MOTHER EARTH NEWS Drill Press Survey

This MOTHER EARTH NEWS survey covers the types of drill press machines available and tips when buying a machine, as well as a chart with drill press manufacturers and their specifications.


| November/December 1985


In MOTHER's last issues, we cut through the mysteries of two major shop tools, the table and band saws. Now we'll explore the ins-and-outs of another work saver with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS drill press survey. (See the drill press diagram in the image gallery.) 

If you thought a drill press was strictly a production metalworking machine, it's time to reconsider: These one-time behemoths have been slimmed down, lightened up, and priced in a range comparable with other home-shop tools. What's more, with the addition of a number of accessories, a drill press can do far more than bore right-on-the-money holes in wood or metal . . . it can be used as a router, drum sander, circle cutter, rotary planer, buffer, shaper, and mortising chisel, as well.

Though drill presses are available in both standing and bench-top models, the floor units are nearly always the better buys unless you're specifically looking for a more compact tool. (If that's the case, you'll still find valuable information in this article and in the accompanying chart; some of the bench units are available as shortened versions of the heavy-duty stationary models, while others are clearly meant for lighter, less severe service.)

Let's take a look at the machine itself in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS drill press survey. With the exception of the industrial-type radial drill presses (which incorporate a horizontal arm to allow a range of lateral adjustment), most of the tools on the market share a similar design. Starting at the bottom, the base serves as a pedestal, a column support, and—in some circumstances—a secondary work surface. The column is simply a stanchion that carries an adjustable worktable and supports the machine's main element, the head.

This all-important component consists of the motor, a step-pulley drive system, and a spindle that rotates within a housing known as the quill. The quill's vertical movement is controlled by the feed lever, and its stroke can be limited with the depth stop. A splined-shaft arrangement allows the spindle—and the chuck fastened to the end of it—to move up and down with the quill.

KNOW YOUR DRILL PRESS FEATURE OPTIONS . . .

One of the most attractive features of a drill press is its versatility, so keep that in mind when window-shopping. If your sole purpose in buying the tool is to precision-bore holes in small pieces of stock, a bench-top model may suit you fine. On the other hand, if you wish to take full advantage of the machine's total capabilities, the standing version is probably a better choice, since, with its longer column, it can accommodate small, large, and oddly shaped workpieces.





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