View Full Version : Drill Press Choices

07-26-2006, 03:22 PM
Starting to finally get my shop together....my first major purchase is going to be a drill press. Am looking for a floor standing press in the $500 range....currently have it narrowed down to:

Delta 17-968 16 1/2"
Delta 17-950L 16 1/2"
Wilton 2500 15" Tradesman
Craftsman 17"

Any experience or thoughts with these or am I leaving a brand/model out that I should be considering?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

07-26-2006, 04:23 PM

Assuming those are new machines, they'll probably all share one common feature. The bases are way too small, they tip over easily. They don't lack casting capablity in China/Taiwan so the only reason I see for the small bases is they fit in a smaller shipping box.

With a $500 budget you can get an older, quality American made dp with a reasonable sized base that won't easily tip over without having to bolt it to the floor.

I have 4 American made 15" floor model dp's of various brands, the bases are roughly equivalent at about 17" wide by 24" deep. None are bolted down and never had one tip.


07-26-2006, 04:29 PM
I don't know anything about those specific drill presses, but one thing you might want to consider is the range of spindle speeds. I would almost consider the most important aspect of the drill press. You can usually work around other things like swing and spindle travel, but if you want to use a 2" hole saw in the drill press, it's hard to make the spindle slower than the range of speeds available.

Just my 2.5 cents.


07-26-2006, 05:04 PM
A cheap milling machine makes the best drill press made.. Mine is a cnc with a joystick for quick holes. Plus I can write g81 codes to poke 100 holes in about five minutes with a script file. I did that on some plate about a month back, phone rang, I had my back turned talking, turned around to see the drill bit "RED" and getting shorter by the second.. oops..

I have a 1800's flat belt drive drill press I wanna restore to run on a steam engine (on air) No pictures, sorry.. I got it cheap thou.

I also have a table-top craftsman press I have used to death.. It was a cnc-circuit board driller, then a drill press, then I cut it off the base and welded a plate onto it to simulate a mag drill.. I could clamp the plate to ibeam, then I put the base back on.

Pretty happy with all the presses I got.

I , by the way am a auction junkie.. I have saw bridgeport milling machines sell for $350.. Weekdays, when other auctions are also going on..


07-26-2006, 06:00 PM
I like used tools shop craigslist ny Just google C/L and add the name of the city your in new york should have lots of tools available.

I had a 5 speed that just did not go slow enough so I sold it and found a 16 speed delta for only 150 $

If ya gotta spend 500 look at the drill press mill harbor freight has I almost got one of those.

I agree older american is a good choice my old unit I gave to my son is as good 40 years old as my new press is,, but it was a 5 speed bench top.

07-26-2006, 06:55 PM
So would you recommend going with a vertical milling machine instead and using it for drilling duties as well? I realize it's a step up in money,...is the versatility (and accuracy???) worth it?

07-26-2006, 07:12 PM
Yes.. More money.. More solid, straighter holes.. The best hole Driller I have ever used was a prewar WW2, radial drill press, power feed, angle, table and quill, Used mostly morse taper drills. That was in Raccoon mountain Powerplant Tn.

Next to that 3 ton monster, I like my bridgeport series2 the best.. a cnc only has about a 18"x12" stroke on that 42" wide table thou.. I gave way too much money for it thou.. I got 10k in machine and tooling.. I built most the controls. We bought a wells-index milling machine you can put a car block onto, a 3hp.. it sits rusting away in my partners shop.. he gave $600 for it at auction (I bought it with his money) and it is worth 7k.. that is the deal you want to copy..

If you get a nice drill press or a nice mill, get table clamps.. 2horsepower can take whatever you are drilling or milling and sling it through the wall.. it took me about a year to figure out I had to have one.

It all depends on your end wishes and desires to do? I had to have a lathe too.. I ended up with a $700 1951 leblond I dearly love, then another welder, then another tube bender, then... and it keeps growing..

If you can make friends and aqquaintances close by? use thier knowledge and tool stock to learn.. I had a guy around here for a while that swept the floor and cleaned up.. He was welcome to hang around as long as... well he stole from me.. what a loss.. My shop was clean and his projects were done.
What he stole, I would have gave to him.. that is the sad part.

(shop not been as clean since)

Jeff Parker
07-27-2006, 05:20 AM
Look at Grizzley Tool in Pennsylvania, as well.

07-27-2006, 09:22 AM
actually if you want mostly a drill press, you can get one of the older bridgeports (the round ram model) for very cheap as most people that want a mill do not want them. I have seen those old ones sell for the $3-500 range.

I have a craftman drill press (I use it for wood only, I use the mill for metal drilling) that has the base that is smaller than I would prefer. so I bult a frame to go around the base and mounted wheels to it. the wheel mounts are offset (kicked up) so I have not changed the center of gravity and I have gained a wider stance and the benifit of it bieng moveable.
in fact I have the mill mounted on a roller base as well. I love the fact I can pull the stuff out to work with it and then put it back.


07-27-2006, 06:03 PM
Ebay.. watch, bid on local heavy items or calculate delivery costs.
This un, is at $355 in northern states.. cheap delivery too.

