Torn on a drill press choice

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Forum topic by Dan Wolfgang posted 12-10-2016 11:44 PM 1056 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 980 days

12-10-2016 11:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: drill press

For years I’ve wanted to get a drill press, but I could never justify small benchtop ones. Large benchtop ones solve the working distance issues, but the 3+” quill travel seems a significant limitation that I’d hit quickly and regularly. I really want a floor stander with 4+” travel. I just make-do by using some squares to help me align straight and have avoided drilling big holes that might require a forstner bit, for example.

The Porter-Cable 660 from Lowe’s seems like an obvious solution. 4” of quill travel is good, and it seems well liked from the many reviews I’ve read. I’ve played with one a little at my local Lowe’s. It’s tough to really judge something that’s obviously been handled and abused a bit by other customers, but I think it would be worth the $300 asking price. The light arm seems oddly and extremely short, and I would need to add a better table for woodworking. I think it’d work well, but I’m not that excited about it. I feel like I’d be buying it knowing I’ll be upgrading one day.

I’m also considering a Delta 18-900L, which also seems to get excellent reviews. The additional table tilt capability seems like it would be useful, as well as a larger table that I wouldn’t need to replace/upgrade. 6” quill travel would certainly be fantastic. Slower minimum speed (170 vs 300 RPM) would let me better tune the speed to the job. The depth stop control seems light-years better than the options on other machines I’ve looked at. It seems like a significant number of improvements over the PC660, and I’d be buying once and done with no need to upgrade in the future. But at $900 it’s a very different market than the PC660, too.

FWIW, I looked at Jet’s offerings, which fall in between these two, price-wise. While they’re a step above the PC, it seems that the Delta offers a lot more for a little more money.

Buy an 18-900L now and be done? Buy a PC660 now and maybe buy something else later? Or, would I end up satisfied with a PC660 and find I don’t need to upgrade because it does everything I need? I loathe buying cheaper and then buying better again later.

Oh great sage’s of Lumberjocks, what say you?

9 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


7004 posts in 2371 days

#1 posted 12-11-2016 12:28 AM

My first drill press was a little bench top thing. Suited me well, but did have some limitations when working with metal and large stuff, which was not something I did a lot of at that time. Then I found a larger craftsman floor press at a garage sale for $40. Sold my benchtop thing for $40 to a friend to break even. Then I stumbled across an older 14” Delta cone head floor standing model for $50, which had, IIRC, at least 4” of spindle travel. Sold the old Craftsman for $75. Then I found another little 12” benchtop model, brand new and in the box, for $25 – which was a good complement to the Delta, and is currently my go-to machine. The Delta only gets used when I need the capability it provides, which is not very often in my case.

I guess the point is, unless you absolutely have to buy a shiny new machine, there is no reason to think that ‘buying cheaper’ means you will be getting an inferior machine, or have to buy a ‘better’ one later on. The benchtop model was fine for my needs, but when the opportunity presented itself, there was no reason not to take advantage of it.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View ralbuck's profile


5263 posts in 2439 days

#2 posted 12-11-2016 12:29 AM

If the budget can even come close to justifying the better one—just do it!

Remember that bit length can also be a limiting factor. Also be aware that longer bits even brad point follow grain; especially on a smaller diameter bit!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3541 days

#3 posted 12-11-2016 12:59 AM

Dan, I have had the Delta 900 for about 5 years now and have never regretted buying it. Having the T slots in the table and the replaceable center insert is real nice and the laser actually works great. The double bevel on the table makes things easy sometimes too. I do all kinds of woodworking and a lot of metal working too. Buy the Delta and be happy.

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Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 980 days

#4 posted 12-11-2016 01:18 AM

ralbuck—bit length is one of the things that makes the small drill press even less attractive since the table can’t be moved enough. But I’m unclear on what you’re saying about longer bits following grain. I guess you mean that short bits would always be preferred?

View waho6o9's profile


8478 posts in 2749 days

#5 posted 12-11-2016 01:55 AM

A little spendy but it should be the last one you purchase.

View Dan Wolfgang's profile

Dan Wolfgang

176 posts in 980 days

#6 posted 12-11-2016 01:47 PM

Papadan: did you upgrade from something before getting the Delta? If so, what pushed you to move up?

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3541 days

#7 posted 12-11-2016 02:21 PM

I had a HF benchtop piece of crap.

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

185 posts in 947 days

#8 posted 12-11-2016 02:28 PM

You dont give your location, keep an eye on the auctions good old presses come up regularly.

View JAAune's profile


1846 posts in 2489 days

#9 posted 12-11-2016 08:06 PM

I’ve never seen a new drill press for less than a $2,000 that I’d be happy with. That includes the top-of-the-line Powermatic models. They just skimp too much on important things like locking mechanisms, table lifts and depth stops.

Mine is an old Buffalo 18. It’s a great machine and cost me about $250 by the time I bought it and replaced the bearings. Depth stop is rock solid, the table lift is heavy duty and the table locks solidly in whatever position I need it to be.

I’d recommend looking for a quality used machine for $500 or less. The cost savings over buying a new Delta would allow for gas money to travel and pick one up.

-- See my work at and

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