Review By Dean Bielanowski  Vertiacc Website - http://www.vertiacc.com


Vertiacc
Vertical Drill Press Accessory

Review

By Dean Bielanowski

Whether you own a drill press or not is irrelevant when it comes to trying to drill accurate holes into the end grain of wood, particularly longer lengths of wood. It can be done, but the process is usually time consuming and can be quite frustrating without the proper tools, and if you are making dowel joints, accuracy needs to be up there to achieve a satisfactory result.

Most end grain drilling work is done with a handheld power drill and perhaps a dowel jig or other device. Drilling into end grain using a drill press has most often been even harder to accomplish. When the developer of the Vertiacc drill press accessory asked me to review his new device, I was naturally quite interested... Let's find out why, and what it will do to the capacity and function on your current workshop drill press machine.

First things first...
The Vertiacc is designed for use on larger floor standing drill press machines. It is not designed for use with benchtop models, however, it could conceivably be adapted for use with a benchtop model if you twist your drill press head to be hanging out over a raised table or stand. I haven't tried it, but I'd imagine it could be done if you were really keen on this product and only had a benchtop drill press at your disposal.

Packaging and Installation
The Vertiacc comprises many components, and all arrived safely wrapped and packed in a cardboard box. Most of the major components come pre-assembled, but there are also plenty of loose components, nuts and screws etc in the box. Sort similar components together and lay them out for ease of assembly. Assembly took me about 25 minutes, and then a further 5-10 minutes to attach the Vertiacc to my drill press. Instructions are included for the assembly process, and these include both text and exploded diagrams. The exploded diagrams will be needed in many cases because of the unique nature of the product. It will be new to many so following the instructions carefully will reduce any frustration during the assembly process. I was able to get everything assembled and ready to go without too much trouble. The creator has also recently released a sample DVD which shows exactly what the Vertiacc can do, and this is available to request from the Vertiacc website. It is also helpful to watch before assembling the product as it will give you an idea of how everything goes together and some examples of how the tool can be used for maximum benefit.

The Vertiacc is one of those devices that you would never guess what it was or how it works until you do actually get it mounted on the drill press itself, then by some stroke of magic, all the components seem to tell you themselves what they might be used for. There is a learning curve to using the product, but the more you use it, the easier it becomes to to use and adjust.

Attaching the Vertiacc to your Drill Press
You have two options when mounting your Vertiacc to your drill press, and which you choose will depend on the type of drilling work you wish to undertake. In the "Adjustable Angle Mount" configuration, the main mounting plate which includes the slide mechanism is bolted directly to your drill press table. Because of the Vertiacc's design, you will need to swing your table out to the side of your drill press so the Vertiacc falls within the drilling area of your chuck. This is no real problem. The mounting plate attaches through the holes or slots in your drill press table using a sturdy bolt and large washer. Once the mounting plate is attached, you can attach the arm/fence component, again using washer and screw setup to the adjustable angle slot in the main mounting plate bracket. The angled slot allows the arm to be swung from a vertical to a horizontal position (i.e. 90 degrees) and at infinite angles in between. There are marked positions on the angle bracket at common woodworking angles, i.e. 22.5, 45, 60 degrees etc. You can use them as rough guides only because there are not positive stops or detents at the these positions, so accuracy relies on you locking the arm at the position as close to the mark as possible. Locking the arm involves a bit of ratcheting spanner work. If accuracy is critical for your task, you should also check using suitable angle checking devices.

The second method involves attaching the main arm of the Vertiacc directly to your drill press table via a bolt through the drill press table's slots. In this configuration, there is no sliding adjustment feature, but certain other features on the Vertiacc give rise to a lot more possibilities in this configuration...

I found that depending on the width of your material, and where you wished to drill, frequent adjustment of the drill press table or positioning of the Vertiacc becomes necessary, although this is not really different from using a standard drill press and a drill press vice anyway. In a production shop, however, this is less likely to be a problem when repetitive drill tasks are the order of the day.

