No announcement yet.

Drill Press Selection

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Drill Press Selection

    Hello to all!

    I should start out with an intro. My name is Jerrod Smith and I have been lurking around here for about a year now. I have enjoyed reading all of your thoughts and have gathered much useful information. I usually have a laugh when I read some of the posts but I learn something new every time I drop by.

    I am interested in creating model engines, both IC and steam and whatever else catches my eye. I know I'll need a lathe, a mill, and a drill press. Plus a whole bunch of other bits and pieces. Which brings me to my query for you folks.

    I am trying to pick a drill press. I have our choices available in my area. They all seem to be similar in specs and such. I'm hoping someone here has either owned one or used one, and can give some feedback as to the quality of the brand, pitfalls etc.

    My choices are: Delta 16 1/2" 3/4 hp, Ridgid 5" 1/2 hp, Craftsman 15" 2/3 hp, and Grizzly 14" 1/4 hp. All are floor models and sport 5/8" chucks plus all of the usual adjustments for table location and height. I know RPM range is important to consider, but how low is low enough? What are the most important aspects to consider? Is an induction motor preferrable over another type?

    Any feedback that can be provided is greatly appreciated.

    P.S. If a spindle is listed as having a MT#2 taperr does that mean other attachments could be used on it as long as they have an MT#2 taper?

  • #2

    Welcome to the zoo!

    From what I have seen of the Ridgid line they have a lot to offer for less money. Ridgid has a good name and the toold have a good warranty. It is a tough thing to pick and choose. One thing to consider, if you purchase a mill - it can be used as a drill press. If you have limited room consider that as a factor. A really good drill press can cost as much as a mill (that does suck). Low speeds are handy for holesaws and large Forstner bits. If you do a fai amount of wood working a drill dress is handy. If you are metalworking you can get by with just a mill and forget the drill.

    MT#2 or MT#3 are common spindle configurations on drill presses. Avoid ones that have JT (Jacobs Taper) noses - this is a sure sign of low quality. If you extend the quill down you will see a slot cut into the side - this is to insert a taper removal wedge - the quill is then moved upwards and the MT shank is ejected. The drill press can be set up to tap holes with a tapping head such as the Tapmatic or Procunier units - this is much easier and far more fun that doing it by hand.


    • #3
      >My choices are: Delta 16 1/2" 3/4 hp, Ridgid 5" 1/2 hp, Craftsman 15" 2/3 hp, and Grizzly 14" 1/4 hp.

      For general home shop use, around 15" is a nice starting place. I have a 15" Rockwell with 6" of spindle travel that I use the most. The long spindle travel is pure joy.
      ( Since I'm a tool junkie I also have a 18" Buffalo - the real American one- and a 20" Walker Turner/ Rockwell/ Delta.

      My Rockwell has a #33 Jacobs taper for mounting a 1/2 drill chuck semi-permanently.
      A #2 or #3 Morse taper would be a little nicer.

      My Rockwell originally had about a 600RPM minimum spindle speed. I put a 3/4 HP DC motor on it ( fed by 110V single phase ) and now can get down to a usable 200ishRPM for drilling. The lower the speed the better.

      With the DC motor, I can drop the speed real low ( with significantly reduced torque ) and so I put a floor/foot switch in series with the off on switch and use the drill press to start my taps in the work. (The simple off/on floor switch is not terribly safe 'cause when I take my foot off of it the spindle starts up again...really should build a system that requires a separate reset action to start the spindle again )

      A crank up table is nice and so is a "large" table.

      Probably want a work lamp attached.

      It sounds like you are looking at new units -be aware all of these are probably made offshore and there is a lot of discussion about the merit of old American versus new import.


      • #4
        Thanks for the replys guys!


        My work area is very tiny and my funds are low. This drives the move towards a drill press. I'm not sure I have the room for a lathe and a mill. Are bench top type mills worth the dough? I don't want to limit myself on the size. I heard a useful bit of wisdom once that has stuck with me; small tools do small jobs while large tools can do large and small jobs. Thanks for the hint on MT vs. Jacobs tapers. That will play in my decision as well.


