Shop improvement for the Drill press on the AVIDcnc

When not doing projects for my friends/neighbors, a lot of the projects I knock out on the AVIDcnc revolve around shop infrastructure. Many / most of these projects involve making fixtures / accessories / improvements, etc for various tools in the electronics lab, robot studio and garage.

This project was another one of those projects that I was able to knock out exceedingly fast… Well, once I got It started… Back in 2008 I found an old float-lock vice on eBay. It was used and abused but still in great working order. The seller had it listed cheap, ‘as is’ because (I assume) it did not have the table clamp with it. I thought, okay, I’ll buy it, make a new table clamp and wind up with a great tool! Yup, that is something we hobbyists can do. :slight_smile: Anywho this was a super fast project. It took ~2wks, but I was working on multiple other projects at the same time and it was interspersed by a pair of ~70hr work weeks.

The project sat untouched for ~13yrs, after the initial eBay purchase, but in the summer of 2021 I finally got around to making that mounting clamp and now I use this darn thing quite often.

Again this was one of those projects that I did, mostly on the fly. I only made a bare minimum flat pattern outline CAD model for the pieces I needed to cut on the CNC mill or plasma. So this one went straight from some chicken scratches and basic dimension right to the machining steps pretty quickly.

I hacked off the end of some 2" square aluminum stock that I keep around…

From there a quick run through the chamfering machine. This machine sits right next to the saw and even though none of these edges will be part of the finished piece it is nice to take the sharp edges off while working on the material.

After that it was right over to the mill to pop some larger holes in the part.

And then right over to the vertical saw to split the part allowing for a good clamping action

I shortened a chunk of oil impregnated bronze bushing material and it was a great fit. I used a 1/4-20 socket head set screw (top dead center in the photo below) to lock the bushing in place. The bushing is drilled and threaded and the set screw only holds it in place (with a few drops of lock tite). It is not meant to tension anything.

With the bushing in place, i went back to the vertical band saw and slit it as well, so that the main screw (added below) will add the pressure.

One of the very last steps for this piece was to go back and rounderize things. I ended up doing this on the CNC in the studio.

I wanted to make heavy / large handle that can be easily cranked down with one hand while holding / balancing material in the float lock vise with the other. I had a 1/2-13 high strength Gibralter branded eye-stud that will form the vertical part and I lopped off a small bit of 1/2in diameter stanless for the cross handle.

The lathe chased both ends of the stainless with some threading dies.

Due to cost, servicing / upkeep and modern CNC lathes geometric die heads have fallen a bit out of fabor but if you take the time to dial one in, it’ll make effortless perfect threads.

And then it was time for the fun part of the project. Bring on the plasma!

There are two sets of parts to cut, the first is from some 1/2in thick steel bar stock, so with programs in hand it out was out the grage and the plasma table on the AVIDcnc.

The first image below does not look like a normal plasma cut. I captured the image during an instant where the pierce had not fully penetrated the material yet. Looking close one can see the outline of the bar stock that is so clearly visible in the 2’nd photo below.

This part came out great! From ~40yrs of machining it just boggles my mind to be cutting steel plate at 18ipm. Whish I’d had this plasma cutter all those years ago.

Since I had punched the locating hole on the Plasma cutter it was easy to plop this piece into the mill and drill it out at the tap drill size and then power tap it.

These photos are a little out of order. Originally in the design process I was just going to bevel the edges of this part on the belt grinder and TIG braze this part directly to the corner of the drill press table. I do have two other follow on projects for the drill press and one of them makes me want to make sure I can remove this when it isn’t needed, so I went back and made a corner mounting bracket for the float lock vice’s mounting bracket. :smiley:

A quick mockup.

And then it was back to the comptuer for another quick / simple flat pattern CAD model.

I was able to drop the G-Code onto the program that injects all the settings for the plasma cutter and this process is so fast (compared to my doing it by hand before) it is just a breeze.

I headed back out to the AVIDcnc plasma table and threw on a sheet of 10Ga. mild steel (0.135" thick) to knock these next parts out.

I was using consumables (electrode, nozzle and shroud) that were well past their life rating, but when I am not working on parts that are cosmetically important, I’ll push the consumables to get every last bit of life out of them. Even so, these turned out great!

Here is a little mock-up helld in place with some welding magnets.

And speaking of welding, next up, …

The seams were weleded both inside and out, allowing the seams on the outside / top to be ground back. After this it was time for a little heavier welding. I had to dial things up a bit and go in with some punch. Even with the mating T-Joint being 10Ga. I still had to be careful to put most of that extra punch into the 1/2-in material and gently wash the weld into the thinner 10Ga. so as to not blow right through it. I also made a point to stop short of the corners so that they would not be blown out. Here I’m using 90/10 gas and solid core 0.030in wire in spray transfer mode. This would have been a little easier with 0.035in wire, I just didn’t have any on hand that weekend.

I say this over and over again, but in my garage, as far as welding goes, that’s ‘good enough’.

After this a quick bit of powder coating and then I installed some steel riv-nuts. I use riv-nuts in a lot of projects. They are super handy for quick fabrication jobs in steel. Some projects I weld on a nut, some projects I use the plasma to put in the right sized hole and drop in a riv-nut.

This is 5/16-18 hardware.

I debated going with 3/8-16 but these ended up working quite well and lock this ‘cage’ to the corner of the drill press table quite solidly.

And then a quick test fit on the drill press table:

With everything welded up and powder coated I was able to go back, make some precision measurements and determine the correct stakup heigh for the last pieces to be made for the assembly.

These last pieces were simple and came out of some 1/2in 6061-extruded stock off-cuts.

Next, the parts were drilled and countersunk on the mill.

Lastly, they were screwed down and machine around the perhipery on the CNC mill. I could have done this out on the AVIDcnc router but I was already set up on the CNC mill in the studio so it was just as easy to knock it out there.

And then it was time to test fit the sub-assembly and then final assemble. I didn’t even bother to run finsih passes on these parts at this point. I did go back and clean it up later though.

It is a little hard to see, comparing the photos above and the photo below, but I did go back and take a skim cut on the top of the clamping mechanism block and ran those finish passes that I had skipped in a previous step.

These last two pictures show the float lock vice and clamp in action on the drill press. Both sets of parts shown being worked on below were also cut on the plasma side of the AVIDcnc for other / laterproject (more 10-ga & some 3/8in plate.

Nope not the biggest project in the world, just one of those quick weekend fabrication projects that added value to the tools down in the studio. Thre are ever so many ways this could have been done, and in my case the AVIDcnc was the right tool in the right place at the right time.

Only a month or two after I finish this project, I found out the company that makes these is still in buisness and I could have just purchased the mounting clamp seperatly. This project was fun enough that I’m glad I built it anyway and I like something about getting my $37 eBay find back and fully functional after all these years.



Brilliant! thanks for taking the time to share this.

I Want That GIFs | Tenor


Missed this one - sick! I don’t know how most of that works but I’m happy watching someone else master the controls.

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Don’t know if people are interested in this sort of thing, this is what it looks during the cutting process on that 1/2-in plate. It takes a full second for the torch to pierce the steel and then the cut is run at 18ipm.


It just boggles my mind powering through 1/2in steel at that speed.

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Your posts are always great! I like all the photos of the process.