First drill press advice

Ericlassiter18

Eric Lassiter
Senior User
Looking for advice and recommendations on a bench top drill press. Currently looking at the WEN 4210T 10” bench top press. Does anyone have this press/have thoughts on it or other recommendations?
 

Scott H

Scott
User
I have the WEN 4210 and have been using it since late 2017. I am not sure how the 4210T differs but I will give you my thoughts.

First thing for what I paid and the space it takes up, I am happy with it. I think I paid like $120 and going from no drill press to drill press by any means is a big improvement.

The following all applies to my specific 4210, I would look up to see if any of the specs differ with the T version.

The good parts:
  • Price
  • Compact
  • No complaints about accuracy once I added a table
The less than good parts:
  • The cast iron drill table on mine was "dished" in the middle enough that it was affecting the squareness of drilling. I had to add an auxiliary table to correct this. I have some thoughts on this below.
  • Limited spindle travel. I think it can only plunge about 2-1/2". This has caused a lot of complication making larger things like my workbench. You can can drill in stages but the chuck-to-table distance is not that much since it's compact and the auxiliary table eats into that distance too.
  • I wish it could go slower than ~600 rpm to use circle cutters more safely.
  • It is not very heavy so if you do something that causes it to vibrate excessively the chuck CAN fall off. I think this can happen to any drill press where the chuck just fits on a taper but lighter ones will vibrate more. Practically this only has happened to me when I am trying to hog out waste with a forstner bit and use bad technique. If you need to drill overlapping holes to hog out waste try to have >50% (ideally 60% or 70%) of the circumference be drilling into wood rather than unsupported to keep it from vibrating. I suspect if you bolted it down to something heavy properly this would not happen anywhere near as frequently, mine is just sitting without being bolted currently.
  • No spindle lock
  • I do not really ever use the laser to be honest
  • I wish the table could tilt forward/backward; it only does side to side. Mine was not square forward/backward when tightened so I had to account for it in the table (see below) although maybe you could shim it somewhere else.
If you get it and find your table is dished -- What I would suggest for the table is to make it out of something thin but very rigid, I used two layers of 3/4" MDF because I had it but I think something else (plywood?) could be thinner without eating up table-to-chuck height. Leave an overhang around the front, left, and right of the table so you can clamp to the auxiliary table instead of the metal table, because the metal table only has a thin wall to clamp to which is annoying. I would recommend extending out the table height crank shaft if you can so you don't have to cut out a notch in the table to still be able to turn it. I put a set screw into the table so I could adjust the forward/back tilt but you could easily shim it with something that doesn't compress much.

What I ended up using to test squareness of the table was ordering a precision hardened metal rod and comparing to an engineer's square but there are a lot of other good methods.

I want to say that I still use this thing all the time and once I added a table it has done very well within the constraints of its size and how much I paid for it. The only thing that might genuinely get me to upgrade is the spindle travel/chuck to table distance.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
WEN is the budget champ, but don't expect durability. Don't get me wrong, I own several WEN tools, but I know what to expect. Cheap drills: cheap bearings, lots of slop, cheap chucks, difficult to change speeds. Of the various specs, look at quill travel. Some are very short.

You did not say what you were going to do with it. I suffered with a Craftsman 10 inch for years. It was the tightest machined of the generic cheap drills at the time ( 30 years ago) Finally broke down and bought a used Delta 17 inch. In hindsight, should have bought the Rikon, Jet, or Palmgren. Spent the grand and been happier. (Nova or Powermatic are out of my range) Also look at what Northern sells. They have an $80 really cheap one, and a $200 Klutch that may be a good tool. But you should be able to find a "cheap" one used for under $50 and leave room for decent drill bits. It is the bit that does the drilling.

Benchtops come up for sale used all the time. Cheap. Reason is after living with them, we want bigger machines. Now, there are some bigger benchtops, even radial ones. Heavy and reliable. Remember, you don't always get what you pay for, but if you don't pay for it, you won't get it!
 

Ericlassiter18

Eric Lassiter
Senior User
I have the WEN 4210 and have been using it since late 2017. I am not sure how the 4210T differs but I will give you my thoughts.

First thing for what I paid and the space it takes up, I am happy with it. I think I paid like $120 and going from no drill press to drill press by any means is a big improvement.

The following all applies to my specific 4210, I would look up to see if any of the specs differ with the T version.