        You are correct, all of my choices are made in China. I think I will check into a used one before I plunk down my dough. Sounds like long spindle travel is a good thing. How are you running a DC motor on 110? I thought the two were like oil and water... I see I have lot to learn!

        Thanks guys.



        • #5
          Re: DC on 110

          You purchase a "converter" that first changes AC into DC and then has circuitry that allows you to change the output so that the motor will change speed ( this is an EXTREMELY basic description of the converter ...).

          They cost about $100 new and several companies make them. I have purchased several DC motors and several controllers thru eBay.

          I suggest you put this idea in your things to investigate list for after you get the drill press.

          BTW - if you are going to buy an import tool, make sure that parts will be available in the future. Delta and Craftsman probably will but some other companies may not support the product in the future. Years ago I bought a mill-drill ( not a bad tool for you to consider ) at an auction. At the time, it was about 5 years old. It needed a part, so I called the company that had sold it ( put their name on the machine ) and found out that they didn't have parts for it-they actually laughed at me over the phone.
          Fortunately a part from a Jet mill-drill fit my mill-drill.


          • #6
            Consider saving your drill press money and putting it towards a milling machine of some kind. You can drill on a milling machine, but a drill press makes a dern poor excuse for a milling machine.
            Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
            Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
            Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
            There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
            Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
            Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


            • #7
              Well, for a single machine, the best choice is likely a lathe.. probably a 10" or 12" swing

              I know, there are other opinions........lots of them.....and we will see some here.

              Reasoning as follows.........

              You can drill holes in small things on the lathe, and bore them accurately, too. Not so on drill press.

              For big things, there are hand drills, and gizmos to hold them square to the work.

              You can mill on a lathe (given the incentive) but much less well on a drillpress, if at all.

              Of course you can turn round parts on a lathe. You can do some of that on a mill, (SMT, I read your articles), but not much on a drillpress.

              The English model magazines are full of engines made entirely on lathes. These are generally the type that have a sort of table on top of the crosslide, instead of just a spot for the compound.

              Bottom line is that for what you have described you want to do, the best single machine for you is a lathe. Preferably one with a table-type crosslide. But in any case a lathe.

              It sounds like you are looking to buy new. I don't know your skills and circumstances, but I have 100% used stuff, other than one Delta sander.

              I now have 2 lathes, a small knee mill, DP, 2 shapers, filing machine, grinders, belt/disc sander, all with plenty of tooling. I have less than $2500 into the whole lot, spent over several years.

              But, I had to do work on almost every piece. That didn't scare me, so I did it. Your mileage may differ. Your money vs convenience tradeoff may differ too.

              [This message has been edited by Oso (edited 09-12-2003).]


              • #8
                AND the lathe can be used as a drill press.

                The first piece of tooling that I made for my lathe was a "drill press table" consisting of a 8 x 10 x 1/2 steel plate brazed to an old morse taper dead center and faced true.

                The table fits in the tailstock with the work attached to it with c-clamps. The work is fed into the drill with the tailstock handwheel. Drills are mounted in the spindle (I use morse taper drills for the larger sizes).

                I still use this table for drilling BIG holes. My lathe will operate at much lower speeds than my drill presses or mill so it's very suitable for large hole drilling.

                [This message has been edited by randyc (edited 09-12-2003).]


                • #9
                  I've worked in shops with nice floor stand drill presses and they were great. If you get a 16" or 20" then the crank up table is a must. But consider the following if either funds or space are short.

                  As several previous responses stated, the mill-drill will function very well as a heavy duty drill press. It most likely will not have the very large quill to table clearance available on a floor stand drill press but I have never actually needed that particular capacity. The very few long parts that I wanted to drill on their ends were far too long for any floor stand anyway. I wound up doing them by hand.

