adjust the table height to ensure that it’s level with the bit. Then, set the depth stop on the press to limit how deep the bit will go into the material.

Adjust the speed of the press according to the type of material being milled and the size of the bit. With larger bits and harder materials, a slower speed will prevent overheating and premature wear on the bit. Overall, it’s essential to take the time to make these adjustments in order to achieve precise and accurate milling results.

While it may seem like a daunting task at first, with practice and patience, anyone can become proficient in setting up their drill press for milling. Remember, taking the time to properly set up your tools will pay off in the long run with improved efficiency and higher quality work.

Milling Small Parts with a Drill Press

If you’re interested in milling small parts, you might be surprised to know that you can actually achieve this using a drill press. While it’s not ideal for large or complex projects, a drill press can be a great option when it comes to smaller jobs. The process is simpler than you might think- you can start by securing your workpiece to the table of the press, making sure it’s level and stable.

Next, clamp a milling vise onto the workpiece and use a center drill or end mill to create your desired shape. It’s important to take things slowly and carefully, since the drill press isn’t designed for milling and can be prone to mistakes. However, with some patience and practice, you can create accurate and precise parts on a drill press.

So if you’re working on a small project and don’t have access to a full milling machine, don’t worry- a drill press can still get the job done.

Selecting the Right End Mill

End Mill, Drill Press Milling small parts using a drill press may seem like a cost-effective solution, but it can result in inconsistent finishes and inconsistent dimensions. That is why it is essential to select the right end mill for the job, as it can make a massive difference in the outcome of your milling process. You need an end mill with the appropriate diameter, flute count, and coating to achieve the desired results.

The diameter of the end mill is crucial as it determines how much material can be removed in a single pass. A smaller diameter end mill can give you more precision, while a larger diameter end mill can remove more material quickly. Similarly, the flute count determines how many cutting edges are present in the end mill.

Higher flute count means more cutting edges and a smoother finish. The coating of the end mill also plays a vital role in the milling process. A TiCN or TiAIN coating can offer higher hardness and heat resistance, reducing wear and tear and extending the life of the end mill.

Overall, when milling small parts using a drill press, selecting the right end mill can make all the difference in the end result. Consider your material, dimensions, and desired finish carefully before selecting an end mill, and experiment with different options to find the perfect fit for your project.

Securing the Workpiece

When it comes to milling small parts with a drill press, one of the most important things to consider is how to secure the workpiece. It’s crucial to make sure that the part is held firmly in place so that it doesn’t move or shift during the milling process. This can be accomplished by using clamps, vises, or other types of specialized tools that are designed specifically for this purpose.

By anchoring the workpiece securely, you can not only ensure greater accuracy and precision but also prevent potential hazards that might arise if the part were to come loose or slip out of position during milling. So, if you want to achieve the best results when milling small parts with a drill press, always remember to prioritize workpiece security and invest in the proper tools and accessories that will help you achieve it.

Starting the Milling Process

If you’re looking to mill small parts, a drill press can be a great starting point. While it may not be as precise as a milling machine, it can still get the job done with the right techniques and tools. One of the biggest challenges of using a drill press for milling is the lack of a proper spindle for milling cutters.

However, with the right adaptor and a small end mill, you can start milling small parts with ease. To begin, you’ll need to secure your workpiece to the drill press table using clamps or a vise. Then, adjust the speed and depth of your cut to ensure that you’re milling at the right pace and depth.

Remember to take things slow and steady to avoid any mishaps, and always wear appropriate safety equipment like goggles and hearing protection. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to create small, precise parts using just your trusty drill press.

Safety Precautions When Milling with a Drill Press

If you want to mill small parts using a drill press, it’s essential to take safety precautions to avoid accidents. One crucial safety measure is to wear goggles to protect your eyes from metal chips and shavings that can fly off while drilling. You should also wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling metal particles that may cause respiratory problems.

Before milling, ensure that the drill press is appropriately set up and firmly secured. Make sure the workpiece is clamped securely, and use the correct cutting tools, feed rate, and cutting speed. It’s recommended to lower the drill bit gradually to prevent any sudden jerks that can damage the workpiece.

When milling, pay attention to any signs of overheating and stop milling immediately if you notice any unusual heat buildup. Lastly, keep your hands away from the rotating drill and turn off the machine before making any adjustments to the workpiece. By following these safety precautions, you’ll be able to mill small parts with a drill press efficiently and without any harm.

Protective Gear

When it comes to milling with a drill press, safety should always be top of mind. One of the most important safety precautions to take is to wear protective gear. This includes eye protection, such as safety glasses or goggles, to prevent any debris or metal shavings from getting into your eyes.

It’s also recommended to wear earplugs or earmuffs to protect your hearing from the loud noise of the drill press. Additionally, you’ll want to wear gloves to protect your hands from getting injured by any sharp edges or hot metal pieces. And of course, always make sure to wear a dust mask to prevent inhaling any dust or debris that could be harmful to your lungs.

By taking these safety precautions and wearing protective gear, you can ensure a safe and successful milling experience with your drill press.

Workspace Set Up

Setting up a workspace for milling with a drill press can be exciting, but safety should always be a top priority. Everyone in the workspace should wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including safety goggles, gloves, and dust masks. It’s also important to keep the work area clean and free of clutter, which will help prevent accidents.

When setting up the drill press, make sure the machine is level and secure, and do not exceed the maximum drilling depth or speed. Always use the appropriate drill bits for the material being drilled, and never force the drill. Remember, precision and patience are essential when working with a drill press.

By following these safety precautions and taking the time to set up your workspace correctly, you can create a safe and successful milling experience.


In conclusion, milling small parts with a drill press doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools and techniques, you can achieve precision and accuracy in your milling projects. Remember to choose the appropriate bit and tooling, plan your cuts, and take your time.

Don’t be afraid to make adjustments, but always prioritize safety. And who knows, with a little practice and finesse, you may just be able to create some truly impressive small-scale works of art. So grab your drill press and get to work, because the precision and potential are there, all you need to do is tap into it!”


What is milling?
Milling is a process of using rotary cutters to remove material from a workpiece, creating a desired shape or profile.

Can a drill press be used for milling small parts?
Yes, a drill press can be used for milling small parts, but it requires some modifications and accessories.

What accessories are needed to mill small parts with a drill press?
Accessories like a milling vise, end mills, and collets are needed to mill small parts with a drill press.

How do you secure a workpiece in a milling vise on a drill press?
To secure a workpiece in a milling vise on a drill press, first, clean the vise jaws and workpiece, then place the workpiece in the vise and tighten the jaws using the vise handle.

What is the difference between an end mill and a drill bit?
An end mill is a cutting tool used for milling and profiling, while a drill bit is used for drilling holes.

What is the maximum depth of cut for milling with a drill press?
The maximum depth of cut for milling with a drill press depends on the diameter of the end mill being used and the rigidity of the setup.

What are some safety precautions to follow when milling with a drill press?
Safety precautions when milling with a drill press include wearing eye protection, securing the workpiece properly, avoiding loose clothing and jewelry, and using proper cutting speeds and feeds.

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