Benchtop Drill Press

Johnson

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Senior User
Now that I have my storage taken care of in my shop (see previous thread from today) I am looking at adding a benchtop drill press. I do not have room for a floor press. It would be in a fairly static location, but I would like to be able to move it around if need be.

I would like to get a solid machine but I do not require a ton of bells and whistles.

1. Any recommendations out there? I know very little about drill presses having never owned one.

2. Is anyone looking to unload a benchtop drill press that is gathering dust? (I'm in Raleigh)

As always, I appreciate the unparalleled guidance and support that this forum offers. Thanks in advance.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
there are a lot of various drill presses for sale these days. The prices and quality levels are all over the map.
Maybe set some parameters for performance first.
Horsepower of the motor: meaningless for the most part.
Depth of throw: very meaningful. You'll have to put stuff under the bit so you want some room. A 4" throw will be usual for smaller drill presses of some quality level. A 6" depth is far better to work with but that's going to cost.
Adjustable depth stop rod: meaningful. You don't want to drill into the table.
Dimension from drill bit to column: meaningful. The more the distance, the more versatile the press. A 15" rated drill press gives only 7-1/2" from drill bit to column. That can be limiting.
Speed range: Important. Large bits need a slower speed.
Total depth range: important. What's the tallest piece of work that you anticipate using. Drilling into the edge of a standing board or box side requires some distance from drill bit top to the maximum the table can be lowered.
 

Johnson

AD
Senior User
there are a lot of various drill presses for sale these days. The prices and quality levels are all over the map.
Maybe set some parameters for performance first.
Horsepower of the motor: meaningless for the most part.
Depth of throw: very meaningful. You'll have to put stuff under the bit so you want some room. A 4" throw will be usual for smaller drill presses of some quality level. A 6" depth is far better to work with but that's going to cost.
Adjustable depth stop rod: meaningful. You don't want to drill into the table.
Dimension from drill bit to column: meaningful. The more the distance, the more versatile the press. A 15" rated drill press gives only 7-1/2" from drill bit to column. That can be limiting.
Speed range: Important. Large bits need a slower speed.
Total depth range: important. What's the tallest piece of work that you anticipate using. Drilling into the edge of a standing board or box side requires some distance from drill bit top to the maximum the table can be lowered.
Awesome information. Thank you!

Is there a brand or maker that is known for quality or equally important, known to be garbage?
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
For woodworking, just like a floor drill, length of quill stroke and low enough speed matters. Of course, the Nova is sweet, but really expensive. My 10 inch Craftsman was not rigid enough when drilling deep pockets with Forsner bits and did not go slow enough to swing big circle cutters. so I upgraded to an old Delta floor drill. I did not research benchtops, but I regret not buying the Palmgren 14 incher. Saving up for the Nova as I am not happy with the old Delta.

Garbage: HF, Grizzly, Delta. WEN seem to be liked for being really cheap but working. Ricon, Jet, etc may be reasonable. Hundreds of brand names, most the same cheap garbage. Hey all look the same but quality of bushings, motors, machining vary. If you can find one in a store, extent the quill and see if it has any play. If it does, you don't want it.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Is there a brand or maker that is known for quality?
There is but you won't buy one until you've had your Taiwan tool or Shiny from Chiney drill press experience. Clausing.

Used USA-made is often a good bet but that can be risky. Plug and play isn't unheard of, but its not the norm. Most need a little work.
The two most common are the Delta DP-220 and the older Craftsman model 100 (or whatever model) The go/no go test will be the column diameter. 2-3/4" is the standard. If the column is smaller diameter than that, keep on looking. Most of those with a 2-3/4" column will have a 4" throw minimum.

Asian-made drill presses available to the woodworker today are pretty much all junk but that's not to say that the utility may not be suitable for your purposes. Some guys are perfectly happy with the utility of a five dollar socket set, if you know what I mean.

I started off with a bench top Jet drill press, but that press was made in Japan before WMH bought the company, closed the Japan factories and moved things to Taiwan. I later got rid of that press for a floor model. I was astonished by the fact that it took up much less room than the bench top. I found that if the table was lowered, I would have an extension area for my work bench.
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
Bob, I don't think the question was looking for a $5000 gear driven industrial drill. I don't think Clausing makes a bench top. 20 inch floor seems to be their smallest drill. It is not where it is made, it is the quality it is made too. China can build crap if that is what the brand pays for, or they can build the best of the best, if that is what the brand pays for. I blame China for IP theft, bait and switch , fraud and many other things, but it is still up to the brand name to put their people in the factory and ensure what they sell is what they intend to sell. I blame Delta, Jet, Grisly , Powermatic, who claim to make good tools. HF does not pretend. They sell cheap junk and price it fairly. I blame companies that claim to be the best, but are not doing their job at the OEM. FWIW, Delta claims to build their tools in SC. ( using Chinese parts) . By the reviews, the worst quality of anyone. I give you an example. Harvey makes a lot of Grizley. Hit or miss, but cheap. They also made many of the SawStop industrial saws. Top notch, and cost as much. They make what the brand specifies.

