My drill press doesn't have a "stop".

How do I make a drill hole the same depth every time?

  • I would be interested in a picture or model number for your drill press. – Adam Davis Feb 25 '16 at 20:33
  • I believe its this one RYOBI Model # DP102L. – NipFu Feb 25 '16 at 22:17
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    Page 21 of the manual shows that this model includes a depth stop and how to adjust it: homedepot.com/catalog/pdfImages/6d/… – Adam Davis Feb 25 '16 at 23:34
  • Good grief man - that is exciting. I just checked my documentation and that is indeed the model. 100's of people have been using this drill press for several years and never noticed this. I am used to seeing a different style. Next time I'm in the shop, I will see if the knob is broken off or something. – NipFu Feb 25 '16 at 23:45

The simplest means is to place a tab of masking tape on the drill bit at the desired depth. When the spinning tab lowers to the surface of the wood and sweeps away the wood chips, stop.

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    When using this technique, make sure that the tape is securely wrapped around the bit. The tape can slide up the bit and make you drill deeper than you intended. As a precaution, check the position of the tape after every few holes to make sure that it remains consistent. – Jason Hutchinson Feb 24 '16 at 17:23
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    when my brother showed me this trick, he put the tape on the drill bit, then slid the bit into the chuck until the tape stopped it. presto: no tape slipping. – james turner Feb 25 '16 at 0:27
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    Also make sure that the tape is applied in the "spin" direction, so that it doesn't come undone just from the drill's spin – user2813274 Feb 26 '16 at 3:43

Ashler's answer is the simplest and cheapest way to get holes the same depth. But as an extra there are bit collars that can be put on the bits which will enforce exact depth stops.

enter image description here

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  • Ah ... great minds think alike – Matt Feb 24 '16 at 3:38
  • @Matt Yes! And you beat me to the punch because my image links weren't working! :) – bowlturner Feb 24 '16 at 3:39
  • You seemed to have come out on top of this as well. – Matt Feb 24 '16 at 13:34
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    These are the good sort. Some cheap stops have a grubscrew trying and sometimes failing to grip the drill bit. Get the good sort if you can. – Chris H Feb 24 '16 at 15:16
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    These stops work, however, care needs to be taken that the stop does not touch the surface of the wood since it can leave marks. To reduce the risk of leaving marks, cover the area you are drilling with a piece of masking tape first. – Jason Hutchinson Feb 24 '16 at 17:21

A lot of people drill a hole through a suitable length of wood dowel (or small square cross section) and use that as a stop-collar on the drill.

enter image description here


You can also just use an external chunk of wood

enter image description here


One benefit of both these is you don't need an Allen key and can very quickly swap back and forth between two or more different depths (useful for e.g. dowelling)

Unlike some pieces of tape or rubber/plastic grommets, they can't be pushed out of position by overenthusiastic pressure.

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You can also adjust your drill press table to be at the desired depth when the drill reaches the end of it's stroke.

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  • This is also an elegant solution which I never considered. I suppose the repeat-ability also depends on the quality of the drill press table (which don't always lock down well on cheaper ones) whereas the tape or depth-stop collars are accurate regardless. But still, this is an interesting technique as it is less dependent on eye-balling than the tape and less expensive than the collars. – NipFu Feb 24 '16 at 6:56
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    It also won't mar the surface like the collars will. – Mazura Feb 24 '16 at 12:22

Tape is what I would have suggested and continue to use but if you wanted something a little more robust my suggestion would be depth stop collars /nuts

enter image description here

Image from AliExpress

Easily removed off the bits and adjustable as well which tape would not be as much.

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    I think I lucked out in getting a picture of higher quality depth stops... – bowlturner Feb 24 '16 at 17:22
  • For sure. I didnt find the one I really wanted and settled :( – Matt Feb 24 '16 at 17:23
  • Still made it to 10! – bowlturner Feb 24 '16 at 17:24
  • Well I already upvoted this one last night. – bowlturner Feb 24 '16 at 17:25
  • @Matt you will make 10K – Daniel Feb 24 '16 at 19:26

if this is not a big project and you're just trying to get very close sized holes.. (maybe you don't want to punch through the other side), i've used electrical tape on the drill bit. just tape above the depth you want to stop. when you hit the tape... stop...

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  • I was about to post this exact solution. – Daniel B. Feb 28 '16 at 1:01
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    I don't think electrical tape, over the accepted answer's masking tape, warrants its own answer. – Mazura Feb 28 '16 at 1:19
  • Agree with @Mazura – JDługosz Feb 28 '16 at 8:30

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