Vertiacc Features and Uses
Let's examine a little closer now, the potential uses for the Vertiacc system. If we assume mounting in the adjustable angle mount configuration, the Vertiacc becomes a very useful tool for drilling into the end grain of wood at all angles. In fact, it is perhaps the easiest way of drilling end grain holes with a drill press and certainly easier than using portable handheld drills. You can also drill in to the faces of table legs, small wooden parts, virtually anything you like, and at any angle you choose as well, and this can all be done relatively quickly and easily. With a suitable drill bit, making pocket holes is certainly not out of the question either! With an adjustable and swinging drill press table, the Vertiacc allows drilling with 6 degrees of freedom. The built-in clamp helps secure your wood to the Vertiacc for drilling and the clamp is adjustable to some degree for flexibility. There is a maximum thickness the clamp is capable of clamping, but above that you could always use standard clamps to manually clamp your workpiece, but for the majority of tasks, the clamp's maximum capacity will handle the task just fine. Together with the Vertiacc's angle adjustment, and the angle tilt of your drill press table, drilling compound angles is possible too.

The slide mechanism allows you to smoothly glide the whole arm forward/back, left/right depending on the setup of your arm. The version we tested had a twist knob on the end to slide adjustment, which was a little slow to turn and get anywhere fast, but I believe the Vertiacc unit now ships with longer levered handle which should remedy that issue and make sliding quicker and easier. The slide capacity is limited to about 1 foot of range, but this is probably more than adequate for most end grain drilling tasks. For face drilling at 90 degree setup to the drill bit, it is more limited, but in this configuration you would be best suited to setting up the Vertiacc in the Horizontal Mount mode which removes that problem. The slide adjuster is a great feature for drilling holes for dowel joints, as an example, as it means you do not have to unclamp the wood, move it to a new position and re-clamp again before drilling. This way, you simply drill, slide the arm to the next position and drill again.

The biggest advantage of the Vertiacc is of course the ability to drill into the end grain of long pieces, perhaps rails for a coffee table, table legs, stretchers, chair construction or any joint where end grain drilling is required. With most drill presses, the Vertiacc can handle lengths up to around 51 inches (1300mm). This is not possible to do on most standard floor model drill presses without the Vertiacc or other complex jigs or irregular drill press positioning.

In Adjustable Angle mount mode however, the Vertiacc requires some extra stabilization as the arm is pretty much hanging in the air only supported by the drill press table itself. To provide extra stability, an adjustable support leg can be lowered to touch the ground and provide a second point of support for the arm. This adds a good deal of stability to the Vertiacc in angle drilling mode. So be sure to lower it whenever you are drilling in this particular configuration.

Horizontal Mount
As mentioned above, you can also mount the Vertiacc arm direct to the table. In this mode, the arm itself gives you extended workpiece support beyond the edge of your standard drill press table, and while the sliding mount is now out of the equation in this configuration, it does bring into play more features of the Vertiacc system. The Vertiacc is a little more stable in this mode as well. The first is the four integrated and moveable flip stops. These metal flip stops with hardwood faces can be adjusted along the length of the Vertiacc arm and flip down into position to act as regular stops, or flipped up and out of the way when not needed. This is one feature of the Vertiacc that becomes extremely useful for repetitive drilling tasks, or where repetitive alignment is needed without the need to measure and mark every workpiece that you plan on drilling. For example, if you needed to drill out multiple holes in multiple pieces of wood for say, dowel joints, cabinet hinges, mechanical fasteners etc, you simply set your stops up at the correct position, then flip the first one down, push your wood up against it (which positions to the drill bit in the right location) and drill. Then flip the first stop up, move the wood along, flip the next stop down, drill again, and so on. Because the flip stops are not changing position, and can be easily flipped up without moving them out of position, repetitive drilling tasks can be achieved extremely accurately from workpiece to workpiece, i.e. making multiple copies of a project piece. The flip stops can be moved anywhere along the Vertiacc arm so their is maximum flexibility.

