Reply by crank49

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Posted on What do you look for in a drill press?

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4030 posts in 2933 days

#1 posted 03-21-2012 10:04 PM

Slow speed is essential for drilling with large diameter bits. Like 200 RPM or less is not too slow.
High speed is needed for sanding and for very small drill bits; too slow and they will snap like glass.

The only benchtop I would consider is the large type, like Manitario just mentioned. I know, because I bought the smaller 10” swing model and it sucked. The larger machines, >12” swing, are usually about 40” tall and weigh over a 100Lbs so they are not very portable, but anything less is a waste of time in my opinion.

You need enough room between the chuck and the table to allow for long bits and bulky workpieces. the small benchtops simply do not meet this requirement.

You need at least 3 1/4” of quill stroke. That’s how deep of a hole you can drill without having to move the table. 3 1/4” will get you almost through a 4×4. The aformentioned tall tabletops and most floor models have this, but be sure to check. Some only go to 2 1/8”.

The best machines like the big 18” floor model Deltas and Powermatics have 6” quill stroke. But they also sell for close to $1000.

Variable speed is real nice, but spendy. You migh find a deal on an industrial grade machine with variable speed but be sure to check it first. Those older variable speed machines used something called “Reeves pulleys” to get the speed range and those systems wear out over time and hard use. They are great when working, but just beware of the pitfalls. I recently saw an old Powermatic VS that NEW would cost $2500 on Craigs List for $400, for instance.

For what it’s worth, I have two benchtops, a crappy small one I turned into a mortiser, and a 16 speed 13” large benchtop I really like. I bought both of them from HF and have less than $250 in the pair.

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