Eliminating Drill Press Vibration

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Blog entry by charlton posted 05-07-2009 05:33 PM 8483 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ever since I bought my cheap General 75-150 drill press, I’ve been unhappy with the amount of vibration it suffers from. I know many people with cheap drill presses suffer from the same ailment. Mine was so bad that anything on the table would vibrate off if it wasn’t clamped. Even if it was clamped, it would sometimes move. I had lived with this vibration chalking it up to being normal for these sorts of drill presses. But the other day, while I was drying to drill a hole “precisely” I botched it because the vibration caused the workpiece to move around just a bit when I decided to plunge. Not to mention, I have to exert an tiring amount of pressure on the work piece with my hands in order to prevent movement.

So, frustrated with the botched hole, I began to look for solutions. The first thing I looked at was the belts. They looked good (this drill press is only a few months old and has seen only slight use). Then I measured the pulley runout and it was fairly substantial. Up to 1/100th. I thought this was the smoking gun (and it still may be part of the cause). Eventually, I noticed that if I left the belts unattached there was almost no vibration. As soon as I put a belt on, there was intolerable vibration. Later on in the evening, I ran with the belts unattached and it vibrated madly. What had changed? It seems the first time I ran with only the motor, I left the lock bar unlocked. The second time, I had locked it. So it seems the lock bar was transmitting and even amplifying motor vibration. I took some sill sealer and sandwiched it between the head of the lock bar and the face of the motor mount…and the vibration pretty much went away. Unfortunately, the sill sealer is a very light foam that gets destroyed easily eventually becomes like a piece of paper thereby losing its shock absorbing properties. This morning, I decided to replace the sill sealer with some broken pieces of TheraBand. This works just as well (if not better) and will undoubtedly retain its compressible nature longer.

It’s a simple solution to an annoying (and common) problem. If you suffer from drill press vibration, give this simple fix a try first.

6 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#1 posted 05-07-2009 05:48 PM

Good research and fix

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4270 days

#2 posted 05-08-2009 01:17 AM

Have you tried those red segmented belts? They work wonders on all kinds of machinery. I had a lathe that was vibrating real bad, once I changed the belt to a segmented belt it was like night and day. Check out the reviews.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View charlton's profile


87 posts in 3432 days

#3 posted 05-08-2009 02:35 AM

I have a link belt on my jointer but I haven’t had a chance to try it on my drill press. The main reason I decided not to bother was simply because there was vibration even without any of the belts on. Certainly, using link belts might further reduce the vibration but I’m happy enough with the current situation and will pick up a link belt for it when the opportunity arises. :)

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3697 days

#4 posted 05-08-2009 04:57 AM

I’ve never seen a link belt reduce vibration in a measurable way that wasn’t caused by it replacing a cheap belt with bad formation or a set in it.

And I’ve tested an old Starrette vibration measurement device (a nice side effect to working in many different QC labs, access to toys.)

If the motor is vibrating that badly, check the belt and replace it with a Goodyear or Gates, 7 buck fix if its the belt. If its not then its probably cheap Chinese bearings, swapping those out will fix it.

View charlton's profile


87 posts in 3432 days

#5 posted 05-08-2009 05:46 AM

That’s possibly true. I haven’t actually had enough experience with machinery to be able to say one way or another whether the link belts are that good but many people seem to swear by them.

The truth is, even though I think I’ve found a qualitative way to fix the problem, I haven’t really understood the exact interplay behind all the mechanics that’s causing the vibration to be this bad through the lock bar. Again, unengaged, the motor is very smooth. It’s only when the lock bar is tightened down that things go wild. The lock bar head has a rubber gasket but it’s hard rubber and it’s very thin so I doubt it has any sort of dampening effect.

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3697 days

#6 posted 05-08-2009 04:41 PM

Take the belt off and look at it, does it have a lump? That would cause it. A really bad set would cause it too, a pronounced oval shape to the belt with no pressure applied to it.

If its the bearings the side pressure could cause it as well. I would bring the belt to an auto shop and say I need one of these in a Gates. Cheap check if you don’t trust yourself going over it.

If the bearings are shot they go in different and interesting ways which makes it hard to say “this symptom means its the bearings”

Try the belt, and we’ll go from there.

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