With a DRO, and "CheapAss" polar hole calculator, drilling radial holes is easy.. (see the group on yahoo)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CheapAss/ I posted the program there. You enter center, radius, number of holes, startin and endin angles and it throws out the hole locations You then just crank it to the x,y places and drill your holes. Runs on windows 98 or newer.

Of course if I had finished high school I could do the same thing with trig.. huh? HA.. I had to go to work at 16.. At least it was not in a coal mine like my ancestors. Grampa joined the WW2 Merchant marines to get out of the coal mine. Other grampa died building liberty ships.

07-28-2006, 02:10 PM
Whatever you do, don't buy one of those cheap Chinese knockoffs for about $150.00 ( yeah, I know you said your budget was quite a bit higher than this, but I want to make sure noone else wastes their money on these). A friend and I were in his shop drilling 1 inch holes in his I-beam axle for his roadster. The table kept slipping down the column while we were drilling, and yes, we were step drilling starting with quarter inch holes. The column lock bolt was done up tight, but when we looked down at the "rack" with the teeth on it for the crank to adjust the height of the table, the rack had a nice bow to it about 2 inches out from the drill press column. What a piece of crap. We straightened the rack, and replaced it, and tightened the column lock as tight as we could get it until we were afraid we would break the casting, started drilling and the same thing happened again. We finished the job at my shop. John V.O.

07-28-2006, 02:34 PM
a lot of that has to do with expectations.
I have one of those light ones also, inherited from Chrissy's stepfather.
It does run true.
I simply replaced the chuck with a 1/4" - 0 chuck, set it on high speed and use it for all pilot holes and small holes. Works great for that.
You are right about expecting them to work large and slow. It just won't happen.

I have another Taiwanese press (purchaced 30 years ago for around $450) with a 3/4 top of the line jacobs chuck installed on it. That one doesn't mind big bits.

07-28-2006, 09:28 PM
I've got one of thos 12 speed 150.00 drill presses I bought 15 years ago. It had a similar problem, a relative was using it and didn't unlock the clamp. When he got tough with the "rack" it simply cranked right out and was wadded up on the floor next time I wanted to use it. I tightened the clamp one day and it busted in half. Since I have a mill and a larger drill press I just welded the table to the best height for drilling flywheels and dedicated that one for use when balancing engines. I think treated correctly and taken care of, it probably would have lasted a hobbiest for a long time.....my stuff needs to be combat rated, I'm frequently pushing it to the limit, if not over...........john

07-29-2006, 02:54 AM
I forgot to mention that if you get a industrial type milling machine. It will need 3 phase power, meaning you have to get a vfd speed control that has single phase *home power in, 3 phase industrial power out for the motor, or a 3 phase generator. OR buy a expensive single phase motor.

For my 5hp cnc'ed 50 ton press? I got a 10hp pony motor running in the floor, started spinning up by a 120 volt motor and a belt, then slamming single phase on two of the three motor connections, As it spins it generates a 3rd phase to run the pump.. I then take the 3 wires, the 220 and the third to a starter to turn it on and off.. It is quiet.. ALthough my 30 years of electrical experience told me it would not work, it works quite well. A old local guy proved to me it worked.

RE: why it should not work? 3 phase power waves are 120 degrees apart, single phase is 180.. It does not generate a true 3phase waveform, but a modified single phase one with power pulses, not a true voltage generator. DO not expect to power transformers or other voltage sensitve controls with such a arrangement, put them on the 220 lines if possible.

07-29-2006, 11:29 AM

This is something I want to put in my shop notebook for future reference.

I understand electrical thoery and 3 phase power, but I have no experience in actually wiring 3 phase morors.

I get the spinning the motor with another motor. Can you be a little more precise about the connections you made? I think what you said is that you connected one side of the single phase 220 line to one of the motor terminals, and the other side of the 220 line to another of the motor terminals, and that the motor generated a third wave that is sufficiently out of phase from the 220 line that the motor will run. How did you wire that third termnial?


07-29-2006, 02:54 PM
One is the "third" wire on the three wires on the pony or idler motor.. YOu hook the single phase 220 to it, take the third wire out to your 3 phase device you want to power.. ONCE the 3phase motor is spinning, it will continue to run on single phase, you only need the 120 motor to spin it up.. I have saw them with a lawnmower pull rope on them, but they draw large amounts of current till they are turning.. Make sure you have a idler or pony motor 1.5 times larger than any motor you want to start.. I got a ten hp in the floor..

I'm a cheap son of a gun, I got two inverters on the wall, single phase in, three out.. and twist lock plugs to plug in everything from my sewing machine motor to the last P-hammer I built.. on one of them inverters, I got a old WAA WAA pedal, aka CCWKEN's idea.. you mash it like a gas pedal.. the motor speeds up and down..

07-29-2006, 04:04 PM

Yep, I've used a small single phase motor to spin a three phase motor up to speed to create three phase output.

I don't know if you've mentioned it, but it's a good idea to shut the small single phase motor off once the three phase is up to speed. The reason being, if you have a good connection between the motors, rigid or belted, you're likely to burn the small motor out. The "slip" factors are different between the motors usually so they'll be fighting each other to maintain their correct rpms. That's a fight the small motor likely will lose.