|Review by shaun||posted 03-02-2008 02:20 AM||18121 views||0 times favorited||11 comments|
I went to the March Madness sale at Woodcraft today and came home with a new benchtop drill press and I grabbed up an Orion mortising attachment while I was there. I caught the eary bird part of the sale so I got an additional 5% off. The drill press retails at Woodcraft for $249.99. For the eary bird deal they take the additional 5% off after they apply the 10% discount so it ended up costing me about $214 before sales tax.
It’s a 13” drill press with a 1/2 hp motor. Pretty much all the benchtop drill presses I’ve been looking at had 1/3 hp motors and I have to say that the bigger motor definitely drew me to this one. They also had a smaller Rikon (I think it was 12” with a 1/3 hp).
It went together smooth as silk, there wasn’t much work to the assembly at all. Just bolt the column to the base, slide the head on the column, attach the hand wheel, install the belts, slide the chuck on the arbor and drive it home with a mallet.
It’s got 16 speed settings ranging from 220 rpm – 3600 rpm. Changing speeds is a pretty standard belt/pulley type adjustment. The base and the table are cast iron with a steel column. It is definitely sturdy and runs vibration free with a very quiet motor.
Table height adjustment is smooth and requires very little effort but the worm gear is a little sloppy. The table rotates 360 degrees around the cloumn without a problem and has a 45 degree tilt left and right.
In order to adjust the tilt you have to get up under the table with a wrench and the locking nut is not the easiest to get at but it works and holds the table securely.
On the down side. The hand wheel is cool to look at but it doesn’t give you a lot of leverage, you almost feel like you need to put two hands on it.
The on/off switch is right out in front of you and easy to get at but as far as controls go, thats the only one that’s easy to get at. It’s got a clutch type depth stop that is set with a thumb screw on the hand wheel.
Using it will be a challenge if you’ve got big hands.
It does have a tension adjustment handle for the belts wth locking knobs so tension adjustments are easy and can be done without wrenches. But the tension adjuster is mounted right behind and painfully close to the handwheel.
It’s a knuckle buster for certain.
I also learned that it’s got an odd sized quill which makes installing the Orion mortisng attachment a bit dicey. Mortising attachments seem to be sized for quill diameters of 2 5/8” with adapters to fit 2”, 1 7/8”, and1 1/2”. The quill on this press is 2 3/16”.
The Orion mortising attachment retails for $119, after the sale it cost me a little over $100.
You can make it work on this press if you use the 2” adapter and get up on the spindle just above the quill but then you’re only clamping down on the bottom half of the adapter and you don’t really have enough room at the chuck, especially if you’re using smaller diameter mortising bits. I’m going to solve this problem with a visit to the machine shop to have a custom adapter made.
I was able to get the 1/2” mortising bit in it and run a couple of test mortises.
The funky handwheel on the drill press gets in the way of the clamping lever on the mortising attachment so you have to angle it slightly to make things a little easier.
I really like the fence on the Orion. The supports and hold downs are sturdy and easy to use. The fence attaches to the drill press column and has a gear driven depth adjustment. They call it a micro adjust but I think that’s being a bit generous. It was very sloppy when I first assembled it but there are adusting screws that let you dial it in. After I did that it was tight and smooth.
The Orion comes with 1/4”, 5/16”, 3/8”, and 1/2” chisel and bit assemblies. The ones that come with it are ok but I can see myself picking up a set of CMT’s at some point in the future.
Here’s a test mortise.
All in all I think the Rikon is a good drill press for the money and Orion mortising attachment is definitely a keeper.
No regrets here.
-- I've cut that board three times and it's still too short!