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Drill press - fabricate sailboat parts

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  • Drill press - fabricate sailboat parts

    I'm trying to decide on a drill press, and it's been years since my metal shop days.

    It looks like my real hobby (sailing) is about to create a sub-hobby. Which of these drill presses offer better performance & accuracy. Most of my work will be drilling 6061 aluminum and 316 stainless (and some wood). The steel clevis pins in my boat's rigging are 5/8" as an upper end size.

    Is there a big difference between the Taiwan units and the ones made in PRC (China)? I'd suspect yes, but how much difference in result?

    Thinking about them in this order:
    Powermatic 17"
    General international 17"
    Then we get to a better budget point....
    Fisch 12" bench (is it really german?)
    Rigid 17"

    Any others I should condisder? The N.A. General is out of my budget for the amount of use.

  • #2
    If you are going to make holes in stainless steel get yourself a high quality set of 135* split point drills as they will give you less problems with work hardening materials like Stainless Steel 3xx alloys (304 is really bad). If you can find them I recommend the Norseman drills (made in Minniapolis, MN) they are a high moly (M-4, M-5, or M-42 can remember which). Best HSS drills I have ever used. Nachi makes good quality drills that a number of my associates use and are pleased with them in production use.

    As far as the Drill presses go, I would recommend the General first (made in Canada, good machine) then the Ridgid as they do stand behind their tools. The others I have not seen or used.

    To prevent damage to the shanks of your drills I would recommend replacing the key chuck with a Rohm or Albrecht keyless (Rohm is also German and less $$ but in the same league as the Albrecht chucks. The Diamond Film plated jaw Albrechts (gold coloured tightening collar) will even hold carbide well but are almost double the money.


    • #3
      Paul, yes it definitely is in the drills and the chuck. I have an older Delta floor model that works okay, but I need to brag on my small table model from china. It does a good job for the 49.00 I paid distributed by Northern Tool. The six speeds are just right for most app ( never tried stainless on it yet). It has been a surprize for me, and I use it more than I thought I would at first. I too am a sailor, Hunter 23. I am making several projects for it now: backstay adjuster out of stainless. I am starting with a stainless all thread 16 in. The small drill press will do 760 rpm which may be borderline for your stainless, depending on the drill dia. Good luck, and may you always have fair winds !! Paul Craft


      • #4
        Lacking the chucks that Thrud recommends, the simple trick of thightening (by using) all three holes in the chuck, works wonders. It seems that you can always get a little movement out of each position and you seldon spin a drill shank. John


        • #5
          I second Johns advice. and add: when inserting the drill into the chuck, rotate it a little and shake it around (sounds like advice to a woman of ill repute) before tightening the jaws. It centers a little closer, then grip by useng each hole in the chuck to tighten. If things are bad, make two or more passes using increasing pressure on the chuck key.

          On most things i think its smart to buy cheap, break it then get the best- most things don't break no matter how cheap. But Drills are differnets- buy cheap and expensive at same time. use the cheap one til dull, then use (same job) a good drill. You will feel the difference immediatly.

          Since even a cheap drill press is expensive, go for quality (what ever that means), Shake the quill and buy nothing with movement side to side. Up and down should be smooth, then put a dial indicator between the chuck and the table. Loosen and tighten the table lock, left and press down on the table. Do this before you buy, if you neglect to check before buying dont do it afterwards. Heart attacks cost most than dril press and the movement will probably give you palpatations.


          • #6
            So if I'm understanding your answers correctly, there is no noticable difference in the results so long as I equip the press with a good chuck? Really???

            Sounds like my deciding factors are length of quill travel and horsepower (and maybe the portability of a bench unit if I want to take it down to the boat dock). BTW, she is a Newport 41 that we race on Wednesdays and cruise on the weekends.

            That makes the Rigid higher on my list as a floor model. ?? as a bench


            • #7
              One of my first jobs with metal was fabricating parts for racing sail boats,dingy hoists,tuna towers etc.., I started out learining how to drill, we used a Jet d.p. floor model it worked well. remember,D.P. are machine tools and must be used with caution. it looks like a simple tool, but I almost had my thumb cut/torn off in a one,(no one had ever told me to never wear gloves while USING machine tools) a very simple mistake can lead to tragedy in a very short amount of time... sorry bout' the rant..... still got 20 just a little mangled



              • #8
                Arghhh.... This research is making my head hurt. So what are the implications of a drill press with a Jacobs taper 33 vs a Morse taper?

                Does this limit what type of chuck you can install, or what?


                • #9
                  The Jacobs 33 taper will be a male taper on the spindle that accomodates a variety of chucks. JT33 is a relatively common size that fits quite a few chucks in the 1/2" to 5/8" range. The 14N and 16N ball bearing chucks for instance.
                  The MT #2 taper is a female taper in the spindle that can accomodate a variety of adaptors that in turn have other Jacobs male tapers on the end.
                  MT #2 will give a bit more flexibility, and is easier to remove. Once a Jacobs taper is properly installed, it is difficult to get the chuck off.
                  If you get an import drill press, definitely plan on replacing the chuck with a good quality one. Heavy duty Jacobs at the least.
                  Jim H.


                  • #10
                    Do not get any machine that just has a stub arbor on the bottom, get the MT#3. The reason is the JT#33 is a dead issue, even Jacobs is no longer making shanks for it - a bad sign. If you get the MT#3, you can add a tapping head later (for tapping lots of holes) mount it on another MT#3 and just remove the chuck or tapping head when you need the other by using a removal wedge in the spindle. Large Morse Taper shank drill can also be used in a machine with a MT#3 (Or larger) to increase your drilling capacity.

                    Machines with just a stub sticking out are a sign of a low cost machine - be wary of them.


                    • #11

                      I'm not sure what kind of accuracy you need as I'm not a sailing buff. For most work the accuracy will depend a lot more on your ability to layout, center punch, and start the holes than on the drill press. Also, properly sharpened drills are critical. A great "accuracy enhancer" I use when manually drilling holes is to use a small center drill first, then a pilot drill that's about the size of the final drill's center web, and finally a drill of the desired size. All of this is after careful layout and punching, of course.

                      Here's some things to look out for in a drill press.

                      Spindle run-out: This will effect any kind of job you do on it. If the spindle doesn't run true, no chuck in the world will help. Include any side play due to the downfeed mechanism in this measurement.

                      Next is the capacity. Can the work you intend to do fit on/in the machine. Can the drills you need? Is it heavy enough to support the weight of the work without bending? Is the spindle to column distance OK? Etc.

                      Is or can the table be made to be square to the spindle? (Dial indicator test refered to above.) If you will need to set it to different angles, how easy is it to return to square? Deep holes may require far greater accuracy here than drilling in sheet metal.

                      Available speeds. Slow speeds are needed for larger diameter drills.

                      Quill travel: Does it have enough travel to drill holes to the depth you need?

                      Quill stop: If you need to drill blind holes to a given depth, a good, easy to set quill stop is a very desirable feature. Also great for countersinking holes to a uniform depth.

                      All that said, you can really get too involved in specs. I have a $50, bench top, three speed, lumber yard special that I have been using for years now for small jobs. The only real problem I ever had was a broken chuck key. I can do about 80% of all my drilling on it. The rest I do on the mill/drill. I may get a beter one some day but for now, this works.
                      Paul A.
                      SE Texas

                      And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                      You will find that it has discrete steps.