The good parts:
  • Price
  • Compact
  • No complaints about accuracy once I added a table
The less than good parts:
  • The cast iron drill table on mine was "dished" in the middle enough that it was affecting the squareness of drilling. I had to add an auxiliary table to correct this. I have some thoughts on this below.
  • Limited spindle travel. I think it can only plunge about 2-1/2". This has caused a lot of complication making larger things like my workbench. You can can drill in stages but the chuck-to-table distance is not that much since it's compact and the auxiliary table eats into that distance too.
  • I wish it could go slower than ~600 rpm to use circle cutters more safely.
  • It is not very heavy so if you do something that causes it to vibrate excessively the chuck CAN fall off. I think this can happen to any drill press where the chuck just fits on a taper but lighter ones will vibrate more. Practically this only has happened to me when I am trying to hog out waste with a forstner bit and use bad technique. If you need to drill overlapping holes to hog out waste try to have >50% (ideally 60% or 70%) of the circumference be drilling into wood rather than unsupported to keep it from vibrating. I suspect if you bolted it down to something heavy properly this would not happen anywhere near as frequently, mine is just sitting without being bolted currently.
  • No spindle lock
  • I do not really ever use the laser to be honest
  • I wish the table could tilt forward/backward; it only does side to side. Mine was not square forward/backward when tightened so I had to account for it in the table (see below) although maybe you could shim it somewhere else.
If you get it and find your table is dished -- What I would suggest for the table is to make it out of something thin but very rigid, I used two layers of 3/4" MDF because I had it but I think something else (plywood?) could be thinner without eating up table-to-chuck height. Leave an overhang around the front, left, and right of the table so you can clamp to the auxiliary table instead of the metal table, because the metal table only has a thin wall to clamp to which is annoying. I would recommend extending out the table height crank shaft if you can so you don't have to cut out a notch in the table to still be able to turn it. I put a set screw into the table so I could adjust the forward/back tilt but you could easily shim it with something that doesn't compress much.

What I ended up using to test squareness of the table was ordering a precision hardened metal rod and comparing to an engineer's square but there are a lot of other good methods.

I want to say that I still use this thing all the time and once I added a table it has done very well within the constraints of its size and how much I paid for it. The only thing that might genuinely get me to upgrade is the spindle travel/chuck to table distance.
thank you for the review! I am only a hobbyist so I probably wont be doing too much heavy work with it. Mainly drilling holes and the occasional mortise. I saw a Rikon at a similar price range, but its only 8". I may look into the reviews on that one as well
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
I found drilling for mortices, the tables are too flexible, so I used a scissors jack under the table to get my Forsner bits staying true.

You will find 99% of the reviews to be someone regurgitating the ad copy. You won't find actual objective testing for runout, vibration, or even comparing specs. I suspect a majority of reviewers are either paid shills, or have never used a tool in their life. Some just search on Amazon feedback and sound like they ever even saw the tool, which usually they have not. Welcome to the Internet.

If you extend the quill all the way, grab it and it has any play, it is just plain crap. Go look at a Harbor Freight, and compare it to a respectable brand. Cheap drills will have cheap chucks and unfortunately, a good chuck is expensive. The HF 10 inch is $150. Compare that to even WEN 10 at $190 or the 12 inch Wen at $275 or the Jet 10 @ 680. You can see the differences in quality and decide what you are willing to pay for. If you find a used Craftsman 10, it was probably close to the current Jet.
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
Eric,
I went on FB market place and saw this one down in Southern Pines - older Taiwanese model. I had the floor standing version of this for a long time, paid $100 at an auction and sold it for $150. It is NOT a Jet or a Delta, but still a pretty good DP. IMHO.

Do all the things @tvrgeek told you to - check the motor, extend the quill to look for slop etc. I think this has a 1/2 HP motor, I saw another one and it had a 1/3 HP and I just think they are under powered...
 

Ericlassiter18

Eric Lassiter
Senior User
Eric,
I went on FB market place and saw this one down in Southern Pines - older Taiwanese model. I had the floor standing version of this for a long time, paid $100 at an auction and sold it for $150. It is NOT a Jet or a Delta, but still a pretty good DP. IMHO.

Do all the things @tvrgeek told you to - check the motor, extend the quill to look for slop etc. I think this has a 1/2 HP motor, I saw another one and it had a 1/3 HP and I just think they are under powered...
Found this craftsman in Fuquay, but it looks newer than I think you were suggesting @tvrgeek ?

 
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tvrgeek

Scott
User
That craftsman would be easier to clean up. I would bid $100 for it easy. The Delta is also a good one, but I would worry with that much rust if the quill was rusted. But I suspect you are barking up the right tree now.
 

