The drill press was overlooked in my shop for many years, presuming I could do just fine without another tool. Now, that I’m wiser, it seems apparent to share why I now own a drill press and urge you should too.
Drill presses to start are precision machined tools. And, as such, they are capable of
drilling holes in precise locations at accurate and repeatable depths.
If/when you’re in the market to purchase a drill press there are a few items to determine before your purchase.
CHUCK: likely the most important aspect to quality of your drill press, its quality can vary between machines. I suggest selecting a drill press who’s chuck operates smoothly from being drawn to its smallest size to its largest. Be sure to check all key holes, as they must all work the same. Additionally, check the runout (wobble) of the chuck, as its vital to the accuracy of the resulting hole. The runout should be minimal throughout the entire extension of the chuck’s vertical (quill stroke) movement.
QUILL LENGTH: while you get what you get, ensure you’re choosing wisely. Check the actual working length of the quill. As I found out, the actual length versus the stated length differed a lot. Please choose carefully!
TABLE SIZE: Yes, it makes a difference! While there are some great options for drill press tables, that help hold larger pieces of material, there will likely be times, you need to use only the table that came with the drill press. Please make sure you choose the best size for your work.
TABLE MOVEMENT: A lot of bench top drill presses don’t have a geared vertical movement. Having a geared movement helps with ease of use if you’re trying to adjust a small amount for your work.
HEAD & POST: The distance between the post (vertical item connecting the base to the motor/chuck assembly) and the chuck will control the distance from the edge you can drill your work. Measure the distance and determine which product offers the best fit for your style of projects.
QUILL LOCK: Crazy important! Quill locks vary greatly from machine to machine. I suggest you look for a quill lock that’s reliable, has fine tuning and is easy to see while working. As you’ll find, not all quill locks are made equal.
MOTOR CAPACITY: Like all other aspects already highlighted, the capacity of the motor (horse power) will control the size of work you can safely handle the drill press. Yes, the sharpness of the drill and the amount of available current also affect the operation, however each of them can be adapted to aide the operation of the drill press. Again, please choose wisely.
SPEED: Most drill presses are belt driven. Some have limited speeds due to the number of pulleys available to change the chuck speed. If your project are made up of a variety of woods, having the flexibility of speed options will help your projects be more enjoyable.
ON/OFF: WHERE’S THE OFF SWITCH?! Isn’t something you want to think of have someone ask you. Choose a machine that has its power switch close by for safety sake!
BENCHTOP OR FREESTANDING: This question is likely answered for you by your shop floor plan and project types. Either will allow sitting or standing. While the benchtop has the flexibility of being tucked away when not needed, its quill length is less than the freestanding models. Inverse to the benchtop, the freestanding will need dedicated floor space, its style can handle much taller materials.
Like all choices we make for our shops, studying, reviewing and testing the options for a drill press are vital to selecting the best fit for you and your shop.
Thoughts and suggestions…email firstname.lastname@example.org