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Drill Press Options

Post in 'The Gear' started by thinkxingu, May 23, 2011.

  1. thinkxingu

    thinkxingu Minister of Fire

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    Hello All,
    Looking for a drill press--could use either bench top or floor, but I'm partial to the latter since bench space is at a minimum. Way I see it, two options: low-end new ($200, Black Bull @ TSC would be my choice) or high-end used. There's a JET floor press that looks like it's nice shape on Craigslist for $250 that I'm thinking about.

    Thoughts?

    S

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  2. 94ranger55

    94ranger55 Member

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    Used old school quailty made would my route ! Something like delta,jet, powermatic or craftsman can be found for short money !
  3. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Craglist I have a 1974 cummins Its very hard to stop it. A cheep one just would not be worth it unless all you do is wood.
  4. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    +1

    God, TX, calling a Jet "high-end" is something I never would have dreamed of 15 years ago. Be patient and look for an old drill press made by a major manufacturer of days gone by. Chances are you'll find a press a lot nicer than a "top-of-the-line" Jet for half that price.

    There simply are no high-end power tools being made at the consumer level. Period. Even the venerable Powermatic tools are mostly made in Taiwan these days (owned by WMH Tool Group, as is Jet). When I worked selling tools, it was sad indeed when each new shipment seemed to have even more of the telltale signs of Asian manufacture. My 6" long-bed Powermatic jointer (made in Taiwan) is one of the least user-friendly/serviceable tools I have ever used. My Performax thickness sander (uh, owned by WMH as well :roll: ), absolutely cannot achieve consistent drive belt tracking, nor can it be adjusted so that the thickness is the same across its mere 16" width. Makes a handy conveyor belt if you want to move something two feet, and that's about it. That is, until the $50 drive belt runs into the belt tensioning hardware and tears to shreds. And those wonderful massive Wilton vises that held an iron bar like it was welded in place just by nudging the handle with the heel of your hand? Made in Taiwan as well.

    Thank God most stove makers haven't followed down that dark road... yet.
  5. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    I have a Jet drill press, benchtop model that I bought new a couple years ago. Seems well made, and I've had no problems with it. I'd stay away from whatever the box stores carry though, if I could help it.
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm backing up BK's opinion of go old or go home. The drill press that I run is probably close to 100 years old and is as smoooth as it gets. My dad has a small bench top model from sears that sounds and acts like it was put together from 6 different erector sets.

    As far as Jet goes - never owned one, but I can say that I am unimpressed with most of the stuff I have seen from them.

    Old skool Delta Rockwells would be on my short list.

    Looking on fleebay, there is a King Seeley (vintage sears), that would outlast/outdo 99% of anything you will buy off the shelf today. Its at 100 bean pods with no bids:
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-King-Se...256?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2310ff39a8
  7. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I know my 1974 cummins will break an arm if you dont set it up right.
  8. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    A vise or heavy gloves are ALWAYS used when running my drill press. It will yank your arm out of its socket if you don't pay attention.
  9. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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  10. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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  11. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    If that one was 1000 miles closer it'd be mine. That is a beautiful old industrial machine. Speed range is great as well, from 410-5380 RPM. That covers just about everything. I'd even do a cosmetic restore on that sweetheart.

    Look, if you just need to punch an occasional hole in something, any drill press will do. But then again, so will a 1/2" hand drill. If you may someday want to do accurate drilling on carefully laid out projects, find yourself a real press. My idea of Hell would be to spend eternity trying to adjust Taiwanese stationary power tools for precise work. It was a living hell working at Woodcraft, trying to make the demo units work like we claimed they did. Seriously, literally every power tool we sold except for the Delta Unisaw and the Powermatic 66 was Taiwanese junk. I'm sure it's gone downhill to Chinese manufacture by now.

    When I was working there, I made the mistake of buying a Rikon radial drill press with a tilting head. I'd been wanting one for years, and this one seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. Nice looking unit, 16 speeds, rave consumer reviews, and only $200 with a 5 year warranty. How could I go wrong? Well, not only are the angle and depth stop adjustments nearly useless, the chuck wobbles at low speeds, making it absolutely useless for even punching round holes. Two replacement power heads (under warranty) did the same thing. Then Woodcraft closed and there was no easy way to get a third replacement. I recently tried one last time to figure it out myself, probably bearing related but I don't know what bearings to upgrade to. I just called Rikon and they told me they'd fix it (out of warranty now)... but I need to pay the shipping both ways. More than the damn thing is worth, and they know it. Now it sits in a little used corner of the workshop, holding down the concrete floor. I should take them up on the offer, just to make them squirm when they can't fix it.

