Rockwell 31-210 drill press good starter drill press?

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Forum topic by Jbo_c posted 09-01-2014 11:31 AM 2665 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 1333 days

09-01-2014 11:31 AM

I’m getting a small shop started and looking for a small drill press on a tight budget. One of these is near me on CL for $60. I know some of the Rockwells are also Deltas and known to be good machines. Is this one of them?

Is $50-60 a good price?

This would be mostly for small projects like pen turning and whatever notion strikes. I don’t have to start with the greatest, but I’d like not to wish two months from now that I’d waited. (I’ll eventually get a nice floor stand model.). Most of the other things I see in this price range are Harbor Freight or similar cheap stuff. For all I know this could be in the same club. I haven’t found much info on line.

Thanks for any help.


5 replies so far

View baglock1's profile


6 posts in 1348 days

#1 posted 09-01-2014 02:52 PM

I too am in the market for a small drill press. Specifically, I’ve been looking at a Jet or Grizzly benchtop model. My floor space is pretty valuable and I really can’t afford to use some of it on a floor mounted press. Since my work bench (it’s not a wood working bench, just a general workbench made out of those 5-tier shelving units you see at HD/Lowes), is usually buried under junk anyways, I figure that the benchtop drill press will at least be something useful taking up space.

But all of that is really immaterial to the post and the comment I wanted to make. Can a drill press really be used for small turning projects? My woodworking experience is minor compared to my metal working experience but side loads on a drill press (in metal at least) were always a big no-no. The bearings that hold the spindle in a drill press simply aren’t designed for the side loads.

I recognize that the sideloads encountered in cutting wood (even hardwoods) are going to be orders of magnitude less than most metals. I also recognize that proper turning techniques should place minimal sideloads on the spindle (as opposed to rotational loads). But with that said, this is still not a practice I’ve seen or heard of as normal.

Are small turning projects (e.g. pens) okay for drill presses?
Has this always been an acceptable practice or has modern drill press design (better/more bearings, better spindle support, etc) allowed this?
What is used to provide support on the bottom of the wood? Is there some sort of center that clamps to the table?

I really think this is an interesting concept (although maybe it’s an old topic for most people here) and would really open up some more project capability for someone who had a drill press but really didn’t plan on the type of projects requiring a full lathe. It just seems to contradict some of the things I’ve always held to be true.

-- --- Dan

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8 posts in 1333 days

#2 posted 09-01-2014 03:23 PM

I really meant drilling blanks for turning. Poor clarity on my part.

That said, you can get a “lathe” for a drill press. I’m sure it’s sub-optimal.

We got the 12” drill press from Harbor Hate for a beginner for my son. He’s turned tons of stuff(out there now making Christmas ornaments for presents. It’s been a great starter for him. No problems at all. But he’s on the hunt for a 36” now. :)


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8 posts in 1333 days

#3 posted 09-01-2014 03:28 PM

Boy, I stink. We got the 12” LATHE from HF.


View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2416 days

#4 posted 09-01-2014 04:10 PM
If it’s in working condition $50 sounds very reasonable,I would drill a couple of holes ,check for wobbles,bearing noise,etc,if it runs fine you can’t go wrong .

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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Dennis Hill

22 posts in 1288 days

#5 posted 10-18-2014 06:50 PM

This thread is a bit old but thought I would chime in with what I know. I’m putting one of these on Craigslist-Seattle today for $10. Been a good low-end, low-powered, tiny DP for many years. What I like about it is the variable speed…twist the knob and the speed changes on the fly. Also that it will accurately hold very small bits, 1/16 inch, no problem. Very small footprint. Sits on a bench and is light enough it can be moved anywhere, anytime. Drills straight holes and very quick to set up to use. Better than a handdrill in many cases. True Jacobs chuck. What I don’t like is the table. Simple piece of aluminum clamped to the post. It works but is rudimentary. The thing is noisy. Never had it apart (it simply works!) but it sounds like ball bearings being tossed around in a cup. You learn to ignore the noise.

The price is low because it has provided me great value already. I’m pleased to pass it along to someone else without trying to recover cost.

-- Dennis in Kenmore, WA -- So much wood, so little time.

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