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Drill Press Recommendations

benny_profane

Active member
I'm thinking I want to upgrade to a drill press for enclosures. Looking for inexpensive options that people have had good experience with.
 

PedalPCB

Administrator
Staff member
I used one of these for many years. I've used it to drill PCBs, enclosures, press turrets, etc.


I "upgraded" to a larger floor model Porter Cable a couple years ago, the only real advantage gained was the ability to run at slower speeds....

Honestly I think I liked the Harbor Freight drill press better, but it's one of those things... you blow that kind of money on something you have to pretend to like it better. :ROFLMAO:
 

benny_profane

Active member
I used one of these for many years. I've used it to drill PCBs, enclosures, press turrets, etc.


I "upgraded" to a larger floor model Porter Cable a couple years ago, the only real advantage gained was the ability to run at slower speeds....

Honestly I think I liked the Harbor Freight drill press better, but it's one of those things... you blow that kind of money on something you have to pretend to like it better. :ROFLMAO:
Thanks for the recommendation. It's good to hear that that model does indeed hold up over time.

And I definitely know what you mean about that feeling of 'needing' to like the more expensive purchase...
 

Nostradoomus

Well-known member
I bought the cheapest mastercraft one at Canadian Tire a year ago...no problems at all. They’re really pretty simple machines to fix if something goes awry, and for what I use it for the cheaper the better. I’d just go to Home Depot and buy whatever 6-8” press they have on sale haha.
 

Barry

Well-known member
I think I bought mine at Northern tool, it's identical to the Harbor Freight less the swivel lamp, I'm sure they probably come from the same plant in China
 

Ratimus

Active member
Harbor Freight drill presses are no-frills but surprisingly bullet proof. I had one a while back but gave it away during a move. I plan on buying another at some point. If you ever get into knife making or pipe making, their 1×30 belt sanding station is also pretty good.
 

Gordo

Active member
My old Home Depot Ryobi has a turd for a chuck but outside of that has served me very well. Don't think they sell them anymore. Tech is so simple and there's such good stuff being made these days you can't go wrong. When you start spending big money on a floor stand one it's like driving a Rolls Royce but nothing that won't slow us down.
 

benny_profane

Active member
Great! It’s good to hear that a budget option is perfectly fine. Sometime with tools, cheap just means you have to replace it very quickly or that there are essential features missing. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, though.
 

Chuck D. Bones

Well-known member
Cheap can also mean loose tolerances. You want to make sure the chuck doesn't wobble and will move up and down smoothly. Vibration should be minimal. I bought a made-in-Taiwan drill press used at a garage sale 30 years ago and it's still going strong. Had to replace the belt once, maybe the light bulb and that's it.
 

PedalPCB

Administrator
Staff member
The harbor freight press is $60 and works fine. Just don’t leave it outside on your balcony when you live a block from the ocean. The main pole gets rusty but still works fine otherwise 😂😂
Good point! Mine stays indoors (and I live hours from the ocean) and is quite rusty as well.

Hasn't affected performance at all though.
 

Nostradoomus

Well-known member
Mine sits outside, I’m about 5 minutes from the ocean on a peninsula...white paste wax over all exposed metal keeps it in line!
 

benny_profane

Active member
I think that I’m gonna go with the HF one and see how it goes. Do you guys secure it or leave it sitting without bolting the base?
 

PedalPCB

Administrator
Staff member
I've never bolted mine down. I like to pick it up to vacuum under it after each job.
 

Gordo

Active member
Good point on the rust. There's a number of cleaners out there that are worth using to keep the thing oiled. In the old days you'd just use machine oil on a rag to keep everything clean but there are lots of options out there to get rid of pith on saw blades that work equally well on drills. Oil = no water = no rust. Minimal effort to keep the thing maintained pays off well in terms of longevity.
 

PedalPCB

Administrator
Staff member
Ah okay. It’s pretty stable then?
Much more so than my big floor drill press. (I haven't bolted that one down either)

The only advantages the big one has over the little HF is:

1) The big one can run at much slower RPM so you have a better chance of getting your hands out of the way if something goes wrong
2) The chuck can handle larger bits (inversely, the HF model can handle smaller wire-gauge sized bits for drilling PCBs and the big one can not)
3) It uses a standard sized light bulb (I use an LED bulb so I don't accidentally burn myself)
4) It doesn't take up room on the bench
5) There is quite a bit more distance between the chuck/table for drilling larger enclosures or chassis... I think I've only had an issue with this once, and in that case I just swung the table out of the way and used the base instead.

I thought I would like the crank-style table lift better but it's much quicker to loosen the handle and slide the table up and down by hand.

I think you might also have a hard time fitting a cross-slide vise on the smaller one, if that's something you ever wanted to do... the vise would cost more than the drill press though. :ROFLMAO:

Technically sure, the Porter-Cable model is obviously higher quality, but is it worth 10 - 15 times more? Nah, I don't think so. If it ever breaks I'll gladly go back to the HF drill press without a second thought or regret.
 
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