Loose Spindle on Central Machinery 60238 Drill Press

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Forum topic by daviddoria posted 05-07-2014 03:30 PM 6184 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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66 posts in 1356 days

05-07-2014 03:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: drill press spindle adjustment

I picked up one of these with the understanding that you aren’t going to get a workhorse for $50 bucks. However, I have noticed that when I lower the spindle even a little bit, I can grab it and move it about an 1/8” in any direction. This seems crazy, even for the cheapest drill press on the planet. I saw that there was a set screw on the side of the spindle, but it is a very strange shape (there is a rectangular piece at the end of the screw that slides in a slot in the spindle), so it doesn’t do anything (it doesn’t turn at all) when I turn it because that rectangular piece won’t turn in the slot. Is this the screw that I would tighten to remove this wiggle? If so, how do you adjust these things? Has anyone else had this bad of a wiggle on one of these?



22 replies so far

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2650 days

#1 posted 05-07-2014 03:44 PM

That isn’t right. I don’t own that particular drill press, but I DO have a Northern Industrial (Same thing as Central Machinery, but sold by Northern Tool instead of Harbor Freight…) drill press, and have 2 neighbors with that unit you have. None of them have any noticeable wiggle / runout.

I am no expert in these specific machines however IF it is set up the same way as my Northern Industrial, the spindle runs on a spline shaft driven by the pulleys, which provides the rotational force and allows the spindle to move up and down, and the outer surface is controlled by 2 roller bearings, one on top, one on bottom keeping the spindle from moving laterally.

I would think this sounds like a bearing failure to me. Or if the bearings ride in some sort of adjustable retainer, it could be the retainer hardware that is loose / maladjusted.

If you are within your warranty, take it back and get them to give you one without wigle.

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View daviddoria's profile


66 posts in 1356 days

#2 posted 05-07-2014 03:59 PM

dbhost – Unfortunately it has been longer than 90 days, so I don’t think they’ll take it back. I don’t see anything about this type of problem in the manual ( – is this something that I’d need to disassemble the press quite a bit to take a look at? I’m kind of interested in using this as an opportunity to learn to fix something like this (so I’ll be less afraid to buy used tools in the future) because if I break it I’m only out a few bucks :)

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1140 posts in 1052 days

#3 posted 05-07-2014 04:03 PM

Most every drill press has a screw that takes up the slop in the quill.

It’s a screw on the side with a slot, and nut around it.

See if you have one, and turn it, you don’t want it tight, but just enough to let the quill go up and down, but takes up the slop.

I didn’t read through your whole post.

Take the screw out and rectangular piece. See if there is crap in there. If there is you can remove the quill and clean it out. I would just take a drill bit undersized and twist it by hand. Or a file and clean it out.

-- Jeff NJ

View daviddoria's profile


66 posts in 1356 days

#4 posted 05-07-2014 04:05 PM

woodchuckerNJ – Yea, like I mentioned I’ve tried loosing that nut and turning that screw, but it doesn’t make anything tigther because the rectuangular piece that rides in the track doesn’t allow it to turn. I must be misunderstanding what is supposed to happen there because the geometry of the situation doesn’t make sense to me. It’s impossible to take a picture of because it all happens inside the spindle, out of view.

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1140 posts in 1052 days

#5 posted 05-07-2014 04:37 PM

That rectangular piece is what takes up the slot, by it angling one way or the other.

There is a slot in the quikll, the rectangular pieces corners fill the slot in the quill, taking the slop up.
Turn the screw one way or the other, the idea is to fill the slot, but not tightly.
if that doesn’t happen, you certainly have a problem, remove the quill, remove the screw and clean the slot out.

keep your screw drver in the slot, and turn while raising and lowering the quill.

I just checked mine, and the screw will not come out until I pull the quill. So I had that wrong in mine. I check my small delta.. So the screw just turns a little left and right, but that is what takes up the slop…

-- Jeff NJ

View MrRon's profile


3891 posts in 2661 days

#6 posted 05-07-2014 07:27 PM

That square piece is not supposed to turn. The screw applies pressure on the square piece pressing it against the quill to take out the play. If the screw were to bear directly on the quill, it would get scored. The square block provides a sliding action. I wouldn’t expect a $50 DP to have zero play in the quill, but 1/8” is ridiculous. A drill press has a spindle that rotates inside a quill that moves up and down. If the play is in the spindle, the bearings are bad. If in the quill, the adjustment outlined above should fix the problem.

View daviddoria's profile


66 posts in 1356 days

#7 posted 05-07-2014 07:29 PM

Ah, sorry for the incorrect terminology. The slop is in the quill for sure. Thanks for the explanation of how the square-ended screw works. I’ll give it a try and report back.

