View Full Version : Using Drill Press to Modify Metal Frames?

31st Mar 2018, 06:40 PM
Moose wonder if can use cheapy Harbor Freight drill press to modify metal disease'el frames to accommodate DCC decoders & speakers...

To be clear, Moose is NOT intending to use drill press for "milling," i.e. machining laterally.

For decoder location, would drill axially into metal wider than the width of the assembled frame, then finish flat with Costner bit, then use files to finish remaining surfaces flat.

For speaker location, would drill axially with drill bit slightly wider than speaker, then finish hole bottom flat with forstner bit.

Worth doing?

If practical, what drill bit brand, type(s), material, size(s) and drill speeds?

And, yes, Moose considered using Aztec to mill frames, but they've told Moose they won't mill an Atlas RS-1 Frame for sound, plus they quoted $20-$28 for shipping. Moose still scratching noggin' over the shipping, that's 3-4 times USPS flat rate...

31st Mar 2018, 07:42 PM
Does Moose have a Dremel tool? That is what I used on my Kato frame when I did mine. Used a cut-off wheel, a rasp type bit and then a file to clean it up. I would not feel comfortable using my drill press for such delicate work.

Tim R
31st Mar 2018, 08:05 PM
Costner bit? Is this a mis-spellchecked forstner bit? Forstner bits are made for cutting wood, not metal. If you were going to try this, I'd recommend holding the frame with a vise secured firmly to the drill press table. Don't try this holding the frame or the vise by hand!!!

I'd also recommend trying it on a scrap frame first, before you destroy (er... cut) your good frame.

Like @Jimbo (http://www.nscale.net/forums/member.php?u=4661).0455 said, if Moose has a Dremel tool, that would be better. Also you can chuck a Dremel cutter in the drill press, run it at a fairly high speed, and bring the frame to it. It won'd catch like a forstner bit would.

Be careful! It's hard to model railroad if your fingers (or hooves) are scattered across the floor.

31st Mar 2018, 09:33 PM
@jimbo.0455 (http://www.nscale.net/forums/member.php?u=15743) @Tim R (http://www.nscale.net/forums/member.php?u=10192)

Ummm, let's just say Moose has to get another Dremel. :innocent:

Yeah, spell check struck again...

Sooo, what Dremel cutter wheel is best? And what is a rasp bit? What speed would be best?

The drill press runs up to 3070 rpm...

The more Moose thinks about it, the more using the Dremel with frame locked in place with vise sounds the best approach...

31st Mar 2018, 10:47 PM
Hello Moose, search for "Dremel Metal High Speed Cutter" there are a variety of shapes, depending on how much material you have to remove and what access you have to it may dictate what size/shape bit you use. I have heard these referred to in the past as a rasp bits were you need to grind out a larger area but they all seem to be referred to as cutters now. http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=17755996&KPID=14750539&cid=CAPLA:G:Shopping_-_Hobby_Tools&pla=pla_14750539&k_clickid=0c564e0a-1a95-463f-8d52-dac0c0726a16&gclid=Cj0KCQjw4_zVBRDVARIsAFNI9eBeJx7UOAkfy1bLylwA zNzwG_3bJUj_M2wmabAnspRF4aAxYSVLxW4aAvTcEALw_wcB or www.dremel.com/en_US/products/-/show-product/accessories/9901-tungsten-carbide-cutter
It sounds like you might need to cut a larger circular recess for a speaker, if so maybe you can cut a hole in a template (metal or wood) to help guide you?
Most important is take your time like Tim R said we don't need hoof parts scattered on the floor.

1st Apr 2018, 12:16 AM
I'd go with a small bit, easier to control. I sent mine to Aztek but see the 16:45 minute mark in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R43APUVdGDQ

1st Apr 2018, 02:44 AM
Hmmm, looks like Moose needs the Dremel 9901 cutter, heavy hoof-gloves and, ummm, a new Dremel ... and sacrificial frame...

Hard to believe the human in the video was holding onto the frame with bare hands while grinding!

1st Apr 2018, 07:52 AM
Mr Moose try this place has pretty good prices https://widgetsupply.com/

1st Apr 2018, 10:54 AM
Okay, Aztec corrected their shipping to $8.00. Phew! Now to learn how to disassemble disease'els so can send in exchange frames ... Will still look to modifying RS-1 for sound with Dremel...

1st Apr 2018, 02:51 PM
Hard to believe the human in the video was holding onto the frame with bare hands while grinding!

I watched the very talented woodcarvers at Warthers http://thewarthermuseum.com/ using similar techniques with blades. Its all about levering one hand off the other to maintain control of the cut. Not sure how big the learning curve is, but hopefully no sacrifices are needed!

1st Apr 2018, 07:02 PM
I have used my dremel with a cutoff wheel for most of the modifications I have made to frames and typically have done this without a vice. Most of the modifications I have done this way have only required 1 or two cuts, frequently to only half the frame.

As for the basic concept of using a drill press for the work, a milling machine, which is what Aztec uses, is a drill press that can be programmed to very accurately move in 3 dimensions ( raise and lower the head, and move it in the x y plane relative to the work).


1st Apr 2018, 11:35 PM
Caveat: don't apply sideways force with a drill press; the spindles aren't designed for it.

2nd Apr 2018, 01:41 PM
When you use a vice, do the police ever visit? I know you all meant "vise" (didn't you?), but words really do matter.

2nd Apr 2018, 02:14 PM
When you use a vice, do the police ever visit? I know you all meant "vise" (didn't you?), but words really do matter.

Doh! Ummm, Moose's only vice is model railroads... :)

Paul Schmidt
2nd Apr 2018, 03:55 PM
I tried a vice, but I couldn't get into the habit.

2nd Apr 2018, 05:19 PM
Paul Schmidt

Moose not gonna dignify that with a response... :MooseAngry:

Paul Schmidt
2nd Apr 2018, 06:30 PM
Moose2013, I think the anticipation of seeing your Top Secret project is making me giddy.

3rd Apr 2018, 01:38 AM
When you use a vice, do the police ever visit? I know you all meant "vise" (didn't you?), but words really do matter.

It passed the spell checker :D and it is correct British English spelling for the tool.
( see definition 3 in the Oxford English Dictionary https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/vice )