Harbor Freight 13" DP (Model 38142)

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Review by knotscott posted 03-14-2009 02:51 PM 19552 views 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Harbor Freight 13" DP (Model 38142) No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

This 13” DP is a far cry from my most prestigious tool, and Harbor Freight’s “Central Machinery” brand doesn’t typically conjure up tons of confidence and the obligatory “Tim the tool man Taylor” grunts that the big names will, but this particular purchase has been too good to not give the credit that’s due. The 38142 is a 13”, 16 speed, 3/4 hp benchtop drill press. It weighs in at a respectable 125#, and stands over 40” tall. It has a quill stroke of 3-1/8” and spins from 240 to 2600 RPMs.

The Central Machinery hollow mortiser is the only other motorized Harbor Freight tool I’ve tried so far. Like many of you, I’m justifiably cautious about putting my trust and hard earned money into their products, especially those that plug into the wall! Many items are “hit and miss” at best, but there are some functional tools often at outrageously attractive prices. Since there are two stores near me, and they have a fairly generous return policy, I decided to drop my guard and make this purchase for $144 (on sale, plus a coupon). I had scoped out most of the competitors in this class and price range…Craftsman 12”, Hitachi, Delta, Ryobi, Grizzly, etc. The HF not only looked pretty stout, it offered the most DP for the money IMO. It’s very similar to the Grizzly G7943.

The motor is surprisingly stout…considerably more powerful than my little 8” 1/2 HP Grizzly that this replaced, and actually seems to be rated fairly accurately. Vibration is very low, and runout is nearly non-existent. The swing of 13” is fairly generous for a benchtop, and the stroke is a reasonable 3-1/8”. The 38142 lacks many of the creature comforts of some of the others…no lasers, no variable speed dials, no fancy hold downs, but it is a solidly built basic drill press with good basic function for my needs. Changing belts is a bit of a nuisance, but no worse than most. I’ve pondered upgrading the belts to link belts, but there’s so little vibration I fear I’ll be wasting money.

I honestly don’t know what more I could asak from this tool, and think that I would have needed to spend in the range of 3 times the amount to get significantly more tool. It won’t have much resale value should I decide to move it, and it might not hang around for 35 years (maybe it will), but I’ve been surprisingly impressed with this particular HF purchase in it’s first year of excellent service.

From the supplier:
Machined steel column features rack and pinion table movement. Cast iron table is accurately gauged, tilts to 45° left or right. Precision chuck holds bit from the smallest wire gauge to the largest size with 5/8’’ shank. Morse taper spindle for versatility. Adjustable depth stop and gauge included. Table and base are slotted for easy vise installation.

  • Chuck capacity: 7/64’’ to 5/8’‘
  • Six-speed spindle, from 240 to 3600 RPM
  • Spindle stroke: 3-1/8’‘
  • Spindle Taper: MT2

Motor HP: 3/4; Column diameter: 2-57/64’’; Table size: 11-1/2’’ diameter; Swing: 13-7/8’’; Base size: 17-5/8’’ x 10’’; Height: 41-3/4’‘
Tool weight: 125 lbs.

ITEM 38142-9VGA

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View knotscott's profile


8146 posts in 3573 days

8 comments so far

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 4266 days

#1 posted 03-14-2009 06:11 PM

Always nice to get a good one from HF. There’s not a whole lot to a Drill Press, so decent gamble. I’ve been happy with their Dust Collector. Only use it between two tools adjacent to it. Same thing as you said, I oculd spend triple for a centralized machine, but it met my needs for the most part.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View mrsawdust's profile


48 posts in 3765 days

#2 posted 03-15-2009 06:15 AM

nicely written review. continued sucess with the drill press….

-- mrsawdust, pittsburgh,pa.

View Emeralds's profile


143 posts in 3760 days

#3 posted 03-15-2009 10:08 PM

Reliable functionality and value, two of the big three. Not being a “tool snob” myself, I don’t own any of the truly highend names. I started buying tools in my 20’s. Now in my mid 50’s I still own and use many of the tools I purchased years ago daily. None are names that would impress but I paid a fair price and am still using them 30 years later.

Happy to hear you’ve found a good one.

-- JMP

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

566 posts in 2576 days

#4 posted 08-01-2012 02:03 AM

Scott, I was searching for reviews of this model and surprisingly this came up. Hope you don’t mind me resurrecting this old post but I wanted to see how your press is doing all these years later. Would you purchase it again? Would you recommend it to someone else? Thanks for the review.

-- Matt, Arizona,

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3775 days

#5 posted 08-01-2012 02:07 AM

Scott your reviews always hold a lot of weight as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for the Review

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View knotscott's profile


8146 posts in 3573 days

#6 posted 08-01-2012 04:12 PM

Hi Matt – It’s essentially unchanged as far as I can tell….still very pleased. It’s humble lineage suggests that your mileage may vary, but HF’s return policy is good. Bring a coupon! Let us know how you make out!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3169 days

#7 posted 08-01-2012 04:51 PM

I have the same machine; bought it about 18 months ago.
I would have to agree with everything you said about this Scott.
Plus I can add that it continues to work well for me after considerable use.

This was my second HF drill press.
My first was the 12 speed 10” benchtop; model # 44836 which I paid about $100 for.

The 13”, 16 speed, model #38142 which you reviewed is way, way more machine.
Anyone considering a drill press would be wise to go for this larger machine. Much more value.

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

566 posts in 2576 days

#8 posted 08-01-2012 05:17 PM

thanks guys, i’m gonna try to pick this puppy up. i too currently have their smaller model that only cost me $50 after coupon but its not really what i need in a drill press. undersized, underpowered, etc..

-- Matt, Arizona,

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