    Don't let the snazzy promo pics of these things fool you. Crap is crap, no matter how much you polish it.
  12. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Currently own 1980 Craftsman 8speed floor model (first major tool I bought,saved paper route /lawn mowing money in highschool.) Spindle bearings about shot now,cant find parts for it.Its the model just before they introduced rack & pinion table,you have to raise it manually,no fun there. Also own 1991 Delta 5 speed bench model,originally set up for sole use with Morticing Attachment,dont use it much now.Both are decent,not as good as 1940-60's stuff,but loads better than comparable stuff sold at Lowes,Northern Tool,Home Cheapo etc today.Am watching for a decent 1940's or later Atlas or Delta/Milwaukee or Rockwell model thats not too pricey.

    My Stanley No.994A Vise. 4"wide jaws,4 1/4" opening,16pounds.Late 50's-early 60's paint scheme,from retired machinists estate sale.Design of these vises was carried over from North Bros. "Yankee" line,when Stanley purchased their Philadelphia company in 1946.Production of their vises,braces,the famous "Yankee" spiral ratchet screwdrivers & push drills was moved to Stanley's New Britain CT factory in 1953,soon afterwards the quality started to gradually decline.

    Attached Files:

  13. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    As with most sweeping generalizations, the ones being made here are wrong. There were many, many bad tools made in olden times, and no manufacturer was immune to it. Most of the bad tools they made went by the wayside long ago, but not all. There are still old drill presses around that cannot be properly aligned, or won't stay in alignment, or which have vibration problems, etc. Even back then, it was "You get what you pay for," and even back then most people didn't want to pay very much. So while getting an older WELL-MADE tool might be a good idea now, there's no guarantee.

    Likewise, there are plenty of quality tools being made now, but you're going to pay more for them. My Powermatic 2000 table saw is as good as anything made years ago, and in many ways much safer and easier to use. Likewise, Lie-Nielsen and Veritas are making woodworking tools that greatly outdo anything made even in the heyday of quality tool manufacture.

    Just do your homework and buy carefully.
  14. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Sure - you can go and purchase a $1000 industrial drill press and end up with good quality, but the OP was looking at a price range that will not buy a quality new drill press, when in fact, the used market could cough up quite a few examples of good equipment.

    I will refrain from posting the rest of my thoughts.
  15. thinkxingu

    thinkxingu Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the info, guys. I'm digging those posted, but I'm nowhere near them. The Jet near me is at $250, and a Ridgid was just posted for $100. Maybe I'll look at them first.

    S
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Simply examples of the type of equipment that could be had for reasonable money, yet providing high quality. If your not in a rush, I am sure it wouldn't take too long for something to show up in your area.
  17. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    It'd be interesting to convert the cost of a quality drill press in the "good old days" to current purchasing power (i.e. constant dollar). My guess is that it was expensive to buy quality then and that it's expensive to buy quality now. We forget that $250 back then equates to a lot more than that now.
  18. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    You are correct, but they didn't build $25 drill presses (that would equate to about $1.00 in 1910 using the CPI index) like we do today. That is kind of my point. In 1910 - a $25 dollar drill press is equal to about $590 today (again, using the CPI index).
  19. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    Jags,

    As long as you can still buy a quality tool for more, how does it hurt to have lesser quality more broadly available? There are many tools on the market now (which I own) which I could never have afforded before. I only use them occasionally for hobby and/or home repairs, so that fact that there's runout on the quill of my $150 Ryobi drill press doesn't bother me. If I need precision, I can get the work done by a professional. In the meantime, I get to play with my (relatively) inexpensive toys.
  20. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Never said that it hurt anything. I have several tools that are seldom used and doesn't warrant top quality purchases. But a drill press is one of those things that are on the used market quite often that $100 used machine will outlast/outwork a $100 new one. There are a handful of shop items that are like that.

    On the flip side - a 25 year old, well used log splitter for $800 is probably NOT going to outperform a new one at $900.
  21. thinkxingu

    thinkxingu Minister of Fire

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    Should I be concerned with surface rust? If a unit's not been used in a while (six years)?

    S
  22. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I wouldn't be overly concerned unless the rust appears to be in some kind of an advanced stage. Make sure everything moves like it is supposed to, without excess play (like side play on the arbor shaft).
  23. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Very good point, but the fact remains that there are hundreds of much nicer used tools around for less money. Yes, you have to know what you are looking at, but there is so much info on the Web about this stuff it's much less of a crap shoot than it was when I was first tooling up. Patience will get you a high-quality tool that will last three lifetimes worth of occasional use.

    Even the drill chucks on some of these babies would cost more than a brand new Jet machine today. My Hamilton Precision drill press came with two Albrecht keyless precision chucks (holds hair-like size 80 drill bits securely and perfectly centered). I sold one chuck for $150 (new ones go for well over $300) and it paid for half the cost of the press, which was a steal at $300 to begin with.

    As well, sometimes old tools come with accessory tooling that is way undervalued. My old bench top Delta came with a compound sliding table that I was able to tighten up and adjust to use for some very precise setups. The cheapest new one I can find is a Taiwanese POS from MSC for $200. Mine has almost no mechanical backlash and holds its adjustments fine. One of equivalent quality would be over $500, but it was free with the $50 drill press I bought, as well as a very nice tilting drill press vise. Crappy Asian-made tilting vises go for $50 from MSC, so you might say I got a decent used vise pretty cheaply, and a drill press and sliding table that came with it for free.

