Drill Press Suitable for Light Milling?

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Forum topic by Paul Stoops posted 04-12-2012 10:40 PM 3213 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Paul Stoops

348 posts in 2583 days

04-12-2012 10:40 PM

Hi folks,

I am thinking of replacing my bench top drill press with another tool suitable for both drill press operations and light milling operations. Typically, drill presses aren’t designed for side loading of the spindle. Even if the chuck doesn’t come off of its taper, the spindle bearings aren’t usually designed for side loading.

I have been considering replacing my bench top drill press with a small mill-drill, such as the HF model or the upgraded ones available from or Grizzly. Altho the price of such equipment is a little steep, it is doable. I only have room for one piece of equipment, so it seems I need to decide between a heavy duty drill press (which could be a floor model) or a small mill-drill. The new Delta and Powermatic DP’s have some nice features.

It seems to me that the largest drawbacks to the mill-drill option are 1) reduced throat depth and 2) reduced quill travel (altho I think that can be offset somewhat by moving the whole head down and doing a deeper hole in two stages).

I do mostly woodworking, but occasionally I (reluctantly…... :-) ) do some metalworking when necessary. Some of the mill-drill features are also very attractive, like electronic variable speed, precision part postiioning, etc.

So, whatcha think, folks? Have any of you been to the same Y in the road?? If so, which way did you go? And why? I would also be interested in anyone’s experience with light milling on a heavy duty drill press. Any recommendations out there? I would appreciate hearing about your experiences or thoughts on the matter.

Look forward to hearing from y’all…............ :-)

-- Paul, Auburn, WA

6 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3020 days

#1 posted 04-12-2012 11:52 PM

I have one of the little mills and a lathe to go with it and I am enjoying the metal side of it. That said, if you are doing mostly woodwork go for the heavy duty drill press. You can get a cross slide vise for it. For drilling, the mill isn’t so hot. By the time you put a chuck and a drill bit, you don’t end up with a lot of capacity. I have been thinking of adding a real drill press to the mix even though I have the mill.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3670 days

#2 posted 04-13-2012 12:21 AM

Some of the light consumer mills aren’t suitable for working
with ferrous metals so be aware of that. The Rong Fu RF31
has a pretty good reputation as a small entry level mill.

View RandyM68's profile


693 posts in 2340 days

#3 posted 04-13-2012 12:23 AM

I would like to have both. If there is anyway to keep the drill pess, I’d get the mill, too. If not get the big drill press.

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8082 posts in 2350 days

#4 posted 04-13-2012 01:28 AM

drill press quills can’t really take the horizontal stresses associated with milling….

I have this Seig X3 size bench top mill with a dovetailed column and it does very well in aluminum…. O.K. with light passes on mild steel or cast iron. Haven’t tried it with harder steel or stainless yet.

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View Mike's profile


406 posts in 2709 days

#5 posted 04-13-2012 01:45 AM

how about this? Just did a very quick google search:


-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

View Paul Stoops's profile

Paul Stoops

348 posts in 2583 days

#6 posted 04-13-2012 05:46 PM

Thanks fellow LJ-ers for taking the time to answer my inquiry.

At the moment, I am leaning toward the mill-drill option.To me, one of the most aggravating things about using a drill press is losing the centerline registration when you move the table up or down. A rectangular column mill-drill solves that problem. I have read that the round column mill-drills frequently have the lack of registration problem to some degree.

Now to measure and try to find enough room for a mill-drill in my “woodworking corridor”.................. :-)

I’ll let you know what I decide to do.

Thanks again for responding.

-- Paul, Auburn, WA

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