Use Nomad manually as drill press?

Another not-a-desperate-feature-need-but-might-be-useful thought:

I was about to buy a drill press when I realized wait, I have a crazy precise milling machine at home that is more than capable of drilling a hole, and a precise one to boot.

Is there a mode where you can move the cutter around manually while the spindle is running? Eg stick a thing in the vise, move X and Y to where you want them, close lid(so that in the EU, the device won’t eat your arm like so: Overriding door open sensor ), set spindle running and then control z manually?

Obviously drill presses are cheap and not a big deal in a cost sense–in my case it’s a space issue. Can’t cram all the tools I want into my workspace, so whatever can do double duty is a plus.

1 Like

My ideal work setup screen would have the move spindle buttons/controls, axes zero/set fields and a useful MDI field where we could enter any legitimate one line of gcode at a time (G0 X1.50 Y4.00 etc). I have done quite a bit of hole drilling and stock facing on the Tormach that way when I didn’t want to draw up the thing in CAD or write gcode files ahead of time.


thirded call for manual controls. seems like a no-brainer!

1 Like

Here! Here! Manual controls (including spindle speed).

1 Like

The only reason I would not want to see that functionality exposed is that if you’re manually chucking a drill bit and then manually adjusting feed rate and such, the machine has no idea what the tool length is and you’re likely to plunge the tool into the table if you’re not super vigilant and using a spoil-board.

But then the problem with that assumption that you’re using a spoil board, how are you fixturing/holding your work piece securely if it’s not in a vise? You’d be fastening clamps in your spoil board, or using fixturing wax?

An alternate “interim” solution that I think actually might work much better for you would be to write a very simple g-code file that’s just a z-axis plunge move at an appropriate plunge rate—then you just zero the machine to directly above/touching your hole location, and run the program. You can vary the plunge depth and rate based on your drill bit, your material thickness, and desired hole depth.

Since you can move the machine to certain positions with a “quick move” such as moving to the center of the table, you could center your low-profile vise jaws on your material under the center, put a thin shim under your material, and bam you’ve got a repeatable clamping fixture to use.

@UnionNine I think the best bet is to use G-Wizard Editor’s “conversational CNC” (or similar program) to write the code for these kinds of operations. It’s WAY faster than trying to get MeshCAM to do it, and for multiple hole drilling in particular the code it creates is much more efficient.

OOO! That is a good suggestion… and I own a copy go GW-Editor… :slight_smile:

1 Like

There’s also a Python util for drilling a holes:

Also see

I literally mean the same use case as with a drill press, eg the machine doesn’t need to know what the tool length is because you can see it. You clamp your piece in the vise, move the cutter’s x and y right over where you want to drill, then slowly manually drop it down by some tiny fixed amount (.1mm or whatnot, just like when you move it around in general), raise it up to clear out chips, drop it down lower, etc.

One line of gcode may be easier once you trust yourself with gcode, but I don’t entirely yet (anyone got a link to a nice clear tutorial or cheatsheet? It’s a bit nervewracking to write code where a bug or typo can have actual physical consequences. :confused:

We have a write-up on the Shapeoko wiki:

1 Like

+1 for manual controls w/spindle control.

+2 for manual controls w/spindle control.

There was a discussion on Reddit recently which brought back the LoboCNC to mind — no longer in production, but maybe some ideas which could be used here, most notably, using the machine as a manual mill w/ a DRO via positional encoders.

Would putting a nice USB jog wheel (or set of them?) and tweaking Carbide Motion so that displays positional information more prominently be a workable option?

1 Like