Oka

Casey
Corporate Member
Like TVR I have some Wen tools and you do get what you pay for. Their saws, bench grinder and planers are decent. Not daily users but they are good enough for when I use them.
I would NOT recommend a Wen drill press or any super cheap drill press. There are 2 main reasons: a drill press tends to be a daily user and will wear out quickly , and the drill press quill needs 4"of travel min. as not to frustrate you.
I bought a Porter cable that was more or less new 3.5 years ago, when I got it its run out was 3-5 thousandths. I was super happy, now ? 10-13 thousandths. So now, it is either change the bearings or look at getting a better drill press. Ill probably get a better one and sell this off. I was going to put a 1.5hp vfd motor on this one but the quality of the unit is not good enough to make the conversion make sense. Just some thoughts.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
Just another viewpoint:
Even if just starting and an occasional hobbyist, you will probably have a drill press forever. ( A little hard for dorm rooms, but I have seen them). The most expensive tool is one you have to replace. So, back to older quality tools, or pay the bucks for newer quality tools.

I have started to consider a benchtop radial over my floor standing, but stroke is the issue. I really want 5 1/2 minimum. It would be of the heavy industrial weight.
 

Oka

Casey
Corporate Member
Ye olde rabbit hole ........ to get a radial with 6"travel it is 500-1000 lbs .... wait ! get a gearhead drill press instead, better ! Then, one realizes you really need/want both - ok get a new Drill press and a Milling machine.

But, besides the cost, the drill press and the mill will both be over 500 lbs. So, unless you have a permanent shop better to get back to need over want.

Look at the auctions, often they will have a old Delta or Clausing Worthy of your needs. Some of the models have 2 bearings on each side of the quill. A Standard Bearing and a Taper bearing assembly. This(+other things) explains the quality. Replacing those bearings and cleanup the quill assembly often will render the tool to tolerances similar to a Mill.
I work with Stainless a fair amount and really need a drill that can get to
75 RPM, most of the DC VFD type motors can only get to 150 rpm, which makes drilling SS a bit tricky tendency to heat up too fast. Nova drill being one of the DC motor types.
Eric if you can be patient, look for a Old Delta or Clausing, JET, some of the old Enco's, Rikon, or Grizzly's. If you find something you like look up the exploded diagram for that model and look at the assembly, that will give you a hint to how it is made and if it is worth buying or not. Good luck on your search !


Just another viewpoint:
Even if just starting and an occasional hobbyist, you will probably have a drill press forever. ( A little hard for dorm rooms, but I have seen them). The most expensive tool is one you have to replace. So, back to older quality tools, or pay the bucks for newer quality tools.

I have started to consider a benchtop radial over my floor standing, but stroke is the issue. I really want 5 1/2 minimum. It would be of the heavy industrial weight.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
Yup. There is always an option for just a little more. Suddenly that $300 perfectly useable 10 inch bench drill justifies the $500, but gee, for about $700 you start to get a nice machine, Up to $1200, long stroke, bigger motor. The Nova only a little more @ 1600. Then the smaller JET Reeves is about 2K... I was actually thinking about one of those production benchtops and rolling my Delta around the corner. Price jumps well over two grand fast.

Not what the OP is looking at. Eric should be watching for a 10 inch Delta or Craftsman. They show up pretty often. All they should need is a cleaning and belts. Of course, cleaning the chuck in one that does not come off might be a real pain. Shoot it full or CRC, let it soak and then flood with carb or brake cleaner maybe. A very few older Deltas were actually split heads so you could adjust the quill play. Not positive about benchtops though.

75 RPM. Ah, so that's the trick. I did get a good set of Cobalt bits, and instead if a drop of oil, I flood it. A lot of drills minimum speed is too fast. I rarely run mine above 600. More often 400. I was thinking about finding a sheave for the idler that was bigger. Or finding an unused tread mill to strip for the VCR motor and controller, then pick sheaves that will get me 100 to 1000 maybe. I don't understand the high speeds the charts say for drilling metals. I target speed and pressure for large chips to spirals. Dust is not how to drill.

A reeves dive is tempting, but it seems many hate them, and a few love them. I am gathering it is if it is an old real PM, Delta, Clausing, etc, then they love them. If a new V-belt like the Rikon or even the current PM, then they hate them. VFD or VCR both have their issues. Almost all belt drive violate the minimum pulley diameter specs. Unfortunately good sheaves cost more than a cheap complete drill press!
 

Ericlassiter18

Eric Lassiter
Senior User
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Just another viewpoint:
Even if just starting and an occasional hobbyist, you will probably have a drill press forever. ( A little hard for dorm rooms, but I have seen them). The most expensive tool is one you have to replace. So, back to older quality tools, or pay the bucks for newer quality tools.

I have started to consider a benchtop radial over my floor standing, but stroke is the issue. I really want 5 1/2 minimum. It would be of the heavy industrial weight.
Going to look at the craftsman tomorrow, agreed to $80 if it looks solid. Think it’ll be okay for my first one
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
Best of luck. They should last. I used the heck out of mine for 40 years, then passed it to my brother in law where it is in use now. Good as new.