View daviddoria's profile


66 posts in 1356 days

#8 posted 06-22-2014 01:14 PM

Update: I convinced them to give me a replacement drill press. However, the one in the store, and the new one I brought home both have exactly the same issue. Turning the quill adjustment screw definitely helps, but at it’s best there is still a massive amount of wiggle. I got the warranty this time, so I guess there is no harm in taking it apart a bit more to see if anything else can be adjusted – maybe I’ll give it a try.

View mamell's profile


35 posts in 302 days

#9 posted 12-24-2015 05:57 PM

I have the exact same problem with my hf dp..I took out the set screw with the square end and came to the conclusion that the only way to drill down beyond a half an inch without wobble is to not drill down beyond a half an inch, but instead find a way to push the work piece up to the drill bit. Being that the stand post is just a piece of muffler pipe that probably isn’t going to happen.. Maybe a screw jack under it might work, but I value having my fingers being attached to my hands so my long suffering life will continue till the drill press fairy comes by my house in the middle of the night with a better drill press.

View rick1955's profile


251 posts in 849 days

#10 posted 12-26-2015 12:12 AM

Did you know you could have bought an extended warranty for a few dollars more. You can return it before the warranty runs out and get a new one and just pay the warranty fee.

-- Working smarter with less tools is a true crafts person...

View mamell's profile


35 posts in 302 days

#11 posted 12-26-2015 06:38 PM

Yeah, I’m aware of the extended warranty, but the problem I have with that is there is almost zero chance I’ll remember where I put the receipt. I have a hard enough time remembering where the drill press is half the time much less the receipt.
What I’m wondering is what’s involved in replacing the bearings. Are they press fitted in place? Would Central Machinery go to such lengths to actually do it right? I’ve got half a notion to dig into it, but I also have the fear of dropping one small critical part that will inevitably find its way to a hidden cranny on the floor never to be seen again in my lifetime.
I did find that with a pilot hole the slop is taken up fairly well, but it’s getting the pilot lined up properly that seems to stimey me more times than not.
Oh heck..I’m just looking for an excuse to find something to gripe about.

View swdst's profile


44 posts in 509 days

#12 posted 12-26-2015 06:53 PM

My griz, made by the same company, just badged different i believe, has the same issue.

View MrUnix's profile


4023 posts in 1617 days

#13 posted 12-26-2015 08:17 PM

Yeah, I’m aware of the extended warranty, but the problem I have with that is there is almost zero chance I’ll remember where I put the receipt.

I always staple the receipt to the inside front page of the manual… and the manuals go into a file cabinet with all the others. One file for manuals in general, and restoration machines (which may have lots of documents/receipts) get their own file.

Not familiar with that machine, but bearings are not usually hard to replace and you usually don’t need any special tools other than what you may have around the house. A puller/splitter can make things easier, but there are ways to get around not having them. And in the hundreds of bearings I’ve replaced over the years, I’ve never needed a press.

Kind of weird for a new machine to have bad bearings out of the box though.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View mamell's profile


35 posts in 302 days

#14 posted 12-27-2015 05:37 AM

You’re suggesting getting organized Brad. I’m probably too late for starting that at this stage of life, but I would like to. I have 56 years of other messes to work on before tackling organization.
The square key for lack of a better term does ride in the slot and if it’s adjusted inwards the quill binds.
The quill in the upmost position is fine with no play, but any downward pressure and the slop starts and gets progressively worse the further down it goes which makes me think that either the bearing isn’t seated right or the hole it fits in is to big or the bearing is just plain junk. The slop seems to be in every direction, front, back and both sides.
I also noticed that the set screw in the front pully hadn’t been tightened at all. I gave it about 5 turns before it seated.
I could still take this back to HF and probably get another, but I doubt the next one will be a bit better. I’m probably going to give a go at changing the bearings some day and if that doesn’t cut it someone might get an almost ok drill press at the next garage sale.
I don’t see this as an indictment against HF anymore than an indictment against being to poor to afford better quality equipment. It still beats a hand drill and thanks for the comments and suggestions.

View JAAune's profile


1614 posts in 1735 days

#15 posted 12-27-2015 05:50 AM

Return it if you can. I have two of those that were purchased to act as branding presses. Both had the same issue and I only kept them because they were just good enough for branding and I intended to void the warranty by pouring epoxy into the spindle bearings anyway. It still required a lot of fiddling with that set screw on one of the machines to get it to stamp in the same place twice.

The bearings aren’t the problem. The quality control on those drill presses is non-existent and it seems most of them have way too much slop between moving parts.

The old $25 Craftsman benchtop I used to have was far superior and that was only sold because I found an old Buffalo Forge machine for $50. Those fixtures that turn hand drills into drill presses would be superior as well.

-- See my work at and

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