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Keep the mill/drill or drill press?

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  • Keep the mill/drill or drill press?

    I have an Enco RF30 clone mill/drill with power downfeed in mediocre condition and a Powermatic 1200 drill press. Eventually I intend to get a Bridgeport sized mill.

    Since I do not have unlimited space I am thinking of getting rid of the Powermatic. The only real advantages I see with the drill press are:
    • the speed is easily adjustable
    • I could drill a very tall object if I drop the table to the floor

    Any reasons I should keep the press over the mill/drill?

    Edit: Because everytone likes the pictures:

  • #2
    I'll take the drill! I've been looking for that exact DP.

    Seriously though, when I found a Powermatic Millrite, the mill-drill went on the block. I still have my drill press, and it's not nearly as good as yours.

    But it sounds like there will be some time before Mr. Bridgeport arrives.
    If so, you have to keep the MD until then.


    • #3
      Once you have the full sized mill I'd get rid of the M/D and keep the DP. As you pointed out the M/D is in poor condition and the DP is more versatile. If necessary you should be able to get repair parts for the Powermatic for the foreseeable future, but not necessarily so for the Enco M/D.


      • #4
        While it is not usually done, the head of the MD will swivel far enough that you can drill very tall objects that are next to the mill, and not just the things that fit on the table. It might take some ingenuity to hold the work, but it can be done.

        That negates one advantage of the DP.

        I find that having a second smaller mill is sometimes handy when working on projects. My second mill is a micro mill. My main mill is a 5 foot tall 8x26 knee mill.

        And, of course, every once in a while I need to make or fix a part for one of my mills.

        At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

        Location: SF East Bay.


        • #5
          Hi Toyjeep73

          Difficult choice!

          If it were me….. I would keep the one that drilled the most accurate hole. Carefully measure the run out on both machines and choose accordingly.
          If they are both equal in that regard, I personally would favour the mill solely for the convenience XY table.. The variable speed option, is an attractive option but, I see the X- Y having more appeal in particular when using a vice on the table.
          Providing of course the table it was mounted on would permit it, could the mill be rotated 180 to drill on the floor?



          • #6
            For me I would keep the mill... After purchasing my first mill the drill press has never been used. It really depends on what you generally use both tools for.



            • #7
              I must admit the power downfeed is really very useful around my shop. ONCE you get the full size Bridgeport thing... What about selling both and using that money to buy a used 20" Powermatic or Clausing? Something with enough oompfh to really drill a large hole in one shot. Essentially, as a drill press, the two machines you are asking about have the same capacity for drilling: ∅1/2". A simple drill able to hog closer to a ∅1" twist drill could be very useful. I know I have found that to be the case. If negating this proposed option, I would be inclined to keep the mill/drill. I have both a RF31 and a very nice 16" pillar drill. I'd love to admit otherwise, but the mill/drill has much better rigidity on larger holes than a MT2 spindle, 16" pillar drill. Besides, the Powermatic will bring actual money when sold. The mill/drill, likely not so much. Those are inexpensive enough that I perceive them a tough sell for any honest money. Maybe not in your area? I would definitely expect so here in the midwest.


              • #8
                I kept my drill press and sold my mill drill when I upgraded. I'm sorry I did. Keeping the mill drill would have offered me far more versatility than the drill press and the ability to leave an often used set-up in place (i.e.: a rotary table).

                I also understand that most drill presses utilizing a variable pulley/ belt drive for speed changes. These are primarily set up for woodworking speeds and don't offer some of the slower metal working speeds that a mill drill can provide.

                The only draw back that I can see in retaining the mill drill is the greater need for floor space.

                Good luck with your decision.


                • #9
                  There has been a time or two when the ability to drill something taller than my box-column mill can has been very helpful. But most of the time I pine for a marriage of the simple table with a hole and the X/Y positioning of the mill. I think that calls for a new tool to be made! A plate with a central hole for when you just want to throw it on there and drill and now you still can fine-tune to 0.001" without the fuss of doing it on a drill-press.

                  I'd personally keep the mill and make up something that it could swing over to for those really tall projects.


                  • #10
                    My suggestion is to keep everything until you actually are out of space.


                    • #11
                      I'm with John. Keep them both for now. If and when you get a Brigey, then the decision will become more clear.


                      • #12
                        Hi All
                        Regarding Photomankc's comment. My solution to that very problem is a somewhat crude angle plate I fashioned out of a piece of 4x6x1/2 in angle iron about 10 inches long which I simply pop into the vice when it suits the equation. It provides a center hole a clamping surface and is dead simple.
                        It is not suitable when a high degree of accuracy is required but many times it is more than adequate and its simplicity and speed can be beneficial.

                        Regards.... Bert


                        • #13
                          ^ What John Garner said! Keep 'em both until you absolutely run out of space.

                          If it were me, I would keep the DP over the mill/drill because I tend to work on larger pieces. The ability to run morse taper shank drills is a big plus. I'm not sure what the spindle taper of the mill/drill is, though. Maybe it is MT also? Likewise, I would appreciate the greater torque of the drill press (I'm assuming it's lowest RPM is probably under what the mill/drill is).

                          I think auto downfeed in a small mill is not particularly useful. I like to "feel" my way with small diameter drills so I don't break them. I do use power downfeed on large diameter drills to save myself some effort, but you better have a machine that is built for big drills if you intend to do this. I know, for instance, that the auto downfeed in a BP was never meant to drive large diameter drills. That's why so many used BPs have stripped gears, etc. The down feed, therefore, isn't too useful in drilling holes. It's "too strong" for delicate jobs and "too wimpy" for big jobs.

                          Also, the nice thing about a DP is how easily you can adjust the table. It looks to me like that the mill drill is going to be PITA as soon as you want to drill small diameter holes in thin material. You'll have to stack a bunch of blocks under the work to reach the drill bit since you don't have a knee and (probably) have limited quill travel. Plus, you'll always need some blocks or wood or something under your work piece to keep the drill from the table. And, like you said, if you want to drill something clunky, you've got pretty limited range with the mill/drill. How about the throat depth? What's the distance from the column to the quill for both machines? I dunno ... for drilling holes, its hard to beat a decent drill press.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for all the comments. My initial thought has been to sell the drill. It is getting moved to my garage Saturday (along with the lathe) and I will need to figure out what its future is.

                            Originally posted by John Garner
                            My suggestion is to keep everything until you actually are out of space.
                            John's suggestion is what I have been comtemplating doing, but the drill is 3-phase, and I am not sure I want to buy another converter.

                            Also, since I have gotten the mill/drill I have not had to drill anything it could not easily handle. And I really like the x/y table.


                            • #15
                              Keep everything!!
                              One great use for a drill press is to drill-out holes in round stock. It's much easier to drill holes using a drill press, than cranking the tailstock in & out repeatedly on your lathe.
                              Mount a 6" chuck, centered under the spindle, and you've got a dedicated lathe helper.