Basic advice for a beginner:
Any old drill will need a belt. As the pulleys are too small for the V-belt spec, go to a cogged belt. My preference is Gates AX series. But correct series size is important. It may be smaller cross section. Cheap belts have uneven splices and vibrate more.
Do the chuck cleaning as I suggested. Then shoot some thin oil in it.
You will want to bolt it down.
Prober belt tension is when it does not shutter when running. No more.
Remember, snug the bit with the key in all three holes every time. You should never spin a bit.

Wood: Spur bits, Forsner bits, Flying hole saw, Bosch spade bits. I almost never use a standard twist drill for wood.
Metal: Good quality HSS. I prefer Cobalt. I prefer split-point over chisel point. Look at machine suppliers like MCS. Not the local big box store.
For metal work, you don't need the long jobber length. You can use the cheaper, shorter drill bits. Less flex.
Surprised at the difference in a center punch from a popular brand vs a Starrett. Only a few bucks but worth it.
Keep the oil can right there so you never forget.
My old drill was bolted to a 30 inch scrap kitchen cabinet. Drawer for all the bits, cabinet for clamps, fence, my other drills etc. Very convenient and in many respects, I miss that setup.
A gooseneck lamp with a very bright bulb is a good investment. I would say 1000 Lumens or more.
Clamp everything you can. A bit sticking in a bit of steel can swing around and take off your fingers before your brain processes "Oh ****!" For wood, it just smarts, maybe a lot.

If you search the internet, you can find actual OBJECTIVE testing of drill bits. Unfortunately a lot of speed and force advice is for automated machines. I usually drill much slower. Big chips to spirals. Very rarely will I even see smoke on metal. Lots of oil on everything but wood except cast iron.

Drilling is not as obvious as it seems. There is some to learn. Not much for wood, but a lot for metal. Any hole larger than about 3/16, I drill a 1/8 first. I buy 1/8 bits in bulk.

One last thing: A drill press is not a milling machine, lathe, or spindle sander.
 

Ericlassiter18

Eric Lassiter
Senior User
thank you everyone for all the responses, very helpful. This is why I joined this forum. I’ve found another craftsman, this one 15” that looks to be a little older. Only one picture but maybe a better buy? He is considering going down to $150. Thoughts vs the 10”? @tvrgeek @Oka
Check out this item on OfferUp. https://offerup.co/dycLr1mZpeb
 

mkepke

Mark
Senior User
Eric - you've gotten a lot of good advice, but help us understand your needs and wants:

*what projects do you have in mind for the drill press (now and in the foreseeable future)?
*what's your budget? To tvrgeek's point, no sense looking at $1200 machines if your budget is $100.
*what other constraints do you have: space, must be portable,.. (you mentioned you are looking for a benchtop, which eliminates 50% of drill presses, being floor standing)
*anything you specifically need or want in the drill press (variable speed, tilting table, laser,...?)

I'm in the 'buy used' camp for 90% of my woodshop machines. Good ones will outlive a couple owners...

-Mark
 

Ericlassiter18

Eric Lassiter
Senior User
Eric - you've gotten a lot of good advice, but help us understand your needs and wants:

*what projects do you have in mind for the drill press (now and in the foreseeable future)?
*what's your budget? To tvrgeek's point, no sense looking at $1200 machines if your budget is $100.
*what other constraints do you have: space, must be portable,.. (you mentioned you are looking for a benchtop, which eliminates 50% of drill presses, being floor standing)
*anything you specifically need or want in the drill press (variable speed, tilting table, laser,...?)

I'm in the 'buy used' camp for 90% of my woodshop machines. Good ones will outlive a couple owners...

-Mark
Mainly looking for a ma CJ one to help me drill square holes. I just finished building a folding Adirondack chair, and have a friend who wants a couple for themselves. I figured a drill press will make this project a lot more streamlined. I started out making cutting boards and have just now moved on to larger furniture pieces
I currently live with my parents while I’m applying to Med school, so it’s important for my tools to be portable, as I wheel everything into a corner of the garage when not in use. I started woodworking in a very nice makerspace at UNC (jet drill press, powermatic bandsaw, festool miter saw and rotex, etc) and now that I’m not in school anymore, I dont have the luxury of using their machines. I picked up the 10” craftsman this morning, I was considering the 15” until I realized it was a floor standing model. I’ve only been seriously woodworking for about a year, so I apologize if I’m a little unclear because there is a lot I don’t know about the tools, and even what I want/need. Hopefully this model will serve my needs for now.
 

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