Runout on Porter-Cable drill press

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Forum topic by JeffDM posted 03-06-2014 04:16 PM 4939 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JeffDM's profile


8 posts in 2182 days

03-06-2014 04:16 PM

A few weeks ago I bought the Porter-Cable drill press from Lowe’s that everyone raves about. After trying it out for a bit I am not satisfied. At the end of the drill bit (4” out from the chuck) there is at least 1/32 of wobble. I’ve verified the bits are straight and checked with multiple bits. Any holes I drill are oversized and the bit just goes wherever it wants to no matter how slowly I go or how often I clear chips.

I don’t have a dial gauge to measure runout on the chuck or arbor but I can’t see any visible wobble there. I called up Porter-Cable and they immediately sent me a new chuck and arbor for free. Still the exact same issue so I guess it’s somewhere in the head unit.

I plan to return it to Lowe’s. Everyone else seems really happy with theirs so I think i just got one that slipped through quality control. My question is: Are my expectations for a $350 drill press unrealistic? Should I exchange for a new drill press or just get my money back and look elsewhere? I don’t expect this drill press to be accurate to .0001 or anything, but it seems like if I can see it wobble that is just too much. I can drill better holes with a hand-held drill.

16 replies so far

View Gilgaron's profile


19 posts in 1581 days

#1 posted 03-06-2014 04:54 PM

My PC drill press doesn’t have visible runout, I’d exchange it. I don’t imagine $350 pays for much QC.

View Whiskers's profile


389 posts in 2023 days

#2 posted 03-06-2014 09:34 PM

Mine was dead on straight from the get go. Perhaps this is a silly suggestion, but when you put it together you had to install the arbor and chuck by pressing it in and you got a little thingy to knock it out if necessary. If it were me before returning I would knock the arbor back out and try reinstalling it to see if maybe for some reason you just did not get it in straight the first time.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3581 days

#3 posted 03-06-2014 10:31 PM

Yes and also sometimes ( this is not a joke) but the smallest bit of wood dust, crud ,etc will cause serious runout. Please remove with the drill drift (thingyLOL ) and clean the morse taper spindle both on the chuck spindle and inside the quill.I had a new chuck for my lathe, when I fitted it straight out of the box it went up and down like a dogs back leg.I reported it and the company I bought it from,and they were seeking out a replacement and said they would telephone me back in an hour or so.In the meantime I phoned my pal a much more experienced woodturner back then as I was just starting about fifteen years ago.He told me to remove it and make sure it was all super clean I found a little bit of woodchip on the fitting surface which I removed and it worked perfectly so have fun. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View JeffDM's profile


8 posts in 2182 days

#4 posted 03-07-2014 10:48 AM

Thanks for the input guys.

I’ve disassembled the arbor and chuck numerous times over the past week to either clean it or swap in the new ones PC sent me. Every time I reassembled I made sure to clean the mating parts with alcohol and inspect everything for grit. The wobble is always the same so I don’t think it is a seating or dirt issue.

I’m thinking I’ll exchange it once and if I get another bum one I’ll wash my hands of it and take my money elsewhere. Since everyone else is happy with theirs I think chances are good I’ll get a good one.

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3425 days

#5 posted 03-07-2014 11:53 AM

I think that you need a better way on quantifying the run out. Visible wobble is definitely excessive but I find it hard to believe and especially since this is a PC drill press. They are better than that.

If you could tell me that the shaft exhibits excessive run out, that would be an all together different thing.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View Gilgaron's profile


19 posts in 1581 days

#6 posted 03-07-2014 12:59 PM

Dusty brings up a good point… I have seen some wobble when I loaded the bit before the jaws were tight enough with smaller bits. Do you see wobble with a 3/8” bit? Alternatively close the jaws all the way and the open them until you can just barely get a small bit in. It should run true that way if nothing is awry.

View JeffDM's profile


8 posts in 2182 days

#7 posted 03-11-2014 06:00 PM

Quick update on this: I exchanged the drill press this weekend and the new one is dead on. I’m still unimpressed with the QC. The middle pulley is obviously off balance or the axle is bent since it wobbles a lot and makes a ruckus. Either QC has gone down the tubes in the past few years or my Lowe’s just pitches them off the back of the truck when they get a new shipment.

Either way I’ve now got a (loud) drill press that actually drills straight holes.

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2573 days

#8 posted 03-11-2014 08:41 PM

Call pc for a replacement pulley.
Glad the runout was taken care of; the middle pulley is easily replaced.
Oh, also make sure the motor pulley is level with the front one. That can cause vibration too.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Loren's profile


10381 posts in 3644 days

#9 posted 03-11-2014 08:49 PM

Take it back. You can lower the table and chuck a steel rod into
it. You can check the rod for straightness by rolling it on a flat
surface. This method of checking runout may not be
accurate enough for precision metal drilling, but for woodworking
it’s accurate enough.

View LeChuck's profile


424 posts in 3058 days

#10 posted 03-11-2014 10:01 PM

Mine has a little bit of it but in hardwood, holes are mostly the size they should be. When I got it, I had more runout and quite a bit more rattle, and I went back to Lowes to exchange the idler pulley with one from a floor model and it made things better. It is a well priced drill press but certainly not a high level one. A bit too much play in the spindle and on mine, if I drill through a thicker piece of wood with a smaller bit, I can have quite a bit of deflection (the hole will end up sideways, I discovered that recently while trying to drill holes through custom made hinges), so for those I have to go very slowly and lower/raise, lower/raise. It’s annoying and the drill press will be one of the first machines I replace when I can afford it.

For the price, at the time, it was the best one I could buy though. Better ones can be a lot more expensive.

-- David - Tucson, AZ

View jtm's profile


230 posts in 1632 days

#11 posted 03-12-2014 05:42 AM


Glad I looked at this thread.

I bought the exact same drill press at Lowe’s about 6 months ago. I’ve only used it a couple of times to drill one or two holes, so it’s basically band new.

I just checked it for runout using the router bit technique (1/2” bit and measure shank w/ dial indicator), and mine is 7 thousandths out, which based on my Google search is quite a bit.

I assume it’s too late to return it at Lowe’s. Any suggestions on how to fix it?

View LyallAndSons's profile


66 posts in 2593 days

#12 posted 03-12-2014 06:39 AM

Now I’m wondering about mine! I bought two of them, one for each shop. They have served us well so far but they’re used for woodworking only. If we did metal work i’m sure they wouldn’t make the grade so to speak but they will be replaced with the Deltas they were cloned from as soon as one shows up on CL. I guess if we haven’t noticed it by now it’s good enough for what I do but it sure would be nice to know they’re within specs.

As for a straight rod, I use a piece of a carbon arrow from my bow. They’re usually straight to .001 over a 30 inch arrow. Chuck it up and use a dial indicator to measure run out. Ive done this on router tables and it works great.

-- Lyall & Sons Woodsmiths...Custom handcrafted woodwork since 1989

View jtm's profile


230 posts in 1632 days

#13 posted 03-12-2014 06:51 AM

Ok so I just removed the chuck and tested only the arbor. I measured 0.001”, which is effectively 0.0005” runout. So that means my chuck is where the runout is coming from, correct? Is 0.007” enough runout that I should see if PC will replace it?


View jtm's profile


230 posts in 1632 days

#14 posted 03-12-2014 07:08 AM

I made a fun video of my runout tests. Please tell me if my methodology is flawed.

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2573 days

#15 posted 03-12-2014 11:36 AM

The key with a drill press is how it’s drilling.

I’ve never once checked the runout on my ridgid drill press.
I drill holes, the holes are the size they should be.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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