|Review by 47phord||posted 08-17-2012 02:09 AM||7325 views||0 times favorited||20 comments|
- Central Machinery Model 38144 13" 16 Speed Drill Press
- Brand: Central Machinery | Category: Drill Presses
I was in need of a drill press but I was short on funds, and after searching around here and other places I decided to go with this unit. Having been burned a couple times before with smaller power tools, I was a bit leery about buying anything big from Harbor Freight, but most of the reviews I saw were more or less favorable so I went for it. When I went to the store to buy it, it was on sale for $239 (reg price of $299) and the cashier let me use my 20% off coupon (which I am pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to do) so I ended up scoring it for $187 including tax and being that I was able to pick it up at the store myself, I avoided the $90 shipping charge. Unpacking and assembly was easy- I think it took me a half hour to put it together-the manual was as good as made-in-china manuals get i.e.-it wasn’t always clear but it got the job done, and no pieces were missing. First off, I installed a 1” paddle bit (the biggest one I have) and set about boring holes in some scrap oak to see how much power this thing really has. The instructions state that the motor is rated at 3/4 hp and that it draws 8 amps, I haven’t checked the amperage draw but if it is really drawing 8 amps then the motor is closer to 1hp. I could get it to bog down and stop, but to do that I had to lean on it way harder than I would under any normal circumstances. I checked the spindle and it is square to the table. Changing the speed is accomplished by rearranging two v-belts on three sets of pullys on top of the machine, there is a diagram taped to the inside cover that shows what configuration makes each speed. It’s not hard to do though I wish the lever you use to tension the belts was a bit longer. So, it does what a drill press is supposed to, it drills square holes without getting stuck-what more could you ask for?
Well, a couple things actually. First, the adjustable quill stop is a pain in the tuckus to use. It is a collar-style stop that wraps around the feed handle shaft and is held in place with a thumbscrew. To use it, you zero it with the quill all the way up, then turn it to whatever depth you want and tighten the screw. Two small problems with this, first is that the collar is graduated in 1/16” increments but there are no numbers other than for whole inches, so if you count the little hash marks wrong, you get the wrong depth. Second and even worse is the fact that no matter how hard you twist that thumbscrew, it is still possible to pull hard enough on the feed handle to go past your set depth. I learned that one the hard way while I was drilling out some mortises. Bottom line there is I don’t completely trust it. A second issue is the fact that the spindle does appear to have about 1/32” of run-out on it, which to be honest doesn’t bother me that much, it’s still way more accurate than drilling by hand and I’m not running a machine shop. The only other thing I noticed is that it does seem to be a bit top-heavy, the base appears to be cast-steel and could stand to gain a few pounds (in direct opposition to me, if you get my meaning). I haven’t knocked it over, but I get the feeling a good jolt from the side could tip it.
As a side note, the table that comes with it is miniscule and round so if you get one you will probably have to make a better table for it-but then a lot of folks do that anyways. Also, Central Machinery model# 38142 is the same drill press only bechtop sized. So, in summary, if you are a hobbyist woodworker on a budget like I am, I would recommend giving this drill press a look.
EDIT 8/17/12: I incorrectly stated the run-out on my drill press, it is actually closer to 1/64”. The mistake comes from the fact that I do not own a dial-caliper or anything like that and had to eyeball it using my machinists ruler that is graduated in 32ths. So, I had 32ths on the brain when I wrote the review. A thousand apologies for my oversight!
Edit 4/5/13-It turns out I am a dumbass, I had been using a bent drill bit to check the runout. It turns out there is none that I can see, and I don’t have a fancy dial indicator to check; not that I would even if I did.