Many bench-tops do not have a removable chuck with a stand MT quill. So, you are stuck with the chuck as supplied. Good chucks are expensive. ( A good chuck costs more than most bench top drills) Cheap chucks will have more run-out and slip easier.

If I were buying a benchtop, I would look first at Model 30-212VS: 12” VS Drill Press - RIKON Power Tools
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
The Rikon seems to have lots of whistles and bells on a Chinese drill press. If I were looking for instant gratification at a low price, I think I would check out the Harbor Freight 13" press. It has somewhat larger capacity.
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
Just go wiggle the quill on a HF. Take a good look at the chuck. Junk is junk. If that is all you need, hard to beat them, but "bells and whistles" means better bearings, better chuck, better motor... EVERY ONE is a Chinese drill press as there are only a few cast iron foundries and about four actual tool OEMs. If you want to carry the banner for made in USA, then I bet you can find plenty of empty factories and folks ready to get to work. Maybe you can get a few hundred million from the Gov. under some defense act to produce something needed for the Army and build machine tools on the side. Bitching about Chinese tools does nothing to solve the problem! I bet Sparrows Point is for sale.

If you want a 6 inch stroke, you are probably not going to get that in a bench top. Even the Nova Viking ( $1000) is only 4 1/2. Same with Jet 15B.( $800) Very nice, but I looked at two of the bigger ones in stores and both the depth stop did not work correctly. Other wise I woudl have bought the bigger version of the Jet. ( 17 inch)

This is exactly why I went to a floor standing press. One could always buy a floor stander and build the benchtop around it. That said, if you start a hole three inches, it is easy to finish it with a hand held. A bit of thinking and creativity can do wonders. Swinging the head off the side of a bench allows drilling into longer pieces. I have seen drills clamped on their backs to drill ends of long posts. I went more for the rigidity than stroke ( As the old Delta only has 3 1/2 inches anyway). My mistake, should have bought the Palmgren.
 

Johnson

AD
Senior User
Thanks for all of the responses. I feel much more educated moving forward with making a decision at the right time.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
Putting the words, "Drill Press" in a Craigslist search should give you some immediate options without risking a retail purchase. It will be an opportunity for you to observe and try out the press. Quiet and smooth is always a good starting point. If the reason for sale is an upgrade, maybe you want to look at the upgrade. You want to make as much as an informed decision as you can. Often with internet photos, ad hype, and single sample experience testimonials, you can easily go from being uninformed to misinformed.
 

tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
" Often with internet photos, ad hype, and single sample experience testimonials, you can easily go from being uninformed to misinformed. " Boy, ain't THAT the truth!

Tough when most tools are sold direct ship and we have so little faith in the companies any more.
 

Jeff

Jeff
Corporate Member
I have this Sears bench top drill press that I bought around 2008-2010 for about $200. It's not ideal but I was just starting woodworking. It's been fine for my needs since then. The overall height is 28" and I don't know how to find the "quill throw".



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tvrgeek

tvrgeek
User
Hot to measure? With a ruler. How far does it go down. Not a lot. The Sears were better made than most of the cheaper ones that look the same. Fair chuck, but not easy to replace as not a MT arbor.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
Hot to measure? With a ruler. How far does it go down. Not a lot. The Sears were better made than most of the cheaper ones that look the same. Fair chuck, but not easy to replace as not a MT arbor.
IIRC, some of these use a #3 Jacobs taper on the chuck and are easily replaceable. At least mine was.
 

wndopdlr

wally
Senior User
What about used? I have an older Rockwell radial drill press that I have owned since the early 70's and it has served me well for all these years. Not sure if it would be considered bench top or not. I threw away the sheet metal stand a long time ago and built a wooden stand with storage slide outs underneath to better utilize space.
 

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
That Delta radial drill has about a 3-1/2" throw but is a very versatile little press for its size. Yes, I would agree it would be classified as a bench top.

As to how to judge "throw", AKA "quill range", just lower the quill until it stops and put a ruler against it.

1 quill throw - 1.jpg

Above is a 4" throw Delta DP 220 originally made in 1940. It was a bench top press when I got it. I did some work on it and subsequently found a floor length column for it and a nice wide base off of a Powermatic 1100 press.

1 quill throw - 2.jpg

This is a fairly "modern" 6" throw press that I'm working on and thus no depth stop collar. This is a Delta 15-665 known as a 6x6. 6" throw and six speeds. Considering the predictable durability of these presses, a 1975 model is somewhat new. This press was also available in a bench top version.

Note that both of these presses have a split casting in the front. This allows the user to tighten the bore of the head casting for the most precise fit. A non adjustable bore in a drill press head means that when the casting wears from use, that's it for whatever fit was there when the press was new.
 

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