    My Logan tool room lathe came with so much extra tooling that I won't even try to separately list it. The collets and collet closer alone are worth close to $1000, and I only paid $350 for the entire setup. Then there were two three-jaw chucks, a four-jaw chuck, a super nice internally threaded HD Jacobs drill chuck that threads directly onto the spindle nose, another Jacobs chuck that goes into the MT2 tailstock, a steady rest, numerous tool holders and boring bars, a box of brand new end mills, calipers, dial indicators, even some special tooling that was custom-made by the original owner (although I have no idea what specifically he used it for). The person I got it from had it given to him by the original owner who used it to make parts for Navy diving helmets back in the 50s. Since this was all collet work, the bed ways not only are unworn, they still have their original lapping marks on them for almost their entire length. A lathe of this quality would probably cost over $10K today... if anyone made a decent non-CNC lathe anymore.


    Here's a YouTube clip of a lathe very similar to mine:





    As long as you are aware of the fact that industrial quality tools were sometimes used around the clock and can be shadows of their former selves, if you check the equipment out carefully before plopping down your green, you can get 10X the tool for your money in most cases.

    It's pointless to compare what a drill press would have cost in today's dollars. We're not talking about buying new, we're talking about buying "old but next-to-new", or at least lightly used. The point is to take your time, shop around and find an old one that has plenty of user life left in it, and then to get it for a song. Few folks have the patience. We live in times of instant gratification. That fact plays well into the hands of the Chinese tool manufacturers.
  24. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    Battenkiller,

    What you say makes perfect sense for someone who knows something about the tool in question. For someone like me who has never owned or used one before (a drill press, for example), checking the "equipment out carefully before plopping down your green" makes no sense. I paid $150 and have something that puts holes in wood and metal and came with a guarantee. Had I bought used, it might not have worked at all.

    When it comes to buying used power tools, heart monitors, telecommunications equipment, Caterpillar dozers, etc., one size does not fit all.
  25. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Dan,

    I'm mostly addressing the OP here, not telling you or anyone here how to spend your money. I'm glad you are happy with your choice. You made the choice that seemed appropriate for you at the time. Had you worked in the field like I have, you would have been a lot more leery about a brand new power tool not working correctly. Remember, that Rikon I bought had a 5-year warranty, but in the end, it's still broken.

    Believe me, I am no tool expert, and when I made my first forays into all this, I wasn't even quite sure how many stationary power tools were even operated. Buying a used drill press isn't at all like buying a used heart monitor (although with the knowledge base on the Internet today, you could probably buy a good one). Unlike a heart monitor or an MRI imaging machine, a drill press is a pretty simple device. If you have any doubts, buy a cheap Chinese dial indicator (they work surprising well, too bad they don't use them when they make power tools) and a 1/2" polished dowel pin from an online industrial supply house (you should have these to check the accuracy of a new one anyway).

    Visually check and feel to make sure the chuck jaws don't have chips or dings on them, then put the indicator pin in the chuck. Slowly tighten the chuck, one hole at a time (you should always do this with any keyed drill chuck), then rotate the chuck by hand using the drive pulley. This will give you the runout at the chuck. If it is less than .003" you are good to go, but .005" wouldn't be a deal breaker for me for a general use press. Most consumer grade chucks won't be much better than this, no matter how carefully you tighten the drill bit in them. Less that .002" is about as good as it gets until you move up to the precision class like my Hamilton (mine has virtually zero runout).


    Here's a link to a good article on how to check and tune up your drill press:

    www.rvplane.com/pdf/drill_press_tune-up.pdf


    Too cheap to buy a dial indicator? Make your own:

    Homemade Dial Indicator


    The rest is pretty simple. Plug it in and turn in on. Does the motor work? No grinding sounds or metallic rattles? Are any parts broken or obviously missing? Do the chuck jaws move freely and smoothly. Are the controls smooth and easy to operate? Does the depth stop (one of the most important things on a drill press) work well? Basic stuff any guy who owns any power tools should be able to see real quickly, but the best way to learn what a good one feels like is to buy a cheapo new one and use it for awhile. After that, virtually any of the older ones will feel like a fine Swiss watch.

    Anyway, I've had my say and I'm unsubscribing from this one. I could go on and on about my bad experiences with crappy power tools, but you know me. My typing finger gets going at light speed, next thing you know I've got multiple consecutive 6000 character posts going like Craig's "Ash Can" diatribes. I'll save him the bandwidth, he's getting close to saving the world.


    In closing, yeah, it's tons easier to just go to the box store and pick one up (the Ridgid ones ain't all that bad), but if you get a good one it will put a smile on your face every time you use it. All the cheap ones ever do is make me scowl.

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