Drill Presses are handy, accurate woodworking machinery tools, but drilling holes in vertical pieces of wood can be a real headache without some sort of a jig, because it often means re-setting your drill press table (which will have to be re-aligned back later on) and setting up, often, multiple clamps to hold your workpieces.

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There are a few solutions to this, and one of them is making this simple vertical drilling jig that clamps to your drill press table ...

 In my case, I had on hand a piece of 3/4 inch, cabinet grade plywood that was a cast-off from another woodworker and is perfect for making jigs like this. As luck would have it the piece of wood was 7 inches wide and 24 inches long. The glossy coating on both sides meant the first thing I needed to do was to rough up one side, which I did with my random orbital sander and some 40 grit pads, which made quick work of any glossy finish.

Vertical Clamping Jig / Drill Press Jig

I cut one length of the board to 11 inches, which was about a perfect fit for the top of my drill press table. This meant that I could clamp that 11-inch board in many different angles which would accommodate most clamping situations.

With the wood that was left over, which was just over 12 inches, I decided to use it as the vertical "clamp to" part of the jig, and one side was already roughed up so it would work as a clamping surface.

Next, I fastened the vertical piece to the horizontal piece using some 1-1/2 screws. In needed these pieces well connected so used 4 screws, which I knew might be compromising the plays in the plywood, so I made sure that I clamped the plywood with every screw I drove in and as expected ... the plywood held fast and did not crack. This simple little trick has saved me many times for having to re-make apart because it cracked because I used too many or too big screws. 

The brace part was probably my biggest challenge because I did not want to crack the piece, and ti was a bit smaller, and because it was cut at 45, it was much harder to clamp and screw. To get around this, I counter drilled the first hole, with a countersink bit, then drilled out the center of that countersink hole to make sure the screw passed through and grabbed the 45-degree piece. That way screw drew it into place and held it fast so that all the other screws for the brace part were easy to clamp and drill into.

Vertical Clamping Jig

As one final piece that helps to hold your wood vertical and keeps it more secure on the jig, I attached a small strip of wood, about 1/4 inch thick, to one side. This really does make a difference to this jig as the strip acts as a stopper for any wood you are attaching to drill holes into.

Next came the testing to see how well this jig worked. I had planned on attaching some anti-skid material to the face of the jig but in my initial tests without any anti-skid, the jig worked flawlessly. The wood held and holes drilled were vertical and the wood that was being drilled held fast. 

Drill Press Jig

This Jig will be a welcome addition to my jig shelf and will save me much time every time I have to drill accurate, holes in vertical pieces because I can now set up that drilling process in a few moments.

Copyright Colin Knecht


Vertical Drilling Jig