                  When I set up my present shop I got a good sized mill drill and I use a small bench mount drill press for mosxt drilling jobs and for deburring, etc. I paid about $50 for it in a home supply place and it does at least 90% of all drilling I need to do. The mill drill easily handles 99% of the remainder. If I had a bit more room I would consider buying a second bench top drill press instead of a full sized floor stand model and I could then have two or three (using the mill drill) different drills/tools mounted at once to save time. And the mill-drill has a 1 1/2 HP motor and a wide range of speeds for when that's needed.

                  Paul A.

                  Make it fit.
                  You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!


                  • #10
                    Once again thanks to you all for your responses and suggestions. I am beginning to see the light! Seems like a drill press may be too 'single use' for what I want.

                    From lurking I have decided that I want a good medium sized lathe, ie a 10-12 inch swing. I'll check into this too. I have very little experience with machining at this time. One semster of high school shop is all I have been exposed to. That was nearly 10 years ago now. We didn't get into the capabilities of lathes enough for me to realize that a lathe could be an effective drill.

                    I have not seen too much discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of the 3 in 1 machines (lathe/mill/drill). Are the even worth considering? Seems like a person might be better off with a seperate lathe and mill. Any thoughts?

                    As far as mills go, is a benchtop model sufficient for most work or does a person really need a larger knee type mill?

                    Once again, thank you for your ideas and comments.



                    • #11
                      I have the room for some big toys but not the money yet (paying off the old debts first). So I went with the mini-lathe and mini-mill from grizzly. Basically the same ones you'll find under 5 other names at least.

                      There are projects that are on the back burner because they are too big for my current machines. The mini-lathe is fine for 1" stock, ok for 1-2" but after that you get into the position that its hard to get the tooling back far enough that it's still rigid and clears. I'd much rather have one of the HF 12x36 lathes right now. They are sometimes on sale for as low as $1699.

                      I use the mini-mill as my drill press for just about everything so far even though I do have a floor model MT3 drill press. It would benefit greatly from a solid as opposed to hollow column for stiffness. I can watch the whole column twist when a countersink gets into a harmonic pattern.

                      The RongFu 45 seems to be a popular small mill among HSM's. Preferable would be a (small) knee mill but watch the clearance on those as after you have some work clamped down and tooling mounted that gap can disappear real quick. And real fast when using longer reamers (like a 0.5" dia reamer).

                      Figure in stuff like:
                      3" rotary table +
                      2" of vise +
                      2.5" of work +
                      3.5" of chuck +
                      6" of exposed reamer =
                      17" of space needed to just clear the setup.

                      You'll probably think of anything you want to do now and add another 50% to 100% of capacity.

                      I don't think many would recommend it but if your space is super limited you might look at the 3-in-1 's. Just remember that you'll probably spend a lot of time in set-up and tear down to change operations.


                      • #12
                        The subject of 3 in 1 machines has been thoroughly covered in many previous threads. My opinion is that separate machines offer many advantages at little extra cost. Mill/drills work fine, but if your budget can handle it, a knee mill is a very nice thing to have.
                        Your machining skills will improve as necessity arises. Good luck.


                        • #13
                          Oh, and also look at the Harbor Freight (or equiv.) 7x14" metal bandsaws. Cost around $140. They're great. Needs a heavier base, which have been replaced by a lot of users. I swear mine cuts at 89.5degrees and leaves a nice finish (for a saw).

                          You'll want to buy a bi-metal blade and throw away the one that comes with it. Worlds of difference in speed and quality of cut.


                          • #14
                            What brunneng said. Best $ I ever spent, and bi-metal is the only way to go.


                            • #15
                              Oh if I had only listened! When I told my wife I was going to buy a new mill, and I was debating on which one I wanted, she said, "buy what you really want cause you won't get another" I bought a mill drill with base and power feed on the X axis. I like the machine but it has some negatives that I wish I had thought more about. The used bridgeport market price is definitely comparable to new mill drills, but as I told my wife I was sick of having to spend all my time fixing up old equipment. The bridgeport wouldn't have taken up much more of a footprint either. As far as drill presses go, I have two, an old american made and a new chineese made. After I changet the #2 MT shank and chuck in the import to a keyless it works very well. I don't think I could survive without a drillpress, but as others have stated, they do make a lousy mill.