The Vertiacc also comes with a bunch of metal support pieces that, when joined together and attached to the Vertiacc, provide additional workpiece support when drilling taller or wider pieces, like cabinet doors, plywood backs, or other pieces of wood that are larger or wider than what the Vertiacc arm can easily accommodate on its own. The ability to remove the supports is also well thought out, as they do take up a bit of room when added to the product, but are certainly useful when the project calls for them to be used.

Mortise Attachment
An attachment for mortising is also included with the Vertiacc, however, you will require a mortise conversion kit for your drill press to use it. The hold-down component of the mortise attachment is attached to the Vertiacc and acts to help dislodge the chisel from the workpiece and prevent binding. It works in a similar manner as a standalone mortise machine when used in conjunction with a standard mortise conversion kit for your drill press. I do have a standalone mortise machine, and in my opinion, it is easier to use, however, in its absence, the mortise attachment would be useful for the occasional mortise and tenon operation. It is a bit of a bonus inclusion with the Vertiacc anyway so if you do not have a better solution to make your mortises, it will work ok for you.

Overall Impression
Let me say that this is one device that is quite difficult to explain in words, and initially, it is tricky to grasp how the device works, and what you might use it for. This is one product that subscribes to the concept of... the more you use it, the more uses you will find for it... and the more accurate and faster your drilling tasks will become.

As mentioned earlier, the product is best suited to end grain drilling tasks and projects requiring repetition. In a small production shop, it would be very handy. For the DIY user, if you don't already have a good table setup for your drill press incorporating multiple strops and adjustment features, the Vertiacc could be well worth a look. If you already have a full workshop setup with mortiser and don't really have a need for a lot of angled drilling work that can't be achieved with your current drill press, then the Vertiacc may have limited application for you. If you are not sure, jump onto the Vertiacc website and order the free sample DVD. It will show you exactly what the tool can do and is very well made.

There are certainly many good points about the Vertiacc product, and many useful applications. The product, like many others on the market, is constantly evolving, and new uses and functionality can be found as its design progresses, and I am sure it will continue to progress. It appears the Vertiacc is established for further development and add-ons will be come available for it. After talking with the designer about the product personally, it is clear that the intention of the Vertiacc is not to make an individual the richest man in the world, but its design is aimed to provide a solution to common problems associated with specific drilling tasks on your standard drill press machine.

I would like to see perhaps a slightly better way to secure the Vertiacc more firmly and rigidly to the drill press table in the adjustable mount mode, however, as it is now, the product is very useable and very effective in a number of drilling tasks, and is well worth a look.

I encourage you to take a look at the photos in the right column. In some cases these will help better illustrate the uses of the Vertiacc better than I can manage to get them down in word form.

For more information about the Vertiacc, or to request sample material, please take a look at their website. Surf on over to www.vertiacc.com

The Vertiacc is available in Australia direct from the manufacturer at the website listed above (prices available on request).
The Vertiacc will soon also be available to USA customers, although prices are yet to be confirmed.

 

 

Vertiacc Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited.

The Vertiacc attached to the drill press table.


Angle adjustment is via way of this arcing slot and secured by tightening the nut and washer at the rear.


Common woodworking angles are stamped into the angle adjustment plate.


The twist knob on the sliding mechanism (shown here) has now been replaced with a rotating handle for faster slide action.


Drilling dowel holes in the end grain of a one meter long rail? No problem with the Vertiacc!


The adjustable clamp holds the workpiece securely on the Vertiacc.


When it comes to angled drilling, the Vertiacc is the master at achieving this task quickly, accurately, and safely!


The vertiacc attaches in horizontal mount mode via this t-nut and bolt.


Adjustable flip-up/down stops allow precise, repetitive drilling to be achieved.


Picture showing the mortising attachment in use.


After making a mortise (left end of leg) we decided to drill some dowel holes for a stretcher.


This is the same leg, but notice the use of the flip stops to drill holes at accurate intervals.


Including support rails can be used both horizontally (as shown) or vertically for added support of wider pieces.


And here we see those supports in action as we set up to drill holes for European kitchen door hinges on the reverse side of this